Lil Miss Fitness Freak

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


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Too Much Of A Good Thing…Fitness Friday 41

Greetings my fitness friends, so I am just finished my exams this week and officially I can say that I have graduated with my second Bachelor of Science. Yay for being 25 with 2 degrees eh?

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As I head into my Masters/Internship this fall…very expensive Masters/Internship… -_- … My parents my be thinking this instead…

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Not art school but you get the idea

So now as I have this week and next to do a bit of relaxing and moving (gross) I want to get into a few topics with you including today’s topic…

When Something Good Becomes Something Bad

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We all know why the idea of ‘moderation’ is out there. Everything has it’s limits. Even the healthiest of things are bad when taken in excess. I wanted to re-iterate this for a few things that the bodybuilding/fitness community tends to go overboard with .

Lets do a quick short list of a bodybuilder staples that maybe they should reconsider their portion sizes in.

Cinnamon.

You a bit shocked? I have mentioned the benefits of cinnamon before, but it was pointed out to me more recently that my mindless pouring sprinkling, which was probably upwards of a tablespoon (ooppps), in my cream of rice every morning is something I need to stop doing.

We health freaks, bodybuilders and just oatmeal lovers adore us some cinnamon and while it is great for you, it actually contains a compound in it that has blood thinning property (anticoagulant). Specifically, coumarin. This pesky lil guy also can damage your liver when eaten in large quantities as well…

Unfortunately for us all, the ‘cinnamon’ that you buy in the store is not really true cinnamon. I wrote this in another blog, but the actual cinnamon, ceylon, which is found mostly in health food stores, is what you actually want to go for and provides you with those amazing benefits the most and less of this nasty compound. What most of us eat is cassia, which contains high amounts of coumarin and can then put you at risk if you’re like me and use half a bottle at a time.

So for all you cinnamon lovers out there, find you’re the real good stuff and watch how heavy-handed you are on the cinnamon shaker as a sprinkle here and another 4 sprinkles there can really add up.

Spinach

So low in calories. So great for volume. Eat all the spinach all the time!

But spinach has calcium they say. It has fiber. It has vitamin K. It has glorious vitamins!

So put it in everything right? Especially when those calories are getting a bit low for your liking and the hanger is too high for others to handle…

Check yourself.

Spinach along with other dark green vegetables have oxalic acid in them, which is a strong inhibitor of calcium. So while you think you’re getting a great dose of plant based calcium, you’re actually not really absorbing all of it. In fact, a study by Weaver and colleagues (1993) found that the foods that contains the most oxalic acid (including spinach and rhubarb) in them had a the lowest absorption of calcium. These plant chemicals can also cause kidney stones which also ain’t something you want to deal with (Durham, 2017).

Tuna

Canned tuna is easy and on-the-go friendly. Not to mention it is a great source of protein with virtually no fat (skipjack, not albacore) and no carbs. Perfect food for prep and many fitness lovers.

How do you all feel about mercury?

Well tuna (among other big fish) are notorious for becoming overly contaminated with this metal due to being one of the bigger predators, especially albacore. Mercury is often found in many species small and large, but as the larger ones eat more of the smaller ones, the overall levels in the bigger fish accumulate and therefore when you eat them, you’re getting a much larger dose.

Switch up your protein sources and the recommendation is have no more than 3 servings of those larger fish like tuna per week of this meaty fish. Also, try to stick to the white tuna varieties, as they are smaller which means they have less bioaccumulation.

For those on prep, try shellfish or, if those are too pricey for your liking, go for other white fish like haddock and hake (if you can get your hands on it) as I find them more tasty than things like cod. Also, don’t be afraid to get your fats from your proteins venture out to the other fishes too.

See Burger and Gochfeld (2004) for more information about canned tuna and their mercury content

Caffeine

Yell at me all you want about how much you need your Starbucks to survive, but there is a limit of caffeine that the body can actually handle. Apparently there is a fairly high level that is actually toxic, but when in prep you got the coffees going plus the pre-workouts and perhaps even a fat burner (ps those don’t work…) and well you have accumulated quite a bit of caffeine there…

Although mortality is rarely seen with caffeine intake, and toxicity generally only arises from doses in the gram amounts, a study by Musgrave et al (2016) pointed out the fact that some people may be at greater risk even with small doses. Those with liver (this metabolizes drugs) and cardiac issues should be especially mindful of their intake, as symptoms of excess may present themselves at lower doses than your average person.

Unpleasant symptoms that have been cited include:

~Tachycardia (super fast heart rate)

~Nausea

~Vomiting

~Shaking and agitation

Can’t say those sound too fun to me and obviously are a sign that you need to cool your jets on the ol’ coffee maker. The other issue is that research no this topic is still quite inconsistent and some people have seen these negative symptoms at a few hundred milligrams too.

So, although considered and widely accepted as safe in most regards, keep an eye on all your sources of caffeine, including potential hidden sources in all those random herbal supplements out there.

Fiber

Now this isn’t about to kill you but the digestive distress that you could be forced to endure may make you want to go into hiding. For a lot of people, when their macros get low start they tend to go really high with the vegetables to feel more satisfied. The problem with that is that too much fiber really is not a nice thing. Bloating, gas, flatulence (I’m being professional here..) and just general discomfort and, well, not feeling lean, all can result from excessive amounts of fiber.

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Did you know that too much fiber can also lead to mineral losses too?

So, yes you’re hungry, but do yourself a favour and don’t ring in more fiber than your body can handle.

Please keep in mind that this was geared towards people in competition prep who will undoubtably feel hunger at some point. The average person should not have this feeling as they shouldn’t have their calories lowered to the same degree even in a weight loss phase. 

This can also be targeted at vegetarians and vegans as they increase their vegetable and plant based protein consumption. Be mindful of how you feel and adjust as you need to. Try to get some of your vegetarian protein sources from things other than beans and legumes 24/7.

Artificial Sweeteners

I know I know this one also comes with a stamp of uncertainty, but from experience alone, I know that these can cause real digestive upsets. Different types lead to varying degrees of gastrointestinal upset (lets not get started on the lack of sound research for LT brain effects..) but in most cases taking in way too many of these things to lower your fat or carbohydrate intake can also lead to you looking like you’re 4 months pregnant OR will force you to live on the toilet for a bit.

It appears that some are better tolerated in adults than others (erythritol may show less adverse digestive affects)(Source) but from a subjective perspective, I know a lot of people (including myself who’s IBS HATES them) who feel bloated ingesting them and feel much better keeping them to a minimum.

So, although I focused on foods that are commonly overeaten by those in prep for bodybuilding competition or heavily into fitness, some of these are eaten quite often in the general public due to being regarded as healthy staples. These foods do provide many benefits to you, however, like almost everything, things have their limits, so I wanted to make you aware of some of the ones you may not think about.

Are you a cinnamon inhaler like me?

-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??!).

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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


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Remember Your First Home…Fitness Friday 18

As cliche as it sounds, always remember to love the very thing that houses you because when you take it for granted, you may loose it.

Your body is not invincible. It doesn’t have a restart button. It’s just trying to do the best it can with whatever you decide to throw it’s way.

Dieting, restriction, stress, over exertion and over overconsuming are all threats to your home. It’s like a plague where it starts off affecting a small area and then it seeps into others leaving nothing left in it’s path and just causing one loss after another after another. When you deprive your body of what it needs (or go over it’s capacity), things are compromised and perhaps even sacrificed as it tries to keep fighting and moving forward.

But sometimes the plague is just too strong and the body looses the battle.

Unfortunately, that’s when you realize that the one thing that you should feel the most protective over is gone and that often means that you are too. 

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…..

Now before someone thinks I’m writing my own death letter, I’m not dying. I have however gotten some not so nice medical results back as of late and am currently in the works with dealing with them.

The first was when I asked my doctor to test me for a gut parasite as a weird thing to check off the list of “what is causing Chelsea’s tummy issues”

As weird as it sounds (where most doctors wouldn’t even consider this as a possibility because we are a first world country) my results not only came back positive, but came back saying many…

So basically I was housing a rapidly growing colony in my gut that is possibly stealing my body’s resources. #FunTimes

Currently being treated with meds for the next few days (for a total of 10 days) to try to kill the parasite. Unfortunately it’s also going to kill a lot of good flora which is not so great for someone who already is at a disadvantage from a stomach/gut perspective. Thanks IBS.

So that was one.

Lesson learned here: You know your own body. When something is getting worse when you are doing everything the absolute same plus doing things that are known to help your problem, you need to take matters into your own hands and TELL THE DOCTOR WHAT TO DO.

If I hadn’t had said anything, those buggers would continue to eat away and do their thing (whatever that is) and continue making me miserable.

The second thing that came back was my pituitary gland hormones. To keep things brief and to the point, I basically have no LH or FSH (integral to menstruation) and my prolactin is through the roof. My doctor did not, however, ask for my estrogen or progesterone levels which is annoying but either way I have a problem that needs to be dealt with.

For this, I don’t know what’s is going to happen until I see her next Friday but I did happen to miss the clinic calling (and subsequently emailing me..) with a doctors message.

Why they don’t leave a voicemail is beyond me…

…so it ain’t looking positive.

All and all this was not a post meant for you to feel bad for me.

It was meant for:

1.To be transparent with you all about my journey as I always do.

2.The bigger thing was to show you that your body has a way of showing you it’s hurt and it will bite you in the ass eventually. Although my health is constantly improving, these show me that my body was very much effected by my lack of being a ‘responsible home owner” and now I have to suffer the consequences.

Never take your body for granted. Treat it with respect or it will come back with nothing but negative consequences in your future.

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I realize that this post is quite a bit different than the usual Fitness Friday informational blogs, but I wanted to get this point across. An integral part of being an active and healthy individual is taking care of the one thing that allows you to do what you do. We all need to be reminded of this fact every so often and so I suppose I can give you a realistic example as to why you need to be aware that you are more fragile then you would like to admit.

Take care of your home and it will repay you.

-Chelsea