Body Image Issues And Why I Stopped Doing Fitness Testing

Recently one of my ladies brought up this study, which led to a conversation about body image during Pilates class. We (I include myself) are a chatty bunch and I do my best to keep my group focused and moving, while allowing them to socialize and have a few laughs. If things get to out of control I throw the hundreds/ criss cross/ scissors combo at them and the room gets real quiet real quick.

Back to the study, which showed that sixty seconds of exposure to either a “plus size” or a skinny model can affect our perception of beauty. See a bigger person and bigger people are more attractive to you. See a skinny model and skinny starts looking good (I am paraphrasing, follow the link above to watch the three minute video). Being aware of how the images we see can affect our perception of beauty may help us (and our daughters) develop a healthy body image.

My legs are strong vs. my butt is jiggly.

As a personal trainer I help my clients establish goals to track their progress. “I want to feel better” is vague. “I want to to fit into this pair of pants by August” is specific and measurable. Prior to 2012 I took all of my clients through fitness tests that included push ups, sit ups and a waist measurement. In 2012 I stopped doing these.

anne waist measurement

Here’s why: My clients had been complaining about the push ups (I nodded, smiled and ignored these complaints) but when they complained about the waist measurements I started asking questions. I found out these tests were not being viewed, as I had hoped, as a benchmark for success. They just made my ladies feel bad about themselves and dread test day – who needs that?

While I have not quit doing these entirely, the tests are no longer standard practice. When a new client comes in we discuss her health history, establish her goals, and our plan of action. When it is appropriate I will offer certain strength and cardio tests which may include stairs, a plank hold or push ups, wall sits or squats, and – if they request it – a waist measurement.

Val Squat 2.13

I want my clients to feel successful. This “success” varies depending each client and each session. One day they may push their limits, cursing and sweating through a grueling workout, the next session may include quiet release work done lying on the floor (which can be just as challenging in a different way).

When my clients leave feeling positive about their bodies I feel successful.

How do you feel about body image and fitness? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Anne McCranie is a Portland, Oregon based personal trainer and Licensed Massage Therapist. She works with her clients one on one and in small groups using a combination of movement + massage to aid in pain relief, stress relief and improve muscle and joint function. Contact her today for your complimentary consultation.

New TaiJi Fit Experience Starts Wednesday May 15th!

Come flow with us!

This Wednesday we begin a new weekly TaiJi Fit Experience. To see a short video of this click here.

Why am I calling this an “experience” rather than a class? There is nothing to learn, we are moving and grooving. The goal of this work is to get into a meditative state and flow like water. Rather than learn a scripted routine we play with aspects of traditional Tai Chi Chuan using fluid (get it? :)) wavelike movements.

  • Who: You and your Fluid family
  • What: Tai Chi inspired flow. Follow the leader style, no form to learn
  • When: Wednesday mornings (ongoing) 7:30 to 8 am
  • Where: Fluid World Headquarters 7916 S.E. 19th ave
  • Why: Improved strength and flexibility, improved balance and proprioception, reduced stress, better sleep, increased bone density, decreased joint pain…don’t take my word for it, check out this article for more info.

Call Anne to RSVP (503) 705-4762

 

Happy New Year! Five Tips For Goal Setting

Happy 2013 to you and your family!

What are your health and fitness goals for this year? Here are a few tips to get you where you want to be:

1. Look at the big picture. What is it you want to accomplish this year and how will you feel when you meet your goals? When you start to veer off track keep your big picture in mind.

2. Set specific, realistic goals. “I’m never eating dessert again” feels a lot different than saying “I am going to limit my sweets to a small portion of my favorite dessert once a week”.

3. Speak in the present tense. I am healthy, I feel energized, I surround myself with positive, loving people. By saying “One day I will be this way…” you are keeping your goal at arms length. Visualize yourself as this new and improved person.

4. Reward yourself. Make it to all of your workouts this week? Get yourself a pedi, or meet a friend for a movie.

5. Focus on what you can control. While you may not be able to magically move the number on the scale or instantly lower your stress level, you can control the foods you eat, the people your surround yourself with, your activity level, and your self talk.

Need help setting your 2013 goals? Contact Anne today for a little push in the right direction.

 

Anne McCranie is a Portland, Oregon based personal trainer and massage therapist. She can be reached at (503) 705-4762 or Anne@FluidPortland.com

8 Fat Free Foods You Should Avoid

If you are trying to loose weight you may think that fat free foods are “healthier” and will aid in weight loss. Not according to the latest research. This article from Women’s Day suggests fat free foods are often loaded with chemicals and may cause sugar cravings and weight gain. When fat is removed from foods something must be added to give the foods a nice flavor and texture, usually sugar, salt and in the case of fat free chips fat-mimicking chemicals that can cause intestinal cramps, gas and diarrhea. Yuck.

I suggest you avoid the fat free versions of the following: salad dressing, peanut butter, dairy (milk, yogurt, ice cream), packaged cookies and chips and frozen meals.

Let’s look at salad dressings. Researchers from Purdue University found that while fat-free dressings are lower in calories than fat-based dressings, they block absorption of fruits’ and veggies’ nutrients, while dressings made with monounsaturated fats (from olive oil for instance) boosted the absorption of the veggies’ nutrients.

To make a quick and easy dressing at home whip together one crushed garlic clove, a few tablespoons of olive oil, one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice, a teaspoon of dijon mustard, salt and pepper and a small handful of fresh herbs (I am a fan of thyme).

 

When shopping for nut butters, look for natural versions with no added sugar.

I like this raw almond butter from Trader Joe’s. The ingredient list – almonds.

How about fat free dairy? Again fat helps your body absorb nutrients and by taking out the fat something has to be added to keep the creamy consistency, usually sugars and stabilizers. I like full fat Greek yogurt because it is high in protein and low in sugar.

When it comes to snack foods like cookies, chips, frozen meals you are better off avoiding them altogether. If you are hit with a cookie craving look for ones with the least amount of ingredients (and you should be able to pronounce them). You will feel more satisfied with one or two cookies made from real ingredients than the dry tasteless fat free versions. When it comes to chips again look for a short ingredient list – corn and salt – and portion the amount you plan on eating in a bowl instead of snacking straight from the bag. Frozen meals can be useful in a pinch however they are loaded with salt. You are much better off preparing a large batch of food on the weekends and freezing individual serving sizes for later in the week. I do this with brown rice, beans, soups, meats, etc…

What are your favorite healthy eating tips?

Why Are We So Fat?

You’ve heard the statistics – over a third of American adults are obese, and 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese. Since 1980 the number of obese adults and children has almost tripled.

So why are we so fat?

In this recent article in Newsweek Gary Taubes argues that there are several reasons the campaign to stop obesity in the country continues to fail.  According to the author:

The conventional wisdom these days—promoted by government, obesity researchers, physicians, and probably your personal trainer as well—is that we get fat because we have too much to eat and not enough reasons to be physically active. The problem is, the solutions this multilevel campaign promotes are the same ones that have been used to fight obesity for a century—and they just haven’t worked.

The author suggests and alternative theory, largely ignored by medical experts, that implicates specific foods—refined sugars and grains—because of their effect on the hormone insulin. According to this theory not all calories are created equal. Our problem is not only controlling our impulses, but also rewriting our beliefs about what constitutes a healthy diet.

So what is a “healthy diet”? In this article Mark Hyman M.D. outlines what he calls the last diet you will ever need. He suggests we “unjunk” our diets:

Simply choose foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils (olive oil, fish oil, avocado and coconut oil), small amounts of whole grains and beans and lean animal protein including small wild fish, grass fed meat, and farm eggs.

This author argues that if we eat only real food the need for counting calories, points, fat grams etc… all becomes unnecessary because our body is receiving adequate nutrition and we will stop eating once we have had enough.

Sounds pretty simple right? Of course simple is not always easy.

What happens when you are stuck in a meeting and haven’t had anything to eat since your morning coffee? Or you get home from work late, you are tired and your family is screaming for fast food? With a little pre-planning dietary disasters like these can be averted.

I advise my clients to set aside one day a week for meal prep. Make a list and shop the perimeter of the grocery store, starting in produce. Load up on fresh (or frozen) fruits and veggies, meats, eggs and dairy (local, organic, grass fed if possible). When you get home, chop and store (freeze if you need to) your prepped meat and veg. You are much more likely to snack on veggies if they are washed, chopped and sitting on the first shelf of the fridge.

Got a kid who will only eat mac and cheese? Great – make that part of a meal that also includes a big salad or steamed veggies, some protein and fruit. Your picky eater is much more likely to try new foods if he sees everyone else at the table leading by example.

What about the “I don’t have time for breakfast” argument? Could you boil a few eggs (on your meal prep day – see above), peel them and have them ready to go in the morning? Or put together some berries, yogurt and nuts the night before so you can throw your breakfast in your bag on the way out the door. Not into dairy? How’s this for an idea – salad for breakfast? In one container mix leftover protein, or nuts, dried fruit, lentils, leftover steamed veggies and green leafies. In a separate container make a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and fresh herbs. When you are ready to eat mix your salad and dressing and enjoy! You have “front loaded” your day with foods that have a high water content, are energy dense, and rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and protein.

What dietary changes could you make to “unjunk” your diet?