Beginner’s Guide to Supplements

This post is essentially a direct email to a close friend of mine that I brought more into the world of fitness last year before I moved. One of my former pupils is now helping him but there are always questions that need to be answered. This response to one of his questions is going to be used as the topic of this post as a result of his request. It is, therefore, to a certain degree catered to his personal needs. I could have just told him to go to Amazon or to read product reviews, but that wouldn’t be very nice, would it?

Disclaimer: The following is to a certain degree my opinion and personally professional way of explaining some very complicated matters. Although I have knowledge based on formal education and years of experience and experimentation, the language used may not necessarily be technically or scientifically accurate. It is merely a useful means to explain complex processes and ideas in a way that everyone can understand, visualize, and implement. If you have an issue with the way I do what I do, please send us an email. Thank you =)


Note: This will not be very in-depth. For more specific questions, please message us. We will answer ALL questions.


I am going to break this into a few sections. First, I will be dealing with general vitamins, minerals and similar products that relate to nutrition and dieting. Then I will go into three sections that highlight pre, intra (or during), and post workout related supplements. If you are looking for anything about proteins, skip to the post workout section.


Vitamins and minerals are an important part of the operation of our body’s various systems. Common vitamins such as A, B, C, D, and E are very beneficial for our health. While we can obtain them from certain foods and even our environment, sometimes a multivitamin will provide us with a consistent intake. Also, anti-inflammatory and pro-health supplements that are found in nature, such as turmeric and curcumin are low risk options. For more information about those, check out Monica’s Health Mag.


I recommend a few “multivitamins.” First, Kirkland has one of the only USP verified products on the market and it is very affordable. Emergen-C is a different means of consumption (a powder that is mixed in liquid) but you need to be aware that it is believed that it can be harmful to the enamel on your teeth. For those that are training hard, Universal Animal Pak is a more serious product that contains 11 pills in one “half-serving.”. I would recommend those products over other brands for performance and value.
Creatine: This is an organic acid that is present in vertebrates. That means that is a natural compound that is already inside of you! It’s purpose is to provide energy to various parts of your body, mainly your muscles. For anyone questioning taking creatine, please recognize that it is not a high risk product if taken properly and it can have positive results on your growth and development when paired with an effective physical fitness routine. I would recommend taking Optimum Nutrition’s Micronized Creatine Powder. It is a simple monohydrate, more natural and basic essentially. Try to take it in six week on and off cycles, performing a loading stage the first week and a maintenance stage for the next five. In the loading stage, take one scoop (teaspoon) with every macro or major meal, and one heaping scoop post workout. (Realize that many pre/intra/and post workout supplements also contain creatine.) During maintenance, take a scoop post workout.



Pre-Workouts: Many of these products contain various vitamin b, amino acids, and what I will refer to as aerating compounds. They essentially get more air to your blood and provide you with a placebo effect pump up feeling. I am not the largest supporter of these products and the massive amount of them that exist. They conveniently affect everyone differently. Even if it only makes you think that it is working, that might help your workout. They can potentially reduce lactic acid buildup, allowing you to perform more repetitions and further tear your muscle fibers before fatigue sets in too far. I recommend Cellucor C4 if you want one that tastes better. MusclePharm Assault is another one that tastes alright and is more effective. If you want a better value, try Jack3d. Try to stay away from lemonades and fruit punches, they usually taste worse. Usually stick to one scoop, but follow directions. I like to take these on an empty stomach, but I have a sensitive stomach so it’s up to you.



Intra-Workouts: Again, I am even less of a fan of these products. They are very similar to pre-workouts, but they provide you with more carbohydrates and electrolytes to help you maintain endurance based strengths throughout a workout. These are more useful for longer workouts. I recommend Cytosport’s Cytomax. Ask for flavor recommendations, but they are all relatively good in terms of taste. Take one scoop for an hour-long workout, or two for a two-hour long workout. Make sure you double your amount of water if doubling scoops.


Post-Workouts: Protein supplements are the reason this article was written. I recommend that you eat a gram of protein for every pound you want in your goal weight. I want to weigh 225 pounds again, so I shoot for at least 225 grams of protein a day. Sometimes that can be hard to achieve on a certain budget or with time restraints. Protein powders provide a reasonably priced and very dense protein serving, and they usually have other vitamins, minerals, and amino acids as well. Thus, you can quickly hit a protein goal by making a shake with these powders. I prefer eating real foods for protein, fish being my go to.


Nevertheless, if you are looking for a more complex and tasty product, I recommend Cytosport’s Muscle and Monster Milks. BSN’s Syntha-6 is a good value, mixes well, and tastes alright. For the purists out there, I would stick to Optimum Nutrition’s Isolated Whey Protein and Isolated Casein Protein. Now, it is up to you, but do not try the crazy flavors like Cookies n’ Cream. They are awful. Stick with chocolate or vanilla, depending on your preference. Moving backwards, whey protein is derived from the process of making cheese while casein is more so derived from the milk of mammals directly. Whey breaks down and is processed faster, so I usually take it during the day. Casein processes slower but is still protein packed so I usually take it before going to sleep. Get both if you’re super serious, or whey if you’re starting out easy.



A post for dieting and nutrition will be made in the future and it will go more into depth of how these products can fit into your diets. For now, here are just introductory tips and product recommendations.



Restaurant Review: Chez Thuy

We had heard good things about this place. We are all about Vietnamese food and it was a nice Saturday to have a good lunch. So here we show up at Chez Thuy, one of Boulder’s Vietnamese cuisines. It was a sunny day, a little windy, but we were all game for our one-restaurant-out-a-week (attempted).

The atmosphere was wonderful. Ethnic music in the background, loud enough to hear, but not overpowering our conversation. The place is beautifully decorated, we were loving it. Beautiful paintings and traditional decorations all around. The only thing hurting the atmosphere were two obnoxious loud Boulder moms a few tables away.

photo (69) photo (68)I had a difficult time deciding between the Blended Boba drinks and Thai Iced Tea, but eventually decided on the latter since I like my Boba on ice, not blended. We order our dishes and they bring out two complimentary hot and sour soups. I’m delighted–Chris can’t exactly eat spice. So I get two! And am then full a lot quicker. The soup was delicious and warming and I ate both bowls.

photo (71)

hot + sour soup

hot + sour soup

For appetizer, we order steamed vegetable dumplings served with a side of peanut sauce. I was delighted with this. The dumplings were light and fresh, and the peanut sauce was the perfect heaviness to compliment it. I wish there were more of them to gobble up!

photo (70)Then we wait for our meals. It’s a pretty busy time for them, but we don’t mind waiting, taking, and making fun of the two moms near us. Chris orders a Pad Thai and I order a Yellow Curry with Calamari. Eventually, they come out. Now I’m almost full at this point (way to go, Alana), but we dig in anyhow.

yellow curry

yellow curry

pad thai

pad thai

Now…the dishes didn’t quite cut it for us. I actually enjoyed Chris’ Pad Thai a lot more than mine. Mine was too fishy, and not enough of that peanut-taste that you get in most yellow curries. I really didn’t eat much of mine. It wasn’t something I was very excited about, and I usually love Vietnamese food. Chris was not a big fan of his Pad Thai. It didn’t seem like it was prepared with a lot of care and love, the noodles really stuck together in one large mass, thus not allowing the dish to mix well.

Overall, we wouldn’t come back here for a main meal again. It just wasn’t impressive or very tasty. However, we would come back for appetizers.

Cheers! (Sorry for the lack of posts, we have been sick and busy)

It’s Time to Listen to Pocahontas

I think we’ve got our philosophies wrong in the world. And sadly, it is most of the world now. There was a time where beliefs of nature and the world reigned in some parts of the globe, but global expansionism and global economy has changed that. I know it’s Disney. I know. But, I can’t help but think how right Disney’s Pocahontas is, every time I hear “Colors of the Wind.” I  know you’re thinking, “Alana, I can’t believe you’re actually writing about this right now.” Well, probably some of you can believe it and are shaking your heads and sighing.

Yes, it’s Disney, but listen to some of the lyrics. If more of us thought this way, it could change the world into a more beautiful place. I know it’s Disney, but there’s some real truth and grit in it. Just look over the lyrics.

You think I’m an ignorant savage
And you’ve been so many places
I guess it must be so
But still I cannot see
If the savage one is me
How can there be so much that you don’t know?
You don’t know …

You think you own whatever land you land on
The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name

You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew you never knew

Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon
Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned?
Can you sing with all the voices of the mountains?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?

Come run the hidden pine trails of the forest
Come taste the sunsweet berries of the Earth
Come roll in all the riches all around you
And for once, never wonder what they’re worth

The rainstorm and the river are my brothers
The heron and the otter are my friends
And we are all connected to each other
In a circle, in a hoop that never ends

How high will the sycamore grow?
If you cut it down, then you’ll never know
And you’ll never hear the wolf cry to the blue corn moon

For whether we are white or copper skinned
We need to sing with all the voices of the mountains
We need to paint with all the colors of the wind

You can own the Earth and still
All you’ll own is Earth until
You can paint with all the colors of the wind

I think we all ought to take a page of Disney’s Pocahontas’ book. Step back to realize the beauty that we all live in and give back to the earth more. Don’t see everything in monetary value or dollar bills. After all, how can we let green pieces of paper rule our lives? Step back and love what’s around you.

Peace, Love, and Pocahontas 


7 Tips for Getting Back on Track with Your Goals

It’s February 1st of the new year. One month since the start of 2013. Where are you at?

Maybe you’re not exactly where you want to be. You’ve set goals, but you haven’t quite followed them all the way through. You’ve started your path, but perhaps you’ve diverged somewhat–say eating 4 treats a week instead of 2. That’s okay. It’s important to not get frustrated and throw up your hands. What’s important is to look back and see when and why you cheat and ditch the goal. Here are a few tips on getting back on track…

English: DeBarra Mayo in workout gear 1987. Ph...

English: DeBarra Mayo in workout gear 1987.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Evaluate and re-design your goals. Perhaps you weren’t so wise–or realistic–when you set these goals. Maybe you didn’t listen to me when I told you to do your SMART goals. Sometimes when we are trying to help ourselves with truly good intentions (for example, setting goals and resolutions), we shoot ourselves in the foot by being over-ambitious. Now, I am never one to be a dream-killer, I’m in support of getting what you want, but we need to be in the real world when we do them. So take a look at your goals, and decide maybe if it’s too ambitious and you need to take a smaller step first. 

2. Be held accountable. I’m not saying you have to tell the whole world what you want to do. But have someone know. And have that someone be a person who can remind you and be your supporter on this mission of yours. You could look into personal training–I know some of my client would not make it to the gym if they didn’t know I was waiting for them. If you don’t want to jump into a trainer, find a gym buddy. It can be a social and a fitness visit–you can go to your gym, or go for runs, or circuit training in the park!

Personal trainer monitoring a client's movemen...

Personal trainer monitoring a client’s movement during fitball / core exercise.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3. Make a date. Whether it be with yourself, your trainer, or your exercise buddy–write it down in your planner, calendar, iPhone, WHATEVER you have. One of the easiest ways to get back on track and into fitness is to creating your workouts (or at least your workout times before the fact). This way you can look at your phone, schedule, whatever and know, “Okay, Wednesday at 3pm is when this workout is planned, and I think it will be focused on cardio and lower body.” Every week, I would plan it in my schedule, when, what, and where I was working out. And then I would send that schedule to my fitness buddies for them to join in.

4. Make it mandatory. Make it a part of your schedule, not something you could do. I always considered it along the same lines of my classes during college (of which I never missed, weird, I know, but for some reason couldn’t make myself do it). And because I would never miss a class…why would I miss a workout? Unless sick, of course. I made it mandatory, just as attending my Existentialism or Human Rights class. It was a part of my schedule. Make it a part of yours. 


Schedule (Photo credit: Marco Buonvino)

5. Share a goal. Have a friend with a similar goal or resolution? Why not go at the thing together? This will double your chances of actually succeeding. You will have each other there for guilt and support, and it’s always easier to do something when you are part of a team. I’m sure if you think about it, you know someone who wants the same thing you do–and I’m sure they’d be thrilled by the idea.

6. Track your goals. Didn’t track those goals last month? Let’s start now. Make a sheet of what you want to do every week, every day. And have check mark boxes to track them. You could do this through Excel or Word, or just write it up on a notepad. Don’t just keep it in a notebook, though,  stick it up on the wall where you see it every day.

7. Use apps. If you have a smart phone (and even if you don’t), tap into the wealth of helpfulness you can get from tons of fitness apps. Even if you don’t have a smartphone, you can use these apps online, using your computer. Here are a few that I think are great: My Fitness Pal, Fooducate, Nike Training, Map My Run, and GAIN Fitness

Use these tips and help yourself thrive to succeed with your goals! Comment with any questions and feel free to email for person-specific questions! Cheers!