The numbers never lie.

Posted by James Greenwood | 10:02 AM | View Comments

Innovative Fitness, the company for which I work, is about to wrap up its second Nutrition Challenge.

This challenge was put out to all of our customers to challenge them to make lifestyle changes and not only commit to these changes, but be held accountable to the commitment.

In short: cut out the bad stuff and replace it with the good stuff, exercise more consistently and and basically move outside of their comfort zone, and hopefully set the wheels in motion for the laying down of new and healthier behaviors that will last beyond the 30 day challenge.

Points are awarded for weight loss, submission of daily food logs, taking part in events both in and outside of the facility.

The challenge started on 1 October with a weigh in, assessment of body composition, Basal Metabolic Rate and Metabolic Age. It ends on November 1 with the big weigh in and the determination of who is the champion.

It is a great challenge no doubt, and so simple. Yet it all hinges on numbers. The numbers do not lie. There is no hiding from what the numbers say!

Without an initial weigh in, there is nothing to compare your improvement against. If there is no calculation of BMR, how do you know what your daily caloric requirements are, how many calories you need to remove to illicit a weight loss response.

This challenge provides us with an excellent example of how anyone who is serious about improving their performance, overall fitness or body composition, should approach the task.

What I mean is that without some sort of baseline value to measure improvement against, the hours and hours spent working toward the goal would be pointless.

So why is that so many participants in physical activity train from day to day, with no real idea of where they started and where they are going.

I call this type of activity Random Acts of Training (RAT).

All to often, there is a definite end point to which are committing a large chunk of time and resources, but we have no baseline or starting point against which we can compare our intervention (running program, weight loss plan, strength training plan).

It can be so simple to set up a little self assessment for yourself. It certainly does not require a high tech lab and a PhD in Sports Science.

For example, if you are a runner, a 1.5 mile on a treadmill at 1% gradient, with the goal being to cover the distance in as short a time as possible. A Cyclist might do a 40km time trial, a rower a 2000 indoor Erg session.

Weight loss would require a weigh in and perhaps a body composition assessment and muscle endurance might be how many push ups you can do till muscle failure.



In fact as long as you can repeat the "test" in exactly the same way, every 6 to 8 weeks, anything will go - it is up to you.

Of course there are a couple things you must remember to record to be able to compare you second tests results against:
  • The time of day, day and date you complete the test
  • The time taken to cover the distance, your weight or whatever parameter you are measuring.
  • If you have a heart rate monitor, record your average heart, maximum heart rate and calories expended as a result of the effort.
The next step is apply your intervention. This might be your training program or an eating plan or stretching program. If you are consistent and stick to the plan diligently, when you re-assess yourself after 6 - 8 weeks, you will notice an improvement.

This might be a faster time, a drop in percentage body fat or increase in the number of push ups completed. There might not an improvement in time, but perhaps your average heart rate is 10 beats per minute lower for the effort.



You now know for certain that the time and effort you have been committing to the program is paying dividends and that you are on the correct road to realizing your ultimate goal.

Always remember: the numbers never lie!

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete. He has is a level 1 Triathlon Coach, holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA.

James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and Training Coach at Innovative Fitness in Vancouver. He has also starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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