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 #2: Studying before the Workshop

Time for blog #2 in my “journey to personal training certification” series. This one is about how I am studying before the 3-day workshop (one of the reasons I chose ACSM). Although the date of my test is not for 2 months, the 3-day workshop is at the end of this month. I’ve read that the workshop is a great review of the information for the test, so although I won’t have studied hardcore by the workshop, I want to have read through all the information to get an idea of the concepts. There is no “one right way” to study, it really all depends on your time, knowledge, how you like to study, etc. However, I want to give you a basic idea of how I am tackling all of it.

First, I want to say that this whole process can be taken at a pace that works for you. I wouldn’t suggest you drag it out too long, but whether you have 6 weeks or 6 months, you’ll be okay. One of the reasons I started studying over Christmas break was because I knew I would have more free time to focus on it–that free time included studying for 2 hours 5-6 days a week. During this time, I started reading the textbook and taking full-on notes of what I was reading (see below). I know what I’m doing may be over-excessive, but writing it all out is the best way I learn and it helps me absorb the information. I highlight and underline important parts in the textbook, and take notes on definitions, pictures, diagrams, important information, etc. I am treating this just as I found what works taking notes for school–for each section, subsection, and so on.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I write a lot for a chapter, other times I don’t because I’ve absorbed it by reading (but most of the time I do). I also created quizlets for some of the basic terminology and definitions. The biggest thing I didn’t take notes on is all the muscles and bones. One because I know a lot of the bones and some muscles, but two, it’s a big thing I’ll have to just straight up study and memorize.

I’ve also been reading the notebook of guidelines for exercise testing to review the information.

Once school starts, I won’t be able to spend 2 hours everyday, but I am still hoping to get at least 30 minutes a day in, up to 2 hours on my days of no class. When I started back to class, I finished Chapters 1-13 (out of 22). I have 3 weeks until the workshop, so my plan is to read/take notes on 3 chapters a week that will take me right up to the workshop. Going into the workshop, as I mentioned, I already wanted to have a working knowledge of all the topics before I learned tips and tricks to hammer it home. And this is exactly how I am doing it. My next blog in the series will be discussing and dissecting the 3-day workshop I will be attending!

Positive Self-Talk

We all talk to ourselves. Even if someone has called you crazy for doing so, they’ve done it too–whether they realize it or not. Every single day our mind is filled with thoughts, internal dialogue, and words that constitute self-talk. And the topic of it, plays a pretty important role in our everyday lives. It’s just like that saying “Watch your thoughts, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions they become your habits.” And so on. Something as small as a thought (self-talk) can have a massive impact on your daily lifestyle.

As I was reading the bible, I was going through James a few days ago. James places a heavy emphasis on the message of taming the tongue, for the tongue makes great boasts, and can set the course for the whole body. It is, in a way, the entry way into the body for what we use it to speak, so we will become to live out. (see the quote above) And as humans we are quick to use the tongue for speaking evil. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.” Now, it makes sense to apply to this to watching what we say externally and using our words to support, encourage, and build others up. But I think we often forget a very important person that this applies to: ourselves. You too have been made in God’s likeness and deserve to be supported, encouraged, and built up by your internal words: your self-talk.

Refer back to the earlier quote, thoughts–>words–>actions–>habits.  Now, if these thoughts are negative self-talk…imagine the impact it’s going to have on the trajectory of your life. For example, say you have the negative thought of “I can never do anything right.” You start having those thoughts more and more and pretty soon you’re speaking downgrading comments about yourself with a pessimistic view on life. Next, since you think you can’t do anything right, you stop trying and your actions reflect that. Lastly, you’ve given up, and over time that will become your new habit. All because you had some negative self-talk.

Now, look at it the other way! Despite your setbacks or failures, you keep reminding yourself that you are strong, capable, and can do anything you set your mind to. Then, you start viewing the world optimistically and getting up every time you get knocked down. Pretty soon, you’re creating resilient, confident, can-do-attitude habits. All because you had some positive self-talk.

I’ll be the first to admit, it is hard to always have positive self-talk; and I am FAR from perfect when it comes to it. I struggle, almost daily, with seeing myself, my accomplishments abilities, future, etc. in a positive light and turning my thoughts more positive. But trust me when I say that your “few thoughts” you happen to think nothing of can have a big impact on your life–both positively and negatively. So next time you find yourself having negative self-talk, remind yourself that you were made in God’s image, you deserve to be built up, not torn down with your words, and you are in control of how you talk to yourself. Make the majority of it positive, and I’m positive you’ll change your life.

What I learned from 2017

I really can’t believe that it’s already 2018, it feels like 2017 was just yesterday (I had to). But seriously, I know people say this every year, but it really felt like it was just January 1, 2017. 2017 brought a lot of things I would have never expected going into the new year–both challenges and blessings–and I learned a lot reflecting back over the year. I originally wasn’t planning to make a post like this. But after realizing how much I actually enjoyed writing my post last year about what I learned from 2016, I decided to do one for 2017 as well. My goal with these reflections is to take what I learned from the previous year into the new year so that I can constantly grow and improve. So, Happy New Year, Happy 2018 and without further ado, here’s what I will be taking with me as 2018 continues.

1. You don’t have to follow the trend

This year, especially in the fitness industry, trends were flying left and right. Everyone’s gluten-free and going vegan; cutting out dairy, nope, now dairy is important. Follow IIFYM, now that’s wrong and you should eat intuitively, oh now here comes intermittent fasting. You get the idea. At first, I thought I needed to follow everyone else, but in reality, just because something worked for others does not mean it will work for you too. And that’s okay! Don’t eat (or not eat) a certain food, do (or not do) certain exercises, or live life in a certain way just because it’s “trendy”. The best thing you can do is find your balance and what works for you, and do just that. You can respect others’ way of life and encourage/support them while still doing your own thing.

2. Have a vision for your life

Life can be difficult, it doesn’t come with a road map or instructions –> so create your own! For a while, I was just living, going through the motions of life with no clear picture of my destination. But towards the end of the year, I realized the importance of having a vision for your life. A vision of what you want to do, where you want to go, and who you want to be. It doesn’t have to be very clear, just have an end goal that you’re constantly working towards. I know I have plenty of those for 2018.

3. Life won’t always go as planned….

Now with what I said about having a vision for your life, understand that just because you have a specific goal doesn’t mean it’s going to happen or turn out how you envisioned it. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t even try, but it’s important to understand that life won’t always go as planned. Sometimes it’ll take you on a detour, simply one exit down; and sometimes it will take you on a whole new highway to a whole new city you never planned for–let it happen. Learn to find the positives in everything and work in whatever circumstance is given; try to be flexible and go with the flow sometimes because honestly you never know where it (or life) will take you!

4. …And God’s plans won’t always make sense

At the time. When life doesn’t go as planned, it’s because God has bigger and better plans for you already–we just can’t see or understand them because we were made to walk with Him one step at a time, not 100 yards ahead. My senior year of volleyball was going great until two weeks in when I broke my rib. Think that was part of the plan? Yeah, no. I didn’t understand it at the time, and honestly, I still don’t know what God’s plan for that was. But I do know that God is in control, and if I keep trusting in him, He will be faithful.

5. Rest is important

Physical, mental, emotional. As much as we would like, we can’t continuously go-go-go 24/7, 365 days a year.We often try to push ourselves harder and farther than the time before, and it leads us to be worn out, burnt out, and just plain tired of life. I learned that rest is important to make progress in the gym, that I can’t push my body to its max day-after-day without rest. I learned that it’s okay to be emotional, that sometimes I need to rest from the “trying to be happy”facade I sometimes put on and let it out. My mind needs breaks from always studying, I need time to relax and enjoy myself. Rest is not selfish, it’s essential for living a healthy life.

6. Be confident

This time last year, I can safely say I wasn’t too confident in myself. I was annoyed at myself for clinging to “clean eating”, and I felt small and weak. I was not confident in my physical appearance/my body, in my inner being of who I was, in my character, in my identity in Christ. It’s a scary feeling to feel like this, but it was true. Now today I can’t say that I am always 100% confident in everything about myself, but honestly, that’s normal! Everyone has good days and bad days. But standing here today, I did learn that I can choose to be confident in myself and to do something about it. Believing in and loving yourself right where you’re at–imperfections and all–is such an amazingly strong feeling that will take you so far no matter where life takes you.

7. You’re in charge of your own happiness

Last, but certainly not least, this was probably the hardest thing for me to learn and accept. When you are unhappy, it’s not the world’s fault, or your significant other’s, or that boss who chose someone else to promote, or your professor who gave you a bad grade, or your parents who won’t let you do “x”. No, it is your own fault. Happiness is a choice, something that we get to decide to choose every day, every situation that comes our way. It’s not always easy to choose the positive way, but if you can learn to choose happiness despite your situation or your circumstances, despite your looks, your job, or your family issues, you’ll live a much more joyful life.If you’re not happy with where you are, decide today to make a change to get to where you want to be. Decide today to be in charge of your own happiness.