Is your diet the main saboteur on your journey to wellness?

When your diet is your biggest saboteur. Image credit: The Telegraph

Is your diet the main saboteur on your journey to wellness?

If you took a sample of people who were dedicated to exercising regularly and asked them why they started, most would say they wanted to get “healthy.” But we know that being “healthy” isn’t a real goal. When you dig a little deeper, you learn the truth about what motivates individuals to include exercise in their lives.

I was out of shape.

I had a physical coming up.

I had a family reunion/bar mitzvah/wedding in six months.

I couldn’t fit into my jeans.

Exercise is usually the first step in a healthier lifestyle. It’s easy to add in and you feel great when you’re done. It taps into our endorphins and makes us feel a sense of accomplishment. Exercise is its own reward.

But exercise isn’t everything. It’s just an important part of the bigger picture. So when I ask you what might be standing your way, keeping you from achieving your goals, what do you think it could be? If you exercise six times a week but fail to see progress — what could be sabotaging your success?

It might be your food. In fact, it probably is your food.

Many people who have had food issues for most of their lives don’t look at food as the barrier to success. When we have a relationship with food that goes beyond fuel, it’s difficult to see it as something that stands in our way. For many of us, food represents so much. It’s non-judgemental and been a constant throughout our lives. We socialize over meals with friends and family. We treat ourselves after a particularly difficult day. And we never examine how boredom, routine, and emotions tie into how we eat, what we eat, and when we eat.

It’s funny how quickly people defend their food consumption habits.The number of times that I’ve heard “it’s not my food, I just need to exercise more” is no longer surprising. Food always gets a pass — and it’s because unpacking our relationship with food is more difficult than unpacking our relationship with exercise. But without an examination of how you use food in your life, your goals will continue to slip away.

To start, keep a diary of what you eat and when you eat (more about the importance of food tracking can be found here). Spend some thinking about your relationship with food and figure out what role it has played in your life. Moving forward, what role should it be playing? How will you make this shift? Can you do this alone, or do you need help?

If you have a trainer, take the time to talk about food. Do they have any suggestions on how you can form healthy habits? Can they recommend strategies to help re-contextualize your food relationship? Trainers aren’t just focused on how much you lift. They are your partner in progress towards your goals — so don’t be afraid to admit how food might be your main saboteur on your road to wellness. You might be surprised to learn that they have faced a similar challenge, and can offer you non-judgemental support and solutions.

Related links:

Can You Exercise Off a Bad Diet?

How Bad Diet Could Be Causing You Injury and Illness

Don’t let over-hyped evaluations get you down

Trainer discussing evaluation with client. Image credit: Youfit Health Clubs

Don't let over-hyped 'evaluations'
get you down

When you join a gym, many of them offer you a “free evaluation.” Fuelled with images of your new body and setting the record of pull-ups, you make an appointment with a gym personal trainer to see how close you are to your goal.

I have very rarely heard of these appointments going well. As a personal trainer, I am often confronted by my own clients following their initial evaluation. They could not perform the activities. They were called obese. They were pushed to perform exercises that damaged their body.

They felt like failures.

What my clients don’t realize is that there’s no such thing as a free evaluation. These one-on-one sessions are designed to sell personal training sessions. The gym environment is extremely competitive, and personal trainers often have to fight for clients. Offering new clients an evaluation is a trick to make them feel like they are extremely out of shape and can only be rescued by a personal trainer.

The fitness evaluation is a tricky thing. As there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to training, there is also no one-size-fits-all fitness evaluation. Instead, personal training is a give-and-take relationship with clients opening up about what they want from a session (or long-term plan) and a trainer constantly refining what exercises will help them achieve their goal. The trainers at most gyms quickly use a series of tests to gauge where they think a client is at — and select the exercises that will best highlight the weakness.

Evaluation as sales technique

I am not saying that personal trainers at gyms are unprofessional or unqualified. The truth is that they are under extreme pressure to retain their jobs and build a clientele. In a numbers-driven sales environment, trainers are pushed to make a hard sell to potential clients. These environments do not prioritize the trainer-client relationship. Instead, it’s about the numbers.

If you do join a gym and are offered a free evaluation, there’s nothing stopping you from giving it a try. Do not take the experience personally and remember the real reason behind the evaluation. However, there’s a simple way to test your fitness at a new gym that doesn’t involve the hard sell: take a class or try out a new piece of cardio equipment.

Instead of feeling badly about yourself, why not start your gym relationship positively? The potential to build a new skill and a challenge to conquer will keep you coming back to the gym — not feeling badly about yourself.

Take heart: hitting a plateau means you’re getting closer to your goal

woman holding scale and screaming because she's hit a plateau. Image credit: diyhcg.com

Take heart: hitting a plateau means you're getting closer to your goal

We’ve all experienced this: you step on the scale after a week where you rejected the office “it’s Thursdays so let’s have cake” celebration and swapped after work socializing for a killer run…only to find the numbers remain the same. How is this possible, you ask yourself. Why didn’t I indulge? And the whys and the hows just keep on coming.

Plateaus are extremely frustrating when you’ve been focused on your goal and find yourself stuck. But here’s the thing… if you weren’t moving towards your goal, you wouldn’t be stuck. A plateau is not failure. It’s the indication that you are moving towards your healthier life and away from your starting point.

I encourage my clients to start with a measurable goal in mind — whether it’s a number, a size, a rep count, or a weight amount. We make a plan and emphasize small changes along the way. Every week is an opportunity to make small modifications to the journey. Whether it’s logging food in a journal or adding an extra weights session, one change a week is not overwhelming and provides a sense of accomplishment. The following week, we’ll add another small change.

All these little changes add up to eventual results. I always emphasize that slow progress is about changing the behaviours … and making a lasting impact. Like all changes, at first this can be uncomfortable. Shaking up the routine and taking yourself off automatic can be tough. Finding yourself saying “no thanks” and putting yourself first is difficult. But we have to remind ourselves that we are doing this so we can be better and take care of others.

A plateau is when you get comfortable. It’s a signal that your body is getting used to these positive changes. If you want to keep moving towards your goal, you need to feel uncomfortable again.

To get back on track, we need to assess what’s going on with your diet and exercise by ….

Switching up your exercise 

Try a new class, activity, or ask for heavier weights. You need to feel challenged again — even if that’s holding a yin yoga pose for five minutes and just breathing through it.

Checking your food diary

It’s time to take a critical look at your food journal. Are there any trends that you’re noticing? If you thought you would give that food diary a break, it’s time to get back into writing everything/recording everything.

Although it might feel like you’re starting all over again, go back to the one change a week philosophy. What will you do this week to challenge yourself? How will you get yourself out of the plateau rut? Instead of being frustrated, it’s time for a reset and a celebration. A plateau is just a rest that reminds you that you’re on the right track … and you can keep going.  


Laura's question of the week

Have you ever hit a plateau? (Hint: the correct answer is always “yes.”) Was it weight loss? Strength? Flexibility? Aerobic endurance? How did you get past it? Let us know in the comments!

Plateau Point trail sign in the Grand Canyon. Image credit: artoftall.com

Finding your trainer soulmate​

Personal trainer coaching client on stationary bike. Image credit: Universal Training Academy

Finding your trainer soulmate

So, you’ve decided to get a trainer because you’ve heard that a trainer is what you need to reach your goals. And yes! Working side-by-side with someone who “gets” you is often the first step. At TrainingSpaces, we have a roster of in-house trainers who each have unique specialties and expertise. When you contact us, we’ll try to  match you with the trainer we think will be the best fit.

But there are also some things for you to consider:

What do you want to achieve? What are your expectations from this relationship? Do you have a clear goal in mind or is it just overall well-being and improved fitness? The more specific you can be, the better it will be for us to match you with the right trainer.  

Be honest about past experience. It might be difficult to admit that you haven’t stepped into a gym since Canada Fitness was handing out participation pins. Maybe you were an all-star athlete but were sidelined by an injury — one that still plays up when you do squats. Everyone has a background in exercise experience and being upfront is essential. It’s a baseline and a reality check. Your history is what makes you unique and allows your trainer to customize the best plan to achieve your goals.

Be realistic. How many hours can you commit to training? Often we want to jump into things and commit ourselves to the process. However, promising to train like Chris Hemsworth before shooting the next Thor movie is completely unrealistic — unless you are Chris Hemsworth and Marvel is paying you to work out 24/7. On the other hand, suggesting that you want to train every two weeks to lose 20 lbs by Labour Day is equally unrealistic. Think about how much time you can really afford to train and set small goals.

Prepare to experience mental and physical achievements. Part of the beauty of working with a trainer is building a relationship with someone who really knows and understands you. Being comfortable being yourself is so important to this relationship. In the mix of repetition and physical exercise, I’ve seen clients figure out their next career move, relationships, and sort through family dynamics. Go with the process and don’t be scared if something triggers that emotional release. It’s not frightening. It’s human.

Speak up. I’m not talking about the “it’s too heavy” complaint — I’m talking about the “I can’t do this because I will damage myself” feedback. Throughout your workout, it’s our responsibility to keep you strong and safe. If you are uncomfortable, you need to let us know. If you cannot tell your trainer how you are feeling, this is the wrong person for you. There’s no shame in admitting that you just don’t click with your trainer. Let us know as soon as possible. This way we can rematch you as quickly as possible.

Finding a trainer can be a daunting experience so take your time. Your trainer soulmate is out there!


How did you find your trainer? What was/is the best thing about him/her? Let us know in the comments!

Guest post: what is kinesiology?

Kinesiology image reproduced from fitafter50.com
Kinesiology image reproduced from fitafter50.com

Guest post: what is kinesiology?

Trainer Andres Palomino describes kinesiology in this post reproduced from his site.

One of the most frequent questions from people that I have had the opportunity to meet is … What is kinesiology? Who are Registered Kinesiologists?

According to the COKO, College of Kinesiologists of Ontario“Kinesiology is the scientific study of human movement, performance and function. Kinesiology incorporates the sciences of biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, psychology and neuroscience into an all-encompassing healthcare practice. Kinesiologists use the latest evidence-based research to treat and prevent injury and disease, and to improve movement and performance. Kinesiologists work with people of all ages and physical abilities in many settings to help them achieve their health and wellness goals, and improve quality of life.”

On April 1, 2013, Kinesiologists became licensed professionals in the Province of Ontario. The College of Kinesiologists of Ontario is the body responsible for the licensing of individual kinesiologists in the province.

The title kinesiologist is protected in Ontario, meaning that only members of the College can call themselves kinesiologists or claim to be kinesiologists. Members must use the titles “kinesiologist” or “registered kinesiologist”, or the designation R.Kin, when providing services.

To register with the College, an applicant must:

  • Have a four or five year kinesiology degree;
  • Complete the Jurisprudence e-Learning Module, which tests their knowledge on the laws, regulations and standards that apply to kinesiology in Ontario;
  • Submit a criminal record check to the College;
  • Pass the College’s entry-to-practice exam;
  • Provide proof of carrying professional liability insurance.

All kinesiologists who are actively practising must carry professional liability insurance.

Once registered, members have a series of obligations and responsibilities that they must fulfill to remain in good standing.   Some of these include:

  •  Acting in the patient’s / client’s best interest;
  •  Adhering to the College’s Code of Ethics;
  •  Practising according to the College’s practice standards and guidelines;
  •  Participating in the College’s Quality Assurance Program;
  •  Renewing their membership annually.

Kinesiologists prescribe exercise to treat and prevent injury and disease. Also, we work with athletes and any individuals to enhance human performance.

Kinesiologists works in the following areas:

  •  Health promotion;
  •  Injury rehabilitation;
  •  Pain and chronic disease management;
  •  Ergonomics;
  •  Fitness training;
  •  Return to work planning;
  •  Disability management;
  •  Public health.

For more information about the profession of kinesiology, please visit the web site of the College of Kinesiologists of Ontario at www.coko.ca.

For more information about how Fit After 50 can help you to be stronger and healthier, please visit www.fitafter50.ca.

Welcome to TrainingSpaces’ first regular update!

NL C872 Commercial Smith Machine - detail

Welcome to TrainingSpaces' first regular update!

Studio owner Laura Rantin

This update marks the launch of a place to find out a little more about what’s going on in our studio, learn about the trainers who work here, talk about the newest trends in fitness, nutrition, and health — and pick up a tip or two to help you reach your goals. If there’s anything you’re curious about, or a question you would like to ask, just let us know. Scroll to the bottom of the page and subscribe so we can keep in touch!

Watching plans take form

When I took over the studio earlier this month, I wanted to bring a world of possibilities to the trainers who work here and the clients who work out here. It was important for me to select the right mix of equipment for all levels of fitness. There were some decisions that were easy (replacing the concrete floor with a rubberized surface was a no-brainer). Others were more difficult. What one piece of cardio equipment would be best? How many weight sets and how heavy should they be? How many different uses could we get from one machine?

Personally, I’m delighted with the range of equipment we’ve installed in the studio. There’s something to be said about opening a studio with all new equipment. Nothing feels cobbled together or broken down. Sure, you get the “new car smell,” but you are demonstrating a commitment to everyone who enters the space. It’s my job to make you feel comfortable and keep your focus on your workout — the machines and equipment are just tools for your success.

Check out the Training and Video pages.

NL C872 Commercial Smith Machine - detail

Laura’s challenge of the week

Use a new piece of equipment. Find something you usually avoid and incorporate it into a training session. If you have questions or would like suggestions, just let me know!

Andres kicks it at the Marathon!

Andres Palomino at the Toronto Marathon May 6 2018
Andres Palomino at Toronto Marathon May 6, 2018

Andres kicks it at the Marathon!

Trainer Andres Palomino, seen here at last Sunday’s Toronto Marathon, is a registered professional kinesiologist and wellness coach. Originally from Colombia, he has been involved with sports, exercise, and physical fitness since his childhood.

With more than a decade’s experience working with clients over 50, Andres has developed a unique and comprensive insight into their health and fitness needs. Through his work with Fit After 50, he has been able to specialize in the prevention and management of recurring pain, arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other physical conditions or challenges affecting the over-50 age group.

Andes’ qualifications are extensive. They include:

  • Master of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Victoria in British Columbia
  • Post Graduate Diploma in Workplace Wellness and Health Promotion from Centennial College
  • Bachelor’s degree in Sports and Exercise Sciences from National School of Sports, Cali, Colombia
  • Senior’s Fitness Instructor Course, The Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging
  • Soft Tissue Release Training, 
  • Provider member of “Exercise is Medicine Canada” (EIMC) Professional Network 

and many more. Read his trainer profile here and visit his website here.

Andres Palomino at the Toronto Marathon Sunday May 6 2018