Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

April 4, 2013

'On Fitness' column

On Fitness
The Andover Townsman

---- — Question: How do you encourage young women to be healthy and strong without ‘waking up’ any compulsive obsession with weight and body? What kind of language do you use?

Expert: Jamey Lachiana

Exercise physiologist,

Yang’s Fitness Center

Answer: I find the best way to teach a young lady or man (or adult), is to educate them to the point that they realize it would be reckless to continue down the same path of harmful eating. Typically, most young ladies and men enjoying learning new methods to better themselves. When they can also share what they have been empowered with to their friends, it makes it that much more exciting to learn.

Use empowering language like; “It can be important to remember…”, “One of the best things you can do is…” or “I find, what works for me and many others is…”. This kind of communication gives the person a choice, and not a command. No one enjoys being told what to do, especially if they don’t want to make changes to begin with.

This method gives the person a chance to make up their own mind. They are given knowledge to do what works, or they can continue to follow the path that hasn’t worked for them.

I can’t over stress how important is it to start educating, at a young age, the benefits of healthy eating, and exercise. Habits are so difficult to change the older you get and also the busier you become with work, education, relationships, and so on. So get them started sooner rather than later.

Expert: Art McDermott

Owner, Matrix Strength & Fitness

Answer: I believe the conversation should be about body composition and never body weight. There is no such thing as an “ideal weight.”

Let me explain. Would you rather have a body weight of 120 pounds with a body fat percentage of 33 or a bodyweight of 145 pounds with a body fat percentage of 18? The later profile is far healthier. Once young women understand that the numbers on the scale are not a good measure of health, well-being or even physical appearance, they can move forward.

The language also needs to focus on behaviors, and not physical appearance. This is easier said than done, of course. However, once a young woman understands and sees for herself that an increase in muscle mass moves her in the right direction, the conversation becomes easier. Fitness fosters confidence as well, which lies at the foundation of self-esteem.

All women need to understand they will not end up with grotesque levels of muscle mass either. They are just not designed that way.

Question on nutrition: What if I’m starved at bedtime? What are your favorite bedtime snack ideas?

Expert: Art McDermott

Owner, Matrix Strength & Fitness

Answer: This common problem stems from poor choices earlier in the day. If blood-sugar levels have been on a roller coaster ride all day long as a result of high glycemic food choices and insulin release, bedtime becomes a problem.

If you can keep the blood sugar steady by opting for fewer processed carbs during the daytime, you can avoid the blood-sugar drop later on.

If you MUST eat after 7 or 8 p.m., it is key to stick with protein and low-sugar foods. Protein will keep you fuller longer and keep insulin levels from spiking. I like mixed nuts or something like celery and peanut butter.