By Carleigh Reynolds
Hungry for Health
Hello, Ravens! It’s me, Carleigh, your campus Food Ambassador, resident food blogger, Instagram enthusiast, etc. I’m reporting to you live about the only thing that matters: lunch.
As someone who does not set foot in Athletics often, and admittedly eats way too many large poutines with extra cheese curds, the world of fitness has become foreign to me. Since I have a gym membership that I need to make better use of, a roommate that has been begging me to be their workout buddy since September, and the Senior 15 coming to haunt me, I figured I should probably learn something about staying in shape. To get a better grasp on managing food, fitness, and school, I sat down with one of Carleton’s Personal Trainers, Spencer Ayres.
Carleigh: What is personal training?
Spencer: Personal training means working one-on-one with people to help them reach their goals, fix muscle imbalances, decrease pain, work on their performance in either the gym or specific sports, and change how they feel about themselves.
Carleigh: How did you get into personal training?
Spencer: I started off doing a welding apprenticeship actually, so very different from what I’m doing now. I realized that the welding industry didn’t have the type of people that I wanted to be working with on a day-to-day basis. I really enjoy helping people and being social. I had done a number of co-op classes in high school that helped me do what I’m doing now, which was working with people a few years younger than me and helping them set their program and goals. I ended up moving to Ottawa and taking the Health and Fitness Promotion program at Algonquin College. Two years later, I opened up my own personal training business.
Carleigh: What are the common mistakes that students make when trying to navigate food and fitness?
Spencer: Everybody in the gym is always talking about “hitting their macros” and making sure they’re getting enough protein. But it really comes down to the ingredients in your food and being more conscious about how your food is being prepared. When you go out to eat, you don’t know what’s going into those foods or where they’re coming from. So a lean whole-wheat pasta dish could be full of oil. It could have a ton more ingredients in terms of powdered products, soy products, things you’re not used to digesting, or things that you wouldn’t normally put into the food that you make at home. Restaurants also preserve their food to make it last longer. All those additives and preservatives actually get stored in our bodies. So when we go eat meat, we absorb any toxins that may be present, which makes burning body fat not happen as efficiently as it could.
Carleigh: What should students eat before a workout?
Spencer: Closer to your workout, think smaller meals. Think sweeter fruits or a slice of whole grain organic toast with honey. Ideally, you want to have some source of carbohydrate energy. If you’ve had a large meal right before coming to the gym, your body will have to work more to break down the food, instead of focusing on increasing blood flow to the muscles that you’re using. A good chart to look at is the glycemic index. It explains how quickly carbohydrate energy burns or breaks down in the body. Choosing higher glycemic index foods closer to your workout will provide you with that quick energy.
Carleigh: I know recovering from a workout is different than prepping for one. What should students eat after a workout?
Spencer: Everybody thinks you need to get your protein in as fast as possible to stay within your “anabolic window.” This is not necessarily the case. Yes, taking protein after your workout is very beneficial, but most people forget to take in carbohydrate energy after a workout. Carbohydrates help transport the protein to repair the muscle fibres in order to build them back bigger and stronger.
Carleigh: What should students be doing to navigate healthy eating on campus?
Spencer: Definitely pick up fresh fruit where you can. Also, always ask what any sauces are and what they’re made with. If you can get a list of ingredients, that’s really helpful. If you’re coming from off-campus, make sure to make your food in advance and bring a pre-workout snack.
Carleigh: Booster Juice makes smoothies that contain fruits and veggies. Will consuming those products make me healthy?
Booster Juice can be a better alternative than some other options. There’s still a ton of sugar that is either coming from natural fruits or refined processed sugars, which break down differently in the body. Make sure whatever you’re choosing is as close as possible to what nature intended. So if you’re having a smoothie or a juice, make sure it’s actual fruit that is going into the blender.
Carleigh: Who should students be going to if they have questions about their nutritional goals? Is that something students should ask a personal trainer about?
Spencer: Nutritionists and dietitians will have a lot more information and education than most personal trainers. If you are planning on asking your personal trainer for nutrition information, find out what their background is. Find out what their nutrition goals were and if they’ve reached them. Find out if they’ve had success with their previous clients. Everyone will have different views on what good nutrition looks like. So be sure to do a lot of research and ask a lot of questions.
Carleigh: Where is your favourite place to eat in Ottawa?
Spencer: A close place to the school is Mad Radish. It just opened up. Really nice healthy foods packed with all of the vitamins and nutrients that you need. The menu was actually designed by a dietitian. And if you’re looking for a sit-down place, one of my favourite spots would be Pure Kitchen. It has vegetarian plant-based foods and they have the best cauliflower wings in town.
Carleigh: Other than eating well and making time to do a session with you, what else can students be doing to further their overall health?
Spencer: Do anything to reduce stress. Stress causes havoc on the body. It affects your health, your eating habits, exercise, and cognitive functioning. Do things like walking outside, taking vitamins, going in the sauna for twenty minutes, reading a book, scheduling time for yourself, and meditation; anything you can do to give yourself a reset and that makes you happy. Also, exercise is a great form of stress relief too.
Carleigh: Any final advice on navigating food and fitness?
Spencer: Exercise and nutrition will always go hand in hand. You can’t just focus on one and ignore the other. Nutrition is eighty percent of the battle of getting your body to where you want it to be. I tell my clients that even if they train with me every single day, that’s only one hour of the day. There’s twenty-three other hours that they have to work on themselves. Remember, the key to fat loss, body change, increased muscle mass, and reaching your goals, is consistency.
Suddenly feeling the urge to do twenty push-ups? Reach out to Spencer to learn more about fitness or book your own personal training session. Also check out the Carleton Athletics website for more information.
Feeling enlightened? Or just hungry? Feel free to connect with me to share your thoughts and follow my food journey on Instagram.
Munch on, Ravens!
Note that the views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Dining Services.
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