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Body positive fitness moves the focus from weight loss to wellness

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Jenna Doak grew up in the fitness industry. Her uncle owned gyms in her hometown of Newmarket, where Doak held her first job folding towels and sweeping floors. When she turned 18, she became certified as a personal trainer and, despite being always being “a little bigger” than her friends and siblings, Doak was fixated on achieving a figure that fit her profession.

“I was gung-ho crazy about being thin and having no body fat,” she says. “I was obsessed with what I was eating, how I was eating it, when I was eating it and writing everything down. I was taking crazy amounts of supplements and caffeine pills.”

Jenna Doak, founder of Body Positive Fitness leads a class through strength and endurance movements.
Jenna Doak, founder of Body Positive Fitness leads a class through strength and endurance movements.  (REBECCA NORTHCOTT / Rebecca Northcott)

The fixation continued for seven years until Doak came across the concept of body positivity online. She remembers encountering the Instagram account of Body Positive Panda (@bodyposipanda), a former anorexic who helps followers embrace the beauty in bodies of all sizes. By celebrating diverse figures and illuminating the detriment of diet culture, body positivity encourages acceptance of natural bodies.

Doak says it was like a switch turned on inside her. She realized how the fitness industry had “brainwashed” her perspectives on body image. So Doak started adopting the diet-free approach. She gained weight and changed the way she conducted her work.

“I don’t measure my clients,” says Doak, now 30. “I don’t encourage them to make body image-related goals. I’ll never talk about calories or burning off what you ate.”

Jenna Doak is founder of Body Positive Fitness.
Jenna Doak is founder of Body Positive Fitness.  (REBECCA NORTHCOTT)

Instead, Doak will motivate clients by commending improvements in strength, endurance and well-being. “It’s like ‘you’re deadlifting 95 pounds, instead of 85 pounds. You ran for three minutes straight instead of one minute straight.’ It’s way more rewarding than eight weeks of working out and losing one inch off your waist.”

And instead of unattainable, and unmaintainable, weight and body fat loss goals, Doak instead encourages clients to look beyond the scale. “I think it’s great to have goals to be faster and stronger, to have a lower heart rate, be happier and more energetic, sleep better, be less angry and less stressed,” she says.

She currently hosts one-on-one personal training sessions along with group fitness classes in Toronto and Newmarket under the name Body Positive Fitness (She also runs classes out of other gyms under this name). In her BoPoLift group class, Doak takes participants through a circuit of minute-long stations that focus on certain muscle groups: shoulder presses, deadlifts, chest presses. But unlike gruelling fitness trends such as Crossfit that are known for pushing participants to their limit and beyond, Doak makes modifications for those struggling or who are uncomfortable with the weight.

Jenna Doak motivates clients by commending improvements in strength, endurance and well-being.
Jenna Doak motivates clients by commending improvements in strength, endurance and well-being.  (REBECCA NORTHCOTT)

Five years into the switch and six months after launching her personal website, Doak is now looking to hire a trainer to help with demand: an indicator of her success and the popularity of a body positive approach to fitness.

The concept is growing across the country. My Body , a body positive group fitness gym, opened in Winnipeg last October while the Vancouver-based Autonomy Fitness has offered body positive personal training services with a focus on inclusivity for just over a year.

While Torontonian Dyanna Zaidman didn’t seek out Doak for her body positive mindset, Zaidman has since adopted Doak’s diet-free outlook. Zaidman previously had issues with weight fluctuation: three years ago, she lost 45 pounds through one-on-one personal training sessions three times a week, along with a heavily restricted diet. But she quickly regained the weight once she stopped the strict regimens.

“I never thought that not dieting and not caring would actually be more successful,” says Zaidman. While previous trainers would do regular weigh-ins and take progress photos, Doak tracks Zaidman’s progress by her strength and how she feels.

“I’m able to bench press 100 pounds now, which I think is so cool,” says Zaidman, who began pressing 45 pounds when she first started working out with Doak.

Jenna Doak encourages her clients to look beyond the scale and have goals such as getting faster, stronger, sleeping better, and being less stressed.
Jenna Doak encourages her clients to look beyond the scale and have goals such as getting faster, stronger, sleeping better, and being less stressed.  (REBECCA NORTHCOTT)

While the term “body positive fitness” is relatively new, the concept of fitness for all shapes and sizes originated in the early 1990s with exercise science researcher Dr. Steven Blair’s work on “fitness vs. fatness.”

“His study showed that there was a benefit to exercise without weight loss and the ability for people of all sizes and shapes to gain those benefits,” says Dr. Julia Alleyne, a Toronto-based sports and exercise clinician, educator and consultant.

Alleyne believes that the number on the scale is only a “spoke in the wheel” of one’s state of health. In some populations, weight loss is correlated with health improvements as researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine have discovered. Their 2016 study found that obese patients who lose just five per cent of their weight lower their risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

So while tracking weight loss does have its benefits, the dangers can outweigh that of a body positive approach by discouraging those who don’t achieve weight loss goals. “Overall, I think it’s helpful to dissociate the goal of exercise being weight loss,” says Dr. Alleyne.

There are several ways gyms can promote body positivity in their spaces, whether it’s through inclusive imagery and messaging to the equipment used. “Use machines that are different sizes so that the bench sitting area can accommodate different body shapes,” Alleyne suggests.

Doak cautions fitness professionals against promoting themselves as “body positive” just to get in on a new trend. She was recently contacted by a gym that wanted to introduce body positive fitness classes into its roster and promoted their operation as such. “A week later, they sent out a mass email to everybody in their contact list about a weight loss challenge,” Doak remembers. She did not partner with that gym.

The diet industry is jumping on the bandwagon of inclusivity too. In late 2018, Weight Watchers rebranded as WW, putting a greater emphasis on wellness. But weight loss and tracking consumption through “points” are still pillars of the organization, making it incongruent to body positivity.

For gyms and trainers wanting to incorporate body positivity into their work, Doak encourages reading the book Health At Every Size by Linda Bacon, a body positive researcher and advocate. “You have to learn about the history of diet culture and why we think a certain way,” says Doak. “You have to truly believe that someone coming into your classes 300 pounds and somebody coming in at 120 pounds, one is not healthier than the other.”

And for individuals still tempted to hop onto the latest diet trend, Doak offers this sage advice: “If you can’t do for the rest of your life, don’t do it.”

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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