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

Modern Mobility

I often feel like a bit of a broken record, constantly apologizing for my busy life. It often seems the old cliché of “The only constant is change” could be the ongoing theme of my life. Since my last post, written from the cozy indoors of a lovely Santa Monica coffee shop, I have since had the opportunity to start a new job in a completely new sector, booked multiple trips (both work and pleasure), made the move to power lifting, as well as managed to successfully injure myself, through my own stupid stubbornness.

As previously mentioned, I am not one for new year’s resolutions. I believe in constantly setting both short and long term goals. One thing that I have been working on has been doing both more things that scare me, but also things that bring me happiness. I have often shied away from spontaneity for fear of being irresponsible, or just because I can be a bit of a “type A” rigid planner. I can successfully say I have managed to inch, maybe even step, outside my comfort zone.

In this trend of trying new things, and being a little less rigid in my thinking, I have been exploring different modalities of mobility. I will admit, mostly because I have managed to break myself once again. Turns out, when discovering and programming for strength, you can not, in fact, lift with the same volume, a stubborn all or none mentality, that you can with body building.  Many body builders walk around sore and broken, wearing it like a badge of honor. I am guilty of this mentality. I had become so used to always going to failure, burning myself out, with that depletion style, that I just couldn’t get around the mind set of lifting at 60% or 80% of what I knew I was capable of doing. The irony of which is that I fully understand the difference, as well as the effect it has on your CNS, yet I am in fact, my own worst enemy.

So, to make a long story short, I managed to screw up my left side pretty badly. It started with what I assume was a minor strain, which led to some compensation. However, being the hero that I am, I refused to not continue with my training. In fact, not only did I not rest it, but I probably overdid it, with my “mind over matter” mentality, pushing and pushing. Constantly adding more weight, and not easing off. This just lead to more imbalances, until what was just my hip, was then also the outside of my trochanter, my hams, my glutes, and now down into my calf. I have successfully screwed the whole kinesthetic chain.

So, in an effort to get back to doing what I do best (beating myself up apparently), I finally accepted that maybe this whole mobility thing was worth a try. I will fully admit that with a plethora of research out there I will often read, research, and believe what affirms what suits my own mentality or goal. I think we all have some cognitive bias in that regard. So my idea of mobility has mostly been, do the movement you plan on executing, in the full range of motion, but with less weight. Simple enough, right? If you’re going to squat today, do squats with an empty bar, and just hang out at the bottom, if it feels good, give er’. As of late, this is just not cutting it. So, now I find myself strapped into a table, being painfully manipulated, laying on mats, grimacing, and limping around like an invalid.  

So here is the thing. Not everyone is the same, duh. However, s small part of the populations is what we call “hypermobile”. While this sounds great (and was when I was a cheerleader and did more yoga), this is actually pathological. Too much mobility results in bone not staying where they should stay, and extra stress on the joint. Tendons and ligaments do not actually “stretch out.” You cannot make them longer. Their function is to transmit force, which connect muscles to bones, the force of muscular contraction is transmitted to the bone it’s attached to, thus moving the bone. And since tendons are in fact elastic, a sudden dynamic load causes a very small temporary change in length and a subsequent rebound, such as when you jump, or lift weights. But during normal muscle contraction, if the tendon changed its length not all of the force would move the bone – some would be lost as the tendon stretched. Just like a short piece of chain, a tendon pulls the bone with all the force of the contracting muscle because it does not stretch during the contraction.

Ligaments anchor the joint as it moves, so that the bones which articulate at the joint change their relationship only with respect to their angle. This allows the joint to function as a fulcrum. An excessive amount of “stretching” will cause a rupture. If anyone case ever seen this, it is NOT pleasant.

Therefore, you cannot change the length of either a tendon or a ligament with “stretching” and why would you want to? I’ll take a pass on the whole rupture thing. This leads me to my next point. Fascia. It is the only connective tissues that you can affect with stretching. If you are unaware of fascia, it is essentially the semi clear plastic wrap that keeps your muscle bundled together. It usually becomes problematic when effected by tiny scars called “adhesions” that form between them and their underlying muscle or between adjacent fascia.

So, maybe this article has once again, been a little self serving, but since neither ligaments or tendons are designed to stretch, this would mean any increase in flexibility primarily involves the muscles that control the position of the skeletal components. So really, “mobility” can be considered learning to use any muscle in a way that requires you to teach them to lengthen more readily.  Aka, squat if you’re going to squat, press if you’re going to press, and if you suddenly can’t do that explore alternative therapies that can either assess your faulty movement patterns, compensatory issues, or Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST).

**As an aside, if you love doing yoga, or just like the feeling of stretching, go for it!! This is not intended to discourage anyone from doing anything they love or makes them feel good. Heck, I still love a good pigeon pose. And there is something to be said for the placebo effect. This is my quick and dirty summation of what anatomy dictates, and intended for a “health” audience.

Your fitbetch,

JP xox

Coffee consumption, why it’s cool

As I sit here in a coffee shop, trying my hardest to be productive on a rainy day, I figured, why not talk about the benefits of caffeine. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love coffee maybe more than I love food (and that’s saying something). I could literally drink consecutive cup after cup of the liquid nectar of the gods. I love the taste, I love the smell, I love the complexity, I love pretty much everything about it! Including its personality enhancing factor. But here are some more reasons why I think it’s a great part of anyone’s diet, and of course a few excuses and ammo to justify your caffeine habit.

Firstly, Caffeine affects brain function, this should be pretty evident for anyone who “needs” a cup of coffee to get going in the morning. A study published by Nature Neuroscience found that caffeine administered post studying helped students with memory consolidation. This being the concept of being able to process and retain new information. In addition, The University of Arizona recently looked at whether caffeine helps memory during periods when kids aren’t in their optimal periods of arousal. Aka, fancy way of sayin “tired”. Basically, caffeine given to kids in the morning helped with memory, while caffeine given to kids in the afternoon (a kids optimal arousal time) had no effect. A very similar found the same phenomenon in adults, but only when caffeine was administered in the afternoon, which is an adult’s period of lowest level of arousal. Another reason to have that afternoon Americano. Another recent study published in the Journals of Gerontology showed that women who consumed more than the median daily amount of coffee (261 mg per day. This being about 1-2 cups) had a reduced risk of developing dementia or memory impairment. I addition, for those of you who really wanna go big, a study conducted by Alzheimer Europe and the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee found that 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day is the optimal amount to protect the brain form degenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s. All the more reason to keep the liquid gold flowing.
Again, given my ongoing theme, and assuming you, my audience come here for fitness related knowledge bombs, let’s talk about caffeine and its affect on atheistic performance. According to Journal of Applied Physiology,  athletes that consumed caffeine and carbs after strenuous exercise had 66% more glycogen in their muscles than athletes who just ingested carbs alone post workout. Whoa!? Glycogen is important because it is the fuel muscles use to function. It’s the main source of energy when working out, and it’s what you need to refuel and repair post workout. So maximizing glycogen absorption without consuming additional calories is optimal for athletes within sports like bodybuilding. In addition, increasing glycogen levels after a hard workout will also help you perform better during the following day’s workout. Which is applicable to anyone with fitness goals.
 
The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research also conducted a systematic review of 29 studies related to caffeine and athletic performance in an attempt to establish if caffeine prior to exercise acted as a performance aid. They found that 11 out of 17 studies showed caffeine ingestion yielded significant improvements in exercise performance, and 6 out of 11 studies revealed benefits of caffeine use during resistance training.  Another study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that caffeine increased oxidative stress and anti-inflammatory response in long distance runners after completing a 15k run. In this case caffeine was ingested prior to the run.  For more of you more strength inclined athletes, a study published in the Journal of Muscle and Nerve found that caffeine did increase muscle torque and activity during strength training exercise. One group of participants was given 6 mg of caffeine per kilogram of their body weight and they significantly out-performed the placebo group. So, consume caffeine, lift more weight. Sounds like a win to me!  Lastly, a study published in The Journal of Applied Physiology found that caffeine increased the level of enjoyment from exercise and caused the test subjects to burn more calories and consume less calories after exercise. Which I think it no big surprise there, since caffeine is a natural mood enhancer, and being more engaged and focused in your workout is obviously going to yield a better training session.

So let’s also talk about caffeine nor only helps performance, but also recovery. The University of Georgia has found that a moderate dose of caffeine (about two cups of coffee) can reduce post-workout pain by up to 48%.  Disclaimer: This research was small group and they only tested women. Not only this, but the women were not regular caffeine users.

The Journal of Pain showed that caffeine can also reduce muscle pain during moderate intensity exercise. Some participants were given large doses of caffeine prior to cycling exercise, others were not. The caffeine group had significant less muscle pain during the exercise than the placebo group. This may also explain why caffeine is used as an endurance aid for athletes. New research conducted by Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology and the University of Brasilia (UNB) also isolated a protein in coffee beans that is similar to morphine, but works even better. They are currently doing further research concerning this protein and its pain relieving applications. If a person consumes caffeine everyday, then the only way to experience caffeine’s pain relieving effect is to consume a dose greater than the daily amount he or she has been accustomed to. Whomp whomp…

So friends, don’t ever let anyone ever tell you that you have a caffeine problem. You’re just health contentious 😉

Your fitbetch,

JP xoxo

On to BIGGER and better things

Back at it with the booty. Its no secret that I am OBSESSED with the posterior chain. Hammmies, booty, and back. I basically only deadlift, squat, and row… but a millions variations of those exercise. Im not advocating to skip chest or shoulders (the bros of the world are cringing right now). But genetically I have never had an issue building those areas, and I have had many years of building up those body parts as well. Now, don’t think I am being arrogant here, but personally, for me. I am happy with the size I have achieved in those areas. So it’s a maintenance factor at this point. However, give me all the back, the wider the better… more detail, more taper. I want it all! And who doesn’t love that nice round shape to the legs, no banana legs here please!!

After many years of hitting legs two even three times a week, I have been able to play around with a bunch of varieties and methods. Volume has been my friend. Even now, I fluctuate between strength days, hypertrophy days, and conditioning. But there are definitely a handful of exercises and techniques that have proven effective in my arsenal. So let me lay some knowledge on you.

Your glutes are comprised of three main muscles, Min, max, and med. The biggest and most superficial being max (ah duh). Glute max is responsible for hip extension, external rotation of the hip, as well as abduction of the thigh. So for those not so anatomically inclined, think movements such as glute bridges, hypers, side stepping lunges,  any any of that side laying clam stuff they do in aerobics videos in the 80s.  

Glute med and min are important muscles as well, especially in terms of stabilization, for those of you who are more inclined to do “big lifts”, or even in terms of being stable in walking, and of course not injuring yourself. But max is our focus here. Mostly being that most for you ladies, and gents, are looking to build strong powerful glute max weather it be for aesthetics or pushing power for things like sprinting, jumping, squatting etc.

Because the glutes are such a powerful muscle they respond well to heavy ass loads (pun intended). And you can train them within a higher rep range. I want to clarify, I don’t want to see you hip thrusting three plates if its all momentum. You gotta squeeze squeeze squuuuuueeeze! So for beginners start with just trying to feel that tension and slowly work up. This means slow, controlled movements with a nice long pause. But I digress. Back to our main point, I would suggest a rep range of 12-15 if your looking for a hypertrophy workout. For simplicity sake, just assume we are throughout this little post. Anything lower will not be enough to bring the fibers to failure. Which, dedicated readers will know is the mechanism of growth. Anything more and you’re just doing cardio (barf me to death). This will not engage the fast twitch fibers to stimulate hypertrophy, and I only use this level of volume when I need to add in conditioning work to increase your overall work capacity in future lifts. This is also useful for increasing total time under tension. But that in itself is another post.

So, now that we have covered rep range,lets talk about temp. Which also effects time under tension (TUT). The most typical tempo you see in body building splits 2 seconds up, 2 seconds peak contraction, 4 seconds down (think slow and low ladies). I also think it is great to pause for 2 seconds at the bottom, but depending on your focus or programming this may very. The pause allows the kinematic energy to dissipate, so that all the pushing power has to be generated from the muscle. So no cheating. This is also important for strength and power athletes.  To give you a whole picture, for the people who are more visual learners, envision this. Explosive on your way up, flex hard at the top, then slowly lower the weight back down. *Rant* A huge pet peeve of mine is seeing people bounce up and down while squatting. This is not an effective execution of the movement, and I kinda want to shake them, aggressively.

Now that you hopefully have a slightly better idea of how you can go about targeting your glutes, lets talk about how often. Like I said I try to train mine up to three days a week. I understand this can be hard for a number of reasons. Training schedule and recovery being two of the biggest factors I can think of. Typically I always start my week with legs, then try to hit it every other day. One week kind of leads into the next with that style. In order to train with this frequency each day is also different. Large muscles like the glutes resound to variety and volume. So you can do a “heavy day”, then a “volume day” to get some blood flow in there, then move on to an “accessory day” or a conditioning day”, or even a “power day”. All these different styles of training have their own benefits. You can program according to your weaknesses and needs. You can’t train the exact same way each day because your body will become accustomed too quickly, and you put yourself at risk for injuries. Which will only set back your long term progress. And if you’re anything like me, you will get EXTREMELY frustrated… which only leads to further injury.

Lesson, don’t be stubborn like JP.

 

On to BIGGER and better things,

Your fitbetch,

Jp xoxo

An honest letter about my skin

I by no means would consider myself a fashion or beauty blogger.

My idea of a great outfit is wearing all black, and making an effort means adding some bronzer to my usual two step foundation/concealer routine.  But If you have any sense of me, or my outlook to health at this point, it’s more than just weights and protein shakes. Whole health manifests from within. One of things that I have noticed as I have gotten older is my skin. I was never one of those teenagers with severe acne issues. I didn’t even wear foundation. Maybe a little concealer on a pimple here or there, but they were never very severe. But as I got older I started to get more complicated issues. Not just regular pimples, but deep, painful bumps, that could stay for weeks!! What the hell, right?! You could get a zit, and maybe ruin a date three weeks from now, not cool. Luckily it was fairly inconsistent throughout undergrad, and I learned quickly that there were certain trigers. Aside from food sensitivities (dairy and wheat being two big ones for me), it was my hormones. Hormonal acne has a very specific way of presenting. Its deep and angry (kind of like my soul) and always on the lower half of the face. I.e., jawline and chin.

 

So, I managed to survive my early twenties, I even got a very serious adult boyfriend (he was older), and graduated, with not just one but two (honours) degrees in under 5 years! And not because I was hiding in the library like a hermit to avoid being seen. My skin was, while annoying, not life falteringly devastating. However, when I moved provinces for grad school, it slowly became worst. There are obviously mitigating factors such as a humungous amount of stress. But simply avoiding dairy, washing my face twice a day, trying to manage my insomnia, blah blah blah, etc etc… was not cutting it. Finally around 25/26 I couldn’t take it anymore. It wasn’t just one bad cyst here or there, I would get breakouts of multiple. It was mortifying. It’s hard to masque a big lump on your face. It was like having a tumour, right there on my chin for everyone to see. I had tried antibiotics, topical cremes, cortisone, retinol, trentinoin, it all just burned up my skin, and made it peel. I was sad, and embarrassed. So, I went to a dermatologist and got a prescription for Acutane. The famous drug that everyone used to be afraid of. This being because a bunch of correlational research had linked teens and Acutane use with suicide. It also kills your liver, so big no-no for drinking in university. It’s so toxic you actually need monthly blood work. But frick that, I wanted to be pretty! I was adult, about to be a professional. With acne and a baby face no one was going to take me seriously.

No one tells you your skin will purge at first, end every time they upped my dosage, I would break out. Finally after about three months of this crazy expensive drug (I was paying out of pocket), my skin was clearer. It was actually pretty flawless. The effects are supposed to be life lasting. It is forever in your system. So I thought “Cool! One round should be enough, no need to poison my body more”! So I went off it, never to see my dermatologist again.

Guess what. I was wrong. Now, at 29 my skin is actually worse than ever.  I have slowly started to figure what things throw off my hormonal balance. For instance, dairy is now more than ever a forbidden food. The protein molecules found in dairy are known to increase sebum secretion. In addition, cow’s milk is full of fake hormones that they pump into cows so that they continuously lactate. Too much alcohol is also a no go. This being because it is known to increase estrogen, and throw off your natural sex hormones balance. Most of late December and early January was a huge pain due to too many social glasses of red wine over the holidays. I recently got back on birth control over the last 6 months. This also threw my hormones for a loop. The huge bump in progesterone, a synthetic androgen also took some time for my body to adjust too. And lastly, stress. This is a killer for everyone, hormones or not. It shows in your skin. Tired, dull, irritated, sensitive skin. While not everyone’s acne issues are hormone related. Heck, some of you probably have glowingly flawless skin, and wash with whatever is handy, if anything at all. But one thing I have noticed among athletic and gym oriented females is an increase in acne issues. Not only due we sweat more, which can clog pores. If you’re guilty like me, I go right after work. I do not wash my face in the period in between. I know, I could… it is not a great excuse. But the truth being. My fair skin gets very red and irritated when I wash it, and the last thing I want when I’m working out is to continuously see my ugly, irritated, inflamed face.  But secondly. We have more testosterone in our bodies. More muscle means more testosterone receptors. It is just a simple fact. So as women’s body compositions start to changes, they lose fat, estrogen decreases, and added stress, acne becomes more prevalent.

So. I obviously don’t have the answer to how to treat your hormonal acne, but what I am going to do is break down some tools I have added to my arsenal that seem to help me manage. A lot of companies have a ton of fillers in their products. With maybe one or two ingredients you really need. I recently discovered a Toronto based start-up, by the name of Deciem, that kind of functions like a cool chemistry lab. They have varying levels of quality, so you can buy what is best suited for your budget, and they make straight simple ingredients. The bottle you buy contains only the chemical component marketed. They also have incredibly simple packaging, which saves a lot on cost. I actually prefer the simple, white and glass look. It feels simple, clean, and kind of like I’m playing scientist. I am not affiliated with this company in any way but I do love to support local as much as possible which is why I choose this company.
So here are my four main go to’s and why:

All products listed are from the basic “The Ordinary” line. I always start with my “acids” first because they are best put on clean skin. The Lactic acid is reserved for night time only.

First step after washing, I am not currently using a low pH cleanser so I start with the lowest pH product first. I use the Alpha Albutrin, because it “preps” the face. It has a cosmetic pH of between 3.5-6.5. Being the nerd that I am I remember this by “Acids start with A, A goes on first”. Alpha Arbutin reduces the looks of spots and hyper-pigmentation. It’s used at a high 2% concentration versus a standard concentration of 1% and supported with a next-generation form of Hyaluronic Acid for enhanced delivery. Alpha Arbutin is much stronger in effect than Arbutin or Beta Arbutin. Alpha Arbutrin is found in many K-beauty products as well as western products like Sunday Rileys ‘Tidal’ for it’s ‘whitening’ or brightening effect.

Next, once my face is dry. I used the Lactic acid. Lactic Acid This is an alpha hydroxyl acid that exfoliates the skin. This 5% formulation offers very mild exfoliation and is supported with a purified Tasmanian pepperberry known to reduce signs of inflammation and sensitivity that is often associated with exfoliation. This particular formula contains a studied Tasmanian Pepperberry derivative to help reduce irritation associated with acid use. This pH of this formula is approximately 3.8. Lactic Acid has a pKa of 3.8 and pKa is the most important aspect to consider in formulating with acids. pKa implies acid availability. When pKa is close to pH, there is an ideal balance between salt and acidity, maximizing effectiveness of the acid and reducing irritation. Higher pH numbers in such a case would increase salt which counter-intuitively would make the formula even more irritating than if the formula was more acidic. This is why we started with the Alpha arbutrin to lower the skins pH so that the lactic acid could get to work more quickly. Think of it as ‘preheating the oven’.

Third step: Hyaluronic Acid (HA) can attract up to 1,000 times its weight in water. The molecular size of HA determines its depth of delivery in the skin. This formulation combines low-, medium- and high-molecular weight HA, as well as a next-generation HA crosspolymer at a combined concentration of 2% for multi-depth hydration in an oil-free formula. This system is supported with the addition of Vitamin B5 which also enhances surface hydration.

Note: Hyaluronic Acid is found in the skin naturally but its natural function within the skin is not hydration. Many products have used HA to claim hydration benefits, but HA is too large of a molecule to penetrate the skin and instead sits on the surface and can draw moisture out of the skin making the surface feel soft and hydrated temporarily, while making you feel like you need more HA after the product is rinsed. This formula uses three forms of HA with varying molecular weights, as well as an HA crosspolymer, to offer multi-depth hydration and visible plumping without drawing water out of the skin solely to improve temporary surface hydration. Hyaluronic acid can be found in numerous crèmes and sheet masks so chances are you probably already have some in your routine.

Last step before moisturizer (I use a light lotion moisturizer since heavy cremes congest my skin) is Niacinamide (Vitamin B3). This is used to reduce the appearance of skin blemishes and congestion. AKA those angry red/purplish spots that linger long after the pimple has been reabsorbed. A high 10% concentration of this vitamin is supported in the formula by zinc salt of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid to balance visible aspects of sebum activity.
Contraindications: If topical Vitamin C is used as part of skincare (which I also occasionally use to plump/brighten and reduce hyperpigmentation), it should be applied at alternate times with this formula (ideally Vitamin C in the PM and this formula in the AM). Otherwise, Niacinamide can affect integrity of pure-form Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid). Realistically both these products have similar effects so I have been sticking to the Niacinamide in terms of cost and effectiveness.  In addition, it is noteworthy, that while Niacinamide and Zinc PCA reduce the look of blemishes and balance visible sebum activity, neither is a treatment for severe acne.

For persistent acne-related conditions, which are non cystic, I would recommend the use of Benzoyl Peroxide and/or Retinoic Acid. Both which burn my skin, as my acne is too deep for those types of products, but ideal for people with more superficial acne. It is also important to note if you do use topicals that you be sure not to overdo it which will cause that ‘burning’ that I’ve discussed. Taking a break and repairing the skins moisture barrier is in my opinion the best thing you can do for your skin. Although my issue is acne you’ve probably noticed that only one of my products is specifically for acne, the rest are to enhance my complexion and nourish my skin. Your skin sometimes just needs a little TLC and harsh chemicals are not always the answer, if something isn’t working try something else and if that doesn’t work see help from a professional, for some people it’s literally their job to help you fix your skin.

So ladies, (and gentlemen, if there are any of you out there who actually read this blog), I hope that my decade of pain, suffering, research, and trial and error. In my endless pursuit of flawless skin can help you in some way. Is it really too much to wake up, roll out of bed and not feel the need to immediately cover my face?!  In all honestly, I make light of it, and while I am sure there are people who suffer far worst than myself, I can honestly say it has been a huge source of shame throughout my adult life. While I do not think you should have to suffer for eating that one ice cream cone, or live in fear that if you enjoy a nice bottle of wine at dinner you will have to hide for a week, this is my reality. So I am here to hopefully help you avoid some of what I have had to endure.

 

Till next time,

your fitbetch,

JP xox

Only the strong will survive

Hello my loves, so as we are already past the half way mark for January, and you’re obviously still crushing the gym right? Let’s talk about being sore. I’ve heard it from lots of my coworkers, clients, and even casual acquaintances. “I’m sore”! Good! As you should be. This is all new to your body. Heck, I’m always sore and I’ve been doing this consistently for at least half a decade. Obviously, I’m not saying you should be straight up broke. There is obviously a difference between delayed onset muscle soreness and injury. But let’s just say we’re talking about regular soreness, for the sake of simplicity here.

A greater increase in lactic acid (that burney, sore day after effect), is known to be critical for muscle growth. This is achieved through the lamens term of “doing work”.  So, you’re killin’ the gym. Getting your swole on, which is perceived as a threat to your cells (and to others around you). We may joke about getting a pump that is so sick the pipes are going to burst. But it is actually somewhat truthful. As your muscle cells become engorged in blood, the cell is forced to expand. This result is a number of byproducts from the breakdown of the cell. This is why we feel “swollen” and sore.

Much like the old theory, only the strong survive, this is true for muscle cells as well. The weaker more fragile muscle fibres are pushed passed  their limits, while the body is forced to engage more fast twitch muscle fibres. These fibres have greater growth potential. The more we tax these fibres, the more we signal growth pathways. Long story short, that uncomfortable sensation, or what some mistake as pain is actually essential I’m growing those glutes. This is a concept foreign to a lot of new gym goers.

So how do you use this to your advantage? Well, depending on your goals, if growth is your main purpose of lifting (and this doesn’t just mean “body building” or “bulking”) you won’t want to go to failure on all your main sets. Yes, you should be pushing your limits, but overdo it and you tax your central nervous system. This is more often seen in depletion and prep style workouts. Also an issue for power lifters. Which use different weight schemes all together. In this case, for your average person looking to shape/tone/grow, or whatever you want to call it, what you can incorporate is a pyramid. Which is working up to your final or max set, then drop setting down (meaning to continuously drop the weight till failure, drop again, and  so forth). Note: This will burn like a mother F*cker, you may whimper a little….

I apologize if this article may seem elementary to some of my more gym savy followers. But keep in mind, not everyone is as masochistic as we are. And while the gym may be full now, only the few will survive.

Your fitbetch,
JP xoxo