Thursday, September 1, 2016

Eat Less & Move More: It Isn't That Simple & What You Eat is As Important As How Much.

What You Eat is As Important As How Much You Eat.  And, in case no one has told you already,foods high fat, high in sugar or a combination of both are killing your progress.

"Eat less, move more."This is, still, the stance of most of the fitness industry. Full disclosure, at one point in my career I, too, subscribed to this simplistic foundational belief. But it's bigger than that. Much.  I mean, if it was a simple as eating less and moving more we wouldn't have a rising obesity rate would we? Perhaps quantity isn't the only variable. Perhaps more than a physical solution is need.

The foods on our shelves in north america boast more "low fat" and "fewer calorie" options than ever before yet the rate of obesity, particularly in children, continues to rise. Perhaps it's not only the amount of food but the type of food that we are eating that is contributing to this epidemic?

Eating heavily processed foods and foods high in sugar & fat, simply put causes addictive problems to our chemical make up. What do I mean - the more of them you eat, the more of them you want. And sometimes, often times, will power just isn't enough. Partly because those foods are actually addictive and partly because these foods rarely give you a sense of satiation when compared to a similar size serving of a "real" food.

Think of it this way - when's the last time you ate a bag of apples when you started with one versus when is the last time you ate a family sized chocolate bar in a sitting when you started with "just a small piece," or a giant bag of chips when you had every intention of eating only a few?

The next problem high fat and high sugar foods cause is that, because of how our bodies work in digestion, they are processed and stored as fat far more readily and quickly than "real" foods are. This is when 300 calories of one thing is not the same as 300 calories of another. Huh?

When a higher dose of fatty and sugary food enters our body faster than our bodies can utilize the energy our bodies, in an effort to keep up with the incoming calories that cannot be used fast enough, store the calories - cue the stomach, liver, pancreas and insulin. High fat and sugar foods are then converted and stored, very easily, as fat. And no, sugar substitutes aren't any better because they create a similar chemical effect of "too much energy to use so let's store it as fat" in your body, which generates similar physical results.

Foods high in fibre help with feeling satiated as well as minimizing storage because fibre passes through us. Unlike other carbs our bodies don't break it down for fuel. Also, as it passess through us it slows digestion, essentially giving our bodies time to utilize the other calories in the food the fibre "came in with". The longer the calories get to be used for energy in our bodies, the less of them that need to be stored. This is why the sugar naturally found in fruit is less concerning than only drinking the fibre free fruit juice - which is also usually made with much more flavour adding sugar.

This is why the quality of your calories is just as important - perhaps even more so, than just the quantity. This is why eating real food, eating food high in fibre and curbing the amounts of high fat, high sugar, high processed foods in your eating habits is important. And this is why you cannot out exercise poor quality eating habits, even if your quantities are right.

In order to make significant and lasting changes in your body, you've got to address many habits that contribute to your body. That includes mental & spiritual practices, thought patterns and recognizing and swapping daily habits that don't serve you for ones that do serve you in the pursuit of building a stronger, fitter, healthier you.
Mark Sparks
Conditioning Specialist
S.P.A.R.K.S Conditioning
Instagram: @sparksconditioning

"It's Bigger Than Fitness. What Are You Chasing?"

For more about Mark Sparks please visit

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

You Are Not An Idiot For Trying Crazy Fitness Fads.

At the end of your rope? Probably. Discouraged? Most likely. But an idiot? Nope.

It doesn't take much energy to find wild fitness claims on any given day. Whether scrolling on social media or channel surfing on tv or the web, we quickly and often come across ads and products that, for a nominal fee, promise to banish fat and/or build muscle with very little effort.

With all the constant promotion of how "easy" it is to get and stay in shape, is it any wonder why the unhealthy lifestyle recidivism rates are so high? In our insta-society we're sold remedy after remedy that is not only guaranteed to work but, as we are led to believe, has worked for so many people before us that when they don't work for us it is us, and not the simple and easy method, which is flawed.


The truth is that change is possible. The truth is that change is also simple but it is NOT easy. To have the energy, the confidence & the joy that we all yearn for and to build the body and lifestyle we desire and deserve takes a commitment to a system of changes implemented one by one which then team up to form a healthy network of habits in our lives that we live with day in and day out. That's it.

Yes I am aware that the simple formula just took a turn for complicated but it really isn't. And thanks for staying with me as I explain. Think about learning to walk. Walking takes balance and other motor skills, hand eye co-ordination and generating power, navigation skills and processing skills to all be working all at once. But we don't learn all those things at once as babies - we learn them step by step. We get up and fall down and get up and fall down and get up until we no longer fall down.

We keep adding what we learn to what we have already learned - we keep adding new habits to serve us towards our goal as we learn new habits that will make our goal achievable - in this case, walking. We keep adding until we are walking then running all over the place - much to our parents dissatisfaction if your childhood was anything like my own.

Point? The simple formula that seemed to become complicated - the one that marketers aims to complicate for you so that you don't succeed and you stay in the pain and purchase cycle that being overweight and unhealthy pin so many people in - really is a simple one. What makes it seems hard is that, in an instant world, this simple formula of lasting health and fitness takes time to execute as we build healthy habit atop healthy habit.

So the next time you feel dumb - or are ready to call someone an idiot for taking on the next crazy fitness fad - remember that pain is a scary yet effective motivator. And that getting into shape really is a simple journey, achieved one step and one rep at a time.
Mark Sparks
Conditioning Specialist & Personal Trainer

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