Adriane Horn, earning a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Engineering
We are currently living in the Anthropocene epoch. This probably means nothing to you but allow me to explain its significance.
The Anthropocene epoch is denoted as the geological period in which human activity has had the greatest impact on climate and the environment. This literally means that our geological age is named after how much we influence the climate and the environment!
Unfortunately, this prodigious influence does not mean good things for the human population or our home planet. Between the exponentially growing population and the constant demand for more goods and services, we are fast approaching the earth’s speculated carrying capacity despite major advances in technology.
It impacts the health and quality of life for people of all colors, shapes, and sizes. Like it or not, this is actually one thing we all have to fight together, simply because it is a problem we have caused, and deal with, together.
What is Climate Change
The Webster Dictionary definition of climate change is:
A change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.
We have all heard about greenhouse gases and how they trap heat, causing the Earth’s overall temperature to rise and the ice caps to melt.
Well, I don’t know about any of you, but I have yet to feel any temperature increases because I’m still freezing and it’s May.
That is because climate change encompasses more than the warming of the planet. It also accounts for the extreme weather changes seen across the globe.
Think droughts, wildfires, hurricane clusters, and so on. Climate change basically means that the weather we typically experience on an annual basis is on steroids and hits much harder than normal.
Why Should we care
Aside from the fact that the weather is more hot and cold (literally and figuratively), and can become uncommonly nasty, climate change poses significant health threats as well.
There are countless ways climate change can affect human health, but a few significant causes include:
1. Spread of disease
2. Poor farming conditions
3. Overall Quality of Life
With this in mind, climate change needs to be a priority for global leaders, and unfortunately it would seem Mr. Trump does not care enough at this time, let alone believe it's even true. Perhaps it's not good for business.
What You Can Do
As you may know there are countless things you can do to decrease your carbon footprint. Yet, the crown jewel of pollution prevention is source reduction.
Recycling and reusing items is great, but it still requires energy to break down and separate recycled products into another usable form. Therefore, reducing consumption at the source is really the best way to prevent personal materialistic pollution and also, indirectly, help prevent fossil fuel consumption expelled during the manufacturing of the product.
1. Reusable bags
2. Avoid packaged, processed foods
Help yourself and other people we share our beautiful planet with by implementing some of these methods. The world thanks you!
“Ditch Your Plastic! 25 Reasons to Use Reusable Grocery Shopping Bags.” ReuseThisBag.com, 30 July 2018, www.reusethisbag.com/articles/25-reasons-to-go-reusable/.
Earth Policy Institute. (2014). Plastic Bags Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://www.earth-policy.org/images/uploads/press_room/Plastic_Bags.pdf
You may wonder how the title of this post has anything to do with health and fitness. Well friend, it actually has everything to do with it.
When it comes to our body image, we often will find ourselves wishing to look or be a certain way, and when we don't achieve that we instead replace that desire with shame or guilt for not meeting our expectations.
In fact, no one abuses us more than we abuse ourselves. We have an internal belief system, a judge, and also a victim, all wrapped up into one psyche that are playing constant tug of war against one another.
Humans punish themselves endlessly for not being what they believe they should be.
We judge ourselves for not aligning with our beliefs, and then instead of doing something about it we instead feel that it's okay to be a victim of our circumstances.
Our judge can be mercilessly powerful in controlling our thoughts: I'm stupid, ugly, fat, worthless, weak, old, powerless, and on and on. I know you've done this. I've done it too.
In your whole life, no one has ever abused you more than you have abused yourself. And the limit of your self-abuse is exactly the limit you will tolerate from someone else. - D. Ruiz
Obviously, our words have power.
They have the power to abuse ourselves or others, and on the opposite extreme, to empower and uplift ourselves and others.
If we want to find a life of joy and fulfillment, we must allow our words to be kind, especially with ourselves, because ultimately, it is very hard to emit love and positivity to others when we can't even do that with ourselves.
It is my hope that today you can be light, and that you do something that uplifts yourself and maybe even someone else too!
To take, or not to take? That is the question. Supplements have been a buzzword in recent years, and a focal point of public confusion.
The purpose of this article is to accumulate information from a host of reputable organizations so you may make an informed decision on taking supplements.
What Is a Supplement?
So what exactly is a supplement? They come in all shapes and sizes, from capsules, to drinks, to powders, and are sold in a multitude of places.
We have herbal supplements like:
Vitamin and mineral supplements like:
Performance enhancing supplements, or ergogenic aids, like:
It is a multi-billion dollar industry, and ultimately has very different standards than it's prescription drug cousin.
"Natural" Means Nothing
Herbal and botanical supplements often get the automatic okay in our minds because they are "natural". However, natural means just about nothing in an industry that synthetically creates their products.¹
The perception of a natural supplement product is that it is not artificially fabricated. This is highly ironic given that the vast majority of dietary supplements are synthetically created in a laboratory environment and likely do not contain any natural, plant-based or nonsynthetic ingredients. - Katie Ferraro, MPH, RDN, CDE
Don't believe me yet? In an alarming study in 2015, authorities, including the attorney general of New York, conducted tests on the top-selling store brands of herbal supplements in the four retail giants - GNC, Walmart, Target, and Walgreens - and found that four out of five of the products did not even contain any of the herbs on their labels and that pills labeled "medicinal herbs" often contained little more than cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants.²
Last year alone, there were 22 "dietary supplements" recalled for various reasons, some because they contained salmonella, anabolic steroids, or undeclared ingredients. This has been a trend for some time now.
Go back 5 years to a 2013 report published by researchers in Toronto, and you will find the same pattern, in which 44 random herbal supplements containing "single herbs" were sampled and analyzed using DNA bar coding analysis, but less than half the supplements (48%) contained any of the herbs listed on the label.
Moreover, at least half of the supplements contained something that wasn’t even on the label (substitutions or fillers).³
Another irony, is that only a tiny percentage of the world's population stands to benefit from supplementation, but yet for some reason we still yearn so badly to feel superhuman that the global supplement industry rakes in over $100 billion dollars annually.⁴
There are countless supplements that claim wonderful benefits by using their product, and truthfully there could be benefits to using what they say is in their product, but unless you have the ability to run DNA analysis on it yourself (or scientists already have), we don't know if what they claim is in there is actually true!
It could be ground up doll hair for all we know.
Sadly, according to several reputable organizations, sound science supports the use of only a few dietary supplements whose labels claim ergogenic benefits. However, without a healthy diet in place, there is almost no justification for their use.⁵
According to AND, DoC, and ACSM, sound science supports the use of only a few dietary supplements whose labels claim ergogenic benefits . These organizations add that the best way to use supplements is as additions to a carefully chosen diet, that dietary supplements rarely have ergogenic benefits when not used in these conditions, and that there is no justification for their use by young athletes. - NIH
As previously mentioned, supplements are not a substitute for a proper dietary foundation and will not work as effectively if it is not in place.
Since we are in the category of "performance enhancement", I will briefly touch on the adequate daily amounts of calories, fluids, and carbohydrates for athlete:
Can you guess?
Sports with the highest percentage of users taking performance-enhancing drugs for men are ice hockey, wrestling, and baseball and among women are volleyball, swimming, and ice hockey. But the biggest target for adulterated supplements? Bodybuilders.⁶
The FDA notes that products marketed as dietary supplements for bodybuilding are among those most often adulterated with undeclared or deceptively labeled ingredients, such as synthetic anabolic steroids or prescription medications . As one example, some products sold for bodybuilding are adulterated with selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs); these synthetic drugs are designed to mimic the effects of testosterone. - National Institute of Health (NIH)
Did you just run to your bathroom or kitchen cabinet and side eye your collection of supplements? Give yourself some mental relief and see if it's actually effective by clicking here.
How did we get here?
In 1994, a law called the Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act (DSHEA) was passed, which lightened the standards on supplements treating them as "food products" instead of drugs. The following are outlined standards and regulations on drugs vs. supplements:⁷
The DSHEA was designed to protect the American people, but in actuality puts responsibility back on the supplement manufacturer to simply honor the laws outlined.
There is no system in place for policing this other than the FDA, which will only take action if someone is actually harmed from these products. Basically, anyone who can grind up some herbs and come up with a good marketing strategy can sell a dietary supplement and make millions until caught.
This literally happens more than you think.
Do Your Due Diligence
By now, I hope you have come to realize that for the most part, supplements are a complete waste of time and money. I encourage you to be as informed about something as you can before buying and consuming it, and if you are already taking supplements, ask yourself the following questions:
The best option, of course, is to ask your physician or Registered Dietitian what they think. As a fitness professional, I (or any other for that matter) cannot recommend you supplements.
Please keep in mind the risk you take in purchasing supplements, you are always at the mercy of their honesty. Here is a list of claims to watch out for, all recommendations from the FDA.⁸
Why Has it been hard to change?
The self-proclaimed "champion" of reforming the supplement industry is Senator Orrin G. Hatch, a Republican of Utah.
He played a large role in getting the DSHEA passed in the first place and within the past few years has fought against amendments to the current lack of supplement standards, arguing that there is nothing wrong with the current policies in place.⁹
According to a report by the New York Times, Hatch "has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the industry and repeatedly intervened in Washington to quash proposed legislation that would toughen the rules." Thanks guy.
Signs you may have goofed
We are all human, so if you feel you've been duped and your supplement is actually doing you more harm than good, check out this list of signs directly referenced from FDA.gov:
There is very little scientific evidence stating the need for humans to consume supplements.
For the vast majority, they are a useless waste of money, and the policies that are in place to currently govern the supplement industry are not only far too lose, but dangerous to consumers.
It is best to stay away, and obtain proper nutrition from a bulletproof diet.
1. Ferraro, Author Katie Ferraro Contributor Katie. "5 Reasons Why Most Supplements Are a Waste of Time and Money." ACE. Accessed May 22, 2018. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/6513/5-reasons-why-most-supplements-are-a-waste-of-time-and-money
2. O'Connor, A. (2015, February 03). New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers. Retrieved May 16, 2018, from https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/new-york-attorney-general-targets-supplements-at-major-retailers/
3. American Cancer Society. (2015, March 15). FDA regulation of drugs versus dietary supplements. Retrieved May 16, 2018, from https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/complementary-and-alternative-medicine/dietary-supplements/fda-regulations.html
4. Stulberg, Brad, and Steve Magness. Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Books, 2017
5, 6. "Office of Dietary Supplements - Dietary Supplements for Exercise and Athletic Performance." NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Accessed May 22, 2018. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/ExerciseAndAthleticPerformance-HealthProfessional/
7, 8. Commissioner, FDA. (2017, December 22). Consumer Updates - Dietary Supplements. Retrieved May 17, 2018, from https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm153239.htm
9. US Senator Orrin Hatch. JOINT RELEASE – Hatch, Heinrich Urge DOJ to Enforce Dietary Supplement Rules - Press Releases - United States Senator Orrin Hatch. Accessed May 17, 2018. https://www.hatch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/keeping-supplements-safe-for-all-americans#2E709075-0958-4171-A73A-48EAF216E4A2
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You may have heard the common phrase of "Abs are made in the kitchen", but how much truth is there actually to this? There is a massive amount of misinformation out there regarding nutrition, and fitness for that matter, which leaves many of us on health journeys confused on which direction to take. As a result, it is always best to ask a professional and in this case we ask our dietitian, Kylie, to share her expertise on the topic of building a healthy core through nutrition.
Let's debunk a myth right away: Your body does not selectively rid itself of fat in problem areas, specifically. For example, you cannot go to the gym for an hour and purely work on core, expecting this to reduce unwanted belly fat. Although abdominal exercises can help firm and tone your muscles, they alone won’t aid in weight loss around your stomach. Your body pulls from all fat stores as you move and burn calories.
This has been a buzzword the last few years, but what exactly does it mean?
"Mindful eating is a process and journey, a self-study of understanding your thinking patterns, emotional moods, appetites and habits without judgement. Nothing is off limits. We can also call this intuitive eating." - Elizabeth Kovar, M.A.
Some advice that I recognize causes many to become nervous, is that I recommend making all foods apart of your journey – in moderation, of course. Yes even cookies. The basis for this can be found in the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating, which is outlined in the infographic below.
Direct experience mode
Being in the present moment is a valuable practice taught in Tai chi, yoga, and meditation. When it comes to life application, mealtime is a great time to put this practice to work. Functioning in this zone requires our nervous system to switch from sympathetic (what is mostly engaged under stress) to parasympathetic. If our bodies are under constant duress from things like work, school, and just plain life, we won't cannot enter this parasympathetic, or rest and digest state, as easily without conscious effort.
The consequence of losing this ability is actually quite surprising as it increases nutrient excretion resulting in specific deficiencies of Vitamins B, C, iron and selenium. We can more directly think of iron deficiency as being anemic, a term you may have heard thrown around amongst your overworked friends who complain of "feeling tired all the time, I must be anemic."
Break The psychological Prison
Food is friend, not foe! Dietitians, exercise specialists, yogis, and all walks of health professionals agree, mindful eating is the antidote to fad dieting and in building a healthy relationship with food. One ACE exercise professional elaborates on her experience during a unique experience with mindful eating:
"We have something called slow conscious eating, and this is something I experienced while studying Buddhist meditation in Thailand. A bunch of us Westerners entered a room and were presented with a plate of food smaller than we have in America. The rules were that you were not allowed to talk and you would take your fork, put a piece of food in your mouth, place the fork back down and put both hands on the table. Once you were done chewing and your mouth was completely empty, you were then allowed to pick up the fork again and eat.
Now, by no means am I suggesting that we all need to practice such an extreme form of eating, but it is very common and easy for us to place more food in our mouths before we are done chewing the previous bite. Try paying attention to this the next time you have a meal! It is important to consider your overall health, family health history, cultural and and personal food preferences. On top of this, it's essential to be realistic. Are you really going to give up sugar, pasta, bread, pizza, and your soul? Making your goals a lifestyle versus running with the next best fad diet will help you establish habits to meet your long term goals; rather than tossing in the towel after a couple months, and getting no where.
Tips & Tricks
Consider variety, amount, and nutrition. Just like money, all food choices add up. What do you want to spend your calories on? Start with small, realistic goals to adopt a healthier eating style to reward your total body. The bottomline: abs are not JUST made in the kitchen. They must be worked in the gym and throughout our day as well.
Check out It's All in the Foundation on helpful tips on why and how to train your core for optimal results and quality of daily living and the workout to help get you there.
Related topic & Workout
Health Research Funding (HRF). 23 Exceptional Fad Diet Statistics. (2014, October 09). Retrieved January 09, 2018, from https://healthresearchfunding.org/23-exceptional-fad-diet-statistics/
K., E. (n.d.). Mindful Eating: the future of eating for weight loss. Retrieved January 9, 2018, from https://alc.acefitness.org/totara/mod/url/view.php?id=3762
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"The burden of not trying is heavier than the barbell will ever be," is a saying etched in large chalk letters at a CrossFit in Ohio. For each of us individually, the emotional and physical burden of an unhealthy lifestyle can be a lifelong struggle that eventually leads to feelings of unhappiness and chronic health conditions. In the United States, physical inactivity has become a huge health crisis, equated to our generations version of smoking. The social norm of not moving has become so commonplace that currently only 55% of adults get the physical activity they need to be healthy and it is estimated that by 2030, 83.4 million Americans may suffer from three or more chronic diseases and 50% of the population could be affected by obesity (ACE, 2018).
There are strong correlations between chronic disease and obesity, and both of these epidemics can be traced back to one basic human action: physical activity. Currently, the childhood obesity rate for ages 2-5 is 8.9%, which you thin would be fine, right? I mean there is such a thing as baby fat. However, when we see this percentage grow to 20.5% by the time kids are 12-19, we can no longer blame it on normal baby fat, but must admit something else must be trending. (ACE, 2018)
To give you a little more perspective on our current health crisis in the U.S., have a look at the following statistics, all referenced at the end of the article.
Step Up Washington
An Act that is not getting enough attention at the moment is the PHIT Act, which would make physical activity opportunities like personal training, sports league fees, and group fitness classes, more affordable. For example, your gym membership or your child's sports team fee would be paid for, at least in part, by the government. Not only does this make an impact at an individual level, this would immensely help with non-profits like Healthy Futures, Fitness Without Borders, and others requiring government grant funding and fundraising to offer their services (Fritz, 2018).
Introduced in March of 2017, this bill currently has a meager 3% chance of getting enacted (H.R. 1267, 2017). Why is not important to lawmakers? I miss Michelle (Obama). If you find this issue to be relevant and something you would like to advocate for, follow this link to PHIT America's website to learn more about the movement and ways you can help.
So, if you have stumbled on this article because you've found yourself in the 45% category, then you are in the right place. You are obviously not alone in your struggle, and I am here to remind you that you can do anything if you are willing and open to change and commitment to something that will be harder than the convenience of swinging through the drive thru on the way home.
Here are some stories on incredible people who have undergone amazing change in order to reclaim their health and lives. Also, please explore the site, there are countless tools and resources on here that can help you along the way.
Cabarles, M. (2018, May 1). How ACE Influences the Cycle of Inactivity. ACE Fitness Journal, 15(5), 6-7.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How much physical activity do children need? https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/children/index.htm. Accessed 4-21-2017.
H.R. 1267: PHIT Act. (2017, March 1). Retrieved May 9, 2018, from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr1267/text/ih
Fritz, J. (2018). Learn About Revenue Streams for Nonprofits and How They Get Income. Retrieved from https://www.thebalancesmb.com/where-do-nonprofits-get-their-revenue-2502011
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