I'm not an advocate for any particular diet: I'm an advocate for what works best.
It's been several weeks since I started this low-carb diet, and the only reason I'm doing it is so I can cut down for a photo shoot. For several months I'd been considering doing this, but I was reluctant for several reasons: I didn't think I could easily cut out sugar (I love ice cream too much), I didn't think I could actually do it, and I was worried about slipping back into disordered eating behaviors, even though I've been recovered for two years. But after much deliberation, I decided to go on ahead and do this thing anyway.
Structuring a workout routine doesn't have to be difficult. While trying to find an article on how to do so, I noticed a lot of them over-complicated the process. They gave you the tools, such as regulating your own intensity, when to up the intensity and scale it down, and even using the term "periodization."
If you're someone who's simply looking to get into shape, whether it's building strength, muscle, or cardiovascular endurance, and you're not looking into any athletic competitions, you don't need fancy jargon telling you how to create one.
Instead, I'm going to show you the different types of programs you can structure based on what I use for my clients and what I've seen other trainers use.
When someone signs up for a gym membership, there is rarely an orientation on gym etiquette. In fact, some people believe gym etiquette goes out the window because they're paying 'x' dollars a month for their membership and so should be able to do whatever they want, like use any piece of equipment whenever they want with no regards for others who may want to use that same piece--or even harass trainers while they're training clients.
As someone who's a trainer in a gym, I'm going to break down gym etiquette for you so that way you don't find yourself in an uncomfortable situation where you feel like instigating a screaming match with someone who is being blatantly rude, dismissive, and inconsiderate.
Lately I have felt frustrated, discouraged, and a little maybe-I'm-just-not-meant-to-be-in-this-industry-for-long. Back when I was training at 9Round, I was training full-time and living the dream. I was at 9Round 25-30 hours a week and training the rest at the gym I still work at.
Then it went bankrupt and I had no choice but to seek out clients through my own business in order to make up for the income loss. I kept telling myself 9Round shut down for a reason, that I'm meant to be an entrepreneur and train primarily through my own business, but the truth is that the drive time burns me out. I'll sacrifice a little bit of money for a little bit of sanity if it means being able to drive to just one place and be able to stay there and train clients for a few hours.
When I got my CSCS, I decided to seek other gyms. I was thrilled when I thought I had landed a job opportunity, only for it to become nonexistent because the person who had hired me realized there was no room for me without sacrificing the ability of currently hired trainers to get clients. That was a blow to me since I'm back at square one. I don't feel bitter about the lost job opportunity; I'm just upset I have to continue the search in a city with limited opportunities for personal trainers.
It's downright frustrating and discouraging. Even having my CSCS doesn't make me feel any more confident that I could easily land another job. Perhaps I could build up a full-time online coaching business, but I also love in-person training with a fierce passion. I certainly would not feel as fulfilled training solely online.
Back when I first began ballet, I hurt my hip by seeing how high I could lift my leg. I had the flexibility for it but clearly not the strength. For the next few days I was limping, but I brushed it off as the pain eventually died down. Around this time, I began experiencing symptoms of fibromyalgia, which took half a year to get diagnosed; thus, whenever my hip flared up I mistook it as a symptom of fibromyalgia. After all, it was doing otherwise fine, and I was back to performing ballet to the fullest extent I could.
However, the flares could sometimes be so bad that I would have to let my boss know I had to sit at work and sometimes I would have to use a cane.
Flash forward a few years later and a newer, more intense ballet school, and I began to realize my hip problem was entirely separate from my fibromyalgia. I took physical therapy and wasn't really given a diagnosis. It helped, although it didn't get rid of the tightness I still experienced; however, I just accepted that the tightness would always be there.
Flash forward another year, a new job, a new fitness routine that incorporated squats and deadlifts, and my hip was back to bothering me again. Time to visit a sports medicine doctor, who sent me to a physical therapist that actually specialized in the hip. The diagnosis? A hip impingement. The prognosis? Fair.
From the 21-Day Fix to Weight Watchers to the Atkins Diet, there is no end to the seemingly limitless amount of diet programs people can choose from that will help them be successful in losing weight. However, none of these programs, to my knowledge, teaches intuitive eating, wherein you do not need to count calories, obsessively portion out your food, label foods as 'good' or 'bad,' or follow a strict meal plan that tells you exactly what to eat and when to eat.
A diet is not a program. It's a lifestyle. Unless you're doing competition prep, there is no reason to spend the rest of your life measuring food into colorful containers while obsessing about your macros.
I love grocery shopping because I love food and I have a habit of browsing for new food products so that way I don't get trapped in constantly getting the same old, same old. That's how I felt with my last grocery trip, which is when I finally decided to make a grocery list containing ingredients of foods that are quick to make (quesadillas) and foods I can take on the go. I came out feeling satisfied about our purchases.
However, I know there are people who really struggle with grocery shopping. I've had to have whole sessions with some of my clients based solely on how to grocery shop, so I'm going to share those tips here.
Let's forget about the sugars found in vegetables and fruits--I'm not in the business of discussing those. I'm in the business of discussing the wellness community's fervent obsession with finding a "healthy" sugar substitute by opting to use honey over white sugar or using coconut sugar or whatever the latest fad sweetner is. Even I was momentarily swept up in the idea that honey is a more healthful alternative than processed sugar, or anything unprocessed and/or raw. Granted, honey has a little bit more nutritional value than sugar; however, that's negligible.
The literature on building muscle has come quite a long way since I was first certified at the end of 2015. During my studies, I was taught that in order to build muscle, you had to lift moderate to heavy weights within 8-12 reps and anywhere from 3-5 sets. This seemed to be the magical number at which your muscles would suddenly grow. Anything other rep and set range would promote either muscular endurance or strength.
I also learned all of the various hormonal mechanisms at play that helped to contribute to increased muscle growth, which served to make sense of why you needed this magical rep and set range. Even so, conflicting evidence abounds. What about body builders? According to some literature, they don't even necessarily follow the above rep and set ranges, yet they still manage to build muscle.
Turns out the science behind muscle building doesn't have to be so complicated.
Normally I would not recommend any dietary supplements. After all, I'm not a registered dietitian and so have no experience with how a supplement may interfere with one's personal biochemistry--or any medications they could be taking. I'm only recommending these supplements based on ones I personally use that are also backed up with solid research; however, it's up to you to determine whether or not you think these supplements will be effective for you and to do the research or even talk to your doctor about how you may react to these supplements.
Not every day at the gym is going to be good. Even veteran gym goers have days where they find they just don't want to go to the gym, for one reason or another. Even when you are at the gym, you might be sluggish, sore, weak, bored, and any combination of negative emotions that easily inhibit a workout. For beginners, negative emotions are compounded by the overwhelming feeling of being in a new environment they are entirely unfamiliar with.
I've had bad days too. On days when I go to the gym and feel absolutely fed up with the idea of having to drive out there, I try to make up for it by crushing my workout, either with getting a new PR (personal record) or successfully lifting heavy loads at high volumes within all of the goal repetitions I've had planned for myself. Even when my clients come to the gym feeling absolutely haggard, I always make sure they have a successful session, and there are a few ways I go about doing this.
I believe one of the most common reasons people drop out of a workout program is because they're not getting the results fast enough--but I believe boredom may play a factor as well.
Any time I've ever seen someone sign up for a membership, there's always an aura of fresh excitement about that person. Any positive change within one's life is always met with excitement. That excitement only begins to die when we realize this new change wasn't what we expected it to be. In the case of a fitness routine, this would be hard work. I believe people begin to view their fitness routines as undesired hard work because they grow bored. After all, to keep your routine fresh, you have to know HOW to keep it interesting. Many people are unsure of how to do this without spending several hours researching how to structure workout programs.
There are a myriad of training styles out there. The most common routine I've seen newbies do is that they'll visit each selectorized machine once, bang out a few reps, and then hit a piece of cardio equipment. Or sometimes they'll do nothing but cardio and then leave. It's no wonder why they then eventually give up! That's a dull routine, so for those new to exercising or those really needing to change up their routines, I'm going to explain how you can do this.
Out of the blue, I decided to pick up running again. I hadn't ran since stopping ballet and hesitated running for a while due to a hip impingement. Yet, as I sped up the treadmill at the gym, I had the sudden urge to run, to see what I was capable of doing and what I was capable of tolerating. I aimed to run a mile without stopping, which actually proved to be much easier than I thought it would be. Of course, doing HIIT workouts tends to lead to excellent cardiovascular conditioning. In any case, the running did not aggravate my hip impingement. In reality, I should have known it wouldn't, as there is no extreme hip flexion involved in running if you're doing it correctly. Yet, hip flexion was never the only thing that aggravated it. In fact, hip extension, the kind needed to elevate your leg to 90 degrees for an arabesque, would tighten my back up fast thanks to the improper positioning of my hip joint within the socket. So I did have reason to believe that running would cause some sort of aggravation from the constant pounding on a hard surface. However, I attribute the lack of aggravation to proper running biomechanics.
This past Saturday, after five months of intense studying, I took the CSCS exam (certified strength and conditioning specialist) and passed...on my first try, with no degree in exercise science; however, I do have an exercise science background and solid experience from being a trainer with a good book of clients. Even so, experience won't help with rote memorization when I have no way of truly applying the sliding filament theory, other than wondering if the I-band and H-zone are shrinking during the concentric portion of a lat pulldown I'm having my client perform.
In any case, I've never felt such pride upon achieving a hard-earned designation before. Certainly I was excited upon earning my personal trainer certification, and I did study hard to make the test easy for me, but it didn't induce the stomach-curdling stress on exam day that the CSCS did. I was also completely apathetic about getting my Bachelor's in English, mostly because it wasn't that difficult of a degree to earn. I obviously can't speak for others, but English has always been a strong subject of mine, so I've never had problems writing essays. Granted, I did have core classes I stressed over, like statistics and geography, but these classes gave me study guides with exactly what was going to be on the test. You memorize that study guide, and you've pretty much bagged the test. Yet, no amount of studying made the CSCS exam any easier for me--and I threw money at every legitimate study guide I could find.
I was hoping to single-handedly save a business that wasn't mine. How great of a story would that have made? Amber managed to save 9Round Evans through hard work, determination, hope, and a desire to not believe failure could be possible in a gym loved by what few members it had, with a concept no other gym in the area could compete with. Yet, that's not what happened. At all.
Wakes up at 6 AM, already dressed in the day's clothes because waking up any earlier to do that nonsense of dressing would have meant forfeiting a few minute's of precious sleep. Runs a comb through my hair, puts in some oils, and ties my hair back in pigtails. Drives to the gym, arrives half an hour early, and prays the new client shows up at 7 AM while sipping coffee sweetened by Splenda and also wondering why I don't sweeten my coffee with real sugar like a normal person. (Oh, right. I'd end up filling half the cup with sugar because mildly sweetened coffee just doesn't do it for me.)
Client thankfully arrives on time. The assessment occurs with little problem.
Now time to start a 4-hour floor shift at thankless minimum wage. (I kid, really. The floor is super easy to work. Just a trainer paying her dues without having to pay rent--and a good way to meet people.) Completes floor chores. Conducts a wellness appointment with someone who does not need to be exercising 7 days a week. Checks the floor from time to time to make sure no one has died. Studies some for the CSCS. Writes up clients' workout plans. Warms up in the dry sauna about 50,000 times because it's always -4 degrees in the gym. (It's that time of year for a jacket. I'm in perpetual denial about fall until January.)
Shift ends. Next client shows up. Session ends. No problem. My new job doesn't have a schedule yet, so if we have to reschedule, we'll reschedule. (But please don't call me after I just left for the gym to say you can't make it. I live 19 minutes from the Y!)
Drives to 9Round to work three hours because I'm not yet awesome enough to work the full shift or even work by myself. (Seriously, though. It's my first official week of actually starting.) Trains about 8 people. Feels my feeble arms nearly splinter from trying to get used to the hand pads. Being told to toughen up by a client, and then getting revenge by having said client perform burpees. (Who is the freaking trainer here?) Wonders how I'm supposed to smoothly sell a membership while managing a busy floor.Talks nutrition with a client, then has to rush out to go back to the Y to meet my final client of the day.
Trains some more. Realizes with abject horror I've barely eaten anything all day. (Skinny Popcorn, coffee, and cheese are not a meal.)
Goes home, thinking about food. Receives a text from a client who wants to meet early the next day. Will have to go to bed early again. Is only able to steal a few bites before needing to bathe, and then going off to bed. (Satisfying my sleeping requirements is more important to me than satisfying an angry stomach. I'll feed you tomorrow! There's Japanese in the fridge!) Eventually understands that I need to do some form of meal prepping if my days are always busy like this.
Receives a text in the middle of the night. Client can't make it.
Anyone who has ever been in a gym has seen some form of foam roller lying about, along with the frantic rolling employed by those trying to release tight muscles. I was one of those people who was constantly rolling my IT band on a foam roller or even my piriformis, never finding true relief from the tightness that pulled and tugged on my hip, creating dysfunction within the hip socket. All the muscles contributing to my hip's dysfunction were still as tight as ever. In fact, even when I was in physical therapy, the therapist instructed me to roll my piriformis and IT band over a black foam roller for thirty seconds, which is why I kept continuing with foam rolling. It brought some temporary relief, but it was never long-lasting. It wasn't until I started physical therapy again a year later, began receiving deep tissue massages, and correctly implemented self-myofascial release did I finally begin to experience relief from hip pain that'd been nagging me for a few years. In fact, a lot of pain, which then results in dysfunctional movement patterns, is generally the result of fascial problems.
In order to better understand just what myofascial release is supposed to do for you, a working knowledge of fascia itself is a necessity. According to Rob Wilson in his article "Foam Rollers Don't Work: Understanding Myofascial Release," "fascia is the basic term used to describe the connective tissues of the body." He likens this fascia to the stuff that covers the different compartments of a T-bone steak before you cook it. However, my physical therapist likened fascia to shrink wrap that covers all structures in the body. To continue further with the analogy, when you develop a muscle knot, which is not a literal one, the fascia in that area bunches up, much like shrink wrap. Tissues then cannot glide smoothly when trapped by bunched-up fascia. As a result, you develop pain and compensatory movement patterns, which only leads to more pain since all of our muscles are designed to function in specific ways.
For example, your transverse abdominus, which is the deepest layer of your abdominal muscles, is supposed to support your spine. However, for me, my rectus abdominus was acting as my spine's support. This resulted in poor spinal stability. However, you wouldn't know I had an unstable spine because I was able to always keep my back neutral, but I also had to grip my core unusually hard to achieve this. The rectus abdominus is only supposed to function for forward flexion. My obliques were also involved in providing spinal stability--and that's not what they're used for, either! To summarize, I had a lot of muscles firing that weren't supposed to be firing, and a lot of muscles firing too late that were supposed to be firing immediately. You can then see why this would result in trigger points and pain.
At first, trying to figure out the dysfunction of my hip was a complete experiment. Since my hip problem could not show up on neither an x-ray nor MRI, my therapist had to rely solely on palpating all of my painful spots. It was like putting a puzzle together. She knew my hip joint was not sitting properly in my hip, as my hip bones were not even. Over time through several appointments, several sessions of massage, and several sessions of palpating, did she begin to really understand the whole picture. She had already originally concluded that the only way to get my hip joint to sit properly in my socket was by smoothing out all of this bunched-up fascia in all of the areas that were tender. But then she also realized I had to re-train my muscles so that they were working how they're supposed to. This is where I began to take matters into my own hands outside of our sessions.
While the deep-tissue massages I received during therapy were absolutely helpful, she could only massage the areas I was able to pinpoint. On my own, I found more tender areas that did not elicit the same pain signals other areas did, but nonetheless contributed to the overall poor mechanics of my hip. I then began to realize that the way I previously tried to implement self-mysofascial release with a foam roller was all wrong. I'd spend minutes rolling out my IT band, only to come away with just a tiny bit of relief. However, by sitting that tender area on a golf ball for five minutes--super painful, might I add--I finally found the relief I'd been seeking all along. I then took this golf ball to all of the tender areas on me, finally releasing all of this bunched-up fascia so that I could then implement corrective exercise to restore proper functioning of my hip. I still have to use the golf ball, but I know it's a process. After all, I've had this issue for years, so fixing this problem is not going to happen overnight. However, the difference is incredibly noticeable. I can squat more now than I did prior to the injury. I can stand and walk for long periods without developing any nagging pain. I can now sink into my left hip without feeling tension. And it's all because of self-myofascial release.
My story is crucial to understanding that the only way to release fascia is to put continual pressure on a point of adhesion. Quickly rolling back and forth over a painful area may elicit some relief, but it's like trying to smooth shrink wrap with a rolling pin. But if you put enough pressure on that shrink wrap, you can break through it.
So what are the different tools that can be used for self-myofascial release? Do you have to use a foam roller? Do you even have to use a golf ball?
Let me start by saying that self-myofascial release is absolutely painful, but hurt does not always equal harm. You must push through the pain; however, you can control the degree of pain with the various self-myofascial tools out there.
You can use a foam roller, a lacrosse ball, a golf ball, a rolling pin, and a variety of other implements. I chose a golf ball because it's hard; its small size means I can better pinpoint areas of tenderness. Even so, using a golf ball is for those who are able to tolerate the pain. There are less painful means.
Foam rollers are great for large muscle groups. As you can see from the foam rollers pictured above, these too are used for those who are able to tolerate pain or who need more aggressive release because they have a lot of muscle tissue to work through. There are foam rollers that do not have these ridges, of course. They are simply compact foam with pockets of air that allow for some give in individuals new to self-myofascial release. These particular rollers also range in degrees of firmness. I have a black one that's firmer than the blue-and-white one at my gym. A tennis ball can also provide this same give for those who want to hone in on a specific area, like a tender area on a forearm or upper back.
When you're foam rolling or doing self-myofascial release with some other implement, find an area that feels tender. Once you've found that area, you simply pin that area down and hold it for about 60-90 seconds. You can also use the foam roller to help soften things up before going in with more aggressive methods. It's okay to roll around just a little bit, but you primarily want to keep that spot still so that the pressure can smooth out the adhesion.
Sometimes it's difficult to tell if you were able to eliminate the adhesion. If it's an area that you can't easily stretch to test it, all you can do is wait for a day or two to see if that area is still tender. If it's no longer tender, then you've smoothed out the fascia. If, however, the area can be stretched, you'll know the myofascial release has worked when you no longer feel tension in that area. You may feel some soreness in that area the following day, but that is completely normal. For more stubborn muscles, like your piriformis, you may have to work on that area for a few days. You'll especially have to give that point of tenderness a few days if you've had it for a while.
Even after you've rid yourself of the pain, you need to ask yourself what led to the problem in the first place and then go in and try to correct it. Did you develop pain in your low back because of improper squatting form? Deadlifting form? Sitting hunched over at your desk all day? Not maintaining proper posture? Getting rid of the pain is great, but unless you fix what caused the pain in the first place, it is likely to return.
I'm going to be drawing my author platform on to this website, as it's too much trying to maintain two platforms; however, this blog's primary purpose will still be about living a healthy lifestyle.
We've all heard of good fats and bad fats, the primary good fats being mono and polyunsaturated fats and the primary bad one being trans fats (I'll get to saturated fats later). We know good fats are heart healthy and trans fats, in any amount, are bad for us. But do any of us know the science behind why this is so?
First, we need to know exactly what a fat is. In its simplest form, it is a fatty acid, and the joining of three fatty acids forms a triglyceride, which is what is found in foods and the stores of fat found in our bodies. When our bodies digest these triglycerides, they get broken down into fatty acids and glycerol. These molecules then get used in various ways by our bodies, which will be mentioned later in this article (Berardi, p. 152).
Fat can be found in many foods, whether they are abundant, such as the fats in meat, or in trace amounts, like the fats found in grapes. It is a macronutrient, meaning it is needed in abundance in order for optimum functioning of our bodies. It is also a sorely misunderstood nutrient. While recent research has attempted to restore the reputation of this nutrient, there is little understanding of just what goes on when we consume these fats. In fact, I realized this when I was speaking to a co-worker and patient at my PT clinic about dietary fats, with both of them expressing surprise when I revealed exactly what fats can do to the very cells of our bodies. Their surprise is what prompted me to write this. After all, we hear so much about heart healthy fats, but we don't even understand just why they're healthy. We only know the bad ones can raise cholesterol, clog arteries, and increase the risk for heart disease.
Let's look at the good things fats do for us:
Now let's look more deeply into the different types of fats.
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are unlike saturated fats because they are typically liquid at room temperature--think of vegetable oils. As their prefixes imply, they are composed of one or many unsaturated chemical bonds. Saturated fats, on the other hand, are typically solid at room temperature--think of cheese. Last, you have trans fats, which can occur naturally, but are mostly formed through industrial fat processing to make food products last longer (p. 157). As you can tell, they get their names because of their chemical configurations.
Despite what you may have heard, including saturated fats in the diet is an important component for overall health. It is true that when consumed in excess, saturated fats can increase one's risk for heart disease; however, one need not eliminate these fats from the diet. In fact, certain types of saturated fats may actually lower LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), such as stearic acid, a "saturated fat found in cocoa butter and beef" (p. 154). People who generally consume saturated fats in excess are also consuming too much refined carbohydrates; however, by minimizing refined carbohydrates and including a good dose of unsaturated fats, saturated fats are perfectly fine in the diet (p. 155).
Not only is it important to balance saturated fat and unsaturated fat intake, but the balance among unsaturated fats, those being omega-6 and omega-3, is also crucial. Too much omega-6 can cause excess inflammation. Inflammation, under certain circumstances such as injury, is important for the body, so it is necessary to control one's intake of omega-6. Much of our North American diet includes an excess of omega-6 fats, so it's important to mention why omega-3 fats are crucial. These fats help to keep our cell membranes more fluid, which in turn makes for easier transmission of things like serotonin and increased insulin sensitivity. As a result, omega-3's can actually help with weight loss because hormones have ane easier time interacting with the fluid membranes of our cells (p. 156).
Our last fats are trans fats, and these are not good in any amount. In fact, rather than making our cell membranes more fluid, they instead make them more rigid, causing our cells to more tightly pack together, which in turn increases our risk for coronary heart disease and decreases hormone transmission. Trans fats consumed from just one meal also have an immediate impact on blood vessel function and elasticity. While trans fats can occur naturally in the diet, as long as one is consuming primarily whole, unprocessed foods, consuming too many trans fats is nearly impossible (p. 157).
Overall, optimum health depends on a good balance of fats. This balance is easily obtained through a diet of mostly whole, unprocessed foods.
Dietary fats explained. (2014). In Medline Plus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000104.htm
Berardi, John, & Ansdrews, Ryan. (2016). The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Precision Nutrition.
Saturated Fats. (2016). In American Heart Association. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Saturated-Fats_UCM_301110_Article.jsp#.V8OYfzWqFhY
What are Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated Fats? (2014). In Your Guide to Diet & Diabetes. Retrieved from http://extension.illinois.edu/diabetes2/subsection.cfm?SubSectionID=46
Last month, I earned my Level 1 Precision Nutrition certification, and I'll start by saying that despite the hefty price tag ($828.00 for me, financed at $69 a month), it is worth every penny.
Nutrition has been a massive interest of mine since recovering from an eating disorder. I did not merely want to learn the basics, but I wanted to be able to further my knowledge and actually apply it. Precision Nutrition does just that. I had looked into other nutrition certifications, but a lot of people stated that while they learned the science behind nutrition, the certifications never taught them how to actually apply it. Of course, PN's section on applying nutrition does make the scope of practice for a trainer a little fuzzy. After all, many CPT certifications will tell you to refer out for more in-depth nutrition counseling. PN, however, gives you the tools to counsel on your own while making a point that medical nutrition therapy is off-limits for fitness professionals without a license in dietetics.
This course taught me a variety of new information that I did not learn from my own certification and even supplementary resources on nutrition. I learned the science behind why fats such as mono and polyunsaturated fats are so good for the body's cells; what losing fat in some places while being unable to lose fat in other places can mean; an unbiased look into the efficacy of supplements; specific dietary needs of athletes; pre and post-workout nutrition; nutritional formulas for different body types and dietary goals; nutrition for competition days; how differing diets, such as high-fat, high-protein, ect. influence body composition; how cells specifically react to macronutrients; and basically anything you learn in a nutrition degree with all the fluff removed.
So how does Precision Nutrition function? Well, they open spots up I believe two times a year, and the spaces are limited. You can get on their per-registration list, which makes the certification cheaper. However, the fierce competition for spots means you need to register fast so that way you can secure your place. Why there are limited spots, I haven't the slightest clue. I suspect it's a marketing ploy, but I wasn't too concerned about that.
The studying of this certification can be set to own's own pace. I took about four months to receive this certification, mostly because there was a period of time where I wasn't studying it. The course recommends that you study a chapter a week, but when I really got back into the course, I studied a chapter a day since I didn't have any difficulties with absorbing the information. I also didn't find the certification too difficult to earn, although I have read accounts from others who state the certification overall was difficult for them. In the past, they required that you pass a timed comprehensive exam, but now it seems you take a quiz every chapter, and all of your correct answers create a cumulative score at the end that determines a pass or fail. If you fail, you do have to take a comprehensive exam that is timed. Even so, despite the obvious open-book nature of the quizzes, you still need to read the chapters so that way you understand what the quiz questions are even asking. To challenge myself, I took all of the quizzes with a closed book. While Precision Nutrition argues in favor of open book due to a trainer's career naturally being an open book, having certain information already ingrained in your mind can make answering the nutrition questions of your clients easier.
Precision Nutrition also offers a workbook with questions you can complete after every chapter read. This certainly helps to solidify what you've read, as a lot of the quizzes' questions do come from the workbook. They also offer videos, which can help to solidify the information, but I wish the videos would have been more classroom-like, with Dr. Berardi actually offering the lectures and not just video slides; thus, the videos were rather boring. However, this is the only criticism I have for the certification.
Overall, I feel this certification has adequately prepared me to address the nutritional needs of my clients, barring medical nutritional therapy, which the book obviously does not cover. This is the one text I actually keep on top of my desk; the information contained within is just too excellent to simply shelve the book. I plan to write plenty of nutrition articles based on what I've learned from this course.
ACE Certified Personal Trainer, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, nutrition coach, young adult author, moody ballerina.
I help people perform without pain.
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The views expressed on this blog are entirely my own. Any advice I offer is not to be taken as medical advice. If you think you have contraindications to exercise, please see your physician before implementing any sample workout plans I present on this blog.
All images are either my own, from Canva, or Creative Commons