FIT Talk With Tania  

Like stubbing your toe

“Not only is diet a four-letter word, die-ting can cause damage that lasts for years"

The best diet to lose weight is not a diet. If you've been following along with me for any length of time, more than likely you've heard me say, “Diet is a four-letter word.” And while that literally is true, I also consider “diet” to be in the same category as any number of verboten four-letter words that may, or may not, have escaped from your lips that time you accidentally stubbed your big toe on the coffee table. Even worse actually. Your toe will stop throbbing relatively quickly, but the damage that can be done to your body from dieting can stick around for years.

And now here we are. Emerging from varying degrees of isolation and keeping our distance, where the main attractions for the past two months have been that trip to the grocery store and ordering SkipTheDishes, there are likely more than a few people who, although escaped COVID, the “19” is another story. Pounds I mean.  And with never before having experienced the chaos of a pandemic – off work, kids at home, working from home, caring for others, returning travellers, gyms closed, etc. – it's not surprising that many people turned to things of convenience and comfort in a big way while at the same time letting many of our good-for-us routines for food and exercise fall by the wayside. Enter summer.

Sun, shorts, swimsuits, words that should mean fun and smiles, often bring up feelings of fear, shame, panic and guilt. Something that existed even in the pre-COVID years. It's those strong, negative feelings that can override our otherwise good judgment in a moment of desperation. All forms of reasoning go out the window, prompting us to try any number of diets in an effort to lose the extra weight quickly and gain back body confidence. According to statistics however, 99% of the people who lose weight on a diet gain it back, and then some. Not the long-term results you were looking for I'm sure. And just to be clear, if this describes you, you are not the problem. The diet is the problem. Diets rely on things like restricting, cutting and counting calories, crazy workouts, a 'miracle pill' in order for you to have success. And are only designed to get you whatever results you can achieve in as long of a period of time as you can stick to the rules. But when those rules impose unrealistic limitations and don't end up working so well in real life, it's not hard to see why 99% end up right back where they started. Or worse.

So if your time in isolation had you making a few extra trips to the fridge and ordering take out more often than usual and now just the idea of putting shorts on is making you uncomfortable, you've got a few options. And no matter how frustrating things might be at this moment, I encourage you to ignore that swimsuit model telling you to order that 'miracle diet pill' or 'weight-loss coffee' and make a decision to get rid of that extra bloat and weight healthfully.

The good thing is, no matter how much weight you want to lose, before getting started with anything, you'll be more likely to achieve your goals and maintain them by asking yourself these four questions;

  1. Is what I'm about to do backed by science?
  2. Does it make sense to me?
  3. Can I see myself doing this for life?
  4. Would I let my child do this with me?

When you can confidently say 'yes' to all four, congratulations you're about to embark on a program focused on creating health, and not a diet designed for a quick fix. Die-t. It's easy to see the difference when it's spelled out so clearly.

If you're looking to shape up for summer, join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook for healthful tips, recipes and workouts and email [email protected] to book your complimentary health assessment.

Don't miss the gift

Over the last six to eight weeks, we've have had a number of things taken away due to COVID-19. Where we go, how we shop, who can work, how many people we can see – or even if we can see them at all – have all made an impact on how we are living day to day. Honestly, just turning on the computer or TV is an instant reminder of all that's been taken from us. In the midst of all this negativity, it sure is easy to miss the gift.

Yes, I did say gift.

Now before I explain, let me just preface this by saying in no way am at all intending to minimize the hardships many are going through right now. These are most definitely very real, very raw and are taking a toll on the mental and physical health of the general public like never before. And in spite of all this, there is always something good to be found if you look for it. And I do believe what you look for, you will find. Sort of like Google. Whatever you type in the search bar will come up. If you're only looking up how many people have contracted the virus or scouring news reports for recent charts and graphs on death rates around the world, bad news is all you're going to get. By the same token, if you were to search for how many people have recovered and the related stats on that, you'll have a number of things showing up that will make you smile. For whatever reason, society as a whole, tends to search for what is wrong more often than looking for what is right. And in the midst of looking, searching and cross-referencing doom and gloom, many have missed the gift.

Ever have a parcel delivered and the postman tucked it under a chair on your front porch, or behind the post and you didn't see it for a few days? You'd placed the order yourself so you knew it was coming. But for whatever reason, you got distracted, forgot the expected delivery date and didn't look for it when you grabbed the mail out of the box. Meanwhile, you're struggling to make do with what you have, wondering when it will arrive, when it was right there the entire time, kind of like we are with this virus.

The gift I'm referring to is time. And next to health, time is the most valuable gift you could ever receive. And whether it comes by force, strategic planning, or totally by chance, having an extra chunk of time each day is priceless. Think about it. How many times before COVID-19 have you said, “I wish I had more time for ____” or “I wish I had time to do ___ again” or “Where does the time go?” We've all said these, likely not thinking there was anything we could do to get those minutes back. And now we have them. The question is, what are you doing with them? I invite you to fill in your blanks.

If you've found yourself bored, frustrated, sleeping more, binge-watching TV or noticed your phone's screen-time report climbing higher each week, it could very well be there's a bunch of time you could be using for things that make you smile. Or laugh. Or think. Or learn, stretch and grow. Things that you've always wished you had time to do but couldn't. This isolation situation has brought on emotions ranging from fear and dread, to gratitude and peace, to apathy. And regardless where yours are, it seems each emotion also came with a little bit of limbo. The place where, if we choose to camp, will waste those precious minutes we have been given.

So today I challenge you. Organize those photos, pick up that instrument, read (or write!) that book, paint that fence, take that course, cook with your kids, have a family game night, start eating healthy, plan that vacation, start that business. Dust off those dreams. Use your imagination. And decide today that when we come out the other side and you look back on this time, you'll be grateful for how you spent those minutes, and not regretful that you squandered them.

For support, motivation and practical tips and strategies to use with your health and in life, join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook.

Don't sit on it, move it

It's been about a month now that we've been staying home, keeping our distance and getting ourselves organized to do things differently. Last time we talked about how important it was to establish a new normal and some tips on what you can do to make that happen. Hopefully you've adopted those strategies, or put your own into place and are now feeling a little bit of normalcy creeping back into your everyday. And with those new adjustments, hopefully you've also scheduled in some time every day to get up and move.

Even for those who are usually very active, just the fact that we are all staying at home, moving around in the world less, increases the likelihood of becoming sedentary. Especially if your daily workout involved going to a gym, a class, meeting with a personal trainer, etc., and you haven't really found your new “groove” yet. Or telling yourself, “It can't last much longer, I'll just wait and start back up then...” Big mistake.

The powers that be have us maintaining minimal contact for our physical health. And while we need to follow the rules, giving in to binge-watching Netflix with a bag or chips, scouring the internet for hours on end checking the latest statistics, or even doing all those virtual meetings for work and pleasure can knock your fitness as well as your physical and mental health on its butt. Because now you're sitting on it. For hours on end. I spoke to a friend just this week who said he had a five-hour zoom meeting one day. And that was just one of his meetings.

Sitting is the new smoking. In fact, experts say that walking fewer than 7,000 steps per day is as damaging as smoking two packs of cigarettes per day. So, yes, we need to organize to work from home; yes, we now need to meet clients and have business meetings online; and yes, we need to have those video chats with family. But also yes, you need to schedule in some time to get up and move. And I do mean schedule it.

Especially in these uncertain times where things are not as we would like them to be, we are more likely to do things “later,” or “this afternoon,” or “when I have time.” The problem is “later o'clock” never comes. Think about it for a minute. Aside from the usual personal hygiene and the usual feeding-the-kids-stuff, how many things that were not in your calendar that you said you'd do, did you actually accomplish? Intentions are great, but scheduling them as appointments is what will make sure they actually get done. Same goes when it comes to exercising and staying active.

Now that we're all on the same page about scheduling, what will you do and when? Great question. The best answer is always, “the type you enjoy and the time you will be able to do it.” First, choose your favourite exercises or types of workout. Then check your calendar and note all unscheduled blocks of time, regardless of how long they may be. Ideally you'd choose one every day, but you can even start with just one and work up. Another idea is to structure your at-home work day/meetings with 15-minute breaks in between and do 10-minute blasts and/or stretch breaks throughout the day. You don't need to have an hour to get results.

Whether you decide to follow an online class, get outside for a walk, do some yoga in your home office, run the stairs in your house and do burpees between meetings, or work out as usual in your home gym, set it as a priority and schedule it in. And if you're saying you don't have enough time to exercise once each day, you need to schedule it in twice. I'm totally serious here. Dedicating time each day to get up and move will not only keep your muscles strong and joints flexible, it will relieve any stress that's accumulated up until that point in the day.

Exercise is also more effective than most drugs in helping with depression and the deep breathing that happens when we exercise releases toxins and brings more oxygen to the body and brain. This gives you more energy, and allows you to think more clearly and be more productive when you do sit back down to work. Taking that time each day to do something good for you is the only thing that will allow you to take care of those around you. Like on an airplane when they tell you to put your own oxygen mask first before helping anyone else... there's a reason for that. Self-care is not selfish, it's necessary. And with all this time at home, I invite you to emerge from all of this in better shape than before it all began. A #covidconqueror.

Apple Watch just reminded me that it's time for me to stand up and move. If you need some ideas on how or what you can do, check out my workouts on YouTube and join my 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook for whole lot of other free information to help you create optimal health in these unique and difficult times.


Normal has been cancelled

3 steps to creating a new normal

In case you've been wondering, you're not the only one out there struggling to stay on track with food and fitness lately.

This past week, I've had several conversations with clients and messages from several others around the struggles people are having establishing their “new normal” in the wake of COVID-19 and the ongoing and indefinite stay-at-home recommendations.

Home is a place where we feel safe, secure, and comfortable. The place everyone looks forward to coming back to after a long day at work or school, after that stressful business trip, and even after the perfect vacation.

It's the place where we get to relax and recharge, ready for whatever we have to go out and tackle next. Except for when we're not. Going out I mean. And the things that need tackling are now showing up at home, in ways we've never experienced before.

In less than two months, our society has moved from being sociable and meeting in person, to social media and keeping personal distance; from going to work to working from home - or not working at all; from taking kids to school to homeschooling; and from travelling anywhere to spending spring break at “kitchen island.”

Add to that, trying to focus on eating better to improve health but getting everything on your grocery list isn't even available. It's a lot to take in.

Even so, I am a firm believer that regardless of what life throws at you, with a little creativity and these three easy steps, you can come out on the other side:

  • Healthier
  • Fitter
  • Stronger
  • Without any extra weight.
  • Sound good?

Establish a routine

Uncertainty, lack of direction, randomness, no rules... all things many of us look forward to in short bits, like weekends, or going on vacation.

But when it's happening 24/7/365, that's a whole new ball game that no one is exactly sure how to play. Humans thrive on structure, information, and routine. Aside from the two week, all-inclusive holiday resort vacations, humans do not do well living in limbo, drifting without clear direction.

The best way to bring down fear and stress levels and at least feel like things are getting back to normal, is by putting some structure back into your every day. Let's face it, sleeping in, wearing PJs and binge-watching Netflix gets old, fast.

What are you not doing now that you were before? Look at what activity used to take up the bulk of your day. For most people/families that's likely going to be work or school so I'll use those as my example.

Depending on your job and your family's dynamics, these things would have normally consumed anywhere between eight and twelve hours per day, sometimes longer. And these hours you once spent occupied away from home, now need to be replaced with slightly different, new-normal versions to do at home.

When you put things in place on a daily basis, creating routines and adding some structure back into your days, you'll not only feel good at the end of the day about what you accomplished, you'll also start to feel a sense of normalcy returning to your home.

Even if you're not working at all and all you can think of is housework or spring cleaning to fill that block of time everyday, do it. I know, I know, nobody's house needs that much cleaning, even now, right? So what.

You got up and went to work at the same place everyday, doing basically the same thing every day, all week for years. My point is that once you start getting into some sort of routine, you'll feel better.

Show up

Regardless of what tasks you chose to fill that block of time, get up, dress up and show up.

Going to bed and waking up at the same time, dressing for what you've got planned and then “arriving” on time to get started will do wonders for helping to maintain a positive outlook and support mental health.

Take care of yourself

Make sure to schedule you into your day. Self-care is important, especially now. Fuelling your body with whole, balanced foods, making sure to drink lots of water, exercising daily, dealing with stress, getting enough sleep and supplementing where your body needs all help to support immune function and increase overall health.

There's no better time than now to start focusing on your health. If you're looking for connection, community and a some awesome fat-burning chocolate recipes as you work on your health and weight loss goals, join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook.

More FIT Talk With Tania articles

About the Author

Nutritionist Tania Gustafson, owner of FIT Nutrition, has been active in the health and fitness industry since 1986 when she entered as a fitness instructor and trainer.

In 2011, Tania partnered with internationally renowned nutrition and fitness expert Mark Macdonald, and in 2017 officially earned the title of Master Nutrition Coach in conjunction with Venice Nutrition and the International Board of Nutrition and Fitness Coaches (IBNFC).

Tania is one of only five health professionals licensed and certified in Canada to deliver this proven, three-phase program of blood sugar stabilization, not dieting.Tania is committed to ending the dieting madness both locally and globally and educates her clients on how to increase health with age.

Tania is able to work with clients across Canada, the U.S. and U.K. to restore health and achieve their weight loss goals.Tania is a wife, mother of three adult children, global entrepreneur, speaker, workshop facilitator, writer, blogger, podcast host, travel junkie and self-proclaimed gym rat.

For more information and to book your complimentary health assessment go to www.fuelignitethrive.com. Check https://www.facebook.com/fuelignitethrive/  and https://www.facebook.com/groups/8weeksisallittakes/

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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