Be Strong. Feel Great.

A word from Anthony

Spring is here!  It’s time to put away the bulky clothes and get ready to be outside and frequently. This is also the time to see if last year’s spring clothing still fits. Uh oh! So it may also be time to take off a few pounds as well!

Step one for me is a good cleanse. Just like that overstuffed closet in the basement we keep stacking with boxes, our organs and digestive system can become cluttered with toxins from food and drink. People have been known to hold up to 20 pounds of excess waste. Cleansing can be a great addition to your fitness and wellness regimen. Give me a call to find out more.

This month, I’d like to share my thoughts on natural eating, or the real cost of not eating natural foods. If you’ve tried them already, great. You know the benefits. But if you’re leary, read about my experience trying natural foods, and how this might suit you too.

And I’ve included a story from one of my clients about eating well to control health concerns. If you’d like to contribute your story or have your questions answered here, just let me know.

Here’s to a healthy and happy 2010. Contact me any time at anthony@anthonycorrado.ca or call 416.317.8284.

 

Anthony Corrado, Personal Trainer Toronto

 

Organic food vs. the cost of killing yourself slowly

Natural eating

A couple of years ago, at one of the commercial facilities I managed, the staff decided get together to order organic produce from a local supplier in order to receive a group discount.

I’ve never been a believer in spending an extra 30% on organic food per se, but after my first bite of organic chicken I noticed something.  “Wow, this doesn’t taste like chicken, it’s chickenier!” I’d forgotten what chicken tasted like without the additives and hormones fed to poultry in modern farming processes.  My face went red and I felt different, a little odd—nutrients were circulating through my system.

After a couple of months on this organic diet, I felt great; my energy was better, my skin tone had improved and I was digesting food better.  I could feel that there was a huge difference.  The others involved had the same experience, that the food tasted better, and helped them feel even healthier. We were convinced and continued to place our organic food orders.

When the gym became quieter, work slowed, and money became tight, our orders stopped.  We lost our group discount and unfortunately, that was the end of our organic experience.

I learned two things. Organic food is great. It has more flavour and helped eight different professional trainers feel better in a short amount of time. I also learned that when money gets tight, we tend to cut from the wrong places. Each of us knew that the organic food was much better, yet we stopped ordering it. We weren’t willing to pay the premium for something that was clearly superior. There is always a cheaper option. Instead of cutting out other optional expenses, we each chose to cheapen our health. Ironically, even fitness experts are all too human, and short-sighted.

The rise of fast food options and food commercialization

I started to wonder when we, as a culture, stopped eating simple, clean, natural foods, and why?

Generations ago, everyone ate organically. What’s happened to us, and why are healthier natural foods more expensive? What has happened to the clean and natural food that was readily available and around us just a few generations ago?

Our modern food supply seems more varied, fresher and more reliably available year round. Much of these benefits though have a hidden cost, the methods used to preserve food over longer times and longer transport distances. As well, economies of scale allowed for many corporate farming innovations. Food became processed, refined, and transportable. But in many essential ways, it has also been ruined. Food today is 30% less nutrient-rich than it used to be. Mass production and commercialization certainly play a role, but the root of the problem isn’t really with the suppliers, it’s us; you and me. It’s the choices we make as consumers. We buy badly. We choose quick, cheap, and easy fast food options, over-processed foods filled with preservatives, over healthier less-convenient options that, luckily for us all, are now coming back to our markets.

The food readily available today tends to be loaded with hormones, fillers and other questionable additives like MSG, corn starch, simple syrups, salts and many varieties of sugar and sugar substitutes.  These preservatives while extending the shelf life of the products, by contrast does not extend our shelf life as they can lead to obesity, type-II diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer. With all this knowledge, we still buy food laden with chemicals.

Rationalizing a fast food diet

Many of us choose unhealthy options without thinking about it. When you only have 5 minutes to make a decision on the go, we quickly pick up something on the road.  I hear the excuses all of the time: “I have no time.”  “There is nothing available in the food court.” Or my favourite one, “Healthy eating is too expensive.” These choices, made over and over play a role in skyrocketing obesity, and general bad health.

The economics and science of natural eating

Let’s look at the arguments made to avoid healthy eating. Is good quality food really more expensive?  Good quality food costs a premium today pound for pound.  Consider though the other foods that you end up eating as well: doughnuts, chips, take-out food, pizza, and alcohol. These are valueless ‘foods’ which add more to the grocery bill. If you buy only good quality healthy food, and ate responsibly, you’d find you’d feel better and your overall food costs would be lower.  Think about it. Add in 2-3 coffees, a few beers, a donut, and a slice of pizza to your daily consumption. Guess what? That can add up to $30-$50 every day, money you could spend on healthy foods instead. People may complain about the price of fish and organics, but if they removed their unhealthy choices and replaced them with these healthier options, they may very well save money overall, and contribute to a healthier self! Eating clean can be cheaper or at least equal to the average grocery and beverage bill.

So, why don’t we make healthier buying decisions? The second argument was that we don’t have enough time.  Healthy eating may require preparing a meal ahead of time, or at the minimum, thinking about what you could get from the same sources that would be a more healthy option.

An old coach of mine said, “Proper preparation prevents poor performance.” Would you put cheap gas in your Mercedes?  Of course not—you’d ruin a beautiful and costly car. Why wouldn’t you treat your body like a fine-tuned machine? Unfortunately, we don’t give our bodies the same consideration, and in this case, poor performance can equal serious health issues.

So, let’s stop being lazy, and make better food choices. It requires a bit of care and time and, if you commit to it, could also save you money.

I’m not a nutritionist, and I don’t eat perfectly all of the time. My rule of thumb is, “If man added to it, don’t eat it.”  Mother Nature knows better.

 

To find natural foods, check out:

 

Natural food sources in Toronto

 

My Diabetic Experience

By Tracey Meyer

 

Diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease plague my family like locusts. My paternal grandparents both died of complications of what one heath organization called recently “hyperdiabesity”. Obesity diabetes and hypertension seem to get grouped together as one illness. So my family health history has hung over my head like a dark cloud, or perhaps as an accident I can see coming but am powerless to do anything about.

I was diagnosed with borderline diabetes years ago and due to my sedentary lifestyle, it developed until I had to start taking medication to control my blood sugar. Unlike most other conditions where a flat line means you are dead, with diabetes when monitoring blood sugar what we are looking for is as close to a flat line as possible. Fluctuations in blood sugar levels, both high and low, determine how much our internal organs are stressed. Too much or too little blood sugar stresses out the pancreas, liver, kidneys and heart. The level of glucose in our blood is dependant on what we eat, how much activity we engage in, and for diabetics, what dosage we take of either pills or both pills and insulin to stabilize. It can get really complicated, but the easiest way of thinking about it was shown in a commercial a few years ago, where they illustrated a diabetic’s life as a string which when straight goes all the way to say 100 yrs. Blood sugar fluctuations make the string look more like a roller coaster course up and down. The same string only gets you to 60. So my goal has been to stabilize my blood sugar, foster a longer and healthier life and ultimately get off the medications.

I had not had much luck and my doctor kept increasing my dosage. The dark cloud grew darker, and I could see the accident coming. Something else had to change.

I started out for about six months working out consistently every night after my shift, at the gym at work; I hit the treadmill for a minimum of 30 minutes and worked with a few other machines. This consistent activity made a difference; I had more energy and I had lost a whopping 5 pounds in this six month period, but my blood sugar was still having major fluctuations after meals and before and after exercise. It was going from as low as 6.0 to as high as 13.5 on my glucometer (blood sugar testing device). I decided to get some more help.

I started working out with Anthony Corrado. It turned out that the order of my exercises during my workouts was counterproductive. I had been taking two steps forward and one step back while working out on my own, and my food choices were the right thing at the wrong time.

After four months with Anthony who guided my weight training, cardio, and provided a new eating plan, I was down 30 pounds, completely off one medication, taking a reduced dosage of another medication, and my blood sugar readings regularly only fluctuated from about 5.7 to 7.3. I have to tell you, the 30 lbs is great, but the stability of my blood sugar readings is the major victory. I take less hypertension medication and I know that if I keep this up and reduce my body fat and get even more fit, I will eventually be able to get off all of the medications. After that, I’ll work to maintain the successes, maintaining my diet and exercise and watching my blood sugar.

So that accident I could see coming, but was powerless to do something about? I found that it isn’t inevitable, that my own choices and habits play a huge role. The dark cloud is gone.

Here’s a useful article from the Toronto Sun that I was sent recently:

http://www.torontosun.com/life/healthandfitness/2010/02/17/12917991.html

 

That’s it for this issue. I hope I’ve left you with a better understanding of making the most of your health.

 

Anthony Corrado, Personal Trainer , Toronto

anthony@anthonycorrado.ca

416.317.8284