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Why Fitness Professionals Should Join the MedFit Network

It is safe to assume that not everyone a fitness professional works with is injury- or disease-free. As a fitness professional, it is your responsibility to ensure that you provide your clientele with safe and effective programming. The question you have to ask yourself is: are you truly qualified and up to date on the latest information to work with your current (and future) clientele? A second question to ask is: are you marketing yourself to those who need you most in this healthcare crisis? If you’re honest, you should at least say that perhaps you are not.

Well, this is where the MedFit Network (MFN) can help! The MFN is both a professional membership organization for fitness and allied healthcare professionals and a free online resource directory for the community to locate professionals with a background in prevention, treatment and rehabilitation in working with those with chronic disease or medical conditions. As a fitness professional, here are three reasons why you should join the MedFit Network.

1: Raising the Fitness Professional Standards by Becoming a Medical Fitness Practitioner

MFN is dedicated to making sure fitness professionals are highly educated and prepared to work with any medical issue. The name given for this person is a Medical Fitness Practitioner (MFP). The MFP helps make the transition from medical management and/or physical therapy to a regular physical activity program following a surgery, an injury, a medical diagnosis or exacerbation of a pre-existing condition. They also possess the training and skills to work with medical conditions like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, neuromuscular disorders and heart disease. So, a medical fitness practitioner is not just a personal trainer but includes wellness- and health-related disciplines such as chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, nutritionists, etc.

2: Continuing Education

The MedFit Education Foundation (MFEF) is the nonprofit partner of the MedFit Network dedicated to elevating the quality and amount of available education for the medical fitness professional and the entire fitness and wellness community. For example, there is a Multiple Sclerosis Fitness Specialist and A Women’s Health, Fitness and Hormone Specialist course that are both one-of-a-kind. Continuing education is required for all their specialty courses. This is typically not the case. It is usually continuing education only for your certification. All of their continuing education courses are approved by a medical advisory board of some of the brightest professionals in the nation. MFEF also has weekly educational webinars that are included with your membership. These webinars are presented weekly (50 in total) by industry experts on such topics as medical fitness and active aging.

The MFN is an organization filled with people from all walks of the wellness professional spectrum. For example, they have MDs, PTs, chiropractors, dieticians, fitness and massage therapists to name a few. As a result, opportunities to network are endless. Because of this, current members have developed their own educational courses and even started their own blogs. Also, members have been able to designate their facility as medical fitness facilities by working with a member who specializes in helping people achieve this status.

The MedFit Network is a unique organization dedicated to improving the standards of the fitness and allied healthcare professional. The ability for the diseased community to go to a directory of qualified medical fitness professionals is something unheard of anywhere else. The three reasons given are just the tip of the iceberg as to why you should be a part of this movement, the MFN!

Click to learn more about joining the MedFit Network as a professional member.


This column was featured in the summer 2020 issue of MedFit Professional Magazine. Click to read the latest issue and get your free subscription.


Maurice Williams offers a rare combination of advanced academic training, personal experience as a competitive athlete, entrepreneur skills and 22 years of experience in personal fitness and training. He has a BS in Exercise/Sport Science from Elon College (Now Elon University) and an MS in Clinical Exercise Physiology from Ohio University. He currently serves as the Director of Membership Services for the MedFit Network. 

broccoli

Building a Better Vegan/Vegetarian Sports Diet

Among athletes, “turning vegan” (or vegetarian) is not a passing fad. Given the most popular ages for embarking upon a vegan lifestyle are 19, 20 and 21, many college athletes are asking me how to eat a meatless sports diet.

First, I want to understand why they are choosing to cut out animal-based foods. The standard reasons are:

1. Vegan and vegetarian diets tend to be healthier than a diet based on burgers and bacon. Indeed, plant-based meals with beans, veggies, and whole grains are nutrient dense, fiber-rich, and abundant in healthful phytochemicals and healthy fats. (Yet, vegan diets are not always healthier. Coke, Oreos, Skittles, Doritos are vegan-friendly…)

2. Vegans/vegetarians are leaner than omnivores, so some athletes embark upon a vegan lifestyle in hopes of losing weight. That might happen if your vegan/vegetarian diet coincides with limiting your intake of calories. Knocking off 300 calories of ice cream and replacing it with 100 calories of berries creates a significant calorie reduction.

3. Plant-based diets address concerns about animal rights and the environment. Hence, vegan/vegetarian diets appeal to animal lovers and folks who want to help save the planet. Reducing animal agriculture is one small way to curb global warming (and every little bit helps). But according to Frank Mitloehner PhD professor and air quality specialist at UC-Davis, industry and transportation are far bigger polluters— as is wasted food. (Forty percent of food we produce never gets to the table.) This podcast with Dr. Mitloehner offers science-based climate-change facts.

4. Though not verbalized as a reason to go vegan, meatless diets, unfortunately, are a popular way for athletes with anorexia to cut out chicken, beef, fish, eggs, dairy to the point they are living on little more than fruits and veggies. Eating disorders can change healthy vegan meals into diets deficient in not only protein, but many nutrients, including iron, calcium, zinc, B-12, vitamin D, iodine, and omega-3 fats. Within a few months, good health can dwindle into injuries, hair falling out in clumps, low energy, and poor athletic performance.

Considerations when building a vegan sports diet

The busy lifestyle of vegan athletes can create nutrition challenges. For example, when eating on the run, vegans may find Oreos are more readily available than, let’s say, roasted chickpeas. Grab-and-go snacks of just a bagel or a banana should get balanced with some protein — but is hummus or soymilk readily available? All this means vegan athletes have to be responsible and plan ahead.

When listening to my vegan/vegetarian clients, I often hear “red flag” statements that signal misinformation. Let’s take a look at some common misconceptions and correct some myths related to vegan/vegetarian sports diets.

“Carbs” are fattening, a waste of calories? False! 

Plants are carbs! While you want to limit nutrient-poor carbs (like Frosted Flakes, Pop-Tarts, ramen), wholesome carbs (preferably called grain-foods) should be the foundation of every meal to fully fuel muscles. Athletes who train one to three hours a day can easily end up with needless fatigue if they try to thrive on fruit and salads. Grains (and all “carbs”) are NOT inherently fattening. Excess calories of any food can be fattening.

As a vegan/vegetarian athlete, you would be wise to eat grains (such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread, brown rice) as the foundation of each meal/snack. Combine them with a colorful assortment of fruits and/or vegetables for more muscle-fuel, and of course, a dose of protein.

Lunchtime salads are a healthy vegan meal? Sometimes.

While salads can be nutrient-rich, they can also be protein and carb-poor—but high in calories given a “little bit” of olive oil on a big salad ends up being a lot of dressing. Filling up on calories from fat will not refuel depleted muscle glycogen. Vegan athletes could better refuel their muscles with a grain-protein combination such as a hummus wrap or beans and rice.

Quinoa can be the “protein” in a vegan meal? No!

Quinoa is reputed to be a protein-rich grain, containing all the essential amino acids needed to build muscle. It is not a stand-along protein-rich food. If you compare quinoa to other grains, you’ll see it offers only 6 grams of protein per 200 calories, similar to rice (4 g), and less than pasta (7 g). Most athletes should target 15 to 25 grams of protein at each meal. That means, you want to add more than just quinoa to your salad. How about tofu? beans? lentils?

Almond milk is a replacement for dairy milk? No way!

Almond juice (it is not milk) has far fewer nutrients than dairy milk. Milk’s 8 grams of high-quality protein is life-sustaining. The 1 gram of low-quality protein in almond beverages is not. Soy or pea milk are acceptable dairy-free alternatives to cows’ milk.

Soy causes cancer and man-boobs? Wrong.

The latest research indicates soy is cancer preventive and is safe— even for women with breast cancer. As for man-boobs, the one case study about unusual male breast development refers to a person who routinely drank three quarts of soymilk a day. That is a LOT of soymilk. For the latest soy updates, enjoy this podcast.

Protein bars and powders can replace real foods? Not really.

Protein-rich foods are preferable to highly processed bars and shakes. Nutrients in natural foods interact synergistically Instead of yet-another bar or shake for a meal or snack, how about cereal + (soy) milk, crackers + hummus, or banana + nut butter? Aren’t these real foods more in keeping with the spirit of veganism?


Sports Nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD counsels both casual and competitive athletes in the Boston-area. Her updated (2019) Sports Nutrition Guidebook can help you optimize your eating. Visit NancyClarkRD.com for information about appointments, books, and teaching materials.

preparing-vegetable

Whole Person Integrative Eating: A Dietary Lifestyle for Attaining and Maintaining Weight Loss

At the beginning of our Whole Person Integrative Eating (WPIE) coaching sessions, Alison was a 64-year-old woman who weighed 235 pounds and wore a size 3x. A former businesswoman turned professional meditation practitioner, Alison’s obesity began as a teenager. She had tried many “diets-du-jour” over the decades. Each time she would lose some weight—sometimes a lot; then she would return to her preferred “go-to” foods and gain back the weight…

diabetes-exercise-feature

How Exercise May Be the Only Way to Curb the Diabetes Epidemic

The incidence rate of type 2 diabetes has been increasing in the United States for the past 40 years.  In fact, the American Diabetes Association estimates that at least half of all US adults (over 65 million people) have pre-diabetes or full-blown diabetes.  It is often underreported on death certificates, and is probably the third leading cause of premature death in the US.

So why is there such an increase in diabetes in this country?  The biggest reason is diet.

From a young age, children are eating processed food. When they enter school – lunchrooms in many school districts are sponsored with food from McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Coca Cola.  In college – most dorm food is also like fast food, and they can eat as much as they want. That and their foray into alcohol, and we have the beginnings of obesity, insulin resistance, and pancreatic damage. The very concept of type 2 diabetes used to be called “adult diabetes”.  Since many teenagers are now diagnosed, it’s now time to change the name.

One would say that if diabetes is a disease of the foods that you eat, then simply change the foods you eat. Not that simple. Once you’re diagnosed with diabetes, you become a ward of the medical system. Doctors will perform a lot of tests, take blood, and prescribe both insulin and drugs to mimic the glucose-lowering effects of the body, and many spend a minimal amount of time counseling on the right type of diet for your needs.

There are, in fact, many good diets to lower blood sugar, like the well-known Keto diet, which emphasizes higher fats and low carbohydrates. This is something that doctors have been prescribing in one form or another since the Atkins diet in the 1960s. What about vegetarian and vegan diets?  If you ask Dr. John McDougall, one of the nation’s leading plant-based doctors, he would advocate that a diet higher in plant-based carbohydrates is better for the body than high amounts of meat and cooking oils.

Both may have a point, but if you look at the food choices that most Americans have, they walk into a grocery store, and if they’re not savvy enough to shop on the outside isles (fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses), they are trapped in an endless cycle of boxed cereals, candy bars, frozen foods, soft drinks and alcohol. It is almost impossible to go to a store and not pick up about 50-75% of food from a box, bucket or bottle.  Many still haven’t put two and two together — that the foods they eat now will have an effect on their physiology and medical status in 5-20 years.

So what’s missing? I have been in an interesting position of working in diabetes research in the 1980s, and watching from the sidelines the work, research, and policy in this area of medical care for the past 30 years. Here are my thoughts.  

First, although exercise is touted as part of the trilogy of treatment for diabetes (along with diet and insulin), it is the first to be discarded for another type of treatment that is expedient and profitable.  

Second, there are little, if any, referrals to the health club sector in order to work on basic exercise programs for persons with diabetes. Even moderate types of programming will results in dramatic drops in body weight (and fat), daily blood sugars, and A1c levels. It simply is not being done. Many in allied health scream that personal trainers and fitness instructors are not qualified to teach exercise programs for diabetes. With the advent of medical fitness over the past 20 years, this simply isn’t the case today. I would think that having a mechanism to get patients into health clubs through their health plan, or Medicare, or a revolving door policy with their physician group, would be an outstanding way to get more patients into the exercise routine.  

Third, people who work in the fitness industry should be looking very carefully in getting diabetic persons into their facilities in their communities. This takes an effort with health club trainers, club managers and company owners to reach out to the medical community through health programs, lectures, fairs and membership discounts in order to get patients in the door.  It may even entail home exercise visits, or online coaching where patients are taught programs, and keep their exercise routines times and exercise notes. 

Lastly, the fitness industry needs to move into the technology realm and look at the effects of exercise on patients both over 3-4 weeks, but also 3-4 years. This will be done through outcomes-based software programs that can be detailed to physicians, health plans, and sports medicine journals. Once the majority of medical fitness centers and health clubs are on board, we will see a changing of the guard in terms of what Americans think is the best type of treatment program to reduce diabetes symptoms, and look at the data of how people exercise, and how many of their health risks are being reduced by a challenging and consistent exercise program. This can be done at any age, and at almost every state of diabetes — whether they are newly diagnosed, or have basic complications that they are dealing with regarding long-standing diabetes. 

It is time to embrace exercise as part of a diabetes prevention and reduction strategy.  If not, in 20 years we will probably see the epidemic at such a high level, that a good portion of Americans will not be able to work due to their complications.  The costs to society will be even higher than they are now. It’s a risk we don’t need to take, because of the untapped market of over 31,000 health clubs in the US, there is virtually no reason not to engage in exercise. It would seem that our nation’s health depends on our next steps – literally. 


Eric Durak is President of MedHealthFit – a health care education and consulting company in Santa Barbara, CA. A 25 year veteran of the health and fitness industry, he has worked in health clubs, medical research, continuing education, and business development. Among his programs include The Cancer Fit-CARE Program, Exercise Medicine, The Insurance Reimbursement Guide, and Wellness @ Home Series for home care wellness.

organic food

Everything You Need to Know About the Benefits of Organic Food

With the recent rising health concerns and increasing awareness for the benefits of organic produce, organic products have become more popular in recent years, especially considering the ongoing battle with obesity and diabetes faced by a large population of the United States. There are so many benefits to choosing organic products.

What does organic actually mean?

Organic products are grown under a natural agricultural system without the influence of synthetic fertilizers or chemicals (1). The regulations vary from country to country, but generally speaking, organic farming means growing crops without the use of any synthetic pesticides, GMOs, and certain toxic fertilizers; for raising livestock for meat, eggs, or dairy, the livestock must be fed organic products, have regular access to natural outdoor areas, and they cannot be given any growth hormones or antibiotics.

Monocropping

Monocropping is the term for planting a single crop type in a large area of farmland, which is a widely used technique in non-organic agriculture. This leaves this crop very vulnerable to being quickly wiped out by a bug or a disease. Consequently, farmers must spray chemicals to kill these diseases/bugs, filling the crop with these toxins which are not designed for human consumption.

Organic farmers practice planting a variety of different crops in one area to attract a range of bugs and other wildlife, which will naturally keep the plants healthy.

Norma Brault, a food blogger at Big Assignments and Research Papers(2), states “Herbicides and pesticides aren’t able to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ insects, so simply wipe out everything but the crop. Organic farming practices do not use these toxins, so they don’t negatively affect biodiversity and promote healthy growing techniques to maintain the living organisms the crops need to grow and keep the soil healthy and rich in nutrients.”

Pesticides, Insecticides, Fungicides, Herbicides…

Such toxic chemicals are commonly used in more conventional, non-organic agriculture and can end up being ingested when we eat these foods. The residues of these chemicals end up in the food we eat.

Environmental Impact

Organic farming is unquestionably better for the environment, by reducing pollution, energy usage, water usage, and soil erosion, and increasing soil health and fertility.

Local food production and markets are also better for the environment by reducing emissions and unnecessary plastic packaging.

Organic agricultural techniques don’t harm the community surrounding the farmland, it keeps harmful toxins out of the air, the soil, and even the drinking water – protecting the farmers, local people, and wildlife.

These chemicals will even end up in the ocean (3) – as everything eventually does – whether by leaking through the soil into aquifers, blowing into nearby bodies of water, or running off into the sea in the rain, and can be damaging to ocean life.

Keeping Livestock Healthy and Happy

Livestock raised organically are never given animal byproducts, growth hormones, or antibiotics, which keeps them much healthier and happier and at lower risk of diseases and infections. They are also given plenty of space to roam outdoors.

David Green, a health writer at  Boomessays and Studydemic (4), says “It’s well-known that the meat of stressed animals tastes worse – organic practices ensure the meat tastes as best it can, since the livestock is well taken care of.” The same also applies to crops! Healthy, happy crops will taste better than monocropped, herbicide-filled crops.

Better Tasting Food!

Organic farming produces food that is richer in nutrients, so it is much better for your health and wellbeing. The soil is nutrient-rich as a result of sustainable farming practices, while farmers are forced to spray chemicals on crops in non-organic agriculture, since the soil is not naturally being replenished.

There are countless benefits to organic produce, helping improve the health of the earth, the sea, drinking water, local wildlife, the environment, farmers, local communities, and you and your family. By choosing to eat organically produced and certified organic food products, you are actively choosing to help keep the world healthy.


Beatrice Potter is a web writer at Best essay writing service UK and OXEssays review. She writes about organic food and health. She also is a tutor for Best Essay Services.

 

References

(1) https://ota.com/organic-101/how-organic-food-grown

(2) Norma Brault, food blogger at Big Assignments and Research Papers

(3) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080216095740.htm

(4) David Green, a health writer at Boomessays and Studydemic

 

Photo credits: Fuzzy Rescue; Elle Hughes

pregnancy-fitness-1

Can a Pregnant Woman Safely Continue her Pre-Pregnancy Workout Routine?

A regular exercise routine has become a way of life for many women, and many choose to continue their exercise routines when they become pregnant.  Research in the field of maternal fitness has shown that exercise during a non-complicated pregnancy is healthy for both mom and baby and may help prevent or reduce some of the physical problems associated with pregnancy, labor, and delivery.

Although exercise is a positive addition to a healthy pregnancy, there are established guidelines that help ensure that a woman’s exercise program is safe and effective.  First and foremost, it is important for a pregnant woman to consult with her healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.  She should bring a list of questions regarding her exercise program and provide an overview of what type, intensity, frequency, and duration of exercise she would like to do.  This enables her healthcare provider to accurately assess whether the fitness program is appropriate for her pregnancy.

Each woman’s level of fitness and health is different, as is each pregnancy. There are several points to consider when choosing to continue a fitness program during pregnancy.  Some types of exercise are more easily continued during pregnancy, and common sense, safety, and comfort all play a role in deciding whether an activity should be part of a prenatal fitness program.

Choosing the type of exercise that will be safe and effective during pregnancy can be determined by reviewing the following points:

  • What activities does she enjoy or are skilled at doing?
  • Does the activity pose an increased risk of falls or blunt abdominal injury?
  • Is she able to do the activity without being compromised by balance and center of gravity changes?
  • Can the activity be easily modified as pregnancy progresses?
  • Does common sense conclude that this is a safe activity to continue during pregnancy?

Research on prenatal exercise has suggested that greater benefits are achieved by including sustained, weight-bearing exercises such as walking, running, stationary stepping/elliptical machine, or dance classes in a prenatal fitness program.  However, some women may not tolerate weight-bearing exercise during pregnancy and are more comfortable with non-weight bearing activities such as swimming and stationary biking.

There are several activities, such as scuba diving and water skiing, that are never safe to do during pregnancy.  Other activities, such as downhill skiing, horseback riding, and sports with a chance of abdominal impact may also be too risky for most women to continue during pregnancy.

Here are a few tips for keeping a prenatal exercise routine safe:

  • Pregnant women need to add 300 calories to their daily food intake to meet the needs of pregnancy. If she is physically active, she may need to increase that amount if she’s not gaining weight normally. The number of extra calories needed depends on the intensity and duration and frequency of the exercise program.  It is important to drink 8-10 cups of water each day and increase that amount during hot and humid weather.
  • Exercise in heat and humidity can be dangerous. It is safest to exercise in an air-conditioned facility during the summer months. If she does choose to exercise outdoors during warm weather, she should avoid the high heat times between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm and reduce intensity and duration to prevent overheating.
  • She should frequently monitor herself during exercise for signs of overheating, such as dizziness, faintness, or nausea. Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to replace the fluids lost will help prevent dehydration and overheating. Hot tubs and saunas may cause core temperature to rise to unsafe levels and should be avoided.

A simple method for monitoring intensity level during prenatal exercise is to assess how hard the exercise feels.  A pregnant woman should feel that her exercise level is moderate to somewhat hard.  If she feels out of breath or is unable to talk (termed the “talk test”), she is working at too high a level and should decrease intensity or stop and rest. Her exercise level should feel challenging but not so difficult that she feels exhausted during and/or afterward.

Self-assessment is one of the best ways for a pregnant woman to monitor her exercise program and assure herself that her activity level is safe. A pregnant woman should review the following questions several times each month and follow up with her healthcare provider if she experiences any problems.

  • Do you and your healthcare provider feel that you are gaining weight normally?
  • Do you feel well physically and mentally?
  • Are you able to comfortably follow your exercise program without pain, exhaustion, or problems following exercise?
  • Do you experience chronic or extreme exhaustion?
  • If you are at the point in pregnancy where you are consistently feeling fetal movement, have you noticed any change in the pattern or amount of your baby’s movements?
  • Does your baby move at least two times within 20-30 minutes following exercise?
  • Was your last abdominal fundal height measurement (a measurement of fetal growth) or ultrasound assessment within normal limits, and is your baby progressing normally at each medical check?
  • Does your healthcare provider have any concern regarding the health of your pregnancy?

Pregnant women who continue a challenging level of exercise need to be aware of signs or symptoms that indicate overwork, such as an elevated resting heart rate, frequent illness, lack of weight gain, depression and chronic exhaustion.   She should decrease or stop her exercise program during illness, when fatigued, under excessive stress or if experiencing any complications with her pregnancy.

Prenatal exercise should enhance pregnancy and help to make a woman’s postpartum recovery smoother.  The best advice for the athletic woman who wants to continue her fitness program during pregnancy is to use common sense, listen to her body, and enjoy all the challenges and changes this incredible experience offers.


Catherine Cram started her company, Prenatal and Postpartum Fitness Consulting, in order to provide current, evidence- based guidelines maternal fitness guidelines to health and fitness professionals. She was a contributing author for the textbook, Women’s Health in Physical Therapy and co-authored the revision of Exercising Through Your Pregnancy with Dr. James Clapp.  Her company offers the certification course, “Prenatal and Postpartum Exercise Design” which provides continuing education credits for over 30 health and fitness organization, including ACSM, ACE, ICEA, and Lamaze.

Sliced-steak

The Naturopathic Chef: Grilled Steak Salad

The main reason to eat meat of any kind is the top quality Heme-Iron that isn’t present in plants (Non-Heme Iron).

Beef also contains a big dose of stress-reducing B vitamins as well as Zinc. Anytime we eat foods high in Zinc, our bodies produce Super Oxide Dimutase, or SOD. This is a supercharged anti-aging antioxidant! And, your body does all the work for you.