Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Follow Friday: #Elf4Health

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I saw a bunch of my social media RD friends participating in this challenge last year and I thought it looked like fun. So, this year, when I saw one of them tweet about it, I immediately signed up. You can too! You can sign-up to participate with and as a buddy or just go it alone depending on how much involvement you want to have.

Each day of Elf for Health yields a new challenge. Starting with going meatless on Monday, November 24th, and finishing with making a donation on December 21st. It’s a great way to focus on health during what can often be a stressful time of year.


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Guest post: How accurate are running apps anyway?

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Finally, someone took me up on my request to write a blog post for me. Kidding. I was a little skeptical when I received a request for a guest post from someone I didn’t know and who’s background wasn’t nutrition. However, Sara took the spirit of my blog and applied it to running (my second love). I hope you all enjoy her post as much as I did!

Running apps for smartphones have been gaining momentum ever since they sprung from the starting block. Runners everywhere are strapping their phones to their arms and keeping track of distance run, pace and calories burned.

Or so they think.

How accurate are these apps, anyway? Can they really be as precise as a GPS watch?

A professional run coach named Matt Johnson decided to find out for himself. Using a running app for a smartphone, the same app for an Android phone, a GPS watch and a bicycle computer with a wheel sensor, Matt set out on a five-mile bike ride. The wheel sensor was the controlled variable of the experiment as it measures the actual ground covered by the wheel and is the same method used to measure race routes by USA Track and Field. He also conducted the same test while running the Chicago Marathon (obviously without the wheel sensor).

The results of the experiment showed the GPS watch was considerably more accurate than the running apps. The running app reported he ran 27.92 miles during the marathon, over a mile and a half more than what he actually ran!

So what are the risks? An inaccurate measure of your distance traveled will equate to an inaccurate measure of your pace. This will give you a false sense of achievement—or lack of achievement—and will lead to quite the wake-up call on race day when you suddenly can’t keep the same pace on a measured course.

A phone GPS differs from a running watch GPS in both design and function. A phone GPS device has a weaker signal and is designed more to find a general location and not a precise, pinpoint location like that of the stronger signal devices found in GPS watches. GPS devices in phones are generally smaller because they need to compete for space and signal strength with all of the other inner workings of a phone.

The GPS devices in a phone also perform differently than those of running watches. In a phone, the GPS does not track continuous movement but rather records timed snapshots of your location, kind of like a store security camera. The distance between the snapshots is then calculated as a straight line so movements like turns or zig-zags are not recorded. While it may seem minimal, these lost steps can really add up over the course of a long run.

Different phones and different apps all have different algorithms of calculating the distance traveled. You might be using one particular kind of phone or app and running alongside your friend, who has a different phone or app. The numbers produced at the end of your run will likely vary greatly.

So running watches are the way to go? Actually, a combination of both will give you the most out of your run. While watches may be more accurate, phones can provide additional data that many watches cannot.

There are GPS running watches on the market that sync up with smartphones to give you the best of both worlds. The watches will provide you with the pinpoint accuracy of your route while the phone provides additional data that can be analyzed and stored. As this article on Verizon Wireless explains, the phone can act as your own personal running coach. You can receive real-time coaching tips based on your pace and heart rate. Music will help keep your tempo. The data recorded by your watch will be instantly transferred to your phone to see your stride length, route map and more. Training plans will be altered for you based on your progress. There are running watches that are compatible with Android, iPhone and Windows devices.

So while a running watch provides greater accuracy of your run, smartphones provide a valuable source of additional data. Combine the two and let them run stride by stride.

About the author: Sara Upton is a freelance blogger and distance runner living in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. She enjoys long runs on the beach with her golden retriever, Sally.


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Follow Friday: @slimsanity

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I’ve been twitter friends with Alysia (AKA Slim Sanity) for a while now but I must confess I hadn’t really checked out her website. That changed this week when, in a quest for new strength training workouts. I get bored pretty easily and wanted to try something new but didn’t feel like planning out my own workout. Enter her Move It Monday – Beat the Boredom workout which was perfect after a long Sunday at work. I’ve since done one of her arm and ab workouts and a leg workout. She has some longer ones but I find these perfect for my strength training after my shorter training runs (gearing up for the Bluenose Half Marathon in a few weeks). She also has a bunch of great recipes, which I need to try out, a blog, healthy living on a budget tips, blog tips, etc. Lots of great stuff! She’s also one of the co-founders of Sweat Pink which is a community encouraging women in fitness.


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Musings on body image

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I’ve been thinking about body image lately. A few things I’ve seen on social media lately have led to me wondering if, when helping clients with weight management, we (i.e. dietitians, personal trainers, doctors) should be giving clients a bit of a disclaimer.

Someone I know posted a letter from a girl complaining about how every time she goes to a hairstylist, she’s informed that they can’t do what she wants with her hair. She brings stacks of photos and is frustrated that they continue to tell her that it won’t work with her hair. Honestly, that’s the mark of a good stylist that they’ll be honest and upfront and not tell you that you can have big bouncy blonde curls if your hair is naturally black and stick straight.

Perhaps, as weight management professionals, we should be doing something similar with our clients. There needs to be a discussion of expectations and an acceptance of the facts. How many of us are (or have worked with) people who aspire to possess the body of some celebrity or other? Sure, such aspiration can provide motivation at the gym or resolve at the grocery store. But we need to realise that we all have different body types and for many of us no matter how much we workout, no matter how many cookies we eschew for broccoli, we’re just not going to look like *insert latest uber hot celeb name here*. And that’s not a bad thing. We need to learn to accept and love ourselves (and our clients) no matter what our size or shape. So maybe you don’t have a thigh-gap or a bikini-bridge or whatever the mythical physical trait of the day is. Who cares? Embrace not just the features you like about yourself but the ones you don’t because they’re what make you, you.