Rhino Fitness

Winnipeg, MB
R3L 0J5

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This question gets right to the heart of why I have this site, and speaks volumes about how the fitness business is full of wannabe trainers who are quick to sell quackery. Sometimes I edit down questions for ease of reading; I've left this one alone as all of it is of relevance.


I heard you being interviewed on the radio today and I wanted to call in with some questions, but I couldn't get home in time...thank God for the internet. I recently started a fitness regime called P90X by Tony Horton -- I'm not sure if you're familiar with it or not -- and I had some questions regarding diet.

The program comes with a fairly comprehensive meal plan that's broken down into three phases: fat loss, energy boost, endurance maximizer. Initially I was quite relieved to have my meals broken down for me, but after hearing you on the show today and after reading the articles on your website...I'm not so sure. In a nutshell, the meal plan starts with high protein, low carb (9:1 serving ratio) and works its way down to a more even mix (4:5 protein to carb serving ratio). Is this healthy? I've noticed that since I started the meal plan, I've had to urinate like a pregnant woman. Also, I'm wondering if the 2400-3000 calories/day is enough? I'm a 25 year old male, 5'10, 180 pounds, and I work on construction, although some days are more rigorous than others. I find myself constantly hungry...especially in the evenings.

I'd really like to thank you for replying to the email form...I wasn't honestly expecting an answer and if so, some sort of form letter encouraging me to buy your products. After reading through most of your website, I must say that I am quite impressed with your approach. It is so true that the ethics involved in the fitness industry are dubious at best, criminal at worst, and as a non-expert, it's extremely frustrating not knowing what path to take.

As I mentioned above, I work in the construction industry and am fairly active outside work with various sports etc. My strength is fine, but what I've noticed over the past year is that my weight keeps gradually increasing. I came to the conclusion that this must be inextricably linked with my diet. I've always been the type to be able to eat whatever I want and not worry about it, however, this obviously has to change.

I started this 90 day program to give myself a jumpstart back on the right track, but the question is...what to do when it's over? I can't honestly imagine myself eating the food I've been eating the past few days for the rest of my life...I don't think life would be worth living hahaha...and I'd really like to educate myself and invest the proper time and money into understanding what I need to be doing to maintain a healthy fitness level. I have so many specific questions, but I don't want to take advantage of your generosity as I know personal trainer's time is quite valuable. What would you suggest I do get on the track of long-term, overall fitness and proper nutrition? Is a personal trainer worth the money?
Thanks again for your time,



Hi Jonathan,

I don't support the kind of dietary recommendations you're asking about. A 9:1 ratio of protein to carb makes no sense to me, but I guess the promoters of this would say I don't know what they know. Whatever. There are no "phases" of a dietary program for fat loss or energy, as is typically described by fad diet programs. To lose fat, consume fewer calories than expended. When you've lost enough fat, move to a caloric balance of calories in/ calories out. Learn about choosing nutrient dense foods to get your daily requirements of vitamins and minerals.

I can say that in 21 years of developing high performance athletes the dietary practice with greatest outcome is.. wait for it.. healthy eating. In general the ratio is 60 - 65% carbs, 15 - 20% protein, and about 25% fat.

Here's the common con:

Most of the population is overweight. Most of the population fails to lose body fat and keep it off.

Opportunists manipulate these circumstances and try to sell the idea that since most people fail to lose fat, that such circumstances are proof that fat loss is complicated and requires a special formula that others don't know about. Of course this "special secret" is available to you for a price. The special secret is made to look scientific and complicated with formulas and pseudo science explanations.

The truth is the reason most people fail to lose fat and get fit is because they don't adopt a permanent change in lifestyle, at the root of which is how food and exercise is valued.

Most attempts at losing fat and getting fit are superficial at most, and have no long term concept applied. Many people don't like to hear this so they ignore the truth and continue to justify their unhealthy habits.

You are correct that your fat gain is due to eating too much. There is the slim chance (very, very slim) that you have developed a disorder that effects metabolism resulting in excess fat gain, but I wouldn't suggest you start believing this is the case. Only a physician can determine this.

There is no such thing as a "jump start". This is denial and irrational thinking in its finest form (sorry :). It does look like you might be able to get passed this as you did mention that you are interested in educating your self about healthy living and making it a long term commitment- if you can keep that type of thinking going, you are likely to succeed.

One of your statements that concerns me though, is that you mention that "I can't honestly imagine myself eating the food I've been eating the past few days for the rest of my life...I don't think life would be worth living hahaha". This is appropriate for addressing the restricted diet you are on, but be careful about thinking in the same way about eliminating things like 10oz steaks, going back for 3rds at the big dinner or buffet, or eating desert after eating a 1000 calorie meal, or whatever your overeating habits may entail. What I mean by this is avoid saying to yourself, "I'll make some changes, but I'm not giving up my 10 oz steak, because life wouldn't be worth living without it HAHAHA." This is using humor to enable denial. Exactly how does overeating that causes obesity make life worth living? People who feel a sense of reward from overeating and also feel a sense of being deprived if they don't overeat will never be successful with permanent fat loss unless overeating is devalued and eating healthy is perceived as a reward.

Go here to learn about how many calories per day you need and learn how to get all your vitamins and minerals through healthy eating.

Personal trainers are a dime a dozen and most don't really know what they are doing. They may have memorized specific phrases that are used to motivate or make it sound like they know their stuff, but most trainers are entirely unimpressive, whether they are certified or not. The trouble is trainers have been Guru - ized. Couple this with the fact that most of the population allows themselves to be confounded by how to exercise and eat effectively, and you have the perfect formula for pushing trainers up on pedestals; a mass of people who believe diet and exercise success requires access to special secrets, and personal trainers are perceived as the holders of these special secrets and are special people themselves because they are lean.

You can find very qualified trainers that are genuinely concerned with your health and providing evidence based ethically applied advice, but unless you get lucky early, expect to find perhaps one out of every 100 or 200 hundred trainers to be cutting edge using heart rate monitors to the full potential (download exercise data to computer), and fewer using lactate analyzers. About one out of every 20 trainers will be better than the more common cookie cutter crowd. Trainers will balk at this statement, but this is what I have found. The density of quality trainers will be different in different cities.

Some studies show that people working with trainers and coaches get better results than those who go at it alone.

The influence of direct supervision of resistance training on strength performance. Mazzetti SA, Kraemer WJ, Volek JS, Duncan ND, Ratamess NA, Gómez AL, Newton RU, Häkkinen K, Fleck SJ. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000 Jun;32(6):1175-84

Effect of direct supervision of a strength coach on measures of muscular strength and power in young rugby league players. Coutts AJ, Murphy AJ, Dascombe BJ. J Strength Cond Res. 2004 May;18(2):316-23

Both these studies show that trainer supervised groups made greater gains than those doing the same program without a trainer.

If you can find a good trainer it will be worth the money, just like any qualified consultant is. A good trainer will know about the pitfalls that are before you and help you either bypass them or get through them more effectively than you could on your own. If you're an analytical type who feels comfortable going through the studying and trial and error involved in learning new skills, and if you have the ability to understand your emotions and motivations, then a trainer might not be as much benefit to you as it would to others.

- Cris LaBossiere

Copyright 2007 Rhino Fitness. All rights reserved.
For more information contact: clabossiere@rhinofitness.ca

This page was last updated on January 20, 2008