5 Nutrition Basics You’re NOT Doing

I have clients who constantly talk to me about nutrition.  I’m not an expert (even though my first certification ever 17 years ago was in nutrition) and usually will refer out if someone is looking for specific advice.  Meal plans can be found readily online (for free, don’t know why people pay money for them), but people simply don’t stick to them.

However, there are some universal nutrition items that come up in everyone I deal with who is trying to lose weight or change their body composition.  These are some harsh truths, but I hope they resonate with you.  It’s nothing complicated.  As with exercise, people obsess about the last 10% when they should be focused on the first 90 for real results.  These are simple fixes and don’t take a lot of effort to adjust, but the results in a period of time can be staggering.

Here’s a quick list of 5 nutrition basics that you’re probably NOT doing:

You DON’T eat vegetables, or enough of them.

Most of us default to vegetables being a second thought when it comes to what goes on our plate.  It’s a side at a restaurant that isn’t even considered beyond what kind of topping you’ll get on your baked potato.  We will also eat fruit instead of vegetables and consider that just fine because it’s the same thing.  Well, it’s not.

Fructose is more easily converted into fat – if you’re overeating, which most of you are.  If you’re eating within your caloric energy requirements then it gets converted into blood sugar like any other carb and you use it for energy.  However, if you want to remove that small risk (and greatly reduce your calories to boot) try changing out your banana for some carrot sticks or celery.  1 large banana is 140 calories and a cup of carrot sticks is 50.

You don’t get rid of starchy carbs when you can. 

“Hey, instead of the pasta or mashed potato side can you just double my vegetables or give me some rice?”  said nobody in any restaurant EVER.  They will do it, by the way all you have to do is ask.  This falls under the heading of portion control.  One small serving of (1 cup) ravioli can be 200 calories and a cup of broccoli is 30.  In a restaurant where you can actually control what they make and that you are PAYING FOR is where most people don’t limit the choices they should.

When was the last time a restaurant gave you a portion that was 1 cup?  Again, never.  This leads to overeating.  If you now look at menu items in a typical restaurant you will see how loaded they are in calories (thank God for that) and that you can eat literally half and be just fine.

You don’t limit your added sugar intake.   

One of my clients’ husbands literally took one step and started drinking his coffee black instead of double double at Tim’s.  He dropped 8 pounds in two months DOING NOTHING ELSE.  Traps like specialty coffees at Starbucks or protein smoothies which are touted as good for you are the worst culprits.  I can’t count the amount of women who would do a group exercise class and then head down to the front desk for a “healthy” smoothie loaded with frozen yoghurt, replacing every calorie they just burned plus extra and wondered why they weren’t losing weight.

There is hidden sugar in many things we consume all the time, so adding more into it isn’t a good idea especially since again – more sugar in the blood gets converted to stored fat FIRST.  Believe it or not, if you eliminate it for a couple of weeks you may go through withdrawal.  That’s how prevalent it is in many things.

You don’t track your calories.  Honestly.

Fitbits and other wearable devices have made exercise accountability easy and mindless.  If only there was something you could do to track your calories.  Oh wait, there is!  There’s probably about 100 apps you can load onto your phone, and god forbid you have to type something into a database and press a couple of buttons.

Many of my clients complain it’s too hard and I give them my patented withering look.  It takes five minutes a day.  Literally.  Delay the Netflix queue and input it and BE HONEST.  If you had a handful of M+M’s at work, that goes in there.  If you had sugar in your coffee or a glass of wine, it goes in there.   You don’t stop recording on the weekend because “you were bad” and feel guilty.  This is called self control and consistency, both of which are exactly what you need to lose weight.

You indulge “once in a while”. 

Be honest with yourself.  If you were, you would realize that the reason your weight isn’t under control is because you reward yourself and indulge way too often.  Once a week MIGHT be fine for some people, for many it isn’t if you have a serious goal and a commitment.  If you’re exercising intensely several times a week (which again, most of you aren’t – be honest) then you can get away with more.

That means ONE drink at Starbucks, not 3-4 times a week.  That means ONE decadent dessert a week, not a couple of cookies every night.  It means getting in touch with the reasons you’re eating the stuff, not just eliminating it.  All those brownies, chocolate, sodas, restaurant food and French fries add up over time.  And it takes time to eliminate them.  Yes it tastes good.  And yes, it helps when you’re stressed or feel like you need a hit to calm you down or feel better.  But if it’s contrary to your goals then just STOP.  Take a good look at your habits and figure out what patterns you have or what your relationship with food is and adjust it accordingly.  Easier said than done I know, but it is the right step to take if you want to get your weight and health under control.

There you have it. 

Did any of these resonate with you?  Maybe more than one of them?  Well, the best time to start a new habit is today.  Don’t worry about days past and failed diets and bad things you have done previously.  Today you can start a new habit.  Start with the five items here and work on them and I can guarantee that you’ll be in a better place months from now.  Get CONSISTENT.

As always, if you enjoyed this feel free to share and like it, or subscribe to my Facebook page.  Comments are also always welcome.


An Update from the Institute

Wow, it has been about six months since I’ve posted a proper article on my site.  Due to lots of personal stuff and my business exploding in May time to sit down and write has been minimal at best.  I also have some exciting side projects that I have been working on, but I wanted to touch base with my readership and let you all know what is in the works.

First of all, for those of you who haven’t experienced it yet, ISOPHIT has become an integral part of my practice.  The results have been nothing short of amazing for providing new stable joints and allowing people who have limited range of motion to strengthen muscles without having to risk any issues.  I’m still offering FREE workouts on this apparatus if you want to experience it any time, just contact me.

I’m heading to Toronto in October to finally take the first part of the ISOPHIT certification program (I took the second part in April) and gain some more knowledge about the apparatus and how to apply it effectively.  It’s really a game changer.

The second part of the Joint Injury Management Series is almost completed!  Due to schedules I don’t know if I’ll be able to roll it out this year and may have to wait until next year to get it going, but that just means I can do it back to back with my initial course again on the knee.  This one focuses on the shoulder and will help fellow trainers and other therapists learn pathology and solutions for things like rotator cuff problems, labral tears, tennis elbow and more!

The third exciting thing is I’m finally putting together a short Ebook on total back care and recovery from back injury.  I’m excited to say that this offering will be FREE and will provide comprehensive information about your spinal health including recovery movements, strength movements and some things you can focus on to make sure back injury never comes back once it’s gone!

So essentially besides training my clients all the time I have a lot on the go.  If you have any interest in anything I’ve discussed please let me know and I’m happy to sign you up for updates and get you on my mailing list for the new Ebook and course offering.  Just click on the subscribe button at the top right!

And, as always you can follow me on Facebook and other social media outlets.

Just a quick update for today, but much, much more to come in the future from the Institute!

Become a Control Freak

This morning I was watching a video of a workout that a friend posted which consisted of multiple rounds of high rep complex movements.  There was a few people doing burpees, and the ones that were still actually doing them (the others were completely exhausted and stopped) were flopping down, barely jumping backwards, spines all curved and loose and then had to modify their position through their hips and knees every single time to get back up.

This is a common theme in our industry and what most people pay for.  It’s high impact, you feel exhausted when you’re done and for many people they love the group atmosphere and consider it fun.


I don’t even want to imagine 50 types of burpees.  This is the typical type of workout that exists today, and constantly creates dysfunction and injury. 

Now here’s a fun little exercise for most of you:  stand holding onto something, lift your leg straight up in front of you without bending your knee and try to get it to 90 degrees (most people won’t even be able to do that).  Hold it there.  Then rotate your foot out and in and see what happens.  How long can you hold it up there for?  I’d imagine it was seconds.  And during those seconds the leg was shaking like a leaf or you had to lean over to compensate either in your trunk, neck, hip or all three.

In my opinion the way that strength work should be applied is under CONTROL.  This means if you can’t control the way you’re moving – especially under loaded conditions – you probably shouldn’t be doing it.  Athletes are an exception because they have to do it for their job more often than not and are highly trained to withstand the impact or have resources in place to minimize the damage.

For the average Johnny or Susie Q desk worker, this can have really awful consequences.  People don’t actually have any strength, then participate in high impact, movement based heavily loaded (and yes, your body weighs a lot and is a load) exercise.  Then they wonder why their joints break down and they deal with chronic ongoing situations like “my back hurts” or “I can’t move my neck today.”

Now before those people who love these workouts jump in with “it’s fun!” and “it motivates me.” I understand that.  All I’m suggesting is potentially adding something into your routine that encourages more control over your movement so maybe instead of barely being able to hold your leg up in the air, you can hold it for a period of time.  Then that joint might be able to generate more tension in its’ muscles – which means you get to DO MORE!  And, have the added bonus that your body will be okay with it.

straight leg hold

Holding this for 10 seconds can help establish hip control and engage your muscular system.  Try it lying down too.

I can run through these exercises in about three minutes, and you can too once you learn how to do it properly.  Three minutes daily isn’t a big investment but can reap long benefits over time.

If you’re one of these people who has had recurring injuries over and over but still wants to participate in activity you can, but at some point you have to acknowledge that maybe your approach needs to be adjusted because you’re constantly getting hurt.  This is where establishing control can really help.

Can you improve movement by not moving?  Of course you can.  In fact, if you think about it by establishing control over NOT moving, you’ll be better off when you do move.

So what I’m encouraging all my followers and clients to do it become control freaks some of the time.  Before you run into your next group fitness class or sport, take the time to establish some control over your joints and establish if they are likely to be there when you need them.  This can be as simple as assessing your available range of motion and seeing how the muscles respond.  You can even use it as a warmup for what you want to do.

If you find that your system isn’t responding well maybe you’re better off waiting to do high impact activity until you’re ready.  This doesn’t mean don’t exercise, it means MODIFY OR CHANGE IT.  This is something I do with clients all the time if they come in for a workout and I see there is something not working well.  You can do it yourself too.

In the weeks to come I’ll be posting more videos about what I mean.  Feel free to LIKE my Facebook page and follow me @strengthrehabottawa on Instagram.  And you can reach out with questions and comments any time.

Be a freak!  Let me know if you need help.