Tag Archives: nutrition

Body(building) Dysmorphia

Body Dysmorphia:

“…Involves belief that one’s own appearance is unusually defective

and is worthy of being hidden or fixed.

At the ripe young age of 25 I found myself a new mother. My whole life I had fought to fit into a mold of some kind, whether religious or emotional or relational or physical, and I felt lost. I had wider hips. Boobs. I was “oddly shaped”: small upper body, skinny legs, tired glutes…. and I really did have boobs. Double D’s, at the time (oh the nursing days…). I felt lost. I didn’t know this body. What was this? What should I do with it?

I started counting calories and running with some light weight lifting again, something I hadn’t really done since highschool. I’d been active, but not religious with food concerns.

Around that time I got an iphone. I got Instagram. I searched “fitness”… and I found a bikini competitor. I was hooked. I saw she was a mom… and I was hooked.

5.5 months later I placed top 2 at my first NPC show and qualified for nationals. I’d followed months of rigorous nutrition plans and workouts and starved and depleted myself down appropriately for peak week. I hadn’t ever been so proud of how I looked.

2 weeks later, with poor coaching and no reverse dieting instructions, I was 22 lbs heavier and absolutely miserable.

So began a long cycle this last few years of “bulking” and “cutting”. So began what I am now examining as a probably unhealthy relationship with food and a certainly unhealthy immersion into a culture that perpetuated insecurities and increasingly severe body dysmorphia.

The bodybuilding culture lives, eats, breathes, and thrives on comparisons. How you look LITERALLY determines your value.

While this culture has been easy on some… it is very, very hard on others.

The focus is always on flaws… not progress. If you’re going to stand onstage next to someone who worked harder or has better genetics in their favor, you have to make up for it somehow. To increase your value… you have to look different.

Spend almost 3 years trying very hard to look different, and it becomes incredibly easy to be supremely self-critical. You spend so much time trying to “fix” your body, that you forget how much it’s already changed or what it’s capable of. You begin to view it as a piece of shit failure with a lot of ground to cover to be “the best”, and you become obsessed with your own flaws.

Everyone is constantly trying to fix themselves. Diet changes, workout tweaks, everything – all grounded on becoming “perfect”.

Nutrition is regimented to the gram… to the nut! I remember my boyfriend saying “seriously… what is one extra almond going to do to you babe” as I religiously counted out my 10 almonds one night.

Take these behaviors out of the sport of bodybuilding: self-criticism of an already athletic and healthy physique, supreme obsession with measuring food, high concern about varying even an iota off plan, and severe self-criticism and abasement… and you have what many would call an eating disorder, an exercise disorder, or at the least… body dysmorphia.

In the beginning, bodybuilding was an amazing test of discipline. Over the last 5 preps, it has instead become a painful way to color my view of my own body… a body that is sexy, strong, and very, very healthy.

Today I attended my first Crossfit class at Free Range Crossfit (http://freerangecrossfit.com/). I was super, super nervous. I kept thinking about how my thighs are still carrying fat from my bulk… I don’t have a six pack right now… my shoulders are still so small. I was worried about skipping a lift day and my body… digressing?

Instead, I had an absolute. Fucking. Blast. By the end, my shirt was off. I wasn’t thinking about extra bodyfat. No one was looking at or critiquing me. I rowed my damn heart out, and I buddy-carried a 150 lb dude back and forth in a parking lot multiple times. I heard “awesome job”, “one more”, “wow, your lungs are strong, dude!” and much more encouragement. Post-WOD, I’m incredibly sore and exhausted, but I didn’t come away and look at the mirror to see if my quads were tapering… or waist was smaller… or triceps more pronounced. I felt strong, powerful, beautiful, and capable.

When I got home, I ate a damn brown rice wrap with turkey and mustard and spinach – at a meal where I normally don’t get carbs. Later, I had egg whites instead of tuna. I had ketchup with it, too. Am I going off-grid, crazy, wild, treating my body like crap? No. But I’m letting go of the obsession.

I’m still meal planning. Still cutting. Still focused on what I need to do to progress. But I’m done hiding things, fixing them… viewing them as defective. I’m done buying into body dysmorphia disguised as a passion for progress.

I applaud everyone still in the industry who finds a balance, who feels great about themselves at every stage. But for me, every day is a greater confirmation that leaving competing was a good thing.I want to grow into a healthier mindset… a greater belief in my own power and less self-criticism. I want to stop worrying about an extra almond or a substitution. I want to change how I see myself. I want to give up the habit of critiquing every flaw. I want to move forward out of a very body dysmorphic culture, and into one that focuses on long-term good and uplifts and encourages me to be and do my very best.

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When to Move On… When it’s Not Giving Up.

I was in an odd frame of mind writing yesterday’s post, fighting with myself to remind myself why I compete, why I’ve been pushing into a new federation with WBFF, why I love it all enough to stick with it.

After a good night’s sleep and a few emails, I’ve come to the wearied conclusion that I’m simply done with it all.

As melodramatic and pained as that sounds, it’s really a relief.

This last 2.5 years of competing has taught me a ton about health, nutrition, exercise science… much, much more than I learned through my certifications with NASM and NCCPT. It’s taught me discipline, drive, and it’s taught me to care about what I put into my body.

Competing in bodybuilding has pushed my limits, and it’s taught me that I can surpass them. It’s taught me that my body is really capable of anything if I work hard enough, long enough, consistently enough.

Competing in bodybuilding has led me to some amazing friendships, relationships, opportunities as an athlete – widened horizons, new goals, new ways of moving and learning and growing. Competing has enlarged the world of fitness for me in some really, really cool ways.

At the same time, competing has taught me that people will do almost anything for fame, recognition, a leg up, perks, an incentive or an edge on someone else. It’s taught me that the bigger an industry gets, the more it grows in popularity, the more political it becomes. The more it’s about who you know, who they know, what you can pay, what shortcuts you’ll take.

Competing has bitterly introduced me to a darker side of humanity I didn’t run into as your average trainer in a gym. A world where people will backstab, gossip, and hurt. Where they will outright lie to preserve face. A world where jealousy, pettiness, anger, and selfish disdain for the feelings of others run rampant like weeds.

There are good things about this industry, and there are bad. Few people who stay in it long-term seem to keep their integrity, and the few who have are running against the odds, and I commend them.

In the past two years I’ve had several instances where I had to challenge what was “politically smart” on my part with my own sense of integrity, empathy, justice, and a strong desire to always stand up for those who won’t stand up for themselves. Every time, it’s gotten me “in trouble”, but every time, in a painful sense, it was worth it. Because I could never live with myself knowing I hadn’t spoken up.

“All that is necessary for evil men to triumph in this world… is for enough good men (and women) to do nothing.”

I refuse to do nothing, I will always do something. No matter the cost, I will always stand up for people  who are being mistreated, misused, hurt, abandoned, or put down. And that’s something about myself that may have slowly edged me out of this industry.

I’ve accomplished a lot, in a short time, for a young mom. I placed 3rd and 2nd in my first two shows, qualifying for nationals, and I worked really hard for and with each coach I’ve had the privilege of learning from. I’ve learned something from each of them, both positive and negative. I’ve come a long way from a skinny-obsessed distance runner counting every calorie with no knowledge of balance or muscle development, and I’m proud to be a constantly developing trainer today. I’m grateful for all the industry has taught me, both hard lessons and happy triumphs.

At this time, I feel I’ve learned what I can without buying into politics and increasing hurt at the hands of people who will sacrifice their integrity for recognition or ego. It’s time to move on, and I’m learning to be okay with that.

I’ve been a distance runner, triathlete, yogi, trainer, bodybuilder, group ex instructor, spin-ner and more. I’m ready to move on. Making the next 11 weeks my carved-out time for cutting bodyfat and then working on maintaining, with balance, and building muscle, slowly and in a healthy way. At the same time, purposing to try new things, like more boxing classes and (GASP!) Crossfit, to stay rounded and challenge myself.

There are no dead-ends in life unless you make them dead-ends. There are only stepping stones into your future.

I am not giving up, I am moving on.

And I’m okay with that.

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Why Competing Can Drive You… or Drive You Crazy

If you polled the average competitor from 18-35 I think you would get a variety of reasons for competing. Some would say it keeps them in shape, some want to see what they’re capable of. Some want to prove others right (or wrong), some want their “body back” after a baby. Some want to live up to the legends, see if they can beat them. Some want it for pure attention, and some want it because they know that it opens doors.

People compete for many different reasons, but at the end of the day, every person will be broken down and built back up by their journey.

I’ve seen relationships broken down and rebuilt. Broken down and abandoned. I’ve seen people cry backstage, post-stage, onstage. I’ve seen girls who got up there and were completely mortified to realize they weren’t ready, men who thought they looked good compared to their buddies, and realized how “small” they were when they lined up with the best of the best.

In the two short years I’ve been in this sport, my whole perspective on fitness has changed. In a way, it has become an obsession, and it’s something I have to watch closely.

The problem is, competing can drive you… or it can drive you crazy.

If you let it, if you control it, it can be an incredible motivator. It can give you discipline, self-control, focus in areas of your life that are outside of simple gym time. It can teach you a lot about your body, science, muscles, nutrition, fuel, metabolism. You can learn a lot.

After the shock of your first show, you will realize that the competition can be stiff, and it only gets harder the further you go. You will realize that you’re both capable of and far from your own high potential.

Competing can drive you to be your personal best, it can open new doors for you and inspire others. It can cut your carbs so low you cry, and push your endorphins so high you feel like you’re flying. I can break you, build you, mend you, make you.

All of the shit from your past life comes out in prep. All of the negative bull shit from your ex, your dad. The culture you grew up in, your self-doubt. All of that shit surfaces when you’re running on empty and have a long way to go. When you’re dehydrated, burnt out, and questioning yourself, you discover (or don’t) a lot more mental stamina than you ever though you would have. Competing can drive you to your best self- emotionally, mentally, physically.

Or, it can drive you crazy.

You will never compare yourself so much to others as you do as a competitor. No matter how far you go, someone has gone further. They’ve worked harder, eaten better, been in the sport longer. No matter how hard you push, someone has better genetics, better coaching, more time on their hands more rest, or drugs to give them a leg up.

You will feel your best, and you will look at your competitors, and you will wonder if you are good enough.

The further you go, the more you are exposed to the industry as a whole, the more you will deal with both the idolatry of the masses and the hatred and derision of the few. The larger the audience, the larger the negativity. The more you will learn that everyone is not your champion, everyone is not your friend. You will learn that the industry is harsh on the smallest of flaws. If you don’t watch out, that comparison, that negativity, that harshness, can control your life.

Religious adherence to meal plans can become an obsession with perfection in every gram. It’s own eating disorder. You may never view food the same as you learn about macronutrients, as you see what the slightest alterations in nutrition can do to your body.

The gym is your friend, and your enemy. You may wonder if one more rep, one more set, 20 more minutes of cardio … if that’s what your competitors are doing.

You will look in the mirror your first show, and you will see the best body of your life… and you will compete, and you may learn to look at the same body as flawed, imperfect, not good enough. You may begin to view yourself as an imperfect sculpture, something you want to break down, constantly, and rebuild, to be just right.

If you are not careful, competing will drive you crazy. It will take the joy out of your workouts and the fun out of food. If you are not careful, your world can become very, very small, and your self-esteem increasingly smaller.

If you are not careful, this industry, competing at large – can break you down into a self-absorbed, self-centered, miserably self-aware, imperfect, flawed, broken person fighting to be in someone else’s body. Fighting for a title or an opinion or approval of everyone. If you are not careful, competing can change your life… for the worse.

But.

IF you choose to look back and remember, if you realize that every single person out there competing is just as self-critical, just as flawed, just as individual, just as unique… if you realize that food is also for enjoyment, and indulge in moderation out of prep… if you recognize that you will compete for a time span but live for a lifetime, you will find joy in beating your best self. You will thrive on a curiosity for the unknown potential of your own physique… you will engage in every moment of competition prep and stage time with a zest for knowing you’ve achieved a discipline and drive many can only dream of. You will find joy in empowering other people to fight for their best self. You will compare yourself to no one but the old you. You will learn that everything has a time and a place, and you will refuse the negativity of others in a quest to find your own self-assurance.

If you control it as you grow as a competitor, you can stay sane in a crazy, perfection-obsessed industry. You can continually one-up your last best time, your last highest weight, your last rep count, your last push. You can expand your world instead of shrinking it as your digital presence grows. You can remember that you’re comparing on a different scale, and lose the burden to constantly fight to be anyone else.

You can look at your own weaknesses, and see them as a project. You can find a way to both accept yourself fully and yet never become static in your journey.

If you choose to take the wheel, you can drive your competing, as well as let it drive you, and it won’t drive you crazy.

You choose.

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Worth a Read: The Brutally Honest 6 Reasons You Are Still Overfat

Read the article HERE: http://strengthcoachtaylor.ca/uncategorized/the-brutally-honest-6-reasons-you-are-still-overfat/

THE BRUTALLY HONEST 6 REASONS YOU ARE STILL OVERFAT

I haven’t written a new blog in quite some time. Why? Because every time I go to write a new blog I realize that I have already written on the topic, most often many years ago. So I just repost that. How does this happen? It happens because there is very little that is new in fitness.

Sure we repackage things and create flashy new tittles for the same old same old. The zone diet has become the paleo diet. Ab workouts became core training, which is becoming functional fitness. Warm-ups became prehabilitation, which is becoming movement training. It’s all the same stuff at the most basic level. When you actually break it all down to individual components you will see that it is all basically the same thing. Except the new versions are making a lot of money for those who are able to get creative and do the repackaging.

When it comes to fat loss (weight loss for all those over 40) things are no different. In fact I would say that the societal drive to ‘lose weight’ and have a skinnier (now leaner and soon to be more muscular) body is probably the absolute worst culprit for this lack of change.

I am told on a fairly regular basis that I am an asshole. It is something I have pretty much become calloused to. I used to wonder if it was something I was doing wrong, so I spent a lot of time trying to understand why some people consider me an asshole with a stick up my ass thinking everyone is out to get me, when in actual fact I have literally dedicated my life to helping other people improve the quality of their lives.

Of all places, an Internet meme summed it all up for me and I suddenly figured it out.see-through-your-bullshit-300x300

My problem is my complete commitment to honesty. I am simply too brutally honest. Add to this the fact that I can see straight through bullshit and it is a recipe for offense. Just ask my lovely wife how annoying this can be!

You see we live in a culture of jazz hands. Put on a smile and tell people what they want to hear. Maybe, just maybe, passive aggressively try and tell someone the truth. But never in a way that could possibly offend anyone.

Fuck. That. Shit.

I don’t live like that and for better or for worse I won’t ever change this. SOMEONE out there has to deliver the truth. Argh.

So this blog is designed for all of you concerned with fat loss and who are in pursuit of a leaner, less fat laden, physique. Be forewarned! This is coming at you in a brutally honest matter and from more than a decade of experienced combined with more certifications and education on the topic than 98% of the population.

The Truth About Why You Are Still Overfat

 

  1. The 2 Minute Rule

In a mere two minutes I can tell you if someone will be successful in their quest for a leaner physique. And two minutes is being safe. It is probably closer to about 30 seconds. And this applies not just to fat loss but also to the rest of your health and fitness goals.

If you blame yourself – success. If you blame everything else – no success. Period.

When I first talk to people I am not listening to the details of their health, fitness, and nutrition. That stuff is pretty irrelevant and I am going to be changing it all anyway. All I want to know is whether a person takes responsibility for themselves or if they blame everything and everyone else.

You haven’t been successful because you made bad decisions. You ordered a pizza on a Tuesday night. You surfed Pinterest for an hour instead of heading to the gym to train. You bought a tub of ice cream to ‘have a treat’ while watching Downton Abbey (confession: I love Downton Abbey).

VS.

My significant other brought home pizza so I had that for supper. I had to respond to my friends third cousins post on Facebook to debunk the anti-vaccination people and that is why I skipped my workout. Everyone brought donuts to work to ‘indulge’ while we sat around and talked about Downton Abbey.

See the difference? I made the decision. THEY all MADE me do it.

You are responsible for yourself. Either take responsibility for your own life and actions or blame everyone else and everything else around. I really don’t give a shit. Honestly. I don’t care. Because I am over here living my own life that isn’t affected by you. And that is why I am successful.

So make a decision. Take care of your own life or sit around bitching how hard everything is and how everything is someone else’s fault.

It’s your life.

  1. You can’t make a sacrifice.

I am seeing this pop up on a lot of blogs in all sorts of areas and I sure hope it sticks.

Who said life was easy?

Who said life was fair?

Let’s release the captive born lion back into the wild and to its natural habitat. That is fair. That is how it is supposed to live. Then the pretty sunset hits the camera with just a touch of lens flare as the newly released lion jogs into the sunset. Fade to black.

The camera isn’t there tomorrow when the lion gets hungry. Or the day after that when a territorial dispute leaves bloody wounds across its back. Or a week later when it is starving because it has never been taught to hunt. And a week after that when it is lying in a field unable to move because it is dying of infection and lack of water and its emaciated body is mere minutes from death. A flock of vultures moving in behind the lion as its ragged breathing finally stops. Fade to black.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate the idea of animals in captivity. But let’s not glamourize what life outside of captivity is really like. Forget the Disney version of fairy tale endings (Cinderella actually had parts of her feet cut off to fit in the slippers), real life is hard, brutal, and not fair.

You have to make sacrifice to stay healthy. Deal with it. You will have to turn down the donuts. Pass over the ice cream. Skip the odd party.

Forever? No. You can add these into a healthy life for sure. Not daily. Maybe not even weekly. 95% of your diet has to be perfectly healthy. That is the reality.

Life isn’t fair. Life is hard. You will get out of it what you put into it.

And when you decide to make real changes, when you make a commitment to yourself to make a difference, YOU HAD BETTER STICK TO IT.

We run challenges a couple times a year to help people make more drastic changes to their lives. Usually ranging in length from 6 to 12 weeks. Most people do really well. Some people don’t.

This blows my fucking mind. It’s 8 weeks. Seriously. You can’t make sacrifices for 8 weeks? And to be fair those who don’t make the length of the program usually are going off track within the first 3 weeks.

Yep. Can’t even do something for 3. Fucking. Weeks. And then have the audacity to complain or be down on themselves because they aren’t getting results! Seriously? WTF. You couldn’t even make 3 weeks of some small life sacrifices to change your health. I don’t feel sorry for you.

I am sure it’s your co-workers fault for bringing in that cake.

  1. You Don’t Know What a Treat Is

Treat /tret/: defn: an event or item that is out of the ordinary and gives great pleasure

You know the part about great pleasure. Chocolate tastes good. Wine goes down smooth. Nachos and wings are delicious. Cookies should be their own food group.

But you missed a part I think.

‘An event or item that is out of the ordinary’

100 years ago you had cake on your birthday and maybe a family member or two. 70 years ago you had a milkshake a few times a year at the drugstore soda fountain. 20 years ago you ordered Chinese food (the nasty deep fried North American version) a couple times a year as a family or at a party.

Today is different. EVERY SINGLE FUCKING DAY you are exposed to ‘treats’. Donuts and chocolate milk on the way home from your kids sporting events. Trays of cookies in the office lounge. Bags of chips in the cupboard.

Every. Single. Day.

That’s without dinners and events every weekend or birthday parties, anniversaries, baby showers, sports events, holidays, and the plethora of celebratory events.

‘Treats’ are something out of the ordinary. If it happens more than once a month it is no longer out of the ordinary. Stop saying treat. You aren’t having a treat.

It comes down to sacrifice and commitment, like we talked about earlier. Come on. You’re a grown ass adult making their own decisions. Don’t delude yourself in an attempt to justify the fact you are fully responsible for the shit you plow into your mouth.

You are just eating shit. And that’s fine. I don’t care. It’s your life. Don’t cry over the blubber hanging over your belt though.

  1. You Are Planning for the End Date Already

When we sell annual memberships at our fitness facility we have a few red flags that pop up. When a potential new member is seemingly more concerned with how long the contract is and how they can get out of the contract that they even have yet to sign, we know the relationship is not going to work out.

If you are already planning the end then what you are doing is not for life. And if you are doing things for your health and fitness that you don’t plan on doing for life then you are destroying your own life.

I see it all the time during challenges. ‘Only 3 more weeks.’ ‘Halfway through!.’

You. Have. Already. Failed.

An end implies cessation of current activities. If your current activities are healthy then by default the cessation of those activities is unhealthy. They are your old habits. You know them, they are the habits and activities (or lack thereof) that got you to this point to begin with.

If the end point is in your sights I am telling you right now that you will not be successful in the long term.

It is awesome to have targets and goals. In fact it is imperative to have targets and goals. But those are simply markers, stepping stones, to the ultimate goals, which should be health and fitness until the day you die.

If you have an end date in mind you are already fucked.

  1. You Want Results Faster Than Your Laziness

Four week bootcamp programs are seemingly still popular. Two week diets! Results in just one week! 10lbs a week in weight loss!!

The claims never stop. They just keep on coming. Everyone wants results fast. They want results now.

Question for you: how long did it take to plump up that body of yours with extra adipose tissue?

One week? Two weeks? Four weeks?

Probably not. It was probably something that caught up with you over time. Months. Years. It is slow and steady and a result of many different factors all working together to plump you up.

It’s the parents of the other kids on the team who bring in donut holes and cookies. It was your coworkers who kept having Friday pizza parties. It was your job that got busy preventing you from doing any exercise.

Just joking. By this point you should know better than that! Seriously.

Those are all a group of compounding factors that led to you being fatter than you want to be.

Yet now you want to change and you think making ONE change (adding exercise) should have RESULTS in 3 WEEKS.

Wtf. Remember earlier when we talked about being a grown ass adult? Take that to heart again.

The same way it went on is how it is going to come off. Through a group of compounding factors over a period of time. You have to change your exercise, your diet, and your lifestyle and you have to expect it to take the SAME amount of time to get back to where you were as it took to get you to where you are.

Period.

Can you get results in 4 weeks? Sure. Will they last for the next 4 years. No. No they won’t.

As long as you are looking at short term fixes with definitive end dates, having a few treats, and blaming everyone else for your current state, you will never be successful.

  1. You Have a Shitty Fucking Attitude

This is the number one thing I believe will have the most effect on your long term health and fitness.

Your attitude.

This is something I rant about a lot. You need to read what I am about to say and really try to understand it.

You need to shut the fuck up about how hard you have it and how hard your life is. Seriously.

There are people who really have it rough. They have no home, no job, they have cancer or diabetes, they have been in terrible accidents and their bodies are broken, and many people have no way out and no hope to make it better.

If you have a house, can walk on two legs, use both your arms, have a job, a family, can go grocery shopping, drive in your car, go out for dinner, exercise, and free time then STFU. If you don’t have to be worried about your young daughters being kidnapped at school by boko haram and sold into slavery and you don’t have to worry about ebola decimating your entire community and everyone you love, then STFU.

The vast majority of people reading this will be North American middle class and above. You are among the luckiest of all humans on earth.

And you go around bitching and moaning about how hard you have it. About how hard it is to not eat cookies while you watch TV. About how hard it is to motivate yourself to go workout after a day at work. About having to eat pizza and wings at a Superbowl party.

You’re stressed because you have a little blubber hanging over your belt? Almost 1 billion humans suffer from malnutrition and chronic malnourishment.

You are so lucky. You don’t even know.

Why do I write about all of this in a fat loss fitness article?

It is because your attitude will determine your success. And your attitude is based on your life and the issues you deal with. And I want you to take a minute to put into perspective the majority of your problems and issues.

It’s too hard to exercise. Think about accident victims who are now confined to a wheelchair and would give anything JUST TO TAKE A SINGLE STEP.

You’re just too tired to exercise. Think about people living in fear for their lives of another missile attack or rape gang visiting their village.

Everyone else makes it so hard on you bringing bad food around. Think about all the children who are without parents because their parents are dead from preventable disease that could have been corrected with a healthy diet.

It’s everyone else’s fault. No. It’s. Not.

It is your life, your decisions. Your life is what you make your life to be. Period. Your attitude WILL determine your success in both your health and your life.

It is either a cold miserable winter day or a chance to learn to cross country ski. It is either a boring meal of roast and vegetables or a gift to spend time with loved ones over a bounty of food many people would literally kill for. It is either a workout you have to do or a celebration of the amazing gift your healthy body is.

Conclusions

Your life is yours to live. Be reasonable, responsible, and realistic.

What I have written is all true. It is the brutally honest truth that people aren’t telling you. I have coached hundreds of people over the last 13 years and I can tell you that each one of these 6 honest truth’s work. Every. Single. Time.

Take each of these 6 truth’s to heart. Live them. Mold your lives around them. And you will achieve every single health and fitness goal you have ever had.

-Coach Taylor

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SUPPLEMENTS: What You Need… and What’s Just Robbing You.

The “supps” craze is sweeping the nation. Everyone is selling them, creating them, marketing them, hiring athletes to support and try them. We’re the test-bunny generation for an exorbitant amount of synthetics, additives, good and bad.

We are the product guinea pigs of the fitness industry.

If you’ve been online or anywhere near a GNC, you’ve probably seen the insane range of things you’re being told you “need” to reach your “goals”. Or maybe a coach has pushed products at some point, suggested supplements… or suggested nothing and you’re not sure WHAT you need.

Here’s the low-down on a decently comprehensive list of What You Need, and What’s Just Robbing You.

Supplements: 

What You Need

Glutamine: 

Anyone under any kind of stress can benefit from increased amounts of glutamine. It is primarily used to ensure optimal performance in the small intestine, however it is also found in muscles, skin, and organs such as the kidneys and the liver. Because stress inside the body usually results from an injury to the skin or muscles, or internal distress, these situations mean an increased need for glutamine. Keep in mind that resistance training creates small tears in the muscles, and we know that after training, glutamine levels in the body are reduced. Supplementing with glutamine is a good call for anyone engaged in high intensity strength or cardiovascular training.

Multivitamin: 

Unfortunately, highly processed foods in this day and age mean we don’t get the amounts of nutrients we used to from organic compounds. EVERYONE should be supplementing with a basic multivitamin to support a healthy heart, healthy skin and hair and nails, recovery and other essential benefits. .

BCAAs:

As a working athlete, you’re probably also concerned with the rate of protein synthesis taking place in your body. Since new muscle mass can only be built when protein synthesis takes course and old tissue is repaired while new tissue is built up, the faster this process progresses, the quicker you will see results. Essential aminos are a part of this process, and cannot be absorbed from food or produced as extensively as desired by the body. Supplementing with branched chain amino acids will help you recover and build faster and more efficiently. Aminos are also essential to a healthy immune system.

Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin D3:

Check your multivitamin and the recommendations for your age and gender to see if they provide enough of these essential vitamins. Many do not. If possible, supplement accordingly.

Fish Oil:

This supplement helps support bone density, mood, and healthy cholesterol levels. Adding 3-6 grams of fish oil a day can help promote healthy ratios of HDL to LDL, as well as healthy levels of triacylglycerol concentrations in the body when they are already in healthy range.

Protein: a good protein source has few synthetics and additives, contains at LEAST 25g protein, and is low in sugar. You need protein powder for fast absorption post-workout. Invest in a good one, but don’t go too crazy.

What’s Just Robbing You

YOU DO NOT NEED THE EXPENSIVE, BRAND-NAME VERSION OF COMMON VITAMINS AND MINERALS. i.e. fish oil, vitamin e, multivitamins, and things along those lines: the common, basic wal-mart or vitamin store brand will do JUST FINE. 

The same thing goes for expensive fat burners (mostly just caffeine and sweetener), wildly pricey proteins, and other random supplement hybrids that have no clear benefit or market research. Avoid them.

The In-Between 

There’s only a few things I think fall into this category: pre-workouts and fat burners and creatine. SOME people benefit from these, some do not.

Most pre-workouts and fat burners are full of sucralose and additives, and are driven by caffeine. Everyone is sensitive in different ways to caffeine and niacin. If you really need a pre-workout boost (I just use coffee) or feel the need to “try” a fat burner, make sure you follow directions carefully and get a few samples until you know what you like and what your body can handle.

Two common ingredients in pre and fat burners and the need-to-know about these ingredients: 

Carnosyn (Beta Alanine)

Carnosyn is the brand name of an ingredient called Beta Alanine. Beta Alanine is an amino acid (non-essential) already found in our bodies. In the muscles, it forms a bond with another amino acid called histidine to form muscular Carnosine. The Carnosine works to fight off the molecules produced in the muscles that usually lead to fatigue and eventually failure. By increasing the amount of carnosine in the muscles, we increase their endurance, as well as speed up recovery. When the beta alanine binds with the nerves under the surface of our skin, they begin to fire at a faster rate which produces the tingling effect.

Niacin (a.k.a. Vitamin B3, Niacinamide)

The B-Vitamin complex in our bodies primary function is correlated with digesting the food we consume. By doing so, they are the major players in our bodies production of energy. The sensation that we feel due to a high dose of Niacin is known as a “flush”. This flush arises from the Niacin in our body causing small blood vessels to open up, especially near the surface of the skin.

On to Creatine: 

The jury is really still out on creatine, and there’s a few types. If you’re looking for a “pump” without a lot of water retention, try a monohydrate creatine. What is creatine? Creatine is known as a physiological sports ergogenic – something that can be found in small amounts in animal foods and which the liver and kidneys can generate from amino acids. Much of the creatine we “want” to “grow” is destroyed when we cook our food. According to SOME research, creatine helps to support protein synthesis, which helps muscles grow, but everyone has different results and reviews. If you do use creatine, use it following the product label and monitor your progress closely.

Biotin, milk thistle, L-carnatine, and a few others may be commonly listed in athlete plans but depend entirely on what you want to spend and are willing to invest in. Major benefits of each are not fully supported, or at least vary by individual.

Anything else you want to invest in is up to you, but do your research. Make sure that people haven’t mentioned health issues or side effects in reviews: talk to athletes you trust. Don’t go for a brand name because they’re big, make sure what they’re selling is effective.

I hope these facts help you decide what to put in your pocket, and what to leave on the shelf.

For more questions and info, email sportyspicefit@gmail.com or DM on instagram @sportyspicefit!

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The 5 Biggest Mistakes Competitors Make When Hiring A Coach

The 5 Biggest Mistakes Competitors Make When Hiring A Coach

and how to make sure they don’t happen to you!

It might be your first show, it might be your 10th. Either way, you’ve decided you need some guidance… you need a coach. So how do you choose a good coach? How do you make the best team affiliation decision? Without getting into the politics of NPC right now when it comes to teams, here are the 5 biggest mistakes competitors make when hiring a coach, and how to make sure they don’t happen to you! 

(P.S. IF YOU HAVE A SHORT ATTENTION SPAN OR JUST DON’T LIKE WORDY FEMALES, SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS ARTICLE FOR 10 SIMPLE QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN CHOOSING A COACH!)

  1. THEY CHOOSE A COACH BY TEAM SIZE AND INDUSTRY RECOGNITION

I made this mistake myself. Just because a team or coach comes up in your newsfeed 24×7 – just because they have brand affiliations or a lot of team members – doesn’t mean they’re the best choice for you.

Team size doesn’t indicate a track record of success. A gifted marketer and business strategist can grow a team, but that doesn’t mean they can grow a good team.

Big teams have a major downside, just like small ones: they often lose the ability to work closely and carefully with competitors throughout their journey, both on and off-season. Communication is limited by the sheer enormity of questions they field on a daily basis. As a result, the care of each individual team member is often compromised, and so are their results… coaches start dishing out cookie-cutter plans because they don’t have the time to customize plans… which is what you’re paying for!

Instead of looking for team size and industry recognition, ask these questions:

  • Are the competitors happy with the coaching? (talk to some of the team members and find out if they’re happy… go with the ones who haven’t placed to get a better idea of what the experience really looks like)
  • How do the competitors on the team look?
  • How many have turned pro?
  • What is the average time it takes for their girls/guys to go pro?
  • What is the average response time for the coach to get back to team members on questions? Do they hear back at all?

Don’t make the mistake I did! Choose a coach that can work intimately with you, monitor your progress, and target your weaknesses so you bring the best package to the stage.

  1. THEY CHOOSE A COACH BECAUSE THEY LOOK GOOD

While I have a definite disregard for the credibility of coaches who don’t take care of themselves, it is equally foolish to choose a coach simply because they’re attractive or a published fitness model.

What you need is more than outward. You need a coach who has:

  • Several years of industry experience
  • A history of integrity and credibility
  • Nationally recognized certifications (never, ever go with a coach who is not certified in any way through sports medicine, NASM, NCCPT, ACE, AFA… anyone you hire should have technical, certified experience of some kind!)
  • A nutrition certification or experience (do they make it up on the fly, or give you the exact same diet as every other competitor??)

These are key attributes of a successful and knowledgeable coach who will help you sculpt your body effectively.

  1. THEY CHOOSE A COACH BY COST

Coaches aren’t like brand name clothing. I’ve seen cheap coaches and expensive coaches that vary WIDELY in experience and skill. Don’t use the cost of training as an indicator for how good they might be… these aren’t Gucci bags we’re talking about here! Coaches set costs themselves, which means that the standard varies.

That being said, don’t pay exorbitant amounts of money without doing your research. Try the following questions on for size:

  • What is the average cost for a qualified coach with experience? (do some comparisons online or ask someone you know who competes)
  • What incentives does the coach offer that could justify what they’re charging?
  • Can they follow through on those incentives? Have they with their current team members?

If the amount seems over the top, ask questions of the coach directly to determine why they feel they can charge more than anyone else.

  1. THEY CHOOSE A COACH BECAUSE THEY OFFER SHINY INCENTIVES

Speaking of incentives… never use them as a reason to sign with a coach! Here’s a great example:

The team I used to be affiliated with works closely with a large supplement company. This supplement company signed the team as a whole for sponsorships and ambassadorship. Girls get a small percentage of sales as a result for pushing the product.

After signing, the coach pushed the products on the team members, knowing they get a large cut from the supplement company when girls buy and sell the products.

Within weeks, girls who had purchased the products and used them complained of lancing stomach pain, headaches, nausea, digestive problems… but the coach kept right on pushing them and completely ignored the fact that the products seemed to be hurting their team members and most likely the people their team members were selling to.

Just because a team offers you a supplement affiliation or a magazine spread or the chance at a sponsorship doesn’t mean it’s a good sponsorship, a good affiliation, or that it will in any way help you on your journey to kick ass on stage. Never use shiny incentives as a reason to work with a coach. You need more than that to succeed.

  1. THEY CHOOSE A COACH BECAUSE THE COACH WENT PRO

Possibly my biggest pet peeve with how people choose a coach! Just because someone went pro, or even worse because they placed in their NPC competition – (maybe fourth or fifth but hey, they placed right? Aren’t they qualified now to train everyone else?) – doesn’t mean they’re the right choice for you!

DON’T choose a coach because they were a one-hit wonder. Just because they did well doesn’t mean they know ANYTHING about helping other people do well!

All that means is they either had a good coach, good genetics, or lucked out. They might know how to work hard, but that means nothing when it comes to their ability to craft your workouts and nutrition.

Choosing a coach simply because they placed in a competition is like hiring a mechanic because he drives a nice car…. Just because he has a fancy ride, doesn’t mean he won’t f*ck up yours.

So now you know what NOT to do. Where do we go from here? How do you choose a coach? How do you avoid the 5 biggest mistakes competitors make when choosing a coach?

I’ve put together a handy little questionnaire to use when you’re deciding on a team affiliation or a coach/trainer to direct you on your journey. Here are 10 questions to ask when choosing a coach!

10 Questions To Ask When Choosing a Coach

  1. Are their competitors happy? Talk to current and old team members to find out if the competitors are getting what they paid for. Also, on a minor note… how are their team members? Positive, hard-working, uplifting? Or catty, bitchy, and backstabbing? Attitude is reflective of leadership!
  2. How do their competitors look? Take a careful look at proportion and show-day bodies, but ALSO TAKE A LOOK AT OFF-SEASON! A good coach is just as present in your off-season as they are in your 12-16 weeks out from show.
  3. How many of their team have turned pro? A good coach has a track record of success in turning competitors pro, or at least some top 3 placings under their belt. If what they’re doing with their current team isn’t working, it sure as hell won’t work for you.
  4. What is the average “handling time” on questions? This should come up when discussing the team with current team members. Does the team hear back from the coach? How long does it take? You don’t want a coach who will leave you hanging on vital questions and concerns.
  5. What affiliations and incentives do they offer? Find out if they follow through on offered incentives, and do your research on any supplement or brand affiliations to make sure the products are good and something you’re willing to tie your own name to!
  6. How often do they update or change your plans? With my last team, my plans never changed. Guess what happens when you never change your workouts? You plateau! Your body gets used to the workouts and you max out effectiveness by hitting a wall. A good coach changes plans every 4-6 weeks to promote muscle confusion. If your coach doesn’t change your plans… you need a new coach. 
  7. Do they offer refeeds? We will get into this more in later posts, but NO COACH SHOULD RESTRICT YOU TO DEPRIVATION FOR THE ENTIRE 12-16 WEEKS OF PREP. Ask the coach if they carb cycle their competitors and if they do a reefed day. Even the pros and Olympians do refeeds! If they don’t, you can bet they don’t know enough about nutrition to be responsible for yours.
  8. How much cardio do their clients do? This, like the following question you’ll see, is a bit of a trick question. No client should have to do more than an hour of cardio a day during prep. Even an hour is pretty excessive if you’re far out from a show. If their competitors are doing more than that weeks and weeks from show, they’re not cutting them down correctly, and the competitor is going to rebound severely post-show.
  9. What should you weigh in at for your show? This is a trick question. NO COACH SHOULD HAVE A SPECIFIC WEIGHT GOAL FOR YOU. The goal will be bodyfat-driven. Even the most psychic of coaches can’t tell you what you’ll come in at show-day. They should be more focused on muscle density and body-fat loss. A coach that gives you a specific weight goal from the start is probably going to compromise your metabolism.
  10. Do they have:
    1. Several years of industry experience
    2. A history of integrity and credibility
    3. A nationally-recognized certification
    4. Nutrition experience/certification

My hope is that this post and these questions will help you avoid the 5 biggest mistakes competitors make when choosing a coach, and that your choice will propel you forward into success and long-term health!

For more questions, email sportyspicefit@gmail.com.

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Complete Nutrition Product Reviews #1

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Over a month ago two burly young dudes walked into my YMCA and introduced themselves, repping the Complete Nutrition brand. I liked them and I was interested in their product description… we started discussing bodybuilding, and they told me I should come into the store to meet their owners, Morgan and Tyler, to learn more about who they were and possibly discuss an affiliation of some kind.

Being the curious cat that I am, I did. I popped over right after my workout: a sweaty, nasty, makeup-less mess eager to learn more.

I LOVED them. Here were my first impressions, off the bat:

1. Clean, organized, uncluttered store
2. Friendly, KNOWLEDGEABLE (they hire PERSONAL TRAINERS), outgoing, open, honest (with GENUINE CARE for the customer) staff
3. Fitness-savvy/well-rounded: aware of various industries and goals with expertise to address a variety of “niches”
4. Integrity: the brand has a clean, open, in-house tested approach to supps, with no push to upsell and a deep passion for customer loyalty
5. Ambitious…they’re going places. I love watching heart win over financial gain. The fact that they care about the organic integrity of their products and their effectiveness, provide free fitness consultations and input/training plans/nutrition advice to customers, and take the time to reach out and build a relationship with you speaks volumes for their future.

I was pretty thrilled to get a chance at a supplement goody bag!

Today I tried the Mixed Berry Blitzz pre-workout: amazeballs. Here’s why:
1. no weird asparthame aftertaste
2. the first pre that didn’t make me nauseous or jittery
3. the first pre that didnt make me act like a rabid squirrel
4. the first pre to give me a nice boost without the aftermath crash
5. best tasting mix i’ve ever added to my water.

#BOOM.

After legday I tried the Vanilla Whey Iso: Gluten free!

Again, blow my mind (and I’ve gotten free products before, which I didn’t feel like raving about)

SO good! Very angel-food-cake, and knowing that they’ve tested it made it that much more reassuring when it comes to effective muscle repair and building. An hour later, no stomach pain, which means it really is a pure Whey Isolate.

I’m really excited to continue trying these products, and no matter what happens in future, this girl is going to be a Blitzz addict from now on!

http://www.completenutrition.com/

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