Health and Fitness Anytime – April 17

A New Column – With Jolene de Vries


Question: I hear that keeping a food journal might help me lose weight.  Can you give me some tips on how to get started and the best way to journal?

Answer: Several studies have shown that people who keep food journals are more likely to be successful in losing weight.  The simple act of food journaling is an excellent way to bring instant awareness to what, how much, and why you are eating.  Journaling helps identify areas where changes might need to be made, whether it’s recognizing a food allergy or sensitivity, or realizing that many of your daily calories are coming from mid-afternoon beverages and late-night snacks.  Decide on what type of journal will work for you. You might choose a simple notebook and manually log or you could use a smart phone app (like My Fitness Pal or Anytime Health) and track digitally. Next, start logging your food. It makes the most sense to log right after you eat, whenever possible. Be sure to include time of meal, food amount/portion size, and degree of hunger.  Be as honest and thorough as you can.  It’s easy to forget the handful of M&M’s at the office or that alfredo sauce on your lunchtime pasta.  Review your journal weekly, either on your own or with a dietitian to determine eating patterns that are positive and those that need a change to help you move towards a healthier lifestyle.

Question: There are so many fat-burning products on the market—are they helpful or harmful?

Answer: There are numerous products on the market that contain thermogenic ingredients, or what most of us call “fat burners.” Ephedrine, yohimbine, green tea extract (EGCG), bitter orange (synephrine) and even caffeine are examples, and they basically work by stimulating the central nervous system. This increases your “fight or flight” responses, indirectly providing energy and allowing you to process calories at a faster rate. Along with these supposed benefits, there are also side effects associated with these ingredients, including increased blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate. Another potential issue is the fact that, individually, they don’t have a real dramatic effect. As a result, companies often combine several of these ingredients into one product and then sell it as an energy or health supplement. Unfortunately, we don’t know how any one of these stimulants will specifically affect you as an individual, let alone several of them combined together. So, despite the claims, your best bet is to pass on these ingredients and the products that contain them. Instead, focus on maximizing your training and nutrition, and speak to a qualified professional about losing body fat in the safest and most effective way possible.

Question: I have a few friends that attend yoga classes regularly, and they’ve been trying to get me to join them. Do you recommend yoga as an alternative to traditional strength training and cardiovascular exercise?

Answer: Absolutely! I always recommend incorporating several different types of training in your regimen, and yoga is no exception. It provides a fantastic workout and offers several health benefits, including improved flexibility, increased strength and muscle tone, better breathing, enhanced body awareness, and stress reduction. What more could you ask for, right? Some people equate yoga with passive stretching, but it’s so much more than that—it’s actually quite challenging. After giving it a try, most folks are amazed that you can get such a good workout using just your body weight. There are several different types of yoga, so hopefully your friends are going to a class that you’ll enjoy as well. And it’s really important to find a qualified instructor, too. Hectic schedules seem to rule the day, so yoga’s more calming aspects are a welcomed addition, not to mention the true fitness benefits. Enjoy!

About the author: Jolene de Vries is the Club Owner at Anytime Fitness coming to Esterhazy, Saskatchewan in summer of 2016.  To submit a question for future articles, please contact the author at

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