I started this column just over five years ago because I wanted to inform, educate and motivate you to make fitness and health a priority. Through a combination of research and storytelling – with passion and an occasional injection of humour – I’ve curated the most current and practical information to help you succeed. One hundred articles later, let’s take a look back at some of the themes and topics I’ve covered so far.
I’ve presented different types of exercise to enhance your cardiorespiratory system, strength, flexibility and functional fitness and covered a broad range of physical activities including walking, hiking, running, cycling, gardening, golf, yoga, dancing, swimming, boxing, ice skating, high-intensity interval training, seated exercise, snow shovelling and its health risks, and even unusual activities such as dragon boat racing and tire-pulling.
I’ve provided step-by-step instructions for exercises to safely strengthen your muscles, and explained how to boost your metabolism, set realistic goals, identify and overcome obstacles, eat better, lose weight, and use tools such as a heart-rate calculator, a body-mass index calculator, fitness-monitoring devices, and a food and exercise journal.
I’ve explained how to differentiate between normal muscle soreness and pain, use exercise to deal with constipation, and exercise with a chronic health condition; why experts consider exercise as a form of medicine, and how doctors can improve the manner in which they prescribe exercise; the fascinating role of exercise in disease prevention, and its potential to delay the onset and slow the progression of many diseases; the benefits of working with a personal trainer; and the many evidence-based physical, cognitive and mental health benefits of exercise.
I’ve relied on reputable studies and reliable sources to support claims and dispel myths. I’ve examined fitness fads, superfoods, weight-loss scams, detoxification, nutritional supplements, and why some of these products and practices pose health risks and are a waste of your money. I’ve also gleaned valuable insights about healthy living from the writings of experts who’ve stood the test of time and from more contemporary gurus.
I’ve looked at habits associated with longevity and some alarming trends: sitting is considered the new smoking, and that many lifestyle-related diseases and deaths could be prevented by making changes to how we move and what we eat.
I’ve examined the obesity epidemic in adults and children, its complexity, known causes and associated health risks (e.g., Type 2 diabetes, certain cancers), the concept of “skinny fat,” and the role of hormones in weight gain.
I’ve looked at disordered eating habits, unrealistic body images portrayed by the media, how the media influences our self-perception, and I’ve proposed the notion of accepting our natural body shapes, cellulite and other genetic aspects of our bodies that we cannot change and that have no negative health consequences.
I’ve exposed the reality that diets have a high long-term failure rate – regardless of the type of diet. I’ve discussed the pros and cons of processed foods; the roles and misconceptions regarding carbohydrates, fats and protein; hidden sugar and its health implications; the demonization of certain foods; the concept of moderation; the importance of quality and not just quantity of calories; and tips to eating healthily on a budget.
I’ve shared my own health struggles and triumphs. I’ve admitted my setbacks with my dietary habits. I’ve shared my experiences training for and running half-marathon races, and the thrill of personal victory that each of us can achieve when we push our limits. I’ve been honest at all times, because I believe it’s important for everyone to understand that, despite working in the fitness industry, I, like everyone else, am far from perfect.
I shared my pride and excitement when I published my autobiographical, self-help book Personal Best: Train Your Brain and Transform Your Body for Life. As for training your brain, I’ve written articles on attitudes, internal dialogue, redefining success (not just as the number on the scale), stages of mental readiness, the notion of persistence and perseverance even with advanced age or physical impediments, adopting fitness as a lifestyle, dysfunctional beliefs and how to replace excuses with solutions. I’ve brought awareness to finding inspiration in others –everyday people – who are all around us, and how to be open and receptive to change.
With so many topics covered, what’s next? As a writer and personal trainer, I feel I’ve just scratched the surface. Thank you for the positive feedback over the years. Let’s continue our journey together towards our personal best in fitness and health.