Your lifestyle your choice

Over the last 14 years of experience as a Dietitian in Ontario, Canada, I’ve developed a few useful tools/concepts to help clients better achieve their goals.  During these thousands of interactions, some very striking trends/associations emerged.  As this “model” evolved, research started to provide evidence for the components of overall health and goal achievement.

Probably the biggest distinction that I’ve made during my 14+ years as registered health professional (Dietitian and Trainer) is the fact that when I am helping a client improve their health, performance and longevity (HPL), most of the time, I am doing this through behavior change tactics aimed at changing lifestyle behaviors. In fact, whenever someone was hitting a wall and their success was halted, it often was due to not paying enough attention or dialing in other lifestyle strategies on this pyramid.

So, I’ve compiled these lifestyle strategies into this image that I have called “Dan T’s Lifestyle Pyramid” (patent pending).  I have been teaching this for the last 4 years to clients both privately and in the public sector and it seems to be increasing the likelihood of success for clients achieving their goals.  Many of these are self explanatory, but here is a brief explanation of each one.

It is a pyramid because each behavior/strategy is dependent on the ones below it. For instance, you can see that sleep is the most important behavior to dial in.

Strategies to improve your odds for success in body composition improvement.

1) Sleep – Best results achieved by:
A) Sleep in a pitch black room.
B) Disconnect about 1 hr before target sleep time.
C) Have a night time ritual that signals to your brain your winding down for the night.
D) If you read using a phone/tablet – use the TWILIGHT or similar blue-light blocking app.
E) Don’t eat for 2-3 hrs before bed and DON’T eat carbohydrates or sugar.

2) Stress Management – Best results achieved by:
A) Mindfulness/Meditation – around 10-20 mins per day.
B) Exercise as stress-relief.
C) Have at least 3 strategies that work consistently for you – that way you can cycle through them.

3) Nutrition – Best results achieved by:
A) Lower carbohydrate intake (100 g or less per day) – Most importantly, no sugar or refined grains – if you have type 1 Diabetes be sure to consult your practitioner about how to change your carb intake and med intake to match.  Try it for 30 – 60 days and see how you feel.
B) Adequate Protein intake (aim for 80-150 g per day). If your appetite is higher, then try to quench it with more protein intake.
C) Adequate high quality fat – eliminate industrial seed oils and focus on olive, grape seed oils (lower temp) and coconut oil & grass fed animal fats (ghee, butter) (high temp).
D) Eat adequate green vegetables (slightly steamed or fried in oil).
E) Reduce Portion sizes, especially of carbohydrates and fats.

4) Exercise – Best results achieved by:
A) High intensity interval training (HIIT)/Tabata.
B) Lift heavy (for you) weights – ladies, you too (don’t worry, you won’t get bulky).
C) If you are totally unconditioned, then start by walking 15-20 mins daily and slowly increase the length or increase the intensity (with less time).
D) Aim to DO something (even walking) EVERYDAY! Lifting 2-3 x/wk and HIIT once/wk.

5) Supplements & Superfoods – Best results achieved by:
A) Marketing dollars are spent here most. Evidence is sporadic at best.
B) Reality is only Fish oils (1-4 g/d of DHA + EPA combined) and Vitamin D are ESSENTIAL for us. The rest are really icing on the cake.
C) Protein or Isolate to ensure adequate Protein intake.
D) Save your money UNTIL you dial in the lifestyle behaviors, then you can try this supplement or that.

I’m not just the lead dietitian of, I’m also a client… My Story…

It was during the first 3.5 years of my daughters’ lives (we have 2) and they are currently 6 and 4. During those years, as expected, sleep was hard to come by. Add to this, that I was commuting 2 hours daily (I lived 1 hour from my job at the hospital even before the birth of our first daughter) and it was a recipe for body fat gain, which was exactly what happened to me. I went full-blown paleo at one point and was working out 3 mornings/week and was only able to maintain my weight, but not lose. Eventually, we moved closer to my job, which cut my commute immensely and our daughters started sleeping through the night. That’s when my body composition started improving. So, as you read my nutrition tips, keep in mind the lifestyle pyramid.

So, y’all … we have a mission here today and I’m sure that you’re simply being on this website demonstrates your commitment to this ideal of constant and never-ending improvement (CANI). We all must put our health and self-improvement of our physical and emotional well-being first and foremost so that we can be there for the other people in our lives that are important to us.

Lastly, it’s critical to reiterate when we discuss all of these strategies for improvement of HPL that we remember that these nutrition changes are part of larger lifestyle strategies, which I describe in my piece on the lifestyle pyramid. So that’s my quick reference guide to healthy eating for the modern man! I hope it helps you create the lasting change you want to your health, performance and longevity!

So that’s my quick reference guide to healthy eating for health, performance and longevity for the modern man! I hope you enjoyed the information.

Be sure to check out my recently relaunched web-site for the latest health and nutrition information, video & podcast episodes and product reviews. You can check that out here.  I look forward to helping all of you take your health and nutrition to the next level.  You can also book a session with me either remotely or locally.

Citations for this Article

1. L. Knutson K, Van Cauter E. Associations between sleep loss and increased risk of obesity and diabetes. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1955:287-304. doi:10.1196/annals.1417.033.Associations.

2. Nedeltcheva A V., Kilkus JM, Imperial J, Schoeller DA, Penev PD. Insufficient sleep undermines adiposity. Ann Intern Med. 2010;153(7):435-441. doi:10.1059/0003-4819-153-7-201010050-00006.Insufficient.

3. Spiegel K, Knutson K, Leproult R, Tasali E, Van Cauter E. Sleep loss: a novel risk factor for insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. J Appl Physiol. 2005;99(5):2008-2019. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00660.2005.

4. Drapeau V, Therrien F, Richard D, Tremblay A. Is visceral obesity a physiological adaptation to stress? Panminerva Med. 2003;45(3):189-195.

5. Laforge RG, Velicer WF, Richmond RL, Owen N. Stage distributions for five health behaviors in the United States and Australia. Prev Med (Baltim). 1999;28(1):61-74. doi:10.1006/pmed.1998.0384.

6. Luscombe-Marsh ND Wittert GA, Keogh JB, Foster P, NM. Carbohydrate-restricted diets high in either monounsat-\rurated fat or protein are equally effective at promoting fat loss and\rimproving blood lipids. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;(1):762-772.

7. Nicklas BJ, Wang X, You T, et al. Effect of exercise intensity on abdominal fat loss during calorie restriction in overweight and obese postmenopausal women: a randomized, controlled trial. AmJClinNutr. 2009;89(1938-3207 (Electronic)):1043-1052. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2008.26938.Am.

8. Boutcher SH. High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss. J Obes. 2011;2011. doi:10.1155/2011/868305.

9. Trapp E, Heydari M, Freund J, Boutcher SH. The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women. Int J Obes. 2008;32(4):684-691. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803781.

10. Joranby L, Pineda KF, Gold MS. Addiction to Food and Brain Reward Systems. Sex Addict Compulsivity. 2005;12(2-3):201-217. doi:10.1080/10720160500203765.


Leave a Reply