Orthorexia, the socially acceptable eating disorder?

The fitness industry has become increasingly popular with social media tools like Instagram. Anyone can now connect with like-minded people anywhere in the world. Creating a tight knit community. As competing and bodybuilding become more popular, so is the social acceptance of dieting.

Anyone who has competed, or has any education in nutrition, knows that a “prep-diet” is not healthy. Let’s even forget prep for hot minute. If we even look at the plethora of fit tummy teas and smoothie bowls on the internet. We have created a community in which people are praised for their will power. Their ability to strictly restrict calories, turn down reward, and only eat the “heathiest” and “best” foods that society has to offer. This creates an outlet for people already prone to food issues. Because what was once considered negative behavior is now praised and rewarded.

I can personally attest that I have struggled with disordered eating for most of my life. And while working out can definitely teach you to appreciate food as a tool, there comes a point where you start obsessing about macros. Fats, carbs, protein cals. How many hours has it been since your last meal? Did you hit all your macros? Or worst, did you go over? And if you overdid carbs do you now need to do extra cardio? A second lift? It can be an anxiety ridden thought process that become obsessive.

The phenomenon of orthorexia is relatively new. It is characterized by an excessive preoccupation with eating supposedly healthy food. The term was introduced in 1997 by

Dr. Bratman, (M.D). He suggested that some people’s dietary restrictions intended to promote healthy lifestyles paradoxically lead to unhealthy consequences. This can result in social isolation (can’t go out guys, I’m on prep…), anxiety (macro obsession) and even the loss of the ability to eat in a natural, intuitive manner, such as listening to your hunger. I can not tell you the amount of times I would lie awake at night unable to sleep because of hunger pain. Or when you’re light headed and foggy, from strict low carb/cal diets, and someone offered you some sugar to spike your insulin. And of course, you protest. Severe cases or orthorexia result in malnutrition, or worst. I know a number of competitors or “fitness chicks” who have complained of hair loss, brittle nails, low iron, hormone issues…

It is not uncommon to come across women who share their stories of eating disorder turned fitness lover/bodybuilder. But is this a 180 lifestyle change, or just displaced anxiety in a socially acceptable manner? Do not get me wrong, I am by no means bashing dieting for a show. No one ever claimed body building is healthy (and if they are, they’re in denial). I have done it many times, and it was no walk in the part. A lot of sacrifice goes into competing. But it is also short term. Any coach who has you eating and living this way for extended periods of time does not have your best interest in mind.

The intent of this post is geared towards the average girl (or guy) who is an innocent bystander on social media, admiring these physiques and thinking that this is how they should be eating and living. Instagram is also a highlight reel. You are only seeing what people want you to see, and not what goes on behind closed doors. It is also my duty to society, or due diligence per say, to anyone out there who may find themselves in this trap. Even having distanced myself from the bodybuilding community (or at least competitively), I still find myself obsessing over everything I put into my body. The thought of going out for a meal or having a few drinks still gives me anxiety. Because I have no clue what I am putting into my body. The thought of eating something “bad” and not having some kind of guilt after is still something I am working on. And I continuously hold myself the standard or physique I know I’m capable of. As you also assume everyone else holds you to that standard as well. We all hear stories of how a woman “let herself go” after a show… or had a “sloppy” offseason. Which is far more common to hear about women than it is about men sadly.  Not because men don’t also put on weight. But because, for some reason, men increase in value with the addition of size (see how much size he’s put on? Dude, you’re huge), while women are expected to forever have a small waist, but still be thick in the right places? This is why I believe it is important to be able to self-identify our own issues, and motives.  You do you, for you.

 

Size versus strength and which is right for you

There are lot of reasons a person may choose to workout. For some it’s aesthetics, others it’s strength, and it can even be about mental health (among a bazillion other reasons).  Today, is not one of those warm, and fuzzy feelings post though. If we are looking at strength, the basic principle is about increasing force production. Aesthetics, usually equated with size (for the purpose of this post), is more about getting a “pump” and creating micro-tears to the muscle, which then causes it to repair and grow larger.  Strength is more about muscle recruitment.

It’s safe to say, based on current knowledge of anatomy and physiology, when training for strength it is best to keep the rep range low and the resistance load should be high. Also, true low-rep strength work is primarily neuromuscular. Meaning, it has a significant impact of your Central Nervous System (CNS). If you were to think of your body as computer/smartphone etc, strength training is more comparable to upgrading your software (IOS update anyone?), compared to the actual hardware (Iphone x). In other words, strength training is about teaching your CNS how to recruit more muscle, opposed to having larger muscles available for use. Sorry, my tech nerdiness is showing.

So, hopefully now that you understand strength a little more, let’s talk about hypertrophy. Unlike strength training, the goal of training for size is more physiological than it is neurological.  I’m talking bones, joints, ligaments, and those sexy, sexy muscles. You literally build your body (how cool is that)? This actually forces the tissues to develop and grow stronger. So, in this scenario the strength comes from an actual increase in mass opposed to recruitment.

So the next important thing to ask here, is which is more important? Hazahh… it’s a trick question! The answer is neither. It is all in fact, dependent on your goals. For physique athletes, like any other type of athlete, you can undoubtedly benefit from increased motor unit recruitment (strength training).  Since all types of training can have neurological benefits. However, if your training goal is to create maximum structural change, it is best to spend the predominant amount of training time in the hypertrophy range of 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps, which has historically been shown to be more directed at stimulating muscle growth

While it seems so simple. This is often a point of confusing for both new, and experience lifters. I fully admit, that at one point myself, I assumed the heavier I could lift, the bigger I would get. We have all seen that huge guy squatting every plate in the gym, benching with chains, and power curling. However, this is a fallacy (what a cruel joke). Bodybuilding is not about becoming a “weightlifter ” (Power, Olympic, or otherwise). It’s about using weights as a tool to recruit and increase your muscle size. So, while it is a great feat to impress (or scare off) women in the gym, it will not get you the “gainzzzz” you seek. And here is a little secret for the ego lifters out there. No one else in your gym cares how much you lift! Crazy, I know! But they are too busy looking at themselves than to care about you 😉

Ok. So now that we know a little more about how to, and how not to, become a bodybuilder. Let’s talk about actual weightlifting (the competitive kind). When you go “too heavy”, here’s what happens. You actually reduce the time under tension, because you’re forced to use momentum to move more weight (think bouncing the bar off your chest). Momentum does not build muscle. You’re also unable to lower the weight in a slow, controlled manner, further reducing your time under tension. Again, think when a powerlifter quickly descends, squatting into the whole and quickly driving back up. It’s about achieving that overall total.  You’re less focused on the muscles being worked (in fact, you’re recruiting a whole bunch of other stuff too) because your focus is to move the most weight. The basic take home is that you utilize more muscles, which reduces the accumulated “pump” in specific muscle group (squat = legs, bench= chest, deadlift=back etc. etc. etc.).  There is nothing wrong with this style of lifting either. In fact, it’s smart. If your overall goal is to move the MOST weight, then it’s the right way to go about. It’s all about the using the best means to an end.

It is also noteworthy, that if your goal is overall size, there is a time and a place for strength training. Increasing your overall strength can then be applied to volume down the road in future training. Conversely, occasional “spot training” or “accessory lifts” can be used to engage lagging parts. And in weightlifting, the sum truly is greater than the sum of the parts. But by bringing up your triceps, you can in turn increase your overall bench. Score! Cause common, who doesn’t want that, amiright?!

 

Happy lifting,

JP xox

Collagen, and why you should add it to your diet

I recently came across a post from a fellow meathead, who also happens to be a writer and podcast host.  As she always produces fantastic content, I thought I might dig a little deeper myself. Collagen, and not the kind you inject, has been on my radar for a while. From its protein content, to its beauty benefits it seems like it a miracle peptide. I recently purchased a moisturizer, from my absolute favorite beauty brand, that claims to be a shot of protein for the face. Like a dietary additive for your skin care routine. So Should we be looking more into collagen opposed to traditional whey (as dairy sensitivities seem to be increasing), and what makes it superior? So here is what I found;

 

If you do any amount of reading in terms of nutritional absorption, you’ve probably heard about “Leaky gut”, or increased intestinal permeability. This occurs when the gateways of the small intestine that prevent unauthorized particles from entering the bloodstream become weakened or damaged due to food sensitivities (wheat, dairy anyone?), toxic agents, chemicals, age, or other conditions. We want these tight junctions running at full capacity to avoid complications with autoimmune disorders, hormone imbalances, digestive problems, and to just protect general well-being. Collagen contains glutamine and glycine, two amino acids known to actually repair the gut wall and to help turn leaky gut around. Collagen can also protect the mucosal lining of the digestive system, which plays a huge role in absorption and complete digestion. So, this can help ensure your body is actually absorbing and using those expensive organic veggies and supplements you’re already consuming.

 

Our hair, skin, and nails are a reflection of what’s going on inside of our body. Ever notice after a weekend of drinking you break out? Or for me, one ice cream cone and my skin is an absolute mess. Amino acids like those found in collagen can be nourishing for hair and skin because it renews cells and provides more lubrication and elasticity. We’re taking, plum, bright, clear skin. It can also help to reduce signs of aging on the skin, including wrinkles and fine lines. Collagen is also beneficial for those experiencing hair loss, so for whispy blondes like me, who have been processing their hair for, ohh.. I dunno, over a decade. There is hope.

Pro tip! Do you love coffee? Well, add collagen to it! It dissolves easily and can be purchased in a flavorless powder. While coffee has some liver-boosting benefits of its own (as if I even needed an excuse to drink more coffee), collagen can also be an extremely useful support in helping to bolster the body’s main detox organ. The liver filters the blood, removes toxins and chemicals, and prepares them to be eliminated from the body via the bowels and the bladder. Collagen supports the liver because it is rich in amino acids, especially glycine. Glycine can protect the liver against damage, which is essential for an organ that handles such a high volume of toxic substances.

If you live an active lifestyle, or even just as we age. We experience aches and joint pain. But powerlifters, body builders, and runners know this pain all too well. Collagen can actually help to reverse these aches and pains, even those associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Lastly, and aside from beautiful hair and baby fresh skin, the most important factor to me, a boost in collagen may help increase your metabolism! By adding lean muscle mass to your frame and helping with the conversion of essential nutrients. One of glycine’s most important roles is helping form muscle tissue by converting glucose into energy that feeds muscle cells. And the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn just by being your sexy self. When consuming collagen, you can benefit from also consuming Vitamin C to ensure your body can convert the collagen into a useable protein.

In addition. Research shows glycine also has important roles in both functions of the digestive and central nervous systems. Glycine seems to help slow the effects of aging by improving the body’s use of antioxidants and is also used in the process of constructing healthy cells from DNA and RNA. And lastly, it’s been found that arginine boosts the body’s ability to make protein from other amino acids, which is important for repairing muscle tissue and boosting the metabolism.  Bonus! So why not get more out of your protein (and save on your trips to Sephora).

 

Ginger bells

With the holidays fast approaching, and massive thanksgiving dinners behind us, I’m sure diet is on a lot of peoples’ minds. I admittedly and writing this, while quite uncomfortably full of fries (cringe). I am sure you’ve all hear the saying “You can’t out train a bad diet”. And in a large part, it is true. Weather it’s weight loss, muscle gain, or re-composition, nutrition plays a huge role in your progress. Diet is more than just macros though. Yes, as previously mentioned, carbs are carbs, and fats are fats. So, brownies versus brown rice? Who cares?! Pass the cake!

Well, gut health is an increasingly popular topic in terms of diet and nutrients. If you aren’t able to properly absorb your food are you getting the full advantage of that green smoothie? I recently had the opportunity to connect with Genuine Health and try their new “Fermented Gut Superfoods+”. I opted for the Orange Ginger flavor, as I have been feeling a little under the weather, and straight up love anything ginger.

This bad boy is packed with an organic fermented superfood blend of organic spirulina, organic cabbage, organic cauliflower, organic spinach, organic black currant, organic raspberry, organic mulberry, organic broccoli, organic carrot, organic beet, organic grape, organic kale, organic sea buckthorn, organic pomegranate, organic sweet potato, organic apricot, organic bitter melon, organic ginger, organic cinnamon, and organic clove. Because fermentation amplifies nutrition, by boosting nutritional quality and intensifying the strength of phytonutrients, it can improve digestion and can help to encourage a healthy gut microbiome. In addition, Genuine Health adds organic isomalto-oligosaccharides (VitaFiber™ fermented prebiotic fibre), Organic orange flavour, Organic beet juice, Organic orange, Organic fermented cocoa bean, Organic ginger extract, annnnnnnnd Organic stevia leaf extract (for sweetness). It is important to note, that fermented fiber that is easy to tolerate, so you get all of the benefits of a prebiotic fiber and none of the bloating (because no one wants to feel, or look, like a beached whale).

I realized that is a lot to take in, and again, why should you care? Being the benevolent human being I am, let me break down some of the benefits for you. Diligent readers (do those exist?) will know about the benefits of fiber. But let’s talk more about that long list of what sounds like the ingredients of an elaborate health smoothie at whole foods.

Spirulina is a natural algae powder. This is what tend to give that swamp water look and smell of some green drinks. But it doesn’t have to when done right, I swear! I is is incredibly high in protein and a good source of antioxidants, B-vitamins and other nutrients. It is largely made up of protein and essential amino acids. The high concentration of protein is ideal anytime the immune system needs a boost Cold season anyone?). Spurlina is considered a complete source of high-quality protein and is often compared to eggs for the amount of protein per gram. Spurlina is also incredibly high in Vitamin B1, which is necessary for the digestion of fats and proteins. It is often taken for increased energy, eye health, brain function and for improving nerve functioning. And to pack another punch, Spurlina is one of the best plant sources of iron. Even for those who consume meat, it has a highly absorbable form of iron that is gentle on the digestive system, and has over 26 times the calcium in milk.

Ok. How about cabbage? Sounds gross, I know. You’re probably thinking of some terrible soviet stereotype. But, did you know that cabbage was one of two vegetable types (the other type was root vegetables) found to be a mainstay for prevention of type 2 diabetes in a recent study of over 57,000 adults in the country of Denmark? In this very large-scale study, adults who closely followed the Healthy Nordik Food Index were found to have the lowest incidence of type 2 diabetes. Researchers have now identified nearly 20 different flavonoids and 15 different phenols in cabbage, all of which have demonstrated antioxidant activity. This is one key reason why an increasing number of studies link cabbage intake to decreased risk of several cardiovascular diseases. Pretty great, right? To top that off, cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin C and vitamin B6. It is also a very good source of manganese, dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin B1, folate and copper. Additionally, cabbage is a good source of choline, phosphorus, vitamin B2, magnesium, calcium, selenium, iron, pantothenic acid, protein and niacin!

Ok, next let’s dive into something a little more obscure than your standard spinach and kale. Black Currant. These richly dark berries are packed with Vitamin C. That’s probably no surprise, as most berries tend to be. And as a rule of thumb, the darker the colour, the richer the nutrients. And these and boys are so dark, they’re called black…  Black currant is also packed with an electrolyte, potassium. Which is responsible for regulating your heart’s electrical activity and keeping the acid-base balance in check. It is also needed for smooth muscle contraction, so it is essential for healthy digestion and good muscle function.  Seems pretty important to me. I addition, and particular important to our friends of the vegan/vegetarian inclination, is iron. As someone who has been off and on (mostly on) deficient my entirely life. I know how important iron is. This mineral that is found throughout your entire body, iron is needed to make your blood cells. It also helps produce oxygen-bearing proteins (hemoglobin and myoglobin), and forms many parts of various proteins throughout your body.

Ok… I said I was benevolent, but I am no saint. SO, this is all you get from me today! Hopefully you feel a little more enlightened, and if not, you now have some  “fun facts” to impresses your dates, coworkers, or family members over the holidays.

 

Cheers betches,

JP xox

 

Feels and fats

My entire life I have claimed to lack creativity. But in all honesty, it was never a lack of ideas, so much as insecurity. Fear that people would think my ideas were stupid, or worst, that I was stupid. Often, like the psychological concept of self-sabotaging, or defeating behavior, you can’t fail if you don’t try. The same goes for writing. While I was always told in university I was a great writer, it was more the thesis that concerned me. What if people don’t like my ideas, what if I cannot support my ideas, or what if they’re just plain pedantic and dull? So, what If? And what does this have to do with this blog?

At the end of the day, I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. We will likely never meet, and if you’re reading this blog, something has at least peaked your interest. And, chances are if there is something going on in my life, or something that has spiked my curiosity, then it is also likely that somewhere out there, someone else is pondering the same thing.  I told myself the reason that I don’t write as often as I would like to, is because I lacked inspiration, but in honestly, it was confidence. But if one person stumbles on this blog, and somehow learns something to inspire their own curiosity, then I have accomplished my goal.

So, with that being said. On to the real reason you are here, the information. I have often discussed my dietary habits in the past. And I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who was coming of competing a number of shows this year, as well as about a bikini client of his. The general consensus was that all of our bodies seemed to perform better on fats. Remained leaner, felt fuller, and looked overall best. You can call it keto, paleo, Atkins.. There are a variety of diets out there that focus on low carb, and moderate to high fat diets. And while you can perhaps categorize all these diets as “fad diets”, the idea of a reduced carbs does not seem to be going away.

For more diligent readers, I have covered inflammation, and its association with wheat and grains before. Which is a central part of the paleo theory. But what if we are only concerned with aesthetics? So, muscle building, and or weight loss.

In your body, glucose (aka sugar) is used as your primary source of energy. Fats are much more difficult to break down (which is why they keep you feeling fuller longer), and are therefore stored when not needed. Much like anything in life, our bodies take the path of least resistance. Typically, on a normal, higher carbohydrate diet, the body will use glucose as the main form of energy.

In order to switch up our metabolic processes, by taking away carbs (primary source of glucose) our bodies are forces to rely on available fats and stored fats for energy. This results in the body burning ketones as the primary energy source. I.e., the Keto diet.

Most people tend to only focus only on net carbs. Net carbs differ from your general carb count, only in that it is the amount of carbs minus the fiber content and sugar alcohols. Under the idea that the fiber will negate the insulin spike. However, the general census for any of these types of diets is to limit both. For those who hate doing math and research, as a general guideline, try to stay below 20g net carbs and below 35g total carbs per day.

It may seem counter intuitive Especially to anyone looking to bbuild muscle or lose weight, to restrict your protein intake. However, too much protein can lead to lower levels of ketosis. To maximize fat burning, you ideally want to eat between 0.6g and 0.8g protein per pound lean body mass (contract to the 1-1.2 suggested in typical body building diets).

Drink water! As if I don’t have to give an extra reason already! Drinking more water seems to be the answer to everything in life. Clear skin, weight loss, reduce bloat, increase concentration… Try to drink 4L of water a day. I know it may seem daunting at first. But I personally can attest it is not that hard. I personally drink at minimum of 6L a day. I have a glass of water when I first wake up, then a shake on the way to work. From the time I sit at my desk till lunch I consume 2L, then another 2 in the afternoon. Then pre-workout, intra workout, post workout. Bam!

I know you are going to hate me for this one as well, but Stop snacking! The fewer insulin spikes during the day, the better your insulin sensitivity, and the higher the ketone levels. This also included reducing fake sugars, lie gum and diet pop (sorry), as basically anything that tastes sweet will spike your insulin, even if it is not actual sugar.  

And that’s all folks! As always, as research evolves so does knowledge. It is also important to keep in mind, that what works for one body may not work for another. I personally change up my diet and methods all the time. As your training styles change, as your composition changes, and as your hormones even change, so will your body’s response. Lastly, I would like to note, that this style of dieting tends to be most effective for people who are more sedentary, or are currently higher in body fat. As your muscle and fat ratio change, so will your body’s ability to utilize carbs, and high performance athletes typically will require more carbs than your average gym goer.

 

Your fitbetch,

JP xoxo

 

Cutting and Cortisol

For the past few months I have been doing what started out as what I call “accidental dieting”. For me this usually started out by getting sick, or having an off week, and I started to notice some changes in my body. Things just looking a little “tighter”. You get a little excited, and your focus starts to shift.

Dieting is always about little changes, tweaking minute details. With the warm weather, walking the 30 minutes to the gym, instead of spending 28 on the street car is an easy way to trick myself into “lazy cardio”

Adding a fat burning stack first thing in the morning, and fasting an 1-2 hours before breakfast, as well as cutting out/down carb meals, and cycling carbs.

However, this isn’t going to be a blog post on dieting. Because there is no one specific diet that works for everyone. Each individual’s needs are too unique. It comes to current activity level, overall output, training goals, metabolism, food sensitivities, body type… and the list goes on. I have been training, and competing long enough to know what works for my body. As well, as my training remains important enough to me that I am not willing to compromise a drop in capacity of weights.

Instead let’s talk about how dieting can affect your stress levels, primarily cortisol, and why it is important to monitor its effects closely.

Cortisol is the main hormone that spikes in times of stress and alertness. In short term this is important. Your cortisol levels naturally change throughout the day. A spike in the morning is what causes you to wake up and feel alert. It is also what contributes to intensity and focus while you work out, and the hormones that helps signal your body to break down both muscle and fat.

In the short term, this can all be quite useful when used and manipulated properly. But long-term spikes in cortisol can be detrimental to your quality of life. One such thing is sleep. Trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep and early morning wakening. Most people tend not to sleep well when stressed.  Part of this can be attributed to mental health issues, like and inability to calm your mind. But what about hormones? Cortisol is to blame.

Also, have you noticed you get up to pee more when restless? This also relates back to stress. Normally your body will downregulate this function, so that when you finally drift off, and you aren’t disturbed by frequent wakening. If you’re getting up multiple times throughout the night to use the washroom, chances are your cortisol is high.

This is because the control of aldosterone (the hormones that regulates urinary function) is released from the adrenal cortex (i.e., adrenaline…a stress hormone). The aldosterone production is also affected to one extent or another by nervous control, which integrates the inverse of carotid artery pressure, pain, posture, and emotion (anxiety, fear, and hostility….).  Anxiety increases aldosterone. Increased aldosterone therefore means, nervous balder.  One of the many ways our evolution (flight or fight) was leaked into our everyday stressful lives. While the source of the stress may be different. In this case starvation, the effect is the same.

So, if you have been dieting for an extended period of time, and start to notice these seemingly inconvenient habits leaking into your life. Perhaps it is time to rethink your plan.

 

Your fitbetch,

JP xox

Deadlifts and dopamine

In an effort to keep the blog organic, I often write about whatever is going on in my life at that given point in time (narcissistic, I know). So, what is a girl to do when there really isn’t much going on at all. It would be an understatement to say that I have been feeling slight uninspired… or maybe just a little lack luster. I have been in a constant flux of wanting to be big; wanting to be lean; wanting to be strong. Just in general, wanting to do something, but not quite knowing what that something is, which does not make for great programming.

 

One of the main reasons I gave up competing was because I wanted to live a more balanced life. The thought of missing the gym, and not caring about it, seemed like a good idea at the time. But in all reality, that’s just not who I am.  I still find myself cancelling dates, turning down plans, and staying in on a Friday, so that I can still hit my workouts. Now, I know this is not even close to comparable to a prep. Because I do in fact, still go out for beers, eat the occasional whole pizza, and openly partake in work BBQs and such.

 

I’m not trying to preach how ‘it’s a lifestyle” or anything like that. But when I think about it a little more, it really is a huge part of my identity. The reason I stress about missing the gym isn’t because I’m afraid of gaining weight, or as a punishment for the food I ate, or even to get bigger at this point. It’s my “center”.  It’s “me’ time. It is the one constant in my life that anchors everything around me. So, while other people may think of it as vanity, for me it’s my sanity.

 

One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. I don’t think this is any huge surprise to anyone. This is both relevant to mental and physical stress. Exercise also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. So it’s more than just an outlet to “let off steam”, but an actual physiological coping mechanism.

 

While on the topic of human chemistry. Exercise also releases endorphins, which induce that lovely feeling of euphoria. This of course can be obtained through other things, like drugs, love.. even food. But exercise seems like a great alternative. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among the clinically depressed. For this reason, exercise is a common recommendation for people suffering from depression and anxiety. In some cases, regular exercise has been even as effective as medical intervention (prescription aids).

 

In one specific study, the chemicals that are released during and after interval training helped alleviate the symptoms associated with diagnosed anxiety disorders.

 

Especially relevant to myself, as Alzheimer’s runs in my family. Studies have shown that exercise can help protect the brain against cognitive decline, that begins after age 45. In addition, especially between age 25 and 45, exercise boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning.

 

It’s also not that big of a surprise that most “gym rats” aren’t big drinkers. This has more to do with chemistry, than the obvious points of avoiding calories and hangovers. The brain releases dopamine, the “reward chemical” in response to any form of pleasure, exercise, sex, drugs, alcohol, or food…love.  Since the brain doesn’t differentiate the source, some people go more self-destructive routes to get their dopamine fix.  

 

Lastly sleep. Sweet sweet sleep. Which might be my favorite thing after the gym and food (and maybe puppies). For some, a moderate workout can be the equivalent of a sleeping aid for people with insomnia. Just avoid taking pre-workout too late in the evening. Moving around five to six hours before bedtime raises your core temperature. When the body temp drops back to normal a few hours later, it signals the body that it’s time to sleep. You are essentially manipulating, and self-regulating your body’s circadian rhythm. Just try to avoid working out too close to bedtime, or it will have an opposite effect.

 

So next time you try to tell someone they don’t “need” to workout, maybe they do. Don’t assume to know what everyone’s internal motivation.

 

Your Fitbetch,

JP xoxo