Why I can’t stand the running community.

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Hey boys and girls. It’s your friendly neighbourhood running coach. Today I would like to address a significant rising issue that is threatening the health of the majority of our recreational exercisers. The issue is the predominant mindset of the current running community.

Over the past few years, there has been a surplus in running clinics, running groups and an overall increase in exposure to the sport of running in the media. For example, here in Toronto the number of participants in the Sporting Life 10k rose from 17, 000 runners last year to roughly 35, 000 runners this year (2014). There has been an increase in the number of running events as well from ultramarathons outside the city (Eg. Guelph triathlon, Oakville, etc) to shorter 5k themed runs. Local running clubs from the Running rats to Running rooms, have grown in numbers at an amazing rate. A quick google search of local running groups in Toronto will get you over 30 different running groups in the city of Toronto alone.

Being a competitive distance runner, I was glad to see that the running community was growing and as a physical therapist / trainer, a part of me is  glad to see that more and more people are taking that first step to a healthier and more active lifestyle. But the reason why you are reading this and the reason why I am writing  is not to praise the growing running community.

As I mentioned, my career is in fixing people in how they move to make sure they move well and for a very long time. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen a recreational runner on the streets of downtown Toronto and cringed a little bit by how they moved. Sometimes I see a group of these runners running together with a “coach” and the inner coach in me is absolutely HULKING out!  With the number of certified trainers and kinesiology students being churned out by the big Toronto Universities  and Colleges, you would think that there would be no shortage of qualified coaches to run these clinics (pun intended). Yet this is not the case at all, WHY???

The issue is grounded in various overlapping reasons. The first and more obvious reason is that most personal trainers/kinesiology students (unless they have a passion for running or endurance sports) rarely take interest in such activities. Most coaches at these clinics/clubs are at two extremes; Elite level runners and coaches who are well versed in their field OR the recreational runners who do not have a background or even a foundation in the know-how of biomechanics but run because they enjoy it. Now the problem of course is that qualified coaches and teachers tend to come at a cost whereas volunteer coaches (who make up the predominant amount of clinics and clubs out there) are usually free of cost. Therefore a large amount of runners simply are not getting the adequate amount of training and coaching in their movement patterns. To borrow a phrase from Gray Cook, you have to earn your movement first before you repeat that movement. Like most education, if individuals are not qualified the pupils suffer. In the case of running, the pupils suffer from potentially tearing ACL’s, Plantar Fasciitis, IT Band syndrome, etc. and I simply cannot be ok with this.

What exacerbates the first problem is that a large group of the recreational runners who participate in these clinics think their weekly running is “enough” for their overall health and fitness. Now obviously it is a difficult task for anyone to learn about their body (let alone read in depth into anatomy and physics) on top of their jobs and other obligations that take up a lot of their time. But what needs to happen is that if a coach is not well versed in the field of kinesiology (or at least enough to make exercise recommendations), he or she should make a recommendation for an individual to seek out a professional to help fix his or her motor patterns before running more.

The last major problem I see within the running world is not so different from the Crossfit community. Because the structure of these types of fitness groups is geared towards large groups, the attention to detail is simply not given to individual. And as these individuals train with faulty movement patterns, problems arise. To compensate for this, the health and fitness industry convolutes the industry with an endless array of products that act as crutches for people as a temporary (and not scientifically sound) fixes. Ranging from wraps to leg sleeves, from various supposedly uniquely designed shoes to in soles. All of these products are temporary fixes that do not address the root of the problem. The fix of course is to strength train properly to fix muscle and movement imbalances and asymmetries. Yes it is a lot of work but if you do not want to have invasive surgery to fix a ruined leg in a few years then you have to invest in your body. Take the time to either hire a qualified and proven personal trainer or talk to experts in the field to help you.

 

Thanks for reading and may you all run long and prosper!

 

 

Let’s give a warm hand to Lita Mae Button!

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Hello boys and girls!

So we here at Fit & Fed have great news! We have been busy trying to find raw talent throughout the city, people who are the best at what they do and the brightest minds in the city! One of those bright and powerful people is Ms. Lita Mae Button! Join us in giving her a warm welcome to the team and let’s see what exactly it is that makes her great!

 

June 2014 HTC
Name: Lita Mae Button

Sport: Olympic Style Amateur Boxing in the 64kg division. Profession Boxing Debut: co main event August 15, Gatineau Quebec.

Amateur Boxing History: Started competing in boxing in 2005. Since that time I have had 45 amateur fights, winning the Ontario Provincial Championships 6x, 2x Canadian National Silver medalist, 2013 Canadian National Golden Gloves Winner and 2013 Silver Medalist at Ringside International Tournament.

Amateur Sport Background: When I was a teenager I competed in competitive swimming and achieved National Level times. Then I started kickboxing competitively when I was 19 yrs old, and had 5 fights North American Style kickboxing.

Certifications and Education: Health and General Sciences Certificate, Registered Nurse with a BsCN in Nursing, ISSA Personal Training and Exercise Therapist Certification, Level 1 Boxing Coach, Agatsu Kettlebell and Joint and Mobility. I have been a member of Toastmasters international for the last year, working on my public speaking skills to become a professional motivational speaker.

I have been teaching groups since I was 14 years old. I used to be a National level competitive swimmer. Group classes started with teaching children how to swim. At 19 years old,  I taught kickboxing because of my competitive experience that focused on the technical aspects for so many years. In my 20’s I focused on women’s boxing classes and Fitness conditioning classes. Now in my 30’s I love all the aspects of teaching groups, personal training and coaching.

Family and Recreational Information: I am a sole mother supoorting an 11 year old son, who loves soccer, reading and Judo. So I spend as much quality time with my son doing kid things, like playing in the park, playing games and reading. Reading on topics covering health and education is the corner stone of our lives.

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Follow on twitter/Instagram @badassbutton

Facebook.com/litamaebutton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow, talk about a serious badass! We’re glad you are on our side Lita!

For more information on how to contact Lita for training, please email the Fit & Fed team at fitnfed@gmail.com.

Thanks for stopping by and happy training everyone!

 

Sincerely,

 

F&F

Is running really all that bad?

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Hey Boys and Girls!

 

We here at Fit & Fed apologize for the hiatus in terms of articles and general website updates but our team has been super busy with projects as well as furthering our own education to bring you the best of what the fitness industry has to offer :D

 

Today we here at Fit & Fed want to address an issue that has been bothering our team for a very long time; the issue of running… When we are born and grow into our teens, the majority of us are told to run, climb, and be active to our hearts content. But for some reason as we transition from our late teens into our 20’s and later into our 30’s we are told to not be so active. We are told that excessive running or exercise will cause injuries and that if anything we should minimize the amount of physical activity we should partake in. We have a problem with this perspective for many reasons.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first problem with this idea is the underpinning assumption that with old age comes physiological degradation and hence an inability to perform tasks as efficiently. This argument is partially right but mostly wrong when it comes to exercise. When it comes to exercise, one of the key foundations of making sure that we are healthy is in making sure that we are moving efficiently and well. Your body is nothing more than levers and fulcrums. Theoretically speaking, if you move perfectly in a given movement pattern you could potentially do it forever (not really forever, but you get the idea). And this rule applies to running as well! Today we will be looking at two contrasting studies done by Dr. James O Keefe, one of the leading cardiologists in the United States as well as the University of Copenhagen’s research study on 9 recreational marathoners who ran for 7 marathons in 7 days in a row.

 

 

On the one side, we have Dr. James O Keefe who in this Ted talks video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6U728AZnV0) discusses how people who take exercise to the extreme (particularly running) is in fact dangerous for the human body. Dr O Keefe talks about how extreme endurance sports such as marathons, ultra marathons are dangerous because the amount of vigorous exercise is simply too demanding on the heart and proves to create unhealthy calcium deposits which become harmful to the heart. James discusses that we do have cardiovascular plateaus and that increasing beyond a certain point, the benefits from exercise start to decline. This message is of course not new, moderation here is key which means that there is a point where our cost benefit analysis tips. However, the problem is as always trying to figure out where the proverbial tip is. James cites a study done by Robert Schwartz in the Youtube video which found that more than half of veteran marathoners (more than 25 marathons in 25 years) developed increased levels of calcification in their hearts (62% more than their recreational active counterparts) which creates a mechanical burden on the heart (such as atrial fibrillation) and increases risk of death.

 

Sounds pretty scary right? Well don’t make your judgement call just yet.

 

In contrast to this initial data, a study was done by Karstoff et al. at the University of Copenhagen (Renowned for it’s research in the field of cardiology and endurance sports) conducted a study of 7 male and 1 female experienced recreational marathoners to run a marathon a day for 7 days in a row. The study aimed at measure the biochemical and body compositional effects of these participants in daily marathon running and whether it would present any drastic effects. The individuals were marked for skeletal muscle cell damage, liver cell damage markers, inflammatory markers and body fat mass was also measured. One important thing to note is that the average time for finishing all 7 marathons was between 23:25:42 and 34:25:21, so relatively recreational (nothing that would be considered elite level). Another important element to mention here is that the runners were not told how much or what to eat and were only controlled for the runs. The findings of this study were that across the entire range of biochemical markers, there was no indication of any severe damage and in fact fat percentage, total cholesterol and HDL improved substantially. Also, there was a slight increase in lean body mass. There was little change in “inflammatory markers and the unchanged physical stress level indicated by no differences in cortisol levls before and after the event” (Karstoft et al, ‘Daily Marathon Running for a Week – The biochemical and body compositional effects of participation’. 2013).

 

Now you may be asking, ‘What the hell? I just read studies that contradict each other’s findings. WHAT DO I DOOOOOO?????” Never fear, the two studies actually are not contradictory at all, if anything it actually tells us the same story!

 

Here’s why. the first study Dr. Keefe refers to covers individuals who have ran 25 marathons or more in 25 years. Now the toughest thing about these studies s that they rely heavily on asking a general population simply whether or not they run. They miss out on key elements of programming! Most runners (especially recreational runners) don’t realize that running is just like any other sport, there needs to be an offseason and an in-season. Not enough individuals give their bodies time to unwind and deload. One of the biggest problems of why injuries occur to even the fittest individuals is because they simply do not know when to slow things down. This however is not the fault of running itself, it is simply poor programming. It is the same for any athlete or bodybuilder, no athlete can train like they do in the pre-season year round because the intensity is so high that they will just burn out. Same with powerlifters or olympic lifters, they cannot be lifting at their max year round because their bodies will simply shut down. Now why does this agree with our second case study? Easy, the second study covered a 7 day acute measure of recreational runners that ran at a comfortable pace knowing that they were expected to run for 7 days straight. In knowing this information, the runners had a better understanding of their caloric intake and also slowed down their speed in order to better adjust for the distance. Not only that, but the 7 day study is actually very short in contrast to the training season of a typical runner. Most training regiments for runners last from 12 – 20 weeks, and the mileage in these programs do get relatively high with mixtures of tempo runs, sprints etc that puts a VERY high demand from a cardiovascular standpoint.

 

So the takeaway may be that running longer but with lower intensity with proper deload times within your life is the best approach to improving your quality of life and avoiding the tipping point where the benefits of running decline. However, if your goal is to run fast, then you will have to take that into account in your programming as well. If your goal is to run fast, then undoubtedly you will have to incorporate speed work and at very intense levels, but in doing so you also have to take into account how to adjust the length of your offseason to accommodate the intensified program.

 

The goal of this article was not to scare you away from running at all. It is that if you are thinking of running, even from a recreational standpoint, you have to put a lot of thought into it. It is a lifetime commitment, it is a reflection of who you are as a person and what you want out of life. Running is a journey of self discovery whether you are going out for a jog with a friend, competing to qualify for a marathon or competing for an Olympic medal.

 

We here apologize that we did not give you a concrete answer on how much to run or how intense, the only conclusion that we can offer you is that you should run, but run safely and for the average person, do not run your legs into the ground, take some months off and your body will thank you. 

 

 

Thanks for reading and we’ll see you soon! Happy training Boys and Girls!

 

Sincerely,

Fit & Fed

 

Team Fit & Fed at the Toronto Athletic Games: Brute Strength Competition!

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Hey boys and girls!

We have exciting news! For those of you who don’t already know, Fit & Fed spent the summer assembling a team to represent them at the Toronto Athletic Games both the one in the Fall and Spring. This year we had a team of 3 ladies represent us at the games and they did not disappoint!

Our team captain Mary Le lead the way with her finesse and pure pound for pound strength followed by Abigail Edgar’s tenacity and height advantage that was able to push her deadlift PB to 252LBS! Closing out the team was Sarah Goodenough, a rookie in the strongman style competitions but still was able to surprise everyone with her explosive power!

On the women’s side, a total of 9 gyms including 3 Crossfit gyms, 3 Conventional Commercial gyms and others across the GTA were registered which meant the ladies had a lot of tough competition to go up against. The actual events were broken down into conventional and unconventional lifting events. Lifting techniques that ranged from deadlifting to benching all the way to log carries!

When everything was said and done however, Fit & Fed managed to beat out all the other gyms in overall standings! Mary Le was able to place 2nd overall, Abigail in 3rd place and Sarah Goodenough rounded out the team by coming in 5th place.

Congratulations to everyone who came out to support Fit & Fed! We look forward to seeing you all in spring! And if you are interested in trying out for our team, please email us at info@fitfed.com for more details on how to go about joining our high caliber athletes.

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Nutritionist’s Corner – Jessie Yang

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Hey Boys and Girls,

Fit & Fed is proud to present to you a new segment called “Nutritionist’s Corner”. In this new series, Fit & Fed explores all over Toronto for fellow nutritionists, trainers and fitness fanatics to explore various issues within the health world and industry. Each topic is different and each perspective is unique, so don’t miss out on some really useful tips and tricks to living a healthier and happier you!

Fit & Fed is happy to present to you for this week’s Nutritionists Corner, Toronto’s very own Jessie Yang. She was previously the host for Rogers TV and is currently an independent model/actress as well as consistently flexing her nutritional knowledge when the time is right. Not only can you spot Jessie all over billboards and magazines and TV shows, but she is also currently working as a mediator for an up and coming online show that deals with specific topics requiring various fields of expertise, talk about busy!

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FF: Hey Jessie, glad you could sit down with us today. Let’s start with what your nutrition background is as well as your ethnic background.

Jessie: Thanks! It’s great to have an opportunity to speak on a subject that is so convoluted. Well I actually just graduated from U of T with a double major in Nutritional Science and Psychology. My background is Chinese, and I have been in Canada for about 10 years now.

FF: That’s awesome! So as a Chinese woman growing up in Canada, what foods did you predominantly grow up with at home?

Jessie: My family was very traditional in the way we ate as a family. Whenever we had dinner, it was a time to talk and catch up and spend time with the family. We ate the same way the typical Asian family ate; communal. There were dishes out and each person would have a bowl of white rice.

FF: Ok, that’s pretty cool, so I guess you would say that you ate very traditionally. But growing up here in Canada, did you see any contrasts in western and oriental diets? Any pros or cons of either side?

Jessie: One thing that is apparent is the oriental diet offers a wider variety. The western diet I find is very restricted when it comes to the breakdown of food groups. When you think of vegetables, it’s just salads or steamed broccoli. However, the tough thing about the oriental way of eating is that it is communal which makes portioning very tough to keep track of.

FF: Ah I see. You actually brought up a very interesting point about the western views on vegetable consumption. Have you heard of the new Paleo-diet craze and if you have, what or how do you think it fairs against the Oriental approach to nutrition?

Jessie: Well that’s a very interesting topic because there are so many variations of the paleo diet. Some that allow for various modifications for foods while others are very strict. If we take the general premise of the paleo diet (that the diet is restricted to only foods that would have been accessible to people before the agricultural revolution), then you are pretty much taking out bread, wheat, refined carbohydrates, white rice, etc. I have never believed in completely cutting all of anything out of one’s nutritional regiment. There is an abundance of data and studies to back me up on my beliefs; moderation is most important when it comes to diet. Your diet should never have to feel ‘resistant’ but self control is necessary. In terms of how it fairs against the oriental diet, again it depends highly on your lifestyle. A lifestyle that is heavy in manual labour cannot function efficiently on such low glucose intake. If however your lifestyle is fairly sedentary, then limiting your carbohydrate intake is perfectly fine, but again the key here is to limit, not remove.

FF:Interesting, so in some cases the paleo diet could work, and in some the oriental approach works, there is no “correct” approach to nutritional health. Ok, my next question is do you think it is easier for East Asian culture or Western culture to switch to a healthier nutritional regiment and why?

Jessie:Wow, these are all really tough questions!! Um… Hmmm… well I would have to say that it is not a question of easier, but rather what the different goals are of each culture. Growing up, I noticed a lot of Chinese girls were already underweight and very thin, but they always wanted to be skinnier. I once had a friend who was hospitalized due to malnutrition. These girls would binge and purge or starve themselves – this isn’t dieting at all, it’s simply starvation! The western approach to nutrition is a little bit “better” in the sense that there have been numerous initiatives started in public schools to create awareness regarding nutrition and what a healthy balanced diet ought to look like. Even something as basic as the Canadian food guide gives a generalized approach to what a somewhat balanced and healthy diet is. So to answer your question, I think it would be easier for a typical Westernized individual to switch to a healthier diet than it is for someone from say China.

FF:Wow, I never would have imagined that it would be such a stark contrast between eastern and western approaches to nutrition. But if I can ask you a more personal question then, growing up as an Asian Canadian for majority of your life, what is your experience with food and nutrition at home?

Jessie:Hahaha, this may actually surprise you but I never learned anything about nutrition from home, my parents didn’t really teach me much about vegetables or why they were good. I didn’t learn much regarding nutrition until I went to U of T. When I was younger, I had gone to a doctor specializing in Chinese medicine and he had told me something vague when I was ill saying that I lacked Chi energy. I still don’t really know what it means haha. Nutrition growing up, especially with my family and even my friends, was more of a chore than anything else so I never really took the time to learn it until my later years.

FF:Chi energy huh? Somehow all I can think of now is DragonballZ and those senzu beans haha. Speaking of having the experiences of being an Asian Canadian, my next question is what is your personal and professional view of Westernized Chinese food?

Jessie:Saltier, sweeter, deep fried and bigger potions. Most typical Chinese food believe it or not does not have a lot of sauces, they are mostly seasoned with spices and herbs. The reason I believe Westernized Chinese food has been modified for the worse is because it appeals more to the stereotypical Canadian’s taste buds. From a nutritionist’s perspective these extra sauces, and overcooking of foods almost if not completely removes all the essential nutrients.

FF:Ahh that explains all those greasy looking Instagram pictures I keep seeing. Ok last question: If you had to prescribe elements of a healthy diet to an Asian family, what dishes would you recommend.

Jessie:The biggest tip that I have for the typical Asian family when making dinner is to modify the way they eat. What I mean by that is because their eating method is communal, the family members should try to either cook only what they plan to eat, or eat at a slower pace to reduce the chances of overeating. Another tip is to not add any salt or sauces to the dishes being cooked, replace canola oil with olive oil and cook with a medium instead of high heat. Last but not least, replace white rice with brown.

FF:That sounds awesome, thanks for all the tips and hopefully our readers will take some of them to the kitchen with them! Thanks again for taking the time to sit with us and talk about this topic!

Jessie: My pleasure!

For more on what Jessie Yang is up to, check out her Facebook page. If you have any nutrition related questions, simply shoot the Fit & Fed team an email at info@fitfed.com and check back on our website and facebook page for more tips, interviews, and articles!!

Happy training everyone, and thanks for reading!

 

Sincerely,

Team Fit & Fed