Let’s Talk CREATINE

I am currently hoarding this Mutant Creatine in my trunk due to the creatine shortage in stores

What is Creatine?

Creatine or Creatine Monohydrate is the most widely used performance enhancing supplement, and has been studied athletically for more than 40 years, and in general for over a century. 

Creatine is not a steroid. Creatine is an amino acid found naturally in the human body, mostly in the skeletal muscle. It is produced from the amino acids glycine and arginine.  Approximately 5% of the body’s creatine is stored in the muscles, mainly in the form of phosphocreatine, and about half of your body’s creatine stores come from the food you eat — especially from red meat, pork, and seafood.  The rest is made in your liver, kidneys, and pancreas, and our bodies make about 1 gram of creatine per day.

What it Does and Does Not

Creatine’s main role is to create ATP (adenosine triphosphate), also known as the “energy currency” of cells. Creatine pulls water into the muscle cells, generating ATP for your muscles to work harder.  The extra energy helps you lift heavier creating more muscle fibers over time.  It increases strength, muscular endurance, and high intensity performance. In short, Creatine provides raw material for energy creation in your muscle cells and helps to maintain the strength achievable.

Creatine does not cause muscle bulking, but does cause increased strength and recovery.  It can also increase creatine stores in the muscle, providing more available energy, allowing to exercise longer, more easily, and effectively. Some individuals may notice a sudden “weight gain” (up to 3-5 lbs) when initially supplementing creatine. The good news is that this is not fat. Read that again – THIS IS NOT FAT! Creatine does not cause weight gain, which is a common myth. However those individuals who see an increase in “weight” are experiencing a small amount of water retention.  As noted, creatine pulls water into the cells and sometimes our bodies want to hang onto that water. This stabilizes as you continue to take it.

Benefits

It is the most studied ergogenic supplement. In fact, there have been thousands of studies on creatine in recent years. In fact, is the most studied supplement on the market. It’s been proven to improve brain performance and heart health, increases bone density, potentially lowers blood sugar and fight diabetes (by increasing glute 4 the insulin -regulated glucose transporter), and reduces fatigue, as well as improves mitochondrial healthy (being mitochondrial unhealthy can lead to many negative effects, including faster aging, a higher risk of cancer, and muscle weakness, and heart defects). It can also improve cognitive performance, testosterone production, and has antioxidant properties.

So who can benefit from supplementing creatine? In short…everyone**. Vegans and vegetarians, especially, can reap many benefits from creatine, primarily because they are not ingesting creatine from meat sources, therefore their bodies are devoid of it. Studies have shown that while vegans and vegetarians have the same level of creatine stored in the brain, they have less stored in muscles and are likely in a creatine deficit on the norm.

Research has also shown that older adults (70 years) have seen an increase in strength even without exercise. As noted, creatine can improve bone density, as well as prevent sarcopenia, the natural loss of muscle mass and strength from aging. Retirement homes have started including creatine with geriatric patients and clients to help improve their overall health.

There are various conditions associated with Creatine deficiency, such as depression, Parkinson’s disease, Muscular atrophy, Fibromyalgia, and Osteoarthritis. Also anyone with cognitive issues such as dementia and Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s Diseases can certainly benefit from daily dosages of creatine, as it has been proven to increase brain performance.

Dosing

There is a misconception that front loading (taking a relative amount in a short period of time) creatine is the best method to enhance creatine supplementing; however this is not necessary.  Although high amounts do allow for faster saturation and storage in muscle cells, lower amounts, in regularity, achieve the same benefits as when front loaded, and achievable in just a few weeks (it can take up to 4 weeks to completely saturate your muscles).  Creatine is also better tolerated in the small amounts, rather than when loading.

How much to take?  On average, 3-5 grams per day is all you need.  That being said, those men and women with bigger bodies, and specifically, larger muscle mass, can often take up to 10 grams.  This is completely safe.  The idea behind supplementing with creatine is to build up the amount of creatine in your muscles, until you can’t increase it anymore.  If you “overload” with creatine, your body will simply excrete it in urine. If you are a carnivore who eats a lot of red meat, you can get by with as little as 2 grams per day.

As for when to take creatine, and with what, you can take it whenever you like and with whatever you want (who am I to judge?). It doesn’t matter if you take it, as long as you’re taking it regularly. Being consistent with your supplementing is key to saturating your muscles.

As for cycling creatine, this is not necessary. In fact, the only reason this comes about is because people continue to confuse creatine with steroids. Therefore, you do not need to stop taking creatine. It is safe for long-term use. It does not lead to kidney damage or failure either. In the few cases this occurs, there has been an underlying cause, such as extreme dehydration, in conjunction with supplementing.

A small percentage of people may experience gastric distress as a side effect of supplementing creatine.  This means an upset tummy, cramping, or even diarrhea.  In these cases, it is recommended to not take creatine on an empty stomach – take it with meals.  Also, splitting the dosage into smaller amounts at different times of the day.

Another small percentage will not see improvements with the use of creatine.  If you have been regularly supplementing for a month and have not seen any benefits from it, it is recommended to discontinue supplementation.

**It is always recommended to consult with a physician prior to commencing any supplementation program. 

There you have it, folks. This has been an introductory guide to creatine.

Cheers.

Canfitpro Certified Personal Training Specialist

Canfitpro Certified Nutrition and Weight Loss Coach

Certified Supplement Coach

The Dangers of Dry Scooping (Trainer Fail)

via

I admit, I have been a dry scooper for so long*. But, I’m here to tell you why I am stopping this bad practice.

First of all….what is Dry Scooping?

Dry Scooping is when you take a scoop of powdered pre-workout and drop it (into your mouth) without mixing it with water, as it is intended to be used. *Although I have been a dry scooper, my practice is a little different: I start out with a swig of water, add my scoop, swallow, then swig some more. Also, I am not a consistent pre-workout user. Honestly, I am pretty lax when it comes to taking supplements. It’s been pretty recent that I’ve been more consistent with the pre-workout (ordinarily, I have been a here-and-there girl); but, regardless, I have almost consistently been a dry scooper. Fail!

So why is dry scooping so bad? For starters, it can cause tooth decay, caused by the high levels of citric acid present. It can also cause choking or difficulty breathing. Pre-workout is a dry, powder. When not mixed and saturated properly, it clumps. When you dry scoop and drop it, it mixes with small amounts of your saliva, clumping can happen in your throat, blocking your airway.

Lung infections and inflammation are also causes for concern if any of the powder makes it way into the lungs.

The biggest risks that dry scooping pose are heart related: palpitations, arrhythmia, and heart attack. In fact, in 2021 a 20- year old woman suffered a heart attack after dry scooping at the gym.

One scoop of a typical pre-workout supplement can contain the caffeine equivalent of up to three cups of coffee (or more!). Pre-workout on its own can cause jitters. Dry scooping it can accelerate jitters, anxiety, and a slew of other related symptoms.

The supplement is intended to give a boost of energy during a workout. It should be mixed with water, and consumed gradually, which limits the amount of caffeine consumed all at once. But when someone ingests an entire serving of powder in one mouthful, they’re hit with the caffeine equivalent of multiple cups of coffee in a single wave.

We need water with our pre-workout in order to facilitate what the ingredients are trying to do. If we omit the water, we are not utilizing those ingredients as efficiently.

You want the maximize the effects of ta pre-workout therefore, you’ll want to take it 15-45 minutes prior to your workout (usually it takes about 30 minutes for maximum absorption of the supplement). If you’re taking a caffeine-free pre-workout, 15-30 minutes is a recommended window.

Cheers.

Lighten Your Load

Public Service Announcement

This happened to me recently.  I was at the gym with a buddy and he was struggling with his lat pulldown.  He was swinging the bar down in a way that a lat bar should not be pulled down, and when the cable was receding, his butt was flying off the seat, bringing his entire body into the air.  There was no slow and controlled with this guy because his load was too heavy.  When I suggested he go down in his weight, he scoffed and refused, stating he needed his heavy weight. 

When hitting the gym and lifting weights, we usually have the same goals in mind when we set out – to build muscle mass and increase our strength. Those are the primary goals.  Sometimes, our goals can get in the way of what’s happening in the moment.

We are constantly looking at our achievements and not spending enough time considering our progress, and for many, this can be detrimental to our gains.

I see it too often: people lifting weights way too heavy for them.  And this is what I want to talk about today.  Lifting heavy is great, and something we should strive for, and progress to.  PROGRESS TO!  

If you’re lifting weights that are too heavy (or too light, but that’s an entirely different article!), you are likely doing yourself a disservice.  Strutting into the gym and reaching for a heavy weight with tons of ambition can often be a big mistake (that can lead to injury).  Many people think about the achievement of slapping on too much weight to a machine, and not considering the detriments this can cause; thinking that going heavy will make you stronger, and not thinking about the progress it takes to build that strength.  In order to reach those heavy weight goals, you must better your technique and not sacrifice your form.

If your entire body is moving when you’re doing bicep curls, or your ass is flying off the bench when you’re working on those lat pulldowns, then your weight is too damn heavy.  There is no shame in lightening your load.  Especially if lightening your weight means better technique, better progress, better form, less injury, and less looking like a jackass.

Overload is a recipe for disaster and injury.  There is no quick fix for weight loss and there is certainly no quick fix for building muscle and strength.  And your muscles aren’t getting any added benefit if you’re improperly lifting.  If you’re swinging weights (and using your entire body to do so) with no control, then your muscles aren’t really working in a manner that will help you progress.  Keep your heels on the ground, your butt on the bench, and gain control.  Once you are able to control your weights and hit your max reps without fatiguing your muscles, that’s when you can progress (with increased weight and/or reps).  

Cheers.

Back to My Mat

I used to be really into yoga. REALLY into it. I would practice every day. Some days I would meet on my mat a few times a day. I loved it. I craved it. And recently, I have missed it.

I don’t know how or when exactly it was when I stopped my practice. I just…..did.

Yoga had been such a huge part of my workout regime and my life. I loved the way it made me feel from head to toe. I love the way my body felt strong and lengthened and accomplished during and after each practice. And I loved the discipline it gave me.

At the beach with my favorite Aunt and yoga fest buddy…..we felt we should strike a pose.

I was practicing at home and in the park. I was taking classes and going on retreats. And for a while, I was fortunate enough to be working with a woman who owned a yoga studio, so I was able to take a class on my lunch breaks. Some days I was hitting the gym, taking a Zumba class or teaching a boot camp class, and finishing my day off a yoga class. I felt complete with my daily yoga flow.

It would nothing for me to stop, drop, and yoga – in the middle of town, at the beach, wherever felt good.

But then I just stopped. And my body has paid the price.

My mobility is limited due to stiffness from overwork. My joints are aching from overuse. My flexibility just plain sucks.

I am constantly working out. I run or go to the gym each morning, I walk on my lunch breaks, and I finish the days off with a boot camp class I teach, hitting the gym again, or getting in another run or walk. And this past summer I got into paddle boarding and tennis. Those activities, along with bike riding, have kept me insanely busy, and not giving a second thought to getting back to yoga. I became enamored with my weight lifting and building my strength and muscles, that I didn’t think about pampering them.

I have said several times over the last two years that I need to get back into my practice. But I just haven’t done it. I wasn’t lazy. I wasn’t complacent. I wasn’t committed. But now I am.

This past weekend I have recommitted myself to my practice. I have done a few flows each of the last three days and it is my goal to continue to do this. At minimum 5 times a week. Already, in just a few days, I feel good.

Looking forward to becoming one again

I can’t remember when I stopped. But today I remember why I started. And why I’m starting again.

I’m looking forward to getting back to a daily practice and I encourage you to try it. You don’t need to commit to a lengthy practice. Start with 5 or 10 minutes a day, if that’s all you’re comfortable with. And if you need help with your flow, check out social media for inspiration…..YouTube has a bazillion videos of all different levels of yoga, and there are tons of apps that are incredible for starting or maintaining a practice. FitOn is my absolute favorite.

And tell me….who is up for joining me in a #yogachallenge soon?

~FB

#yoga #practice #fitness #strength #strengthtraining #exercise #yogaflow

Century Sets (100 Reps)

If you haven’t been adding Century Sets into your routine, it’s about time you did. This idea (which has been around for decades) could literally change your gains.

So what exactly are Century Sets, you ask. Simply put, sets of 100 reps. That’s right, 100 repetitions of one specific exercise. And whether that is 100 straight reps, or 4 sets of 25 reps; the goal is to do as many reps with as minimal sets as possible.

The purpose of Century Sets is to stimulate maximum hypertrophy responses. Lifting weights is the most common way to increase muscle hypertrophy or growth. However, many of us either aren’t lifting heavy enough or, over time, become lackadaisical in our training (or stuck in a rut). Hitting a plateau as a lifter can be detrimental to our gains and overall training. But, adding Century Sets into your regime can shock your system to stimulate muscle growth. Let me explain.

Each muscle has within it three types of fibers: slow twitch, intermediate, and fast twitch or ballistic. Each fiber type responds differently to training in relation to how they fatigue and where they use energy. There are a variety of rep ranges and different levels of fatigue within each muscle fiber. For instance, slow twitch fibers usually reach concentric momentary muscular failure somewhere between 12 to 25 reps. Intermediate fibers hit momentary muscle failure between 10 and 15 reps. The ballistic fibers (the power fibers) usually reach maximum stimulation at 6 to 12 reps. These three fibers normally don’t work together during training. Once you hit failure with a muscle fiber, the next fiber kicks in to give you the power you need to hit failure of the next fiber.

In order to make progress you must train with intensity. When you add in the Century Sets to your training program it, as stated earlier, shocks the system and stimulates all the muscle fibers unilaterally so that you are getting 100% of muscle fiber utilization during a single set.

During your 100 set you reach concentric momentary muscle failure of each fiber group. When you hit failure at 15-20 reps your explosive fibers kick in; when that happens, take 5 seconds to rest, reset, and replenish a little glycogen into your muscles. When you’re fatiguing, you can also use this time to increase or decrease your relative load if necessary. After that 5 or 10 second rest, get right back to your training and continue to your maximum rep. Although your slow twitch and intermediate fibers have fatigued, they are still working with your explosive fibers to help your reach 100% utilization.

To build muscle, you must build the optimal hormonal environment within your muscles. Not lifting to failure will not help you reach those maximum gains you are seeking. Adversely, if you are lifting heavy but for shorter sets (10-12) and not fatiguing your muscles, you could likely be putting too much stress on your joints and overtraining the nervous system instead.

The training program for Century Sets should be frequent, choosing just a few exercises for each set, and performing several times a week, at minimum. The pump you’ll get from your sets will be insane and your muscles will gleam for about 20 minutes post-workout.

FB

Fat and Muscle

Over the years I have often been posed with the question (or statement) of “How do I turn my fat into muscle?” It seems to be the goal of so many, but the long and short of it: you don’t!

You simply cannot turn your fat into muscle – no matter how clean you eat or how hard you work out – because fat cells are independent from muscle cells. They are completely different tissues and cannot be interchanged.  

Muscle tissue is active and burns calories constantly, even at rest and sleep.  Muscle’s primary role is to power movement. Fat is primarily an energy store called upon only when necessary. Fat is the storage of excess energy and, until you burn it off, does nothing more than offer protection and insulation, as well as produces hormones.

You can, however, change the size of your cells. Yes – you can shrink the size of your fat cells. In order to do this you must be in a calorie deficit; meaning you are using more calories for energy than you’re consuming (through food). And in opposition, in order to grow muscle mass, you must be in a calorie surplus.

Again, muscle Burns 24/7 and the more muscle you have the more calories you are able to burn, without even trying. Here’s a bonus, if you are eating right and building muscle, the added mass can boost metabolism, and in turn, burn more fat while eating more calories. Losing fat and building muscle simultaneously is called body recomposition. It’s complex and achievable; but it is not turning one type of tissue into another. Body recomposition is not magic, but it is possible.

~Cheers

Peppermint Bark Energy Bites

It’s the time of year when people always celebrate with food. And there is an abundance of decadent treats. So, if you are a chocoholic like me, and struggling withn wanting to be healthy and also wanting to satisfy your sweet tooth, give this recipe a try: Peppermint Bark Energy Bites.

1/2 cup cup raw almonds

1/3 cup pitted medjool dates

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon mini dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup crushed peppermint

INSTRUCTIONS

Put almonds in a food processor and chop.

Add the dates and blend well (it helps if you soak them in warm water to soften)

Add the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, peppermint extract, and coconut oil. Blend for several minutes until starting to combine. Add a couple drops of warm water if necessary to help it move.

Add the chocolate chips and pulse a few final times to combine well. Don’t pulverize the chocolate.

Roll the mixture into tiny balls. The coconut oil will soften and it will be very messy. 🤦‍♀️While it is still warm press into the peppermint.

Allow the finished bites to set in the fridge for 30 minutes to re-solidify the coconut oil.

So yummy.

Cheers

(Late) Fall Fitness Challenge

I woke up to a message this morning asking if I’m okay because I have not posted lately. The truth is, I haven’t had motivation to write. Covid, a busy life, and just all-around lack of motivation has prevented me from writing anything.

On top of all of that, three weeks ago I had an accident and required surgery, and because of that I am not able to exercise for a very long time. I have been walking at least once daily. And I look forward to incorporating more movements into my routine. But I have had to suspend my gym membership, I am not allowed to do many exercises, I’m not even allowed to run. My healing time is estimated at a minimum of three months. Although I do hope to be able to get some movements into my routine sooner rather than later.

But, here I am, trying to get back into the spirit of things an offering you a late fall Fitness challenge.

So, as always this is a challenge that you can do on its own if you’re new to working out, or you can incorporate it into your regular routine. You can do it once per day, or as many times as you like. That’s what I like about these challenges. You can make it work for you. If you’re super busy and don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to a new exercise routine, this is perfect for getting you started. If you have a few minutes extra on your lunch break or in the morning after dinner, toss in this daily challenge.

Cheers

June Challenge

It’s been a while since I have posted a Monthly Fitness Challenge.  I always have such great feedback when I do post them, so I figured why not make June a Fitness Challenge month.

JUNE CHALLENGE\

The last few months, as we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, have been difficult.  It know that many people have struggled with isolation, myself included, and some have struggled with keeping up with their regular fitness routines.

Although I have been adamant about maintaining my own regime, I got the news this weekend that my gym will not be opening anytime soon.  I’m beyond disappointed.  I miss my gym fam, but, more importantly, I miss having access to equipment at the gym that I do not have access elsewhere.  I’m going to figure it out and hopefully find an alternative gym to shack up with until mine reopens.

If you have been struggling with keeping up with your workouts, or just want to kick start your June, why not check out (or add in) this challenge.  Have a little fun with it.  That’s the most important part.  Don’t let your workouts become a chore.  Instead, look at them as a reward for your mind, body, and spirit.  ❤

~Here’s to a great June!

Be the Magic

Something I consistently see and hear, as I scroll through social media posts or listen to people talk, when it comes to weight loss, is that everyone wants the quick fix.  I hear them say “I want to lose weight as fast as possible” or “I need to lose 30 pounds in two months”, etc.  Everyone wants this unwanted weight to disappear without having to do much about it.  I mean, honestly, that would be great and ever-so-satisfying.  But, that is not realistic.
I have known people who have tried every diet or fad under the sun: low carb (some people not even knowing what exactly a carb is), keto, high protein, this, that, and the other thing.  And these people, most of them, have failed.  They fail at their diets, they fail at weight loss, they fail in general because they want that quick fix.  They want magic.
But magic doesn’t exist.  Hard work does.  Self love does.
There are two statements I have made over the years that I continue to stand by…1.  The weight didn’t come on over night, it should not come off over night.  2.  If you’re not willing to do the work, you’re not ready to lose the weight.
I say these things confidently because for a very long time, in my younger years, I wanted the magic.  I was willing to do whatever it took to ditch the excess weight on my body.  That lead to obsessive exercising and eating disorders.  Although I wanted to lose weight then, I was not committed to putting in the work for life-long achievement.  Yes, I was exercising, but it wasn’t healthy and it was not proper.
It wasn’t until years later that I heard “If you’re not willing to do the work, you’re not ready to lose the weight”, and, as I have said many times since then, it resonated deeply with me.  And it’s now a mantra I stand by.  You need to put in the effort in order to reach your goals, and to maintain them.
As a trainer and a nutrition and weight loss coach, it often makes my heart sink when I see (usually the same) people fall into the pitfalls over and over and over again…wanting to lose weight, but not putting in the work.  Losing weight should be more than just about getting thin; it should be about bettering your health, your heart, and your mind.  I know all too well how hard it is on your self-esteem and mental health when carrying excess weight.  Believe me, I understand the struggle with confidence.  Although, even as a trainer and coach, I am still not where I want to be, my confidence has grown stronger since I began achieving my goals by putting in the work for them.
wedding 1wedding 2
Before and after making my own magic 
I continue to work for it, and as my body grows stronger, so does my confidence….because I know I have damn well put in the effort to get where I am.  And that should be true for everyone with everything,  It is my dream that people will fall in love with fitness as I did.  I know that it may be a pipe dream, but it would be so wonderful to see everyone working toward their goals and not “dialing it in.”  It crushes me when I see people promoting unhealthy diets and fads because, for the most part (some of them are excluded, of course), I know how bad they are, how harmful some of them can be to the body, and I know the high failure rates with them.  And I know how all too well how detrimental that failure can on one’s mind and spirit.
So, instead of looking for the next big thing or the pill or the fad that promises you  instant or magical results…..BE THE MAGIC!  Remember that you have worth and that if you put in the effort for you, you can get the results that you want, but that it takes time and effort and work.

Magic doesn’t exist.  Hard work does.  BE THE MAGIC.

~Cheers

 

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