FIT Talk With Tania  

Focus on health, not the scale

Keeping the weight off

For much of the world, these last few years has really put a spotlight on health, or a lack thereof.

As we emerge from the pandemic, we're seeing a multitude of issues affecting overall mental and physical health. The one that seems to be top of mind for most is weight gain.

In Canada, Global News reported back in November 2020 that one-third of all Canadians complained about gaining weight. And in the U.S., Harvard University reports showed by October 2021, 39 percent of all its patients had reported gaining weight.

Rising stress levels, eating more and exercising less were all cited as culprits. Unhealthy habits crept in and replaced some of the healthy choices for those who, pre-pandemic, were more intentional about their health. And for those who weren't very intentional in the first place, well the whole upheaval simply added to those bad habits and exacerbated any pre-existing conditions.

Now that most things are open to everyone and many are back to work, people are starting to look at what they can do to get rid of that unwanted excess around the middle, along with the weight of other health issues that come along with it.

What I'm seeing in my coaching practice is that most people have specific health and weight goals, they're motivated and ready to do the work, they just can't seem to get results that stick.

Typically what I hear from people is that they're just so frustrated and feeling so uncomfortable in their own skin, they'll try just about anything that promises results—cutting out carbs, restricting certain foods, only eating at certain times of the day, working out like crazy, counting calories or points, endless tracking, injections, pills, or even all of the above.

The truth is, anyone can get a result doing any of those things—for a season. Sustainable results are an entirely different story. Anyone whose ever been on diets know they make a lot of promises but the results never last.

The weight comes back on, you don't feel good anymore and so you try a different diet. And the cycle repeats.

Just so you know, less than one per cent of people can stick to a diet and get any sort of long-term results. So if that is you, you're not alone. And it's not you who failed, the diet failed you.

In May 2021, Allied Market Research published a piece stating, “The weight loss and weight management diet market size was valued at $192.2 billion in 2019, and is projected reach $295.3 billion by 2027,...”

With approximately 24 per cent of men and up to 40, one statistic was as high as 57, percent of women currently on a diet, that's big money. There is absolutely a way to get improve health and achieve and maintain a healthy weight without doing all the crazy things. But diets aren't going to tell you that because as you can see, keeping you coming back and trying the next best thing is big business.

For over 13 years now, I've been educating people on how to stop dieting. Rather than focus solely on bringing down the number on the scale, we focus on the six components of health—nutrition, exercise, water, stress, sleep, and supplements and balancing blood sugar.

Think of six spinning plates. When they're all up and spinning, everything's great. When one starts to wobble – you go a little off track in one of those areas – and all you have to do is adjust, re-focus that one area, and voila, the plate stays up and keeps spinning.

The difference between this approach vs a diet, is that diets focus on all the things you need to give up and all the hoops you need to jump through in order to see the scale move. And they make you feel guilty anytime you fall short of their unrealistic expectations. Here's a good litmus test.

Ask yourself these three questions:

1. Is what I'm doing or about to do based on science?

2. Would I let my younger child or teenager do it?

3. Can I do this for life?

If you answered “yes” to all three, awesome! You're on the right track. If not, you're likely setting yourself up for a big disappointment.

Whereas an approach based on the science of blood sugar stabilization that addresses creating balance in those six key areas, means you're using food to create hormonal balance. Instead of restricting certain foods or eliminating entire food groups, it's giving yourself permission to eat. And yes, even carbs.

I have people tell me all the time they are so surprised at how much they're eating and they're still losing weight. When you focus on health and giving your body what it needs, the scale takes care of itself—and you get results you can keep for the rest of your life.

For more info and free video on how to stop dieting and keep those six plates spinning, email Tania at, [email protected], subject “video”.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Why diets fail—and it's not you

Six components to health

Last weekend, hubby and I returned from a two-week, cross-Canada road trip.

OK, realistically we only went as far as Red Lake, but after so much time in the car it seemed like we must have covered Canada in it's entirity. Not that I felt the trip was boring - we had a wonderful time visiting friends and family, attending the Battle for Canada Festival in Winnipeg with our church, fishing – it's just a lot of sitting. And I am not a sitter.

For those of you who follow me on social media, or belong to my group, you've probably seen me post workout videos, seen a few live videos walking home from the gym and just general talk about the importance of daily movement. I just feel better when I'm more active and I know a lot of you out there feel the same and swear by, even rely on, that daily workout, walk or swim to stay in shape.

As much as I am that self-proclaimed gym rat, exercise and movement are just one piece to the health puzzle and will only get you results for a season when that's the only thing you're using to achieve health and weight goals.

Real, lasting, sustainable results that you can live with come from the inside out. What and how you fuel your body, along with having the right mindset is what will allow you to win with your health, even if, and when, something happens to knock you off track with those workouts.

There are six components to health – nutrition, exercise, water, stress, sleep and supplements. Think of them like spinning plates. You've all seen those performers with the plates spinning high atop a stick, adding in another and another, keeping them balanced in such a way that those plates keep spinning. When one starts to slow down or wobble, a slight shift in the balance gets it back spinning again. Had the balance not been checked, those slight movements not been done, they all would have come crashing down.

Think of each one of the six components as a spinning plate. Each one is addressed in the way that serves your body and is a plate successfully set spinning atop a stick.

I use plates because nutrition is the one that makes the biggest impact, whether it's successfully spinning, or crashing to the floor. Food, in comparison to exercise determines about 80 percent of your results when it comes to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

That doesn't mean you should stop exercising, not at all. What it means is your health and weight is made in the kitchen, not the gym. And while I'm addressing weight, just because someone is skinny, or thin, does not mean they are healthy.

This is where the diet industry has sold you lies, telling you that if you just, stop eating carbs or stop eating fat or just take this pill/shot/drop and the fat will melt off etc., you'll get the results you've been looking for.

You just may get results, and by results I mean the number on the scale (for a moment) might be favourable. But how will you feel? How stressful will it be living like that?

The nutrition plate wobbled (gave up carbs) and wobbled (counting calories) and wobbled (crazy workouts) and finally was so out of balance the plate fell off the stick and crashed. That's when the weight comes back on and the cycle tends to repeat. I hope you can't relate.

It's not that people are lazy, or not trying hard enough. Clearly they want to have results or they wouldn't buy the book, take the pills order the food, count the calories, etc., etc., etc., It's just that they have been given bad information.

Diets are big business and if you have the information and tools you need to keep those plates spinning, achieving your health and weight goals without dieting and able to sustain those results for the rest of your life, it would put them out of business.

The fact is, achieving your health goals and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is simple. It all comes down to balance. Learning to eat the foods you love in a way that serves your body and your soul.

Did you know that having chicken with pizza is more balanced than an apple? An apple is a carb, and eating carbs alone will spike your blood sugar. Pizza is a high carb food too, but adding in the chicken helps to prevent the spike for a better balance.

Am I saying never to eat an apple and just eat pizza? Of course not. My point is that when you know how food works you can use it in a way that works for you. And once you learn that, you have it for life and you'll never have to diet again.

Using food to create hormonal balance, stabilize blood sugar, increase circulation, optimize digestion and support collagen resilience is a thing. It can be done.

When your food is balanced and on track, and your nutrition plate is spinning, it's just that much easier to adjust the wobbles of the other plates and keep them in the air too.

If you want to learn more about balancing and how to keep those plates in the air, join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes Facebook group

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

You are what you absorb

Using supplements

New health trends are always popping up and because of that, I’m always learning, researching and growing.

One of the most eye-opening things I learned a while back has recently become a bit of a buzz in health. You are not necessarily what you eat, you're only what your body can absorb. Lightbulb moment for sure right?

The way your body absorbs and utilizes nutrients is almost more important than the nutrient consumption itself. For example, often times you may be eating the right amount of a protein, but your body may not be digesting it properly. And if it can't digest a food, it can't break the food down into small enough molecules and therefore be unable to fully absorb it.

In this instance, it doesn't make sense to just add in more protein to your next meal. Adding more of something your body isn't capable of using is tantamount to raising your voice and slowing your speech trying to get a point across to someone who doesn't speak the same language as you do. Yelling at them won't make them capable of understanding you anymore than adding more protein won't make your body capable of absorbing the nutrients.

Creating the right conditions within your body so that your body is better able to absorb, metabolize and digest that protein is what does the trick. And the right supplements can most definitely help support your body to better absorb.

For some people, however, there is a bit of a “resistance mindset” to the suggestion of certain supplements. Or any supplements for that matter. I addressed this in one of my columns a while back but it bares repeating. I still can't pinpoint it but I have two thoughts.

First, there's the belief that we can get all the nutrients we need just from food. And while it is possible, the likelihood that we're all eating enough high quality, organic, non-gmo foods 100 percent of the time is just not feasible. Even my vegetarian and vegan daughters aren't eating 10 to 13 servings of fruits and veggies per day.

Second, I think it has to do with a mindset about "being sold to." That the chiropractor, naturopath, nutritionist, functional medicine doctor, etc., is only trying to sell you something. And nobody likes that, present company included.

As a health professional myself, trust me, health pros become affiliates for a certain product(s) because of the benefits they experience for themselves and see in their clients and patients. Period.

It's not about how much money they can make, it’s about how many people they can help. Do ask your practitioner if he or she uses the products they're recommending to you. Their answer will tell you a lot.

It is, however, important to note that we need certain supplementation to help properly absorb the food we eat so that it will all be used for good and benefit your body in the way it was intended.

So when your health and wellness expert, whom you trust and whose reputation is on the line, suggests a product, (or treatment) believe them. After all, wasn't that why you booked the appointment in the first place, to get their advice?

You'll listen to your trainer about fitness (heck some people even pay more for a trainer who will put you through crazy, intense workouts), to your chiropractor about how to lift and carry things, to your nutritionist on what foods to eat, what to look for on labels and why you should avoid it, your naturopath on what foods to avoid, so why suddenly become skeptical when any one of those practitioners recommends a supplement?

I've thought long and hard about this and aside from the obvious, “I don't have time” or “Not sure I can spend the extra money right now,” try replacing “I don't have time” with “That's not a priority” and you'll see perspective get shifted real quick.

The other one I hear a lot is, “I can't afford it,” which, for a vast majority of people isn't really as true as they'd have themselves believe.

Try this. Open up all your cupboards, your pantry, freezer, etc., and grab a calculator. Tally up the cost of all the non-essential, empty-calorie food you have. How about the dollar value of drive-through trips for the month? Dinners out? You see where this is going, right?

The vitamins your naturopath suggested or the digestive enzymes your nutritionist recommended somehow got replaced with some random brand that popped up while you were scrolling social media. Or maybe “Dr. Google” told you it wasn't necessary at all.

It really doesn't matter what the reason or excuse may be. The Bottom line is Tik Tok, Facebook, Costco or Amazon should never have more influence over the people who take the time to know you, are educated in their field and who want what’s best for you.

For more information on supplements, absorption, and digestion, join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Counting calories is the wrong way to lose weight

Stop counting calories

For decades, one of the most common ways people have tried to lose weight is by counting calories.

We've been led to believe that by simply taking in fewer calories than we burn off, those unwanted pounds will fall away and be gone forever.

On paper and in our heads this makes sense. After all, if you normally consume 2000 calories per day and then drop down to 1500 calories per day, the math supports that you should lose weight. And you will—at first.

Like many other diets out there, this “calories in vs. calories out” is based solely on numbers, without taking into account things like nutrition, health, fitness goals, etc. It's possible to hit your number target for the day in any number of unhealthy ways, many of which actually work against the way the body was designed to function, resulting in a slower metabolism and even compromised immune function.

Restricting or cutting out entire food groups, excessive exercise, consuming pre-packaged, low-calorie meals, skipping meals in order to “save” those calories to be consumed later in the day, all focus on one thing, calories. How to keep them from entering the body, and/or how to burn off as many as possible of the ones that got in. Sound exhausting?

In order to lose just one pound, the body has to either burn off or create a deficit of 3,500 calories. That's a big number. And focusing on that number— counting, doing the math, buying low-cal packaged foods, working out like a crazy person, checking your FitBit or Apple Watch —hoping to hit those targets is work. A lot of work.

As I said earlier, you can get results doing this but for most people, it's short-lived. It’s no wonder statistics say less than one percent of people can maintain a diet for life. Honestly, diets are liars. They make promises and never deliver long-term.

Aside from the obvious stress of counting calories and the pressure to be perfect in order to achieve results, this approach doesn't address any of the six components of health – stress, sleep, water, nutrition, exercise and supplements. In fact all it does is really just create more stress, mentally from trying to be perfect and get those numbers to line up, and physically due to the lack of attention paid to creating health.

On the flip side, when we focus on building up the body and doing things that create health, making our calories count, rather than counting the calories, great things begin to happen. In fact the only time I look at calorie consumption with my clients is if they aren't eat enough. Yep, that's right. More often than not the people I work with are not eating enough. They come from that place of restriction and are afraid that if they eat more they will gain weight when in fact their bodies are not taking in enough nutrients to get the job done.

Not providing your body enough nutrients causes your body to go into starvation mode, saving and storing almost everything it does get, as fat. Once you understand this and start giving your body what it needs, it's amazing the wonderful things that begin to happen in very short order.

Choose whole, single-ingredient foods, put together in a way that stabilizes blood sugar. Drink lots of clean water, get out and move every day, reduce stress, get enough sleep so you feel rested in the morning and use quality supplements to fill the gaps in meals, nutrition and nutrients.

Repeat that daily for best results. By doing so, you’ll create healthy habits that, when maintained consistently over time, will help you to not only look and feel better, burn fat, lose weight and turn on metabolism, they will also help balance your hormones, reverse disease, increase energy, improve concentration and focus and strengthen your immune system. That’s a pretty cool list of side effects.

So, as you think about your next meal, snack, grocery shop or dinner out, focus on the food rather than the number of calories. When you buy, prepare, serve and order more whole, single-ingredient foods, your meals will naturally be higher in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fibre, while at the same time contain far less sugar, no additives or preservatives.

And yes, there will also be a lot fewer calories. Naturally.

If you're looking for more ways to make your calories count and take back control of your health, join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes! group on Facebook.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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.

Previous Stories