Category: Healing


I began taking a BCAA supplement just under 6 months ago and I did it at the time to help with muscle recovery and endurance since I teach so many classes each week. Recently though, I decided to give intermittent fasting a try and BCAAs are suggested for fasted cardio workouts. Enter a lot of reading to find out just what some of the MOST IMPORTANT BENEFITS are and I thought I would share my findings with you.

You’re probably thinking, “Just what the heck are BCAAs?”, right? Well, BCAA is short for branched-chain amino acids. The three amino acids in this category are leucine, isoleucine and valine. BCAAs are unique partially because of their composition, but also because these amino acids are highly prominent in muscle tissue and are the building blocks of proteins. BCAAs are metabolized differently than other amino acids and can be oxidized in the muscles during exercise for energy. They’re important to muscle function in more ways than one though. Most people ingest BCAAs as a recovery aid and to reduce muscle soreness, like I started out doing. However, taking them before you exercise can slow down the rate at which your muscles fatigue and provide workout intensity.

BCAAs in supplement form (you know, the powder in a container) are free-form, require no digestion and are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. Additionally, since BCAAs bypass the liver and gut and go directly into your blood stream, they can be used as an immediate energy source during your workouts.

I found multiple articles from various sources and they all agree on at least the following 3 benefits, in addition to those I talk about above:

1) BCAAs lower cortisol (stress hormone)
2) BCAAs balance brain chemistry
3) BCAAs help control hunger & cravings

Cortisol is a stress hormone and can increase when you get into an argument, go on a diet, don’t get enough sleep and even when you workout for long periods of time. The main functions of cortisol are to increase blood sugar, suppress the immune system and aid in protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism. When cortisol is released with low levels of HGH and/or high levels of insulin, it causes muscle burning and fat storing and no one wants that! BCAAs have been shown to lower cortisol, balance blood sugar and have the ability to suppress stress induced cravings and blunt hunger.

Taking a BCAA supplement post-workout or between meals can help control your appetite so you experience less cravings so that you don’t binge between meals and will help keep your blood sugar steady. Eating foods that cause rapid increases and then drops in your blood sugar levels can trigger cravings (hello! Let’s stay away from these foods!). Your blood sugar levels can also swing up and down dramatically when you are adjusting to a low carb or Paleo diet and cutting out sugar. These swings can often lead to cravings for sugary foods like cookies and sweets. Taking a BCAA supplement on an empty stomach between meals when you are adapting to these types of diets can keep your blood sugar steady and cravings under control.

So, I believe I’ll stick with taking BCAAs for a while! =)

Check out the photo to see which is my favorite. It tastes like a green apple jolly rancher! =D

BSN Amino X Green Apple

BSN Amino X Green Apple

Be thankful

photo credit: Proverbs 31 Ministries

photo credit: Proverbs 31 Ministry

You can visit Proverbs 31 Ministry here

Do you ever find yourself asking “why” when something happens? I know I do. Then I remind myself, it isn’t for me to know why, but to be thankful for the situation no matter how difficult it is. God has a greater plan for each of us. Sometimes we get to see “why” things happen the way they do and sometimes we don’t. I can say from personal experience I wouldn’t be where I am in my faith and in my relationship with Christ if it hadn’t been for some of those “why” situations. His plan brought me closer to Him…He let things happen the way they did in order to get my attention and you know what….I’m VERY thankful for that. I’m still a work in progress for sure and that’s as it should be.

What are you thankful for that maybe you weren’t at first?

Omega 3 benefits & why you need it

Do you take Omega 3 daily? Do you know what it is? Do you know what Omega 3 benefits are or why you need it?

Omega 3 fats are prevalent in fish. To optimize health, it’s recommended to take in about 900 mg of EPA and DHA per day – that’s equivalent to about 3g of total fish oil – although higher intakes (up to 3 g of EPA+DHA or 10g of fish oil per day) have shown additional benefits, according to the Internaional Sports Science Association.

Fish oil has specifically shown to do the following:
* decrease the risks for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers
* increase the metabolic rate
* lead to reductions in fat mass and increases in lean mass
* reduce inflammation in the body
* reduce pain associated with inflammatory disorders such as arthritis, chronic fatigue and more
* improve mood while decreasing symptoms of depression

Speaking for myself, my eye doctor suggested that I take Omega 3 each day in order to help lower my cholesterol. This conversation came about at one of my yearly eye appointments when he noticed and diagnosed arcus senilis in both of my eyes. Arcus senilis, in my case, is indicated by a white half ring in the top portion of the iris in both of my eyes. This condition indicates that my cholesterol is high enough to come out of the blood stream and be deposited in one layer of the cornea. His statement to me was “Shari! I usually only see this in old people!” – I was in my mid-thirties at that time. Gotta love hereditary high cholesterol! I began taking Omega 3 shortly after that. I’ve tried several brands, but most gave me “fish burps” which did NOT work for me. I finally found Thera Tears brand Omega 3 and have been taking it for several years now – it helps keep my eyes moist and gives me NO fish burps at all. The arcus senilis in my eyes hasn’t gotten any worse and from what I understand, once it’s there it doesn’t ever go away. As long as I can see I’m not going to complain about white spots on my brown eyes! =)

And hey… who doesn’t like those benefits listed above?! Next time you’re in the drug store, Walmart or even shopping on Amazon (check out my link at the bottom of the page and you’ll see Thera Tears listed there!), be sure to pick you up some Thera Tears Omega 3 gel caps. I highly recommend ’em! (By the way, I’m not getting paid by Thera Tears for this endorsement – I just like ’em that much! I am, however, an affiliate for Amazon which means that if you decide to click on the link in my “Amazon Favorites” box below, I’ll make a small commission from your purchase and I’ll go ahead and say THANK YOU now for helping a girl out! =D )

Thera Tears omega 3 supplement

Thera Tears omega 3 supplement

Mother’s Day Giveaway

It’s a Mother’s Day Giveaway!!!

Mother’s Day is right around the corner! Check out the basket full of pampering goodies valued at over $400 that I’m giving away this Friday, May 8th! Want to know what you have to do to enter to win? Keep reading!!!

Here’s what’s included:

30 minute massage from Body Kneads Therapeutic Massage & a back massager (valued at over $30)
$25 gift certificate from Salt & Pepper Accessory Boutique
Bath goodies and chocolate from Fiesta Nutrition Center (valued at $25)
A plush pink & black leopard print rob, a large coffee mug, KIND bars, an iEncourage Fitness coozie. the basket, a deluxe Scentsy burner with one bar of scents and 2 free classes from iEncourage Fitness (valued at $105)
One full-body airbrush tan from Southern Sun Spray Tans (valued at $40)
Two sandwiches or wraps from Daily Harvest (valued at $10)
Two lunches with drinks and sides from Daily Press and two hot drinks for later (valued at $20)
Redkin hair products from Alysa Neil at A Wild Hair (valued at $70)
Gift certificate for a mani/pedi at Pampered & Polished (valued at $50)
Gift certificate from Missy Emory Photography for a snapshot special for up to 3 children (valued at $60)


You MUST DO BOTH – LIKE AND COMMENT over here: iEncourage Fitness facebook entry for basket giveaway
You’ll get one entry by doing BOTH of these.


1) COMMENT BELOW! You will receive one additional entry for this.

2) Visit me at iEncourage Fitness and fill out an entry form to put in the jar.

Soooooo you have 3 opportunities to have your name entered to win this baby on Friday! Drawing to be held at lunchtime!

iEncourage Fitness Mother's Day basket giveaway

iEncourage Fitness Mother’s Day basket giveaway

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Have you heard of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Do you have or have you had it? Do you know someone that has or has had it?

Here’s the definition of carpal tunnel syndrome given by

“Carpal tunnel syndrome is a hand and arm condition that causes numbness, tingling and other symptoms. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by a pinched nerve in your wrist.

A number of factors can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome, including the anatomy of your wrist, certain underlying health problems and possibly patterns of hand use.

Bound by bones and ligaments, the carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway located on the palm side of your wrist. This tunnel protects a main nerve to your hand and the nine tendons that bend your fingers.

Compression of the nerve produces the numbness, tingling and, eventually, hand weakness that characterize carpal tunnel syndrome.

Fortunately, for most people who develop carpal tunnel syndrome, proper treatment usually can relieve the tingling and numbness and restore wrist and hand function.”

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

In January, I was diagnosed with moderate carpal tunnel syndrome and I’ve chosen not to have surgery, at least not right now. The crazy thing is that I haven’t worked in an office environment on a computer in over 3 years so this just isn’t something that I ever thought I would have to deal with. Granted, I did work at a computer for over 20 years before that! My doctor told me that carpal tunnel is related to repetitive motion more times than not and it can stay the same, get better with treatment or surgery or it can get worse if nothing is done.

Here’s how mine started:

Last fall, I kept waking up, usually around 3am (I know… weird time and maybe weird that I looked at the clock each time to notice that it was almost exactly the same time I was waking up) with my right arm feeling tingly, like it was asleep, from my shoulder all the way to my fingertips. I honestly thought I must be sleeping on my arm wrong, but it seemed a little too coincidental that it was EVERY night. I also had problems with my hand “going to sleep” while I was putting on my makeup each morning, while I was driving and during certain exercises in the classes that I teach.

I started off with a visit to my GP (that’s General Practitioner, in case you don’t know). She sent me for an MRI to make sure I had no pinched nerve in my shoulder and her taps with the little hammer tool (yeah, I don’t know what that thing is really called) indicated “no carpal tunnel”. My MRI results came back showing no pinched nerve in my shoulder so I was prescribed muscle relaxers (seriously? I wasn’t about to take those considering what my job is!). A month later (that’s October, in case you’re keeping track), I decide to see a sports chiropractor. In the process of seeing him (great Dr, by the way! Highly recommend if you’re in my area.), we didn’t figure out that I was dealing with carpal tunnel, however, he did get rid of a MAJOR knot that I had been dealing with in my neck, as well as what I have thought for years was sciatic nerve pain caused by a wayward fertility injection in my hip. Shoot…. those visits to Dr. C. were TOTALLY worth being rid of those two things alone! Anyway, in January of this year I went to see a nerve specialist to see if he could tell me what was REALLY going on. He had x-rays done of my hand and also sent me for a nerve conduction study. One week later, the diagnosis… moderate carpal tunnel syndrome. My orthopedic doctor recommended several options: 1) wear a wrist brace with a metal plate on the palm side while sleeping at night (to keep me from bending my wrist during sleep. Check out that piece of attractive sleepwear in the pic below), 2) 6 reps of 15 hand exercises daily or 3) surgery. I elected the brace and the hand exercises.

As of today, I can say that the vast majority of the time my hand feels better just from wearing the brace at night. I only occasionally do the assigned hand exercises (I know….. boooooo….. bad, Shari!). As long as it doesn’t get worse, this will continue to be my plan. Hopefully, this info can help some of you. =)

If you’ve had to deal with carpal tunnel or are currently dealing with it, what methods are you using?

Wrist brace that I sleep in to help with carpal tunnel syndrome

Wrist brace that I sleep in to help with carpal tunnel syndrome

Green tea & its benefits

Green tea anyone?

Green tea anyone?

Are you a TEA fan? What kind do you drink (please oh please don’t say sweet!)?

I’m a fan of GREEN TEA sweetened with 1 packet of Stevia or the liquid Stevia drops. I don’t buy the premixed stuff in a bottle. I actually microwave a coffee mug of water an then let the tea bag sit in it for a minute or so; I add Stevia and then I drink up. Good stuff!

DID YOU KNOW THIS about green tea?

1. Because of how it’s processed, it maintains maximum levels of antioxidants

2. It can aid in weight loss because it slightly increases your bodies FAT oxidation rate.

3. It can help regulate glucose, slowing the rate of blood glucose spikes after eating.

4. It can help reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol.

5. It contains the amino acid theanine which can help relax you.

Did you know?

Did you know these things about me already? Find out who I am and what I believe in… straight from me. I would love for you to share something with me about yourself. =)



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