Are supplements necessary to succeed?

Just about the first and main question that people seem to ask if you’re even semi into lifting, weights, fitness, etc. is this: what supplements are you taking, are supplements necessary, what are the best supplements? Supplements, supplements, supplements. If I had a dollar for every time I saw or heard the word supplements regarding the fitness industry, I’d be super rich. In their defense, in our current society everywhere you look there is a new advertisement for some diet pill, juice detox cleanse, magic fat-loss drink promising to instantly get you the results you want. But the only way to get the results you want is to work hard and be consistent with your workouts and nutrition over time. Progress takes time, not popping some pill into your mouth or drinking a detox and being good to do. However, there are certain supplements that can aid in things such as digestive health and muscle recovery. Supplements can definitely help, yet understand that none of them are necessary. Let me repeat this: supplements are NOT necessary in order for you to succeed. Having a good diet filled with a variety of foods, getting in your micronutrients, being strategic in your training, and taking proper time to rest and recovery can all help you reach your goals just as much as some supplements might. But if you choose to look into supplements in this post I am going to breakdown some of the main supplements you might have heard of into what their purpose is and why someone might take them.

Pre-workout: The purpose of taking this supplements is to increase energy, and enhance workout performance and efficiency. This can be done because most pre-workouts are filled with caffeine which keeps you awake as well as activates epinephrine and norepinephrine (think fight or flight response) which wires your body. I understand it may seem tempting to chug pre-workout, especially when you feel sluggish; however, you should not be solely reliant on pre-workout to power through–this can be detrimental to your overall health in the long-term. An active, healthy lifestyle, diet, and good sleep can do just the same. Instead, focus on using it every now and then.

Creatine: Creatine supplements are thought to be responsible for improving strength, increasing lean muscle mass, and helping the muscles recover. It does this by converting into creatine phosphate in the body that which helps make adenosine triphosphate (ATP)–the energy muscles store up and use to produce work. Many people take this either intra-workout or post-workout to help with recovery. However, creatine is a naturally-occuring substance found in meat and fish and other sources of protein.

Glutamine: Glutamine is the most common amino acid found in your muscles. Studies have shown that it can aid in minimizing breakdown of muscle as well as improving protein metabolism. Again, many take it either intra-workout or post-workout, even with mixed with creatine for extra muscle recovery. Glutamine can be found in foods rich in protein, legumes, and certain vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, and beets.

BCAAs: Branched chain amino acids are the essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. They are “essential” because you’re body does not produce them on its own, you have to get them through foods (again protein-rich foods such as meat and eggs) or supplementation. BCAAs are the building blocks of protein, therefore, helping you fuel your muscles properly as well as help enhance muscle protein recovery. This is the reason people take this during or after workout.

Protein Powder: Protein powder is a supplement that is just as it sounds–provides protein. There are different types such as whey, casein, egg, plan-based, etc. and which is best for you will depend on your dietary needs and the way your body digests each. This is actually one supplement that I do take; however, I ensure that the bulk of my daily protein comes from whole foods (meat, eggs/egg whites, yogurt, cheese, etc.) rather than all protein products (powders and bars). Protein powder can definitely be sued to help reach your protein goal for the day, but again, don’t majorly rely on it over natural sources.

Vitamins: There are many vitamins essential to our body’s health (Vitamin A, B, C, D, K to name a few) and with a diet rich in a variety of wholesome foods, all these vitamins can be received in ample amounts. Vitamins should not be supplemented unless there is a known deficiency–otherwise get them from a proper diet of nutrient-rich foods. For example, in past blood work I have been shown to have low levels of both B12 and Vitamin D, so I’ve been taking supplements for both of those.

Digestive Health: Digestive health supplements are things such as probiotics or digestive enzymes. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that your body needs. Our bodies are filled with bacteria–both good and bad–and probiotics helps keep your gut health with good bacteria. This can mean aiding in digestion, and helping balance out your good/bad bacteria for gut health. I take a probiotic every morning to help with digestion. Digestive enzymes on the other hand are usually more geared to treating symptoms of things such as acid reflux and IBS.

Let me know some of the supplements you take below and why you take them!

CPT Blog #1: Choosing ACSM

I’m so excited to be writing this series over the course of the next few months! Not only because I am passionate about getting my personal trainer certification (CPT), but also because it is something y’all seemed interested in too. This first blog is going to be on the most important first step: how to choose. I decided to become a personal trainer because  I want to help people live a healthier lifestyle. Even though my degree is in marketing, I’ve always loved lifting and had a passion for health/fitness/nutrition that I want to apply and challenge myself with.

No matter what the reason for choosing to get your CPT–main job, to go with your degree, passion, side job, fun, etc.–once you’ve decided to get your certification (great choice!), you need to select one of the many different organizations that offers CPT certifications. NASM, ACSM, ACE, ISSA…the list goes on. Although there are many, most of them are going to be equally accepted at gyms and most of your clients won’t even know the difference. However, the starting point should be that if you have your heart set on working for a certain gym, check with them to see what certifications they accept (most will accept NASM, ACSM, and ACE). Next step, is to do your research because each organization will offer slightly different things in terms of study plans, study products/reviews, workshops, textbooks, testing and retesting, etc. Although it may seem daunting, going through each website and checking it out for yourself is your best bet.

With that said, I narrowed my final decision down to NASM and ACSM because they seemed to be the two best programs. Please note this is not to say that any other wouldn’t be okay or if you already have your cert from one of these other orgs you’re “less”, just from my research I found these two to be my best options on account of offerings, credibility, and the organization as a whole. I did more research, watched numerous videos, and looked at the packages and I finally decided upon ACSM for 3 reasons:

1) ACSM seems to be the “gold standard” of CPT, the extra-mile so to speak, which caught my attention because I always want to be and do the best. You Again, NASM is still an excellent program and you learn essentially the same material–NASM even uses textbooks that refer to studies and research by ACSM. Personally, I felt that through research ACSM seemed slightly higher.

2) ACSM’s 3-day workshop.  While NASM has a live workshop, it was 1 day and seemed to be more of working out and some superficial application. ACSM’s 3-day workshop was in-depth studying of the material, applications, and tricks/tools for remembering material. The workshop received great reviews as being really helpful. It also is offered many, many times a year at all different locations so you can find the one that works best for you.

3) ACSM is science-based–something I was interested in knowing the science behind it all. However, NASM gears their programs towards creating workout programs, which is probably slightly more useful for being a certified personal trainer. Personally, I wanted more of the science and knowledge in my studies though.

Last step in after choosing your program is to choose the package you’ll buy. NASM does slightly better in laying out their different packages for purchase and showing the differences in what you get. With ACSM, there aren’t really packages, more of multiple different components you can buy to help you. This is one of the downsides to ACSM, my dad had to call their service number to help get understanding and clarity. With that said, I ended up getting almost everything I could to help me. This included: 3 textbooks (a resource textbook, a guideline for testing and prescribing, & a certification test review), prepU (online study course), and a 3-day workshop. All in all, I believe the ACSM is slightly cheaper (about $200) when comparing the two, but NASM does have cheaper packages for self-study rather than other resources.

Overall, you won’t go wrong as long as you do the research and take the time to choose the program that best fits you, your lifestyle, needs, resources, etc.

When You Feel Lost…

This wasn’t one of the posts I originally planned to write. It’s not one of the titles that I had written down. It’s just an idea, a thought that popped into my mind and all the sudden I started writing this blog in my head. And that’s why I knew I had to write it. I’m going to say that I truly believe this message is from God, for me and for you. It may not be the most organized or drafted post, but it’s a blog from the heart and soul that I believe is very meaningful.

It’s scary to feel lost, to feel as if you have no idea where to go or what to do. To have this desire to be so much more and make an impact, yet have no direction for how to go about doing that. When people say they’ve found their dream job/career or they are following their passion, and you still don’t know…I’ve been there (heck, I’m still there). It’s scary, it’s terrifying, it causes fear to creep in and take over. In today’s world there are so many options, paths, careers, choices, etc. that it overwhelms us into just staying where we are–happy or not. We tend to turn to people asking them what we should do, letting their opinions or decision become the choices we make. We turn our attention so intensely onto another person, object, etc.  to fill that void/lost feeling we have. Or maybe we just stay where we are, hopelessly scraping by; we give up. Oftentimes we are so desperate for answers and immediate fixes that we almost always overlook the one simple truth. You see here’s the truth:

It’s not that we’re lost, it’s that we are looking for answers in all the wrong places.

That’s it. We turn to friends, family, significant others, substances, food, addictions, things we can control, etc. instead of running to the one who already has a plan for you. You aren’t lost, there is a plan for your life far greater than you could ever imagine, so much greater that if you knew it all right this instant, you couldn’t even comprehend it. That’s why there are no quick fixes or immediate clarity because we only got a piece at a time; and over time those little pieces add up to the big, grand life that God has planned for you. I understand that this isn’t easy. That it’s not easy to let go of control and to feel lost with no direction, but the great thing is, is that God knows this too and He is looking out for you–whether you feel it or not. In times when you feel lost with no direction, here’s what you need to remember: the only direction you need to turn is to God. It doesn’t matter if you know what you want to do, who you want to be, what your passion or purpose is. Give it to God and he will supply the rest.

It can be easy to run to things of this world which give quick gratification, but you and I both know that whatever that is, it will ultimately leave you feeling empty in the end–wanting and needing more. So instead in tough times, when you don’t know what to do or where to go, run to the One who does know, the One who will meet all your needs according to the riches in Christ Jesus. You are not lost, you are just going in the opposite direction looking for answers in the wrong places. When you feel lost, remember this and remind yourself to turn your focus and direction back on God. Remind yourself to be in constant communication with Him and to put your full faith and trust in what He can do. No matter how lost you feel, you’re just one step away from the Father who is calling you to Him.

You aren’t lost; you don’t have no direction. You are loved by the only direction that leads to joy, purpose, and grace. Follow that road and don’t look back. Instead look to the future, to all the amazing things the God of the universe has in store for you, and to the present, to what He is doing in your life right now.


Team Update: Overcoming Adversity

Since the last time I talked to you was about 3 weeks ago at the end of preseason, I wanted to give y’all a short update on the team, season, how I’m doing, etc. Along with this also comes the topic I want to touch on: overcoming adversity in any and all situations. You’ll see why here in a sec…

Our season has just started, but we’re already getting into the swing of things, facing tough teams. We had our first official game this past weekend as part of a tournament in California. At the tournament 2 out of the 4 teams we face were ranked in the top 25 in the country (we were ranked 10th at the time). We ended up going 2-2 for the weekend, although one game we really beat ourselves therefore making it possible to have been 3-1 this weekend. But even though we didn’t achieve the outcome we desired, I think it was a great learning experience for our team and as individual players on skills we need to work on, being disciplined, competitive, etc. We found areas to improve upon and tactics to do so. We won’t see any of those same teams again until the regional tournament in mid-november which means we have plenty of time to get better and come out stronger next time we play those opponents.

Every team, of course, faces obstacles at one point or another in a season. And it’s how you come together and work as a team to overcome those that ultimately leads to growth–both individually and collectively. This is the situation we are stuck in currently. During pre-season and our first scrimmage, two of our starters from last year got injured (broken foot and ACL tear) and are now out for either a great chunk or all of season. This obviously means that spots have to be filled and a huge obstacle must be faced and conquered. That’s why I think our tournament in California this past week was an eye-opener to what we must do and how we must play to continue getting better without our two starters. Our team is no worse or better off because of these injuries–it is just different now. A different team, different roles, different dynamics, different strategies, etc. We had a great loss with those injuries, but now it’s time to overcome that adversity for the better and still come out on top.

And this is the big message I wanted to hammer home here. In sports, relationships, jobs, the craziness of life there are going to be challenges you face, obstacles that get in your way and events/people who are determined to tear you down. It’s tough, but it’s part of life. And it’s part of how you grow. As much as we like things easy, I honestly do not believe that anyone would like to breeze through life totally care-free and easy. You may think you might at first, but then it becomes monotonous. There’s no room for improvement, growth, strength; we wouldn’t need people around to help us; it would honestly be kind of boring. Now, I’m not saying that people wish their life was hard and miserable nor should you. But it’s those tough moments that you find out what you’re really made of and capable of. It’s those challenges that allow you to grow into who you can and want to become.

When you face adversity whether that be an injury, a hard task, a disrupt in your life, etc., change your attitude towards it. Instead of viewing it as something awful and dwelling on it/the past, look to the future and all that’s possible now. View it as a chance to make yourself, your team, your relationships, your life BETTER! When life knocks you down, use adversity as the fuel that lights your fire to get back up, work even harder, and come out ahead in the future. Overcoming adversity isn’t as hard if you just decide to start changing your attitude and mindset towards it.

Remember this: When you view the obstacle as the opportunity, you will overcome.