How Relative Fat Mass Index improves on Body Mass Index as a measure of health

Relative fat mass index is supplanting body mass index as an indicator of health.
Relative fat mass index is supplanting body mass index as an indicator of health.

How Relative Fat Mass Index improves on Body Mass Index as a measure of health

Underweight. Normal weight. Overweight. Obese. These are the four categories the Body Mass Index (BMI) has used in its health assessment.

BMI calculation is based on two metrics: height and weight. Use one of many online BMI calculators and you will receive a number that is meant to indicate your general health. Below 18 and you are underweight. You are of normal weight if your BMI is between 18.5 and 25, overweight if it is between 25 and 30. Anybody with a BMI of 30 or more is obese.

However, more reports and studies are finding fault with BMI as a measure of health. Basing a calculation of health on height and weight alone, BMI doesn’t take into account bone, muscle, or fat proportions. This means that a person with exceptional muscle tone and low fat is more likely to have a higher BMI compared to someone with higher fat and lower muscle tone — because muscle can be four times as dense as fat.

If the BMI is defective, why are we still using it? Is there an easy alternative to the BMI? Yes, and it’s the relative fat mass index (RFM).

Studies have determined that your waist circumference provides a more accurate reading of your abdominal fat and risk for disease than BMI. Based on data from 3,456 patients in the United States, the RFM measurements closely matched those taken by a high-tech DXA body scan, widely considered the gold standard for measuring body tissue, bone, muscle and fat.

To get your new RFM measurement, measure your height and waist circumference, then plug the figures into this formula:
MEN: 64 – (20 x height/waist circumference) = RFM
WOMEN: 76 – (20 x height/waist circumference) = RFM
What’s interesting about the RFM is that weight is not even part of the overall equation. Additionally, there are no strict categories for simple classification.

As doctors and organizations like the American Society for Nutrition and the American Diabetes Association promote waist-circumference measurements as a supplement to, or replacement for, the body mass index, we are starting to rethink the relationship between weight and overall health. So, let’s say goodbye to the BMI and embrace the change that comes with new information that will hopefully lead us towards a more holistic view of wellness.

Diets come and go, but how do you decide which one works for you? Listen to your body​

Post-workout meal / image source: Healthline
Post-workout meal / image source: Healthline

Diets come and go, but how do you decide which one works for you? Listen to your body

A new diet is introduced and it’s hailed as a fast way to lose weight and get healthy. The culture embraces this diet and celebrates it. Celebrities post before and after photographs and articles citing scientific evidence are published in journals.

Then, everything changes. The backlash begins as the truth comes out. This diet isn’t healthy, it’s too restrictive, it harms your body, or causes severe side effects. Lines are drawn and the information becomes increasingly confusing. For every positive, there’s a negative ready to address each specific claim.

Recently, the keto diet has been in the news because celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels has come out strongly against it. She describes its negative effect on the body. And maybe Michaels is right. However, she is also someone who recommended that people who were gaining weight from antidepressants go off their medication and that it’s okay for pregnant women to occasionally have a drink.

But the truth is that regardless of Michaels’ feelings about the keto diet, the backlash against popular ways of eating is inevitable. Remember Atkins, South Beach, the Master Cleanse, Whole 30, Eat Right for Your Blood Type, fasting, the Mediterranean diet, juice cleanses, paleo, clean eating, weight loss tea, apple cider vinegar, intermittent fasting, coffee enemas…and on and on. Every single one of these diets swept through our culture and was hailed as the new hope of quick and easy weight loss. And only months later, these diet cookbooks fight for space in the bargain bin.

Despite the different rules of diets, they are all aimed at the same basic formula: ingest fewer calories and burn more calories. Eat less, move more. How you trick your body into eating fewer calories is really at the diet’s heart. Whether it’s a deliberate feeding time, constantly drinking liquid, or ingesting protein that sends your body the satiety signals, each diet works the same way.

For some people, having a restricted diet helps them feel in control of their relationship with food. It prohibits feelings of bingeing and stops them from reaching for sugar-filled, high carb snacks. For others, the set of laws that govern diets is enough to shake them out of the misconception that they are eating healthy. These extreme diets can be the wake-up call that you need to assess your habits and help examine your relationship with food.

Where diets become dangerous is when they aren’t actually good for you. And the you is not general, it’s very specific and individual. While your friend may find the keto diet the best way to make healthy changes in her life, you might find yourself struggling. I remember when I was drinking bulletproof coffee in the morning and I felt extreme pains in my side that sent me to the hospital. The ingestion of this type fat was not right for me — and I had to stop immediately. However, I have several clients that put the exact same oil in their coffee and swear by it.

There is no overarching diet that is good for everyone. If you want to try cutting out carbs or trading in a smoothie for a meal, I think you should. But if you are in pain or suffering from weakness and lack of energy, you need to supplement what you are doing with different foods. And your body will actually tell you what you are missing. Those hunger pangs, and I’m not talking about cravings for peanut M&Ms, are your body telling you what it needs. From meat to more vegetables, listening to your body will help you navigate the complicated waters of eating.

Diets may come and go. You might find one that works for you, or you might laugh at the time you ate cabbage soup for a week and spent more time in the bathroom than at your desk. What isn’t negotiable is listening to what your body needs and not being afraid to break from an extreme eating routine.

Celebrating one year of TrainingSpaces

closeup on handle of Inspire functional trainer machine
Before and after
Before and after

Celebrating one year of TrainingSpaces

Where did the time go? It feels like it was only days ago that I was waiting for the equipment to be delivered and putting finishing touches on our website. A year is a big milestone in the life of any business and it’s given me time to think back on everything we’ve achieved — and where we still need to go.

The most stressful part was getting started. I started TrainingSpaces out of necessity. I had spent my entire career as a trainer renting from others and received the sudden news that I could no longer train in my current space. This was a wake-up call. I needed to take the plunge and stop being at the whims of others. Despite the fact I never saw myself running a studio, I needed to do it. Finding a space and negotiating with the landlord and lawyers was incredibly difficult.Once I had signed the lease, I was nervous but relieved. I would finally be the person in charge of my own future and, succeed or fail, these decisions would be mine.

Everything I did was a dress rehearsal for running TrainingSpaces. My experience in a number of unrelated jobs and renting from others helped me figure out how I would behave as a studio owner. I had seen how the mistakes of others led to their downfall — from pure disorganization to communication failures. Those were invaluable lessons and warnings of how not to run a studio and I paid close attention, determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

I needed to be loyal to my vision. Once I had secured my lease, I decided that TrainingSpaces would be a place for trainers. By defining what type of fitness professionals I wanted to attract, I could decide what type of equipment I needed. Even my logo, the kettlebell, encompassed the purpose of my business and my overall brand. This was a place to lift weights and get stronger.

Setting goals is essential. We always talk about fitness goal setting and I had to do the same for my business. I planned out what I wanted to accomplish in increments and made sure my goals were SMART. By doing this, I could evaluate my success against a timeframe and decide if I needed to make changes or maintain my current approaches.

The most surprising thing I’ve learned: I’m constantly cleaning. Running a studio with 13 trainers and their clients, classes, and bodywork sessions requires constant attention. I take pride in TrainingSpaces and want everyone to feel comfortable — so if this means dusting five times a day, I’ll grab the broom and start sweeping.

Future plans and next steps. Because businesses need to change and grow, I’m always thinking about what’s next. Looking at our space, I’m re-evaluating its layout and purpose. Are there ways we can better accommodate all our trainers and clients? There probably are. With expansion, I’m hoping to add more trainers and more classes to the weekly schedules. And this means I’m looking into different scheduling options to make it easier for trainers to book their time.

In the past year, TrainingSpaces has been redefining how we all work out. But it wouldn’t be possible without you — our trainers, our clients, and our readers. So, on behalf of the TrainingSpaces family, thank you for standing by us, training with us, bringing us your ideas and suggestions, following us on social media, and being part of our little fitness revolution.

On to Year Two!

TrainingSpaces is marking its one-year anniversary!

Laura Rantin working with a partner.

TrainingSpaces is marking its one-year anniversary!

Today marks a year since TrainingSpaces opened its doors for business.

It was always our dream to create a place that redefined what makes a fitness studio special. We didn’t do it with scented towels or fancy lighting schemes. We focused on quality, inclusion, and community, and built a space that was right for everyone.

We started with just empty space. Then we installed special flooring, a sound system, a Wifi network, and state-of-the-art fitness equipment.

We started with two trainers. Since then, we’ve grown to a roster of 13 trainers with dozens of clients, putting in hours of training seven days a week. From weight loss to strength training and flexibility, all goals and fitness levels are celebrated. We have also been able to offer group classes, bodywork, specialized stretching, diet counselling, and bellydance. Whatever the approach, TrainingSpaces continues to redefine the boundaries of wellness.

We have a growing Instagram presence and our own YouTube channel. Our mailing list continues to add subscribers every week. And we’re boosting traffic to our website and climbing the search-engine rankings with weekly blog updates.

Not bad for one year.

But it wouldn’t be possible without you — our trainers, our clients, and our readers.

And if you thought Year One was a good start, there’s much more to accomplish in Year Two.

Join us and let’s see where the next year takes us!

Is it authentic, or just a manufactured influencer? Be wary of ‘advice’ contrived via social media

social media influencers / Image source: appinstitute.com
social media influencers / Image source: appinstitute.com

Is it authentic, or just a manufactured influencer? Be wary of ads contrived via social media

If you are engaged in social media, and especially Instagram, you are probably familiar with the power of influencers. These are ordinary people, just like you and me, who lovingly curate their feeds with inspirational photos of their meals, exercise routines, glorious sunrises, and breathtaking sunsets. They tag their posts with #blessed, #fitspo, and #empowered — and offer us all a slice of a more perfect life. It can be fun to thumb through the feeds of people of all shapes and sizes living their best lives and offering us that push that we can do it too.

Influencers can be found in all corners of the online fitness social communities. From trainers to fit-at-any-size marathoners to mothers entering their first weightlifting competitions, social media has given voice to those who might not fit the stereotype of a typical fitness devotee.

Recently, high levels of Instagram user engagement have given companies an opportunity to capitalize on users with thousands of followers.These Instagram ads, for which influencers can be paid an estimated $1,000 per 100,000 followers, are selling not just a product but an entire lifestyle. They also might be selling bad fitness and diet-related advice.

9 out of 10 patients look to influencers and online communities when making health and wellness decisions. 94% of people share influencer-driven health information with others.

But let’s think about the reality of these influencers. Are they qualified to provide wellness advice? Or are they motivated by a desire to promote certain products or simply to further their personal brands? Because sponcon (sponsored content) can be positioned alongside other posts, it can be difficult to separate the paid ads from the personal stories.

As you scroll through different feeds, keep an eye out for these paid promotions masquerading as solid lifestyle advice. Because influencers are more likely to be ordinary people and not celebrities, they are more valuable to sponsors and appear more trustworthy. Having 100,000 followers does not make you a fitness expert. It does not make you a qualified trainer or a nutritionist. What it makes you is a person with beautiful photos and a performance of authenticity that appeals to your followers.

Before you take advice from anyone you follow on social media, take a moment to evaluate this advice. Is there a prominent brand name dominating the caption? Could these before and after photos be altered in any way? Are you taking advice from influencers you would never even consider if it came from your best friend, a neighbour, or a casual acquaintance?

If you said answered “yes” to any of these questions, maybe it’s time to click “unfollow”.

When treatments go wrong: speak up, it’s your body

Image source: The Independent / Getty Images
Image source: Shutterstock

When treatments go wrong: speak up, it's your body

Last week, I wrote about IV Therapy. I explained what it is and outlined how it may or may not be helpful to treat chronic or immediate health concerns. I also mentioned that I had recently tried IV Therapy and shared my own thoughts.

What I didn’t describe was my experience at the clinic. It can be difficult separating a treatment from the circumstances surrounding how that treatment was administered. I believe I did my best to be impartial and focus on what I felt were the health benefits of IV Therapy.

Now, separated from the actual cocktail of vitamins and electrolytes, I would like to focus on what actually happened at this clinic. I was attended to by a nurse who did not properly administer the IV drip. While clinics are staffed by certified medical professionals, you have assume that the individual attending to you knows what they are doing.

Well, maybe this was just a bad day or a one-off experience, but my nurse did not get my IV into my vein. Instead, my upper arm filled with fluid. When I asked my nurse if this was normal, I was shrugged off. Eventually, I needed to speak with a different nurse when I was in an increasing amount of pain. And I am not a complainer. I have an extremely high pain tolerance. This nurse realized what was going on, quickly removed the IV from my arm, and re-administered it. Immediately, I could tell that this was done correctly.

For many of us, we know what feels right and what is uncomfortable. We know how our bodies should react and when we are struggling beyond a reasonable expectation.

What can you do if you have an experience that feels more uncomfortable than invigorating? The first thing you must do is tell the person administering the treatment to stop. Although they might think that everything is proceeding according to plan, only you can speak up and explain how you are feeling. Sometimes it can be difficult to advocate for yourself when you are in a vulnerable position. However, speaking up is not making yourself an inconvenience. It not only draws attention to what you are experiencing, but provides the administrator with valuable feedback. Maybe you aren’t the first person who has had this reaction to this therapy. Maybe your own voice will ease the experience for others.

Speaking up, especially in a bodywork or wellness setting, can be awkward or uncomfortable. As the expert of your own body, your experience is more critical than those of the people in charge. You are paying for them and you deserve to be treated properly. This includes being honest and, yes even critical, if the experience is uncomfortable, the setting is unprofessional, or you are not satisfied.

You are the customer — and your words and patronage are your real currency.

Guest blog: why bellydance? Join Kelly May 15 and find out

bellydance art
bellydance art

Guest blog: why bellydance? Join Kelly May 15 and find out

A guest post from trainer and bellydance instructor Kelly Enston. This post originally appeared April 19 on her site at KellyKinetics

Why would someone want to bellydance, you may ask?

Well, there are so many reasons why people should bellydance!

If you are worried about it being a sexual thing, don’t worry, it’s less sexual than it is sensual in its movements. Originally the history of bellydance started as a dance developed by women for women.

Although there are misconceptions about what bellydance really is, be assured, and anyone can correct me, that it only became sexualized by men. Funnily enough, now bellydance has taken the entire world by storm and there are amazing male bellydancers as well. That being said, I welcome everyone into my classes.

If you are worried about showing your midsection, guess what?! You don’t have to unless you feel comfortable doing so. In bellydance classes, you can wear whatever you feel comfortable in. You can wear a full-length tank top or t-shirt, or you can wear something showing your midsection. The main thing is, no matter the level of coverage, it should be form-fitting so that as your bellydance instructor, I can properly see your body movements.

If you decide to start performing in small student shows or even professionally one day, that’s another level and even there, there are options on coverage level. Main point here is, do not let this stop you from learning. I want my students to be comfortable coming to class.

Besides being really fun… I share a list of other reasons to bellydance. Some may come with an explanation.

1. Learning about how your body moves and feels

Your fitness journey doesn’t always need to start in the gym.

The way I teach bellydance (based on Hadia’s Amazing Body Logic System), you learn what muscles create certain bellydance moves, how these muscles are meant to work to create those movements and in turn you develop a greater sense of body awareness. So many people’s brains are detached from their bodies. I help you reconnect mind and body through bellydance. The methods I use also provide the body with a nice massage!

2. Learning what it can do for your overall mind, body and soul.

Once you start to see how my methods to teach this dance art work, and you get more comfortable and confident in your abilities, you will see how bellydance starts to collectively affect your mind body and soul positively. I haven’t met a person yet, including myself, that this has not happened to.

3. Learning that every person’s body, mind and soul is unique and so bellydance will empower each of you in a different way.

I think this is self-explanatory. Every individual is unique. I expect feedback on this to be very different for everyone.

Teaching at Carmen Romero's Dance Studio

4. Learning about your strengths and weaknesses and having the courage to work on weaknesses in order to build them into strengths.

Learning anything new will allow this to happen, but I find learning how your body works is an excellent avenue for this type of growth.

5. Getting a great workout in a fun, safe and friendly environment.

6. Allowing yourself to learn about a new culture while having fun and making friends.

7. Allowing yourself to use your body for something it was built to do.

If you want to bring fitness and health, joy and empowerment into your life, then come out and learn what bellydance can do for you!

If this convinces you to come try out a class, I invite you to a free demo class on Wednesday May 15th, 12-1:30 pm, at Training Spaces, 567 College Street West, Toronto, ON. To reserve your spot in this free trial class please visit https://live.vcita.com/site/kellykinetics or email [email protected] to confirm your spot.

IV therapy: magical health infusion or expensive and temporary placebo?

IV therapy: the latest wellness trend. Image source: lateet.com
IV therapy: the latest wellness trend. Image source: lateet.com

IV therapy: magical health infusion or expensive and temporary placebo?

The Future of Fitness Explained: IV Therapy

If you love to learn about new exercise and fitness trends, The Future of Fitness explains it to you in a way you can understand and separate the hype cycle from actual results.

IV therapy has been used for decades in hospitals to treat a range of conditions from dehydration to nutrient-absorption disorders. However, IV Therapy clinics have started to pop up in busy metropolitan areas. Boasting miraculous hangover cures and immunity boosts, are these expensive shot infusions worth the price or are they just hype?

What is IV Therapy? 

IV Therapy is an infusion that is specifically designed to address a health concern, to increase immunity, as a beauty treatment, or to boost energy. A cocktail of vitamins and minerals combined with fluids and electrolytes are delivered to your body intravenously. With IV Therapy, as soon as your infusion starts, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are quickly circulated through your bloodstream and delivered to cells.

What Do I Need to Do? 

If you are interested in IV Therapy, you need to book an appointment with a clinic. You can find a number of locations online that explain what combinations and treatments they offer. You arrive at the clinic, sign a waiver (or waivers depending on health history or age), and wait to be hooked up to an IV by one of the healthcare professionals.

Does it Work? 

There are lots of stories about people who felt IV Therapy was invaluable in helping them manage a variety of chronic conditions like migraines, fibromyalgia, cardiovascular issues, or adrenal fatigue. As someone who recently tried IV Therapy, and with most alternative healthcare practices, I feel that results may vary. I booked myself an appointment when I was feeling rundown and susceptible to a cold. After my treatment, I did feel renewed and energetic — and I did not get sick. However, it was only four days before I returned to my previous tired state.

Should I Try It? 

It depends. How do you feel about general IV infusions? Have you had any previous difficulties having your blood drawn or receiving fluids through your veins in a hospital setting. Fighting your own history of IV drips to try a trendy cure is probably not worth it.

If you have no problem with IVs and want to see if IV therapy can restore your energy or help you fight off a cold, this might be for you. If you have been working long hours or extending yourself, IV Therapy may be a quick solution to prevent the inevitable burnout and crash that comes with over-work and over-play.

Do keep in mind that IV Therapy is quite expensive — prices are usually over $100 per session and are generally paid for out-of-pocket.

More Information Please!

Try these links and get educated about IV Therapy:
https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2016-07-07/should-you-try-iv-therapy
https://www.healthline.com/health/under-review-IV-vitamin-therapy
https://www.mentalhelp.net/blogs/iv-drip-bars-is-this-the-new-path-to-wellness/
https://www.medicaldaily.com/hydration-therapy-benefits-and-risks-behind-iv-infusion-water-and-minerals-401808

Intermittent fasting worked for Hugh Jackman. Is it the future of fitness?

Hugh Jackman shirtless all buff as Wolverine.
Hugh Jackman shirtless all buff as Wolverine.

Intermittent fasting worked for Hugh Jackman. Is it the future of fitness?

If you love to learn about new exercise and fitness trends, The Future of Fitness explains it to you in a way you can understand and separate the hype cycle from actual results.

This post originally appeared July 16, 2018.

People are talking about Intermittent Fasting. It’s how Hugh Jackman got so pumped for Logan! It’s how you can control your appetite and eat whatever you want! It doesn’t care about carbs or fats! It’s a war on breakfast … and breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting is eating within a specific timed window. It’s become increasingly popular over the past few years because preliminary studies on mice and observational ones in humans suggest this method of eating might translate to weight loss and, at least in some cases, improved metabolic health. It’s also become increasingly easy with apps like Zero to undertake a fast — as they allow you to set your fast time and alert you when your fast is over.

What Do I Need to Do?

Depending on the fast type, you complete your evening meal and then fast for a designated amount of time. For some, that’s 16 hours. Others may choose the 13-hour circadian-rhythm fast where you start fasting as close to sunset as possible for at least 13 hours.

Does it work?

Yes and No. According to recent studies, nearly all types of intermittent fasting are physically and mentally harmless — and can result in some weight loss. However, there’s no evidence to show that intermittent fasting can result in more weight loss or superior health metrics compared to plain old continuous caloric restriction.

Should I Try It?

Like any new diet or exercise regimen, you always should check with your doctor before diving in. Do your research and don’t be swayed by the promises of miraculous instant weight loss. We’ve been through this before where a magical solution guarantees instant results.

More Information Please!

Try these links and learn more about the pros and cons of intermittent fasting:


Related posts:

With weight training, it’s not how much you lift or how many reps, but how hard you work the muscles​

woman athlete weight training / Image source: Leon Martinez/pexels.com
woman athlete weight training / Image source: Leon Martinez/pexels.com

With weight training, it's not how much you lift or how many reps, but how hard you work the muscles

Lifting weights is an essential part to achieving any fitness goal — and this includes losing weight. Once my clients embrace the benefits of weight training, they begin researching how they should lift weights. Apart from queries about good form, the most common question I get about weight training is: should I lift heavy or should I lift light?

And believe me … everyone has an opinion about this. Websites will debate this in forums with the bodybuilders encouraging people to lift as much as they possibly can with holistic fitness forums praising lighter weights at multiple reps. But I am going to set the record straight.

You might have heard that lifting heavy weights for a low number of reps builds muscle, while lifting lighter weights more times tones them. But what is muscle tone? This is just an expression to describe how firm a muscle looks. But the fact is that your muscle tone doesn’t change — exercise or not. The way your muscle looks depends on two things: the amount of fat that covers it and the elasticity of your skin. So your goal shouldn’t be toning your muscle. It should be reducing the amount of fat that covers the muscle. Muscles closer to the surface, without a barrier of fat, will be more visible — and look more “toned.”

But really, it’s not about how much your lift. You can lift heavy or you can lift light. What really matters is how much effort you put into the exercise. Regardless of how much weight you feel you should be lifting, the real key is to fatigue your muscles by taking each set to the point where you can’t do any more with good form. How hard you work is what it’s all about.

This means you have to get uncomfortable and challenge yourself through using a heavier weight or performing one or two more reps. Light weights will be effective in the beginning, but this will eventually wane. It can be hard to force yourself out of your comfort zone, but without gradually increasing weight or reps, your progress will stall. By lifting heavier weights, you build more muscle, and more muscle leads to a faster metabolism. Stay in the comfort zone and get used to being comfortable. You need to challenge yourself for real progress.

How hard you work is the secret to maximizing weightlifting efficiency. Forget heavy versus light. Like most things in life, with weightlifting what you put in is what you get out.