Lil Miss Fitness Freak

"And though she be but little, she is fierce"


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Citrulline Malate…Fitness Friday 38

My friends! It’s March can you believe it? Seems like it was just New Years and now we are three months in already and Spring is in close reaching distance. Guess that is what the internship/Masters application process does to you…makes time fly.

Sidenote: I saw robins yesterday! I was partially excited (cuz spring sign!) but more so concerned because this was after a full on 20-25 degree reduction in temperature in one day. Please don’t be baby-makin yet birdies!

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I’d be making that face too if it was 16 one day then I woke up to -10.In fact, I probably did look like that yesterday…

So coming back to another active ingredient in pre-workouts and also BCAA’s, I have always really wondered what this guy was good for. I mean, my coach said it was a good thing and it provided benefits, but apparently I was too busy to think about educating myself on why. I don’t like that….

I always stand for the whole ‘know what and why you are putting something into your body” philosophy and I obviously didn’t follow through with that on this one.

Time to take a scientific looky at it to settle my conscience.

Citrulline Malate

What is it?

Citrulline malate is the quite simply the combination of citrulline and malate. Pretty obvious eh? Citrulline is an important component of the urea cycle, which is where urea is formed from ammonia in the liver. This conversion is important because ammonia is actually toxic in the body if it builds up, while urea is a bit less harmful. Malate, on the other hand, is an intermediate in the  Kreb’s cycle, which is the cycle that releases energy from our macronutrients through oxidizing acetyl CoA.

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What does it do?

It has been used in the past as an aid to decrease muscle fatigue and increase functionality. Many studies have shown these effects, whether human or animal (I will present some of the human ones below), in addition to speculating other benefits such as higher clearance of ammonia from the blood post exercise, a possible role in lactate metabolism and some effect on acid-base balance. The mechanism behind all of this remains unknown at this point however.

So, although it has shown benefits for athletic performance, particularly with respect to a more efficiently functioning muscle , we don’t have a strong conclusions as to how it is doing it.

So, below I will highlight a few studies and provide their findings, conclusions and hypotheses regarding a potential mode of action.

Bendahan et al (2002). “CM ingestion resulted in a significant reduction in the sensation of fatigue, a 34% increase in the rate of oxidative ATP production during exercise, and a 20% increase in the rate of phosphocreatine recovery after exercise, indicating a larger contribution of oxidative ATP synthesis to energy production.” Their conclusion? The mechanism of CM’s action that reduces weakness and fatigue could be that it increases aerobic ATP production through providing more of the intermediates to replenish those that were lost more quickly than if you weren’t supplementing. [6g CM used]

Perez-Guisado et al (2010). Their study found that males athletes supplemented with CM saw more than 50% increases in the number of repetitions for barbell bench and a significant decrease in muscle fatigue 24 and 48 hours following the study’s training regime in a double blind, within subject study. In their research, they stated that studies have begin to speculate a role of ammonia in in “blocking cellular energy processes” and causing earlier fatigue. It has also been seen that it plays a role in NO reactions, which has been associated with recovery. Overall they concluded that the results from their study showed that one dose of CM helped with recovery and performance in high-intensity anaerobic activities with short rest times. [8g CM used]

Sureda et al (2010). They took subjects and had them cycle for ~137km with one difficult hill. All were given the same amount of food and fluid. They measured all variables (amino acids and all important exercise related metabolites) 3 hours prior to the race, 15 minutes following and 3 hours following. Overall, they found that the CM group showed a significant decease in the amount of the branched chain amino acids post race, which they said was due to the BCAAs being more effectively used for energy, than the control and higher arginine concentrations, which would contribute to many arginine derived metabolites such as nitrite, urea, creatinine and hormones like growth hormone that are beneficial for muscle growth and function. Finally, they also saw greater nitrogen availability in the CM group, which they stated could increase protein synthesis and protein concentrations in the muscle during exercise leading to better use of the amino acids (particularly the BCAAs). [6g CM used]

Overall, although I only highlighted a few interesting studies I found, I will say that the vast majority of studies I saw (which, I couldn’t have seen them all obviously…) showed significant improvements with its usage, so I have some confidence that it could provide a benefit to those who are looking (and can afford) to get a supplement that may actually do something useful and perhaps give a slight edge with recovery. Is it required to be a better athlete? Well no. Like all supplements, its not a magic powder that will give you huge energy bursts or make your recovery happen in 5 seconds. It is simply supplementing your routine and could provide some little bits of assistance and/or performance enhancements.

Happy Friday Friends!

-Chelsea


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Don’t Flatten Yourself Out…Fitness Friday 37

My friends, today…actually, scratch that, this entire week has been exhausting. So much for Reading Week eh?

So what was I doing running all over the place? Graduate school interviews…thats what I was doing. I had the MAN program (combined master/internship) at Guelph U on Wednesday, phone interview with London Health Sciences Internship yesterday and trekking it all the way to London for my interview with Brescia’s department for their combined program today.

I’m exhausted. The face-to-face ones were intense, but the Brescia one was a bit more casual and relaxed due to the group setting rather than one-on-one, which I had the pleasure of doing for the MAN program.

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Overall, its 2-2.5 hours of them probing your head with scenarios in timed stations. One after the other after the other and that is all on top of the fact that you are super nervous because these will dictate the future of your fall semester. Catastrophizing much?

Ugh.

I did it though. I didn’t die and I feel overall they went well. Now to try to relax for this weekend to let my stomach come back to normal (hello camel belly thanks to cortisol overload…)

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Anyways, I wasn’t planning on doing this today because, I’m sorry, I’m tired, but I was listening to a Youtube collab between Steve Cook and Layne Norton on contest prep myths that I just had to share.

It’s not only because right now is cutting season for the spring and summer shows, but also because so many people still fail to turn to science and simply follow some of the engrained procedures (dogmas) of the final stages of prep that really have no evidence to support their benefits.

So, for your education and entertainment, check out the video link below for the full discussion and head to my lil summary below so that you too can work at bringing your best ‘package’ to the stage if thats in the future for you.

They also discussed flexible dieting on prep, but I was more interested in the sodium/water cuts.

Cutting sodium is a no no.

Cutting water works against you.

Overall, these two things alone will leave you looking flat on your day to shine. Meanwhile, the next day you look the best you have ever looked because, well, you ate some salt and drank some water.

Why?

Quoting Dr. Norton, lets see his explanations on why these things really work against you, despite the fact they are seen as ‘common practices’ for the competitors.

So, as we all know, our body likes ‘sameness’ and it works hard to keep the body in a state of homeostasis. So, if you start to try to take things away, it has ways to bring you back to normal. Although this ability is great for situations where you are not in control and needing to ‘survive,’ these compensatory mechanisms are often NOT what you want when you are trying to look your best…aka shredded.

So one, you cut your water. When you cut water, the water is often intially lost from the extracellular space (i.e. outside the tissue/cell/muscle), not the intracellular space. That being said, when you loose that extracellular water, your body needs to re-balance that because volume is important to keep the same. So, to do this, you will end up loosing water from the intracellular space and adding water outside the cell. So a deflated muscle cell is what you end up with.

You than add to this problem by also cutting sodium because, once again, the body needs certain amount to maintain functionality. So what does it do? Your blood levels have been shown to stay the same and it’s mostly due to a few more compensatory mechanisms. Overall, if you’re not getting any sodium your body gunna loose any either, meaning you are not going to excrete ANY sodium. This is because another hormone (ADH) starts getting upregulated due to water volume changes and that causes you to reabsorb sodium and also hold water (because you cannot reabsorb sodium without water).

So these two combined simply lead to flat muscles and a watery appearance as all that water goes right to the extracellular space, which is where you want the least amount of water. Great for stage eh?

“If your muscle is not pressing against the skin, you will appear watery and not as tight as you want… Muscle tissue without water is spongy, shrivelled and just doesn’t look good”

Other issues that come along with your body being stressed…

~Bloating and general gastric upset that can lead to you not being as tight and shredded. This may be partially due to the fact that the transporters of carbohydrates in the gut are dependant on sodium. With these not working as efficiently, malabsorption of some carbohydrates can occur. Unfortunately for you, in many cases, those are than fermented which causes gastric issues. This also means that you are going to be absorbing as many of those carbs are you are eating.

~Low sodium often makes it really hard to get a pump or any vascularity going

Other interesting things he said…

~You should add carbs SLOWLY. The traditional notion is that you carb up with a huge amount in 1-2 days pre-show is not smart. It takes a bit for those carbohydrates to be digested and absorbed, so it therefore also takes time for your body to refill those glycogen stores and for you to see if you need more. You want to be in the ‘add more’ category, not the ’emergency repair mode from spill over’ category… yes?

~During peak week, there really isn’t anything special to do. You are essentially just trying not to screw up what you have worked for. DONT GO MESSING WITH MULTIPLE VARIABLES! If you’re not shredded at this point, you’re just not shredded enough. Tweaking a bunch of things during that tiny time period can either not do nothing for you or it can make you look worse simply because your body is stressed out. 

~Peak week should be about rest and loosing external stress. Yes it’s selfish, but your appearance is also the result of your emotional and psychological state. To a much more minor degree as the rest of prep, but it does count. 

Overall, these things make perfect, rational sense when you think about them and about how the body works to survive, but most don’t challenge the old and traditional ways.

Learn to go to the literature and do your own research. When you get up on stage and look better either the week before or day after, its time to get off the ‘bro-train’ and actually suffer less to look your best.

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Hope you enjoyed this lil video post. Happy Friday friends.

-Chelsea


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Betaine For Gains? Fitness Friday 36

Everyone is always looking for some kind of pill to improve their exercise performance or get bigger. This is why articles like this one

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…Get all the youngin’s running out the door to buy all of the supplements listed because 1. they apparently make you huge and 2. Brian DeCosta is a god sent and who wouldn’t want to look like him. 😉

Sorry you had to be a part of this post Brian, but I just had to chat more on this article and, well, you aren’t too bad to look at for the cover shot.

So what was one supplement on their list that is supposed to make you jacked faster?

Betaine

betaine

So what is it?

It is a derivative of glycine (an amino acid) and due to having 3 methyl groups, it acts as a donor of a methyl group in a reaction that ends up producing creatine in the skeletal muscle. It also has been suggested to have cardiovascular protectant factors due to reducing plasma levels of homocysteine (which is a risk factor for CVD) and inflammation. Due to its role in increasing creatine, it was hypothesized that supplementing with it can have growth enhancing effects and increasing power and strength performance.

Due to these suggestions, this began finding its way into pre-workouts and even as a stand alone addition to any bodybuilders stack.

…the thing is though….

Does it actually make you grow?

Lets start with what the article stated:

Betaine seems to work by increasing the release of growth hormone and IGF-1 while blunting the exercise-induced release of catabolic hormones like cortisol. The overall effect is to increase muscle growth and decrease muscle breakdown following exercise.[2] Since betaine works much like creatine monohydrate, researchers suspect that it, too, might stimulate muscle growth over the long term.

Hmmm interesting. Well cortisol definitely has some support backed behind it…

So now, what does the research actually say?

Well, its all over the place. There doesn’t appear to be concrete conclusions about it.

Hoffman et al (2009) –> 15 days supplementation in active college males to test muscle strength, power and endurance across 3 time points. Study found no significant differences in number of reps to exhaustion (endurance) or on number of reps at 90% power OR power assessments. They did find that squat reps at 90% power increased significantly in the BET group at time 2.

Apicella et al (2012). This was once of the studies cited in the article and it did in fact show significantly lower cortisol levels post training in the BET while also showing significantly higher growth hormone.

Pryer et al (2012). BET supplementation in bike sprinters found a significant increase in sprinting power. The supplementation was only for a week however.

Hoffman et al (2011)–> 15 day supplementation with Betaine, once again, in active males (within subject study, so they each ran through a BET and non-BET treatment period==> better design) found no increase in peak concentric or eccentric force OR overall fatigue. They did, however, find a significant reduction in fatigue when compared workout 5 and 1 (was that a training adaption effect?)

So some studies say YAY and some studies say NAY so its safe to say that there is not a concrete answer on this product. If it does truly work like creatine (which has mass amounts of supporting research) than perhaps there is some merit to this guy. As of right now though, I wouldn’t be running to pick up a bottle of the stuff unless I’m not concerned about the money and I’m looking to do my own trial.

Happy Fitness Friday friends. 

PS it apparently has some gut health benefits too…hmm may need to research those for meeeseelf. betaine

-Chelsea


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Exercise As Part Of Treating Eating Disorders? Fitness Friday 35

Well ain’t that a controversial topic for discussion….

In the spirit of this week being #Eating DisorderAwarenessWeek, I thought I would bring that into our lil regular Friday Fitness chat.

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I knew it would be a big deal. I know that many will not agree with my words, but hear me out, have you ever thought that treatment and exercise could co-exist when looking at eating disorders?

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I know what you’re all thinking.

Exercise is a method to fuel eating disorders

Exercise is a means of dropping weight and burning too many calories

How the hell is exercise going to help put weight on when clearly it just increases their energy requirements?

This is why this topic is a great one to discuss.

The points above are completely valid. In fact, those are the beliefs that many professionals give or yell if the thought of exercise is brought up.

Take me for example, during my short time at the Oakville outpatient program for family therapy, it happened to slip out that I was going to be starting to slowly get into training (this was a few months post-inpatient) and my therapist freaked the eff out. Like I’m not kidding, she actually called my house and my parent’s cells and left frantic messages saying  “Chelsea is not to workout!!!!”

Not that her words stopped it from happening, and honestly, we left that place faster than we came in (not because of that incident, but a bunch of other things..), but I’m just trying to give you an idea of how most clinicians feel about this topic

I.e. They are mostly against the thought of exercising.

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…or ever…

Like I said, these arguments are all valid concerns and I see where they are coming from…

~I was a compulsive exerciser

~Most use it as a way to burn more calories and loose weight

~Most don’t know limits or when to stop

~Many can let it consume them and take over their lives

So I will say again, I understand their fears, but look at it from another perspective. When you just say NO and/or NEVER AGAIN, where does that get you? It teaches the individual nothing about control or other benefits aside from the superficial ones. It tells them that they have lost a free right to do something many people do. It places restrictions on them, which can lead to them deciding to go and do it anyways. Lastly, it prevents them gaining some of the many benefits you get from exercise that can be critical to the health of a person struggling with an eating disorder (*provided they are stable enough to perform exercises) such as bone and cardiorespiratory strength, helping with psychological disturbances, distraction from nagging negative and obsessive thoughts and potential social opportunities.

There are many people I have seen who have gone from treatment to the gym and are strong, independent people who are in control and did not slip back into old habits. They successfully took their health into their hands and chose to use exercise as a way to ‘come back’ and heal. A way to gain strength when their body was so weak before. A way to build confidence in themselves and eventually find that the gym is more than a place to burn calories. It’s gives them a place to deal with their emotions and re-build themselves physically and psychologically.

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So with all of that being said, I wanted to present you with some research on the topic and how these types of interventions have faired in the treatment of eating disorders. I mean, you have heard my story and I could give you anecdotal evidence of the possible benefits for some, but does it actually show more pros than cons in treatment settings?

Lets find out.

To be honest, I was shocked at the number of articles I actually found. I still believe most are completely dead set on NO EXERCISE but there was a surprising number of studies and pilot programs in treatment facilities exploring the use of exercise as intervention. 

I will stick to the main findings of each study and link each so that you can read more if you desire. I am also going to label them in order of earliest to latest. Lastly, I could have found more, but for the sake of your attention span, I left it to these interesting ones.

Thein et al (1999) –> “Pilot Study of a Graded Exercise Program for the Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa”

Main Findings: With the addition of exercise (amount based on % of ideal body weight IBW), the experimental group (diagnosed with AN) showed no difference in change in BMI or body fat, suggesting that the exercise did not inhibit the primary goal of weight gain. The EXPT group also saw a general increase in quality of life measures while the control saw a trend downward from their initial testing.

Szabo and Green (2002) –> Hospitalized anorexics and resistance training: Impact on body composition and psychological well-being. A preliminary study

Main Findings: Study included a non-AN group (exercise group and non-exercise group) with a group of girls currently in an inpatient facility for AN (exercise and non exercise groups). They were both on an 8-week training program of resistance-based exercises. There were trends found for the psychological variables, however it was speculated that perhaps 8 weeks was not enough. Interestingly enough, there was no decrease in weight of the ED-exercise group but a significant drop in those not in the exercise group.

Lutter and Smith-Osborne (2011) –>Exercise in the Treatment of Eating Disorders: An Alternative View

Main Findings: Exercise was significantly associated with greater improvements in eating disorder and depressive symptoms where the number of METS was associated positively with improvements in the measures of depression (BDI) and eating disorder behaviours (EDI). This study was interesting because the exercise was equine based.

Hall et al (2016) –> Use of yoga in outpatient eating disorder treatment: a pilot study

Main Findings: Adolescent girls (all met the requirements for AN/BN/EDNOS but were clinically stable) in an outpatient eating disorder treatment facility attended 12 yoga classes at one class per week. After the intervention, there was no decrease in BMI and significant improvements in anxiety, depression and body image disturbance scores. 

I did a yoga class or two when I was an inpatient at Sick Kids. This was for the advanced stages only but was a nice change of pace. Definitely saw first hand the mood enhancing features. 

This article by Hausenblas et al (2008) also provides a good overview of 6 further studies showing the benefits of exercise based interventions in eating disorder populations on social, psychological and biological factors if you’re interested in even more reading 😉

Finally, here is an article, Bratland et al (2009), that discusses how exercise based programs are managed in treatment facilities and how many places actually have them! It was limited to a few countries in Europe, but can provide some insight for how they could be implemented and managed here.

So…

To conclude, many articles find that there are benefits to exercise in both outpatient and inpatient treatments for eating disorders. Also, rarely did any study (I didn’t find any) report negatives (such as weight loss or stalling the weight gain process) of incorporating exercise into the programs.

I want to say that, yes I know it may take more work and there will have to be strict guidelines in place, like ensuring they are stable enough to participate, etc, but from what I see from research and from my own experience I definitely think that it would be something to really look into further and do more pilot studies on.

Weight gain is already hard enough, try to make it easier on us all. Plus, by being exposed to it in a controlled setting it can also help to make the transition back to ‘reality’ potentially more smooth.

Something I would like to know is if incorporation of exercise during treatment can lower the risk of over exercising or going back to negative exercise habits when they are discharged. 

What are you thoughts?

-Chelsea


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From The Eyes Of A PT… Fitness Friday 34

Something I have been wanting to talk about for a lil bit in this space but was a bit worried I would be coming off as a know-it-all or too-proud or like I’m something special….

..I’m not and not trying to appear as such, but as someone who has done personal training (PT) in the past and trains clients today, I can positively say that some things I see some trainers doing are straight up irritating.

Sometimes it’s not their fault and I have to give them a bit of a break because they think they are providing something good. Other times, it’s just because being a PT is just a job to them and, I’m sorry, well not really actually, when working with people and when you are trying to help them better their health, you need to care.

So here are a few things that I see all the time and are things you need to avoid if you want someone who actually will care about their time spent with you. Plus, PT’s are $$$$ so spend your money wisely.

Having clients do their cardio warmups during your session.

Unless it’s their first session and they need help working the machines OR you are showing them some new way of doing cardio they are not used to (something like HIIT for example), don’t waste your client’s time by them staring at them on the treadmill. I’m pretty sure they know how to safely walk.

*Other potential exception is for elderly, injuries or disabilities*

If your trainer does this tell them you will do your cardio before your session so that you can spend your hour doing exercises that you want to learn about. They won’t (shouldn’t!) be offended because that is their job.

Not paying attention to clients

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This one really irritates me. I have seen some trainers full on walk away from their clients when they are in the middle of a set. NO. You are glued to their side throughout the session. That is your job! If you need to grab something, get it before they start or while the are resting.

I also love when trainers look like they are lost in space while training. Their clients could be doing something completely wrong and they don’t even notice…

Which brings me to another annoyance…

Trainers who allow for CRAPTASTIC form to continue.

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Isn’t it your job to correct their form? I know you are under time restraints BUT allowing for improper form to continue just so you can complete your workout in a timely fashion is 100% a no-no. Not only does this put your client up for potential injury under your watch (you are trying to prevent that remember?), but your letting them think they are doing it okay can be a problem later down the road…

Them telling others to do it ‘their’ way

Them loading more weight and still having form issues–> injury to come

No progression because we all know form is integral for results to occur. 

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Be patient. Take your time. Teach!

Socializing too much.

Sometimes its the client who is just very chatty, but you need to keep them on track. Talking and talking away leads to lack of work being done and obviously less potential benefits. If their workout sucked because you allowed too muchChatty Cathy-ing” to go on, thats on you not them.

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Nutrition advice…

Need I say more? Unless they are coming from more of a background than CanFit, be over-cautious about nutrition ‘tips’ they provide. Some beauties I have overheard more than once…

~Make sure you have your protein shake right after your workout but don’t eat anything for at least an hour…

~Describing what bad carbs are…. (lil tidbit, white doesn’t mean bad. GASP. Also, why we saying food is bad?)

~Need to eat every 2-3 hours to keep that metabolism firing…(my rant here)

Being a nutrition student and someone who listens to a podcast or two about the latest in nutrition research, it makes me cringe when I hear myths continue to be taught to clients. I know I know that often times it’s because the trainer believes them too, but I wish some would keep more up to date on their nutrition science before spreading lies to open ears.

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Fitness Nutrition

Still on nutrition…

Taking your clients right to the good ol’ smoothie bar post workout.

Wow more money from your pocket to the gym…

Please know that post workout doesn’t automatically mean you need to run to get in your protein shake.

If you like shakes, than do you, but they are not required. Always remember that supplements SUPPLEMENT your diet. Do you need whey post workout? No. Can you eat normal food? Yes. See here for more.

Sticking to the same things.

Unless there is a particular goal in mind that requires some sort of structure and restraint on exercise variety or training style OR they are 100% new, SWITCH IT UP! I often see trainers sticking to the bare bone basics. Lets do a shoulder press, now lets do a leg press…

ZZZZZzzzz…

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If your client understands the basics, teach them new things to fire up their interest. What about showing them new equipment to use like kettle bells or playing around with a sled or battle ropes if your gym has them?

The point of your sessions is to 1. teach, but you should also be challenging them both physically and mentally. Make them look forward to coming to your sessions.

Finally, I wanted to end off on the most common stereotype about trainers because that means I can’t rant too much about it…

Cookie Cutter Plans.

This kind of falls into the ‘you don’t care about your clients’ category because, well, clearly you don’t if you plan on giving them some plan that has been given 0% thought about their needs and goals.

How is that going to help them?

Sure, if they are brand new they might see some benefits (hello newbie gains, aka growth simply because it’s a new stimulus) but if a client already has some experience and wants something new OR has special challenges OR is rehabbing, giving them pre-planned workouts just ain’t gunna cut it.

So now that my ranting for the night has been met, please don’t take this as me being overly judgmental. I’m not trying to be. I believe that PT’s should be people who care about the well being of their clients and if they truly care, they would agree that all of the above things shouldn’t happen because that is putting their client at risk, not teaching them anything OR even worse, teaching them the wrong things.

I wish that all PT’s loved their job the way many do, including myself, but that is unfortunately not the case. I wrote this to try and help you see when someone is there for you vs. someone just wanting an easy pay check. 

Bad experiences with a PT?

-Chelsea


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It’s Not All About Looks…Fitness Friday 33

So the gym is often know as the place to..

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But what about all of the other things lifting weights gives you?

Todays post is going to be about how lifting and training hard helps you OUTSIDE the gym.

I’m sure I will miss some as there are so many benefits, so feel free to comment on things you have found it brings to your life that I may have missed. 

Confidence

Being strong is so empowering and that is not just for women. Lifting is not just about the muscle growth from an appearance perspective, but is also about what you can do with that muscle and how that makes you feel. I will say that for women, feeling themselves get stronger is a rather powerful thing (as we are often said to be the weaker sex and are needy…) and can do wonders for their sense of self worth and respect.

Independence

Strength means you don’t have to ask for help. Strength means you can lift that thing by yourself. Strength can also mean that the person who is rehabbing an injury can do just a lil bit more on their own or that any older person can preserve their muscle mass longer so that they can keep their freedom.

Stronger, More Durable Bones

Resistance training is huge for helping maintain the strength of your bones. Especially important for menopausal women who loose bone more rapidly, but good for all of us young’ins too as a way to keep them as strong as possible for as long as possible.

Better Insulin Sensitivity and Glucose Utilization.

Being at a healthy weight is one thing, but did you know that contractile movements actually help to bring more glucose into cells by increasing translocation (movement from inside the cell to the membrane) of the glucose transporters to the cell membrane? More glucose inside the cells means less in the blood which can lead to problems. Check out this study..

Better Skin

Sweating opens them pores and lets the skin get rid of dirt and any chemicals or toxins that can be flushed via the skin. Many people say they break out more when they work out but it’s not because you’re sweating. Instead, its generally because either 1. you had stuff on your face that than clogged the pores when they opened up or 2. you rubbed or touched your face too much, adding new dirt to your skin. Let it sweat it out and then wash your face.

Detox

Your skin is the largest organ of the body. That being said, it is also one very important way your body get rids of things from the body it doesn’t like. So, similar to the skin point, let your body sweat. If you’re getting sick, it can help bring those bacteria to the surface, or at least into the bloodstream, and help your body deal with them more quickly. It may make you feel a bit worse at first, but by forcing them out in the open, your body’s defense system can battle them out more quickly and hopefully help you recover more efficiently.

Temporary Relief From Cold/Sickness Symptoms

I want to preface by saying you be the judge of when you are too sick to train... Anyways, this may be seen by some as a bad thing, but hey, if I can stop sniffling or stop cramping (for us ladies) for a lil bit, I call that a success. When your body exercises, it actually perceives that action as a stress so it begins to send the blood flow to the working muscles and away from things that are not as important. As a result, your immune, digestive and reproductive systems (and others..) are not really getting much attention and often that leads to less symptoms of the disease state (or time of the month..) of those areas. Got a cold? Ever notice your nose runs less? For the ladies, cramping can actually decrease while exercises.

See here for a scientific journal on the matter

Decreases Risk of Many Chronic Diseases

Diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, osteoporosis, and the list goes on (source).

Stress Relief

With all of those endorphins going (among other hormones), using your sweat sesh to unwind from studying or a hard day at work is much more productive and good for you than ploppin down in front of the TV and eating a bunch of crap food. What’s that old saying…

regret

Along with stress relieving…

You’re Happier

So many processes and hormones involved in this part, but with exercise not only are you physically better, but your psychological state gets a positive boost as well. We all know that we feel a sense of happiness following a workout. Whether that is euphoria, endorphin high, or a sense of accomplishment, there is no doubts that it’s there. It should than come as not surprise that exercise has been found to be useful in treatment of to help chronic mental illness such as depression (link), dementia (link), anxiety and others.

So overall there are so many things I could continue to say about exercising but I will keep it a bit shorter for you all for the sake of your reading threshold. As you can see, exercise is much more than just about looks. It helps the brain, it helps in your perception of yourself, it protects you from disease and it helps you feel that you can function on your own.

So for anyone needing a reason to start, go ahead and pick one. You have quite a list to choose from.

What are some of your non-physical experiences with exercise?

-Chelsea


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Happy Gut, Happy Training

Happy Fitness Friday Friends!

I thought I would keep trekkin along on the gut topic as more recently gut health has really been getting some hot attention. It would have been nice if the importance of gut health and taking proper care of your flora and and such was noticed earlier but that’s science and they are only really starting to crack the surface on this whole intricate system (which did you know actually has something very similar to an entire CNS for itself??!).

happy-tummy-2

So why am I talking about this for Fitness Friday you ask?

Well, as you’re probably aware, your gut is important for a number of things. Some of those things are extremely vital to your training…

~Digestion and absorption of the nutrients you get from your food

~Making short chain fatty acids that can also be used as a form of fuel

In taking a deeper look at the first one, obviously an efficient and EFFECTIVE digestion system not only helps you get the nutrients you need but that ultimately affects your mood to train and how intense you think you can go, your energy levels, your strength levels, recovery ability and overall just makes you feel good enough to have a beneficial and enjoyable lift. After all, who enjoys anything when their stomach is is just not right?

So with keeping this post low key and not too wordy, I thought I would share some tips for optimizing your digestive health and also some things that can help when your stomach decides to attack you.

These are going to be coming from my experiences and my coaches suggestions mostly. Some other things I may include are those that I have heard about but may not have much experience with SO they may or may not be effective. I still want to share them, however, because gut health and what makes people feel their best is so variable that some random things may work for some readers.  

So lets start with somethings that help optimize gut health and prevent issues.

Probiotics

Adding healthy, live cultures to your gut is a good thing. Many things inner environment today kill our flora. With less bacteria, you have less lil guys to break down your food and can cause poor digestion. Invite some new people into your lil biome to help yourself out. Ensure they are refrigerated! Ones on the shelf are no good. 

Glutamine.

I talked about this one in a previous post, so check it out here. I also talked about making your own gelatin gummies there too which are loads with glutamine naturally and are very cheap to make.

Bone Broth.

Going along with glutamine and probiotics, making your own broth is great for your gut and very satisfying during the winter months here in the great white north. Ensure to use free range and organic chicken or beef with the bones to get the live bacteria and the most omegas and glutamine.

Apple Cider Vinegar.

Another thing I already talked about here, but I will say that this is helpful for adding more acid to the gut to help with breakdown. It is especially helpful for those who have low stomach acid and often complain of indigestion. Lemon juice also has similar effects.

Fermented Food.

Kombucha, Sauerkraut, raw yogurts with the active cultures, etc are all great sources of probiotics and thus have the same benefits as taking a supplement, just in a much smaller amount. Take caution though, these may be a problem for some. For example, I love love love kombucha, but the carbonation that naturally occurs with the fermentation doesn’t go over well with my tummy unfortunately. Trial and error with these guys friends.

Watch your water consumption with meals.

Sounds weird, but makes sense when you put it all together. If you drink water during a meal, the liquid will dilute you enzymes and simply slow digestion. Consider holding off on the drinks until a lil bit after you have digested a bit. Some say 30 minutes, but I always say to go with your gut…I’m so punny…

Avoid gum or things that add excess gas in the stomach.

Gum. Beer. Carbonated drinks. Straws. ETC. All of these are going to put lots of gas and excess air into the gut and if you’re very sensitive, well you’re gunna get an upset tummy plus bloating. Also, chew slowly and don’t gulp in tons of air.

Say no to artificial sweeteners.

These tend to be HUGE gut irritants. Whether they give you diarrhea if consumed in large amounts or just straight up gas and distention, they do not make for a happy gut.

Sleep!

Sleep is super important for many things, but one clear cut trigger for my stomach is go hay-wire is if I don’t sleep enough. Poor sleeping, whether it’s chronic or even just a couple days, can really cause your digestion to slow right down and cause you discomfort so make sure you are getting your beauty rest.

…and a last and seemingly obvious one…

Avoid things that your tummy doesn’t agree with.

As mentioned, this seems obvious. If you get an upset stomach after eating something, don’t eat it. Surprisingly, I have heard of so many cases where people say they choose to suffer the consequences and just eat it. To each their own I guess but if you have a serious sensitivity like celiac, where further consumption continues to damage your intestinal track, you need to give you head a smack and just quit cold turkey.

What about when your tummy gets mad…

Low FODMAPs.

I would have said BRAT diet foods BUT I’m much more confident in this approach for a few reasons. One, apple sauce is out for me because I have experienced issues with apples, which are high FODMAP. Also, the bread is another issue. What if your issue is wheat? Overall, yes the FODMAP diet is more restricted but most often chronic digestive issues are from sensitivities that you are going to have to figure out and those often require elimination and then trial and error. By going full low FODMAP you are giving your system a break from all inflammatory and problematic foods and then can re-try them when it’s a bit happier.

Slippery Elm.

I personally have taken this, but not sure whether it made a difference at the time because I was trying so many things at that point, but I have heard good things from others about this one. You can get it in a supplement form, but they also have it as a tea.

Digestive Enzymes.

If you know you have issues with digestion OR for those who are thinking about starting a bulk, digestive enzymes can help support the breakdown of your food simply by adding more enzymes to the playing field. You can chose ones that contain one or more types of enzymes depending on your needs. Have an issue with dairy? Try lactase. Don’t know what your issue is? Try a multi-enzyme.

Pineapple.

Speaking of enzymes, pineapple actually naturally contains an enzyme of it’s own, Bromelain, which can also help digestion. Plus pineapple is awesome. Just be careful not to over do it or you will find yourself peeling the top layer of your mouth off…

Mint Tea.

I always do well with peppermint. Whether you have nausea or you need something warm and comforting when your stomach is being annoying, mint (specifically peppermint…yes there is a difference!) is always my go-to.

Take it easy on harder to digest foods.

Red meats, fats, raw vegetables, high fiber foods, etc are all much more difficult for your system to take care of. When it’s already upset, go for things that are absorbed more quickly and easily. Think low fiber carbohydrates (cream of rice, oats sit well for some, pumpkin, squash, white rice and potatoes), some fruits like bananas, lean meats and fish and easier digesting fats (but still keep these a bit lower) like coconut oil, which bypasses the liver and goes right into use as energy.

And finally be patient. When your stomach is upset, the best you can do is be nice to it and let it settle. Try not to stress about it and let it run its course. Ensure that if it’s a new problem that you take a look at your recent eats and activities and try to figure out the trigger so you can try to avoid it in the future. If it is due to chronic illness, I can relate and I’m sorry you have to put up with that crap but I can only hope that these can serve as a means of coping with it when it looses its mind.

Hope your tummy’s are happy tonight and enjoy the rest of your Friday friends!

-Chelsea