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Ashleigh Gass joins ARIIX Scientific Advisory Board

Posted in Ashleigh In The News


Published: November 21, 2013

Ashleigh Gass

BOUNTIFUL, Utah – Local Clearwater health and fitness professional Ashleigh Gass has been named to the Scientific Advisory Board of ARIIX, a health-based company that develops toxic-free products to promote healthy living.

An athlete nearly her entire life, Gass brings extensive knowledge and experience in kinesiology, nutrition and exercise physiology to the board. For nearly 15 years, she has provided professional support for both personal clients and elite athletes, helping them achieve their goals through healthy nutritional choices and customized training programs.

"I'm excited for the opportunity to be a part of bringing life-changing health products and fitness education to professional athletes and health-conscious people around the world," Gass said.

Gass has a master’s degree in Human Nutrition, certifications as a Sports Performance Nutrition Advisor, Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN), Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS), Certified Sports Nutritionist through The International Society of Sports Nutrition (CISSN), Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), and Medical Exercise Specialist (MES).

She is also a published writer and speaker, providing articles about training and nutrition to numerous publications and presenting at national conferences including The International Society of Sports Nutrition Conference (ISSN). Her business, Brilliant Fitness and Nutrition (BFN), is based in Clearwater.

Ashleigh Gass joins ARIIX Scientific Advisory Board

Posted in Ashleigh In The News

Nov. 8, 2013 - BOUNTIFUL, Utah

ARIIX, an international opportunity company that promotes healthy, toxic-free living, is excited to announce the addition of accomplished health and fitness professional Ashleigh Gass to the ARIIX Scientific Advisory Board, an exclusive group of extraordinary individuals that help shape the decisions and direction of the ARIIX wellness product line.

Ashleigh GassAshleigh brings to the Board extensive knowledge and experience in kinesiology, nutrition and exercise physiology. For nearly 15 years, she has provided professional support for both personal clients and elite athletes, helping them achieve their goals through healthy nutritional choices and customized training programs. She's been privileged to work with male and female athletes, ranging from rugby pitches to sand courts, to wind surfing and dojos. Her true specialty is creating a blend of customized nutrition, performance enhancement and injury prevention strategies with her clients who seek improvement in all areas of life. Ashleigh has been an athlete her entire life and currently competes in nationwide figure shows.

"As a member of the Scientific Advisory Board, I look forward to contributing to the creation of incredible products for supporting people's health and fitness," said Ashleigh. "My greatest joy comes from my own motivation to learn and improve daily, and I'm excited for the opportunity to be a part of bringing life-changing health products and fitness education to professional athletes and health-conscious people around the world."

Her extensive credentials include a master's degree in Human Nutrition, certifications as a Sports Performance Nutrition Advisor, Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN), Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS), Certified Sports Nutritionist through The International Society of Sports Nutrition (CISSN), Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), and Medical Exercise Specialist (MES), as well as knowledge, ability and a passion for helping her clients and community realize dramatic improvements in their health and fitness.

"Ashleigh's mission to provide people with honest, effective information about their health and fitness is changing lives, and that's inspiring," said Deanna Latson, ARIIX Chief Product Officer. "Her energy and enthusiasm, as well as her professional knowledge and experience, are a welcome addition to our team of experts."

Ashleigh is a published writer and speaker, providing articles about training and nutrition to numerous publications and presenting at national conferences including The International Society of Sports Nutrition Conference (ISSN). Ashleigh's business, Brilliant Fitness and Nutrition (BFN), is based in Clearwater, Florida.


ARIIX is an international opportunity company that creates superior, exclusively branded products marketed through independent representatives. To promote healthy living, ARIIX develops toxic-free products through collaboration with world-renowned experts in the health, wellness and fitness industries. With a devotion to helping others unleash their potential for good, ARIIX provides a global vision, outstanding management experience, driven industry leadership, and a valued partnership that protects its Representatives. This partnership is underscored by a patent-pending compensation plan created to give the greatest benefit to the Representative. The ARIIX opportunity and products are available in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Mexico, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore and The Netherlands. For more information please visit www.ariix.com or phone 1-855-GO-ARIIX.

SLEEP: The Magic Bullet of Fat Loss

Posted in News, Nutrition Articles

Approximately 1/3 of Americans get less than 6 hours of sleep/night, while only 7-8% sleep 8 hours/night. Basically, this means almost everyone is sleep deprived. And sleep deprivation, particularly when chronic, (meaning you get less than 6 hours/night, every night) leads to big problems. Big problems like obesity, cardiovascular risk, metabolic risk, premature aging, and even cancer.

Really want to fall off your seat? Know that 81 of 89 studies looking at sleep deprivation have all had the same finding: lack of sleep increases obesity by 55%. Think about that for a minute. You could be doing ‘all the right things’, like eating your vegetables and meats, taking good supplements, weight training, etc, and still have over 50% risk of becoming obese if you aren’t sleeping properly. This is important to know!

Additionally, we’ve all know that it takes discipline to eat well and workout, long-term. Well, guess what? Sleep deprivation has been shown to increase impulsivity, and cause people to become less likely to work for something that they otherwise would. So, say you ‘want to’ eat healthy and go to the gym every day, generally leading a healthy life. Sleep deprivation has been shown to halt your desire in its tracks - bringing on what I call the “I’ll do it tomorrow” syndrome. It happens every week! You vow to start on Monday, yet when Monday rolls around, you’re tired from the weekend and lack desire to go workout. In your fatigued state, you throw on the sweat pants and grab a bowl of popcorn. Sure, discipline is part of what has to be developed here, but increased sleeping time every night has actually been shown to increase motivation, and that ‘get up and go’ attitude.

Sleep - The Magic Bullet of Fat Loss
Sleep may be your magic bullet. Let’s take a look at why sleep is so important for weight loss.

A lot of it has to do with physiology. Specifically, sleep deprivation causes some pretty significant disruptions in how our body was meant to work. Most of us are living life quite opposite to how we were meant to. This is often referred to as living a ‘broken lifestyle’, and living in ‘discordance’ with biology. Discordance means in disagreement with. Our bodies, brains, and hormones are genetically hardwired to be awake, productive, and moving around during the daylight hours, while being slower paced, more relaxed, and sleeping during the dark hours of the night. What most of us do now is opposite to this - we spend the daylight hours sitting indoors working, barely moving, then go home after work, when it’s dark, and keep ourselves up in front of the TV well into the night hours.

This pattern of being indoors and sedentary during the day, AND indoors and sedentary at night, really plays tricks with our brain. During the day, our brain wants sunlight exposure, and exercise. It wants these 2 things because it then knows it’s meant to produce all sorts of ‘get up and go’ hormones (such as cortisol) get stuff done, and generally be productive. Now, at night, when the sun goes down, our brain wants the opposite to occur. It wants to get away from light (particularly artificial light), and produce ‘rest and digest’ hormones that help us wind down and get to sleep. Hormones like melatonin, which is the well known ‘sleep hormone’. Hormones like cortisol (remember, it’s one of the ‘get up and go’ hormones) are supposed to really drop off at night.

Problem is, when we stay up late watching TV, reading on the iPad, checking email, facebook, and generally remaining in ‘work mode’, our brain gets tricked into thinking it’s still day time. At this point, rest and digest hormones aren’t made, melatonin production is very low, cortisol production remains high, and our need to sleep is hidden. The cycle of sleep deprivation begins the day you wake up feeling like you never even went to sleep.

When cortisol levels remain higher than normal at night, it tells the body several things:

  1. Adapt to stress, please, because we’re stressed. Adapting to stress is a catabolic, muscle-wasting type of thing, which also creates problems for the immune system.
  2. Metabolism, please slow down. The thyroid gland is our master metabolism gland, and it doesn’t like chronically elevated cortisol. Cortisol alters enzymes that convert T4 into T3 (T3 being the active thyroid hormone). If your brain is up all night, charged by artificial light, your thyroid will usually downregulate itself, which affects metabolism.
  3. Feed me. Cortisol causes another hormone, called insulin, to rise. Insulin is a master fat-storing hormone, and usually creates desire for sugary foods. Does the pattern of late-night junk food snacking ring a bell?

Furthermore, 2 other hormones are involved which really seal the deal. They’re called Leptin, and Ghrelin.

Ghrelin is a hunger hormone, released when we’re hungry or fasting. It encourages appetite. After meals, ghrelin decreases. Leptin, on the other hand, is an appetite suppressing hormone, meant to peak at night. These hormones work in sync, depending on food availability and whether we’ve had a good night sleep. Now, here’s the kicker. A recent study took a group of healthy young men, and subjected them to sleep deprivation. Leptin and Ghrelin adjusted automatically so that hunger increased, and the men became more likely to store fat and less likely to burn energy. There was also an immediate impairment in glucose regulation.

To really dial in sleep and get your mojo going on again, here are some excellent tips to improve sleep quality:

1Determine your sleep schedule. What time do you get up in the morning? Granted you want to aim for 8 hours of sleep, you will need to be in bed, asleep, by 10 if you get up at 6. Once you determine your sleep schedule, stick to it.

2About an hour before bed, begin to unplug and unwind. Turn your phone to silence, close out email and work, turn off the TV and get away from the computer. Your brain won’t let you sleep if you’ve been looking at bright lights all night.

3Dim your household lights. Do relaxing things like read, or stretch. Heck, everyone talks about improving their flexibility anyway, so stretch every night!

4Keep your bedroom cool, and as dark as possible. Ideally, so dark that you can’t see anything at all. Like a cave!

5Drop your body temperature. Take a cool shower, or, lie down on the couch with an ice pack under your neck. Our body temperature is meant to naturally drop at night, so assisting with this will help you fall asleep.

6If possible, get sun exposure during the day. If you live in a state with minimal sun during the winter months, at least try get outside to exercise during the day. Otherwise, hit the gym during ‘daylight’ hours, so that your body gets bright light exposure during the day.

Till next time,
Ashleigh Gass

Brilliant Fitness and Nutrition, INC.
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Medical Exercise Specialist
Certified Sports Nutritionist from The International Society of Sports Nutrition
Masters: Human Nutrition
Certified Clinical Nutritionist


Resources used for this article:

  1. Dan’s Plan (Baron et.al. 2011)
  2. Sheen AJ, et al.  Relationship between sleep quality and glucose regulation in normal humans.  Am J Physiol 1996;271:E261-E270.
  3. Spiegel K, Leproult R, Cauter EV.  Impact of sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine function.  Lancet 1999;354:1435-1439.


In Defense of Squats and Deadlifts.

Posted in Training Articles

It seems appropriate to begin this article with a "thank you" - a thank you to the strength and conditioning coaches out there who go the extra mile and teach their clients how to squat, and perform deadlifts. I say thank you, because in gyms across the country these lifts, and their variations, are as rare as a $2 bill. Certainly not due to any danger in performing the lifts themselves, but due to the inability of the coaches to a. teach the lifts, and b. pick up on the postural/tissue tension faults that cause the lifts to break down. Due in part to a. and b., many coaches simply resort to throwing their clients on leg press machines and watching them, well, sit and press away. One of my favorite quotes by Mark Rippetoe is "the only problem with barbell training is the fact that the vast, overwhelming majority of people don't know how to do it correctly". Truth be told.

For just a moment I'll side with the coaches who don't teach these movements. Many clients, when interviewed about their training and injury history, quite adamantly state that these lifts hurt their back and knees. If I were a new, inexperienced coach, I'd not want to encourage clients to perform movements that created pain. And if I were a client, I'd not want to be led to perform movements that hurt. However, that's the end of my defensive role, because I'm not a new coach and because I've led dozens of clients through training programs that fix pain and injury. And, yes, you guessed it - these programs include heaps of squats, deadlifts, and their many variations.

Let's take a look at these lifts!

Go stand up over your toilet, sit down on it, and get back up again. You've just performed a squat (probably technically poor, but you've got the idea). Now, go into your living room, bend at your knees, picking something up off the floor "with good lifting posture". You've probably just done something resembling a deadlift. Now, granted the numerous times daily you get off the toilet or pick stuff up off the floor, it's amazing to me when clients report that their doctors or therapists tell them "just don't squat if it hurts". I then ask them to get additional advice on how to go to the bathroom, pick stuff up, get in and out of the car, stand up from a park bench and generally survive without the ability to squat. As you well know, life becomes rather difficult when you lose, or choose not to train these movements.

Below is a picture of a back squat, full depth. When performed correctly (the key word being correctly), the squat is a very useful exercise for developing strength and power of the hips and core. Along with the squat, the variations (lunging patterns, etc) are really useful in developing knee stability.

back squat

When people complain of pain during this movement, know that it's not the movement - it's the poor joint health, and excessive muscular tension that creates pain felt in the movement. Due to excessive amounts of time sitting, most people have lost range of motion in their ankles and hips, which doesn't permit an easy descent to the ground.

People have extremely tight quad and hip flexor muscles, tight hamstrings, tight lateral glutes, and really weak/flat butts. All of this contributes to excessive strain on the knees and lower back, which is then felt when squats and deadlifts are attempted.

The deadlift really builds back and hip strength, particularly in the lumbar spine. One must learn how to hold the back in a rigid position, allowing the power of the movement to come from the hips, shoulder blades, arms and hands. Below are pictures of the conventional deadlift, and the 'sumo' style deadlift.

People who are challenged in the squat are usually challenged in the deadlift. However, the good news is if you fix 'stuck joints and muscles' in general, you will be able to perform both of these lifts - killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.

dead lift

Why you want to squat and deadlift. Even if just using your own bodyweight.

Most people aren't motivated by being able to get off the toilet at age 85, or being able to pick up bags of groceries. Most people want a tight, rocking, sexy ass bubble butt that looks hot in a pair of jeans. Ok, fine. Learn to do these lifts, and you'll happily accomplish all the above. When I'm 85, I'll let you know if my rear is still worth a nice pair of jeans.

Your next step is likely to find a coach who knows what the heck they're talking about. I'd recommend myself, the coaches at CrossFit Rebels in Clearwater, and Eric Stratman at The Next Level in Tampa.

Get a good physical assessment done, learn how to open up your joints and muscles again, put time into injury prevention strategies, and practice, practice, practice!!

Till next time,
Ashleigh Gass

Brilliant Fitness and Nutrition, INC.
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Medical Exercise Specialist
Certified Sports Nutritionist from The International Society of Sports Nutrition
Masters: Human Nutrition
Certified Clinical Nutritionist

Healthy at Home: Nutritional Strategies for Kids Heading Back to School

Posted in News, Nutrition Articles

As 'back to school' rapidly approaches, many parents are making inquiries about keeping their kids healthy during the school year. This boils down to questions such as: What sort of meals and snacks should they be eating? How do I get them to make healthier choices? Well, the answers are simple: the same meals, snacks, and healthier choices as you, fluff ball. You are the parent - take the lead.

ashleigh-kidsSeriously. It's entertaining to have conversations with parents who disassociate their eating habits from those of their kids. Nutritional habits are formed in the household, within the family unit. As parents, it's critical to take as much responsibility as possible for ensuring the nutritional habits formed will be beneficial for life. Nutrition forms the foundation for childhood growth and development, which then sets the stage for adulthood. We want healthy kids, then healthy adults, free of diseases related to:

  1. Excess body fat
  2. Compromised gut health
  3. Immune compromise
  4. Chronic inflammation

As a society, we're knee deep in trouble right now. About 33% of kids ages 6-11 are overweight or obese, compared to 7% in 1980. Obese young women really break my heart, as reversing this once the mid-20's roll around is a very challenging task. As it stands right now, about 36% of young women are considered obese. I've met many of these women, who are often depressed about themselves, how they feel and look, and upset about the uphill battle they face. Obesity leads to disruption of the thyroid and adrenal glands, cholesterol dysregulation, sleep disorders, metabolic disturbances, and many conditions that can be traced to chronic inflammation and hormone disruption.

Doomsday stuff aside, let's look at the sunny side of things. We are all capable of giving the young ones around us a boost, getting them going on the right track. Variables within our control include:

  1. The ability (and responsibility!) to involve kids in strength training (along with other sports).
  2. The ability (and responsibility) to greatly influence nutritional choices.


Studies show that kids involved in resistance training and nutritional programs improve self-perception, gain lean muscle mass, strength, endurance, and not surprisingly, self confidence. Resistance training has been found to improve mental well-being, while teaching physical and emotional discipline. Look around your area for a good "Kids Cross Fit" Gym, and/or a local gym offering kids strength training classes.


Indeed! If your kids have survived till this point on Ding Dong's and frozen pizza, it's because you have, too. However, now is the time to stop this. Slowly but surely, replace your Lucky Charms with blueberries and Greek Yogurt, your pop tarts with apples and almond butter, and your frozen dinners with shredded chicken, veggies, and salsa. Smack yourself for buying Kellogg's Honey Smacks and don't do it anymore (this cereal leads the list of "10 Worst Children's Cereals" based on sugar by weight). Throw away your OJ, blend up protein smoothies instead. Keep on hand plenty of foods like avocado, berries, hummus, chopped carrots, protein-packed homemade cookies, home made granola, nut butters, varieties of grass-fed jerky, cooked meats, eggs and seafood. Take the junky stuff out of the house.

My experience with kids (Gabby and Matias!!) back when they were 5 & 3, was that they loved healthy stuff as long as they were involved. Involved in grocery shopping, washing and chopping veggies, putting stuff in bowls, etc. Anything I ate or drank, they wanted as well, which included protein smoothies, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and meats and seafood of all kind. If you want your kids to enjoy the healthy transition, get, and keep them involved.


Generally speaking, a few key supplements for kids include vitamin D (about 600IU/day), fish oil (about 500mg-1g/day EPA/DHA), and magnesium (about 500mg/day). Greens + powders and protein powders combine to make great smoothies (I use Genuine Health, and Douglas Labs products whenever possible). Sports nutrition supplements are also beneficial for kids – but this is a topic for another article.


To sum, my belief based on a bit of experience and common sense is that your kids habits reflect yours, so you need to change yours first. Get yourself involved in a strength training and nutritional program, and involve your kids. If you don't have kids, grab a few and get going. Remove junk food from your house, and establish healthy eating patterns with the best food possible. Get this party started!!

Please send success stories to me by going to this link.

Resources used for this article:

  1. Charles Poliquin: Weight Training for Kids Part 1. Accessed 7/13/13 from http://www.charlespoliquin.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/679/Weight_Training_for_Kids_Pt1.aspx
  2. Weight Control Information Network. Accessed 7/13/13 from http://www.win.niddk.nih.gov/statistics
  3.  Precision Nutrition: All About Nutrition for Kids. Accessed 7/10/13 from http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-nutrition-for-kids
  4.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 7/5/13 from http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm


Thank you!

Ashleigh Gass
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Medical Exercise Specialist
Certified Sports Nutritionist from The International Society of Sports Nutrition
Masters: Human Nutrition
C: 310-666-0065
F: 727-400-6454
Clearwater Beach Fitness, Clearwater Beach, FL.

A Gym Earning Every Ounce of Reputation

Posted in Ashleigh In The News, News

Our gym was recently featured in the Clearwater Gazette to announce our new name, the staff and the new owner...

The Staff @ Clearwater Beach Fitness


The team at Clearwater Beach Fitness (from left): Michelle Lindsey, Marcus Boehmer, Dorothy Hendricks, Ashleigh Gass and owner/former WWE wrestler Brian Wickens, known in the wrestling world as Luke Williams (AKA: Bushwacker).

See more at: http://clearwatergazette.com/a-Gym-Earning-Every-Ounce-of-Reputation-07032013

Preventing The Afternoon Energy Crash n’ Crave

Posted in Nutrition Articles

Many of the new clients coming to see me struggle with energy levels and cravings, particularly in the afternoon. Between the hours of 3-5pm, many people feel lethargic, irritable, and ready for a nap. Unfortunately, the modern day North American office environment does not permit napping on desks - thus, we must consider alternate strategies!

Please realize one important aspect of the symptom “low energy” - chronic illness of all kinds (gut dysfunction and autoimmune conditions, for example) have low energy associated with them. Therefore, if you suffer from chronically low energy levels, please seek out a qualified health care practitioner to rule out major disease.

In my experience, the afternoon energy crash (often combined with food cravings) is caused by the following:
1 . Poor sleep habits
2 . Poor food choices leading to chronic nutrient deficiencies and blood sugar dysregulation
3 . Complete lack of strength training exercise


Research consistently shows that sleeping a s long as possible (between 7-9 hours/night) provides stress relief, improved cognitive function, memory, and even weight loss. Millions of people suffer from sleep disorders, which, over the long term, can contribute to cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders, memory problems, and mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. In thinking back over the hundreds of clients I've worked with over the years, I can recall only one couple who reported long, sound sleep on a regular basis. In my initial client interviews, I discover that most are chronically sleep deprived.

Thus, one of the initial strategies to eliminate the afternoon crash n' crave is to improve sleep habits. Turn the TV off a little earlier, go to bed a little earlier, keep your room cold and dark. When followed, these strategies go a long way in improving sleep and 'buying back some energy'.


Let's be clear - a ton of people eat really poorly. Food journals I review are full of 'junk' carbohydrates, highly processed foods such as fast foods, chips, dips, tricks, bagels, low fat snack products, and high speed sugar drinks. Over time, a diet devoid of proteins, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats leads to chronic nutrient deficiencies. See, our bodies are designed to extract all kinds of vitamins and minerals from food in order to run cycles inside cells that ultimately produce energy. In other words, all the food we are 'supposed' to eat serves a huge purpose: to provide the raw ingredients for energy production inside our cells.

The problem with highly processed foods is that these vitamins and minerals (the raw ingredients) aren't present, or, are present in extremely low amounts. Therefore, over time, if you live on processed food, your body can't use much of it to generate energy. So, you will be left feeling lethargic, irritable, and ready for big long naps. Not only that, you will find your youthful muscle rapidly being replaced by fat.

To take it a step further, check out the basic biochemistry of energy production. The food we eat (hopefully a mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) has to be turned into molecules that enter energy production pathways in the cell. The main molecule is called “Acetyl CoA”, which starts the energy production cycle. However, for food to be turned into Acetyl CoA, guess what's necessary? The B-vitamins (B5, B6, B 2, B3, Lipoic Acid), Amino Acids (L-carnitine in particular), Coenzyme Q10, and minerals such as magnesium, and manganese. Thus, if you have chronic deficiency of any of these, you will have a very difficult time producing energy. You will crash n' crave!

Part of the solution is to change your eating habits, leaning towards a nutrient dense, Paleo/Primal plan. Lots of good animal products, veggies, and fats, with a little bit of fruit and minimal sugar. This style of eating will provide the aforementioned nutrients that are critical for energy production.


I've found most new clients tend to try stair master or treadmill their way out of poor nutrition. As they already know, it doesn't work, and it's incredibly exhausting. High volume aerobic training has been shown to be fairly catabolic when compared to strength training. People usually a void strength training due to lack of knowledge, or fear of injury. Rather than try stair master your way out of yesterday's pretzels, hire a good coach to show you the strength training ropes. What I've consistently found is that when clients pull back on the aerobic work and replace it with strength training, they gain muscle, lose fat, and notice significant improvements in energy levels.

Once you blend together improved sleep, better food choices, and muscle-promoting strength training, you'll find energy levels returning. Remember, the millions of cells racing around our bodies need all the fundamental nutrients from good food in order to provide energy!

Be brilliant!

Ashleigh Gass
1 . Lord and Bralley: Laboratory Evaluations For Integrative and Functional Medicine.
2 . Chris Kresser: Real Health Radio
3 . Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements: International Society of Sports Nutrition

Gather your food and HUNT down your workouts!

Posted in Nutrition Articles, Training Articles

Gather your food and HUNT down your workouts!

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls - we love your questions, and we get them all day long. "What do you eat, when do you eat, what amounts do you eat, what do you eat prior to training, during training, after training……". "What do you train on certain days, how do you do this, that, or the other, how do you build abs, how do you build legs, what about your butt, how do you get that…….."

You get the idea. Over time, we will be providing you with intelligent information to assist you with all of your questions. In this article, we offer very simple, highly effective starting points. Enjoy!

Hunt and Gather your Food. Sort-of.

Traditional Hunter-gatherer societies obtained most, or all food from wild plants and animals, collecting eggs, nuts, fruits, and seafood. Of course nowadays we cannot obtain exactly the same food our ancestors did (and, thankfully for most of us, we don't have to hunt it either). Yet, we can follow a few guidelines to get as close as possible:

1. If you eat a lot of processed food (crackers, gluten-free snacks and cookies, cereals, microwave dinners, pastries, muffins, chips, etc), stop. Your health, and waist-line won't improve until you eliminate these types of foods.
2. For your proteins, choose sources like eggs, fish, meats (grass-fed when possible), vegetable and whey based protein powders.
3. For your fats, stick to fish oil, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, and occasionally, nuts and seeds. Include raw cheese, and fermented foods in your diet.
4. Vegetable and fruit carbohydrates are best. In the cross-fit world, the saying "lots of veggies, little fruit, minimal starch and no sugar' prevails. Stick to this.

Tinker with your "Intra-Workout" Nutrition.

By this, we mean "play around with what you eat/drink before, during, and after your workout, to suit your body and your goals". Of course you hear a ton of general statements, such as "Carb up before all workouts", or, "if you eat fat, you'll just get fat!" There are many ridiculous and oftentimes harmful statements out there, so here are some safe and effective guiding principles:


1. If you have a significant amount of fat to lose, your pre-training meal should be higher in protein and healthy fats, with veggies in the mix. If you are going to be working out really early in the morning, you may benefit from a fasted session. Just grab a cup of coffee and go. During the workout, sipping on an amino acid blend will be highly beneficial.
2. If you are fairly lean and muscular, you can 'afford' a higher carb intake in this meal. Think proteins, a bit of fat, and perhaps a sweet potato on the side. We like to keep the carbs gluten free.

During Training:

Both camps (lean, muscular, and "with fat to lose") can benefit from supplement combinations including Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), Creatine, and Glutamine. At the very least, a BCAA formulation should be used (we use Beverly International Glutamine Select as one). BCAAs are commonly used to improve exercise recovery, increase protein synthesis and muscle hypertrophy, and to increase energy levels. Creatine has been shown in numerous studies to increase exercise capacity and exercise performance. Interestingly, creatine may also also reduce the rate of muscle wasting from musculoskeletal injuries, while improving strength in patients with brain and/or spinal cord injuries.

After Training:

1. For our "with fat to lose camp" - as soon as you put down your last weight, sip on a high quality protein shake, with a mix of either Greens Powder, or actual vegetables blended in. Believe it or not, a shake blended ahead of time with spinach and carrots in the mix isn't as vile as it sounds. The motto for this crowd is "include some protein in each meal, and make sure vegetables are your dominant carb source". This includes the post-workout shake.
2. For our lean mean machines - you can afford a higher hit of carbs AND protein as soon as your last set is complete. Consider a mix including protein powder, and a carbohydrate blend. A good resource to customize these specialty mixes is www.truenutrition.com. Research has consistently shown that a post-workout blend of carbs and protein limits post-exercise muscle damage, while promoting protein accretion (the growth of new proteins, which is very important for building lean muscle tissue).

HUNT your workouts. Choose your strength movements wisely, then train like you mean it, every time!

Lift #1Most of you have probably heard that 'whole body weight training', i.e., movements such as the squat, lunge, press and pull, are highly beneficial for fat loss. This is correct. You will get much more 'bang for your buck' metabolically when you perform workouts dominated by these movements. Additionally, these lifts are very useful for building strong bones - critical to all stages of life. Many people worry that the squat is 'bad for the lower back' - well, performed poorly, most lifts are bad for the lower back! Sitting all day is bad for the back!

Squatting is necessary for life. Next time someone tells you to avoid the squat, ask them how they plan on getting on and off the toilet without the ability to squat. Bottom line - learn to squat correctly, and train it consistently.

You can structure your workouts around these lifts, then, towards the end, incorporate some of your favorite moves (bicep curls, abdominal training, etc).
Lift #2 - aLift #2 - b






We've included pictures of the dumbbell front squat, single arm dumbbell shoulder press, and band pull up. Now, you can begin incorporating them into your weight routine. Please work with a certified strength and conditioning coach (CSCS), a personal trainer, and/or a cross fit level one coach to learn these lifts. They are very safe, but it's always nice to have formal instruction.

Lift #3Lift One: Dumbbell Front Squat.
Lift Two: Single Arm Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Lift Three: Band Pull Up. Using a band makes the pull up doable for any beginner!

Once inside your gym, warm-up appropriately both physically and mentally. You are there to train, and accomplish your goals. Focus! As Anthony Robbins says, “The path to success is to take massive, determined action.” Turn this mindset on at the beginning of each and every workout.


1. Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training. Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgore.
2. The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. John Berardi and Ryan Andrews.
3. Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements. Jose Antonio et.al.

Ashleigh Gass, and Mason Kernan
Cross Fit Level One Certified Coach

Great Guts

Posted in News, Nutrition Articles

Great GutsGut health, or lack thereof, is a hot topic in medicine today. Rightfully so, as proper gas-trointestinal (GI) function is critical to all aspects of body function and ad-equate nutritional status. Failures of the GI system can manifest as diges-tive diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and colorectal cancer (3). Autoimmune diseases can originate from GI dysfunction, and include Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, chronic dermatological conditions, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), allergies, asthma, schizophrenia, and autism (1,3).

In my work with clients, I’ve found that most people aren’t really aware of their gut - until things go wrong. This makes sense, since we don’t ‘see’ our gut on daily basis. We go about our days eating and drinking, taking for granted that all of our meals end up getting digested and put to use. That is, until things go wrong and we begin experiencing common GI symptoms: bloating, cramping, gas, constipation, diar-rhea, and insomnia. Let’s review GI anatomy real quick in order to gain a better understanding of this system.

The gut is also referred to as the enteric nervous system (ENS), or, “second brain” (1). This system contains tens of trillions of cells, and is home to 10 times more bacteria than all the cells in the entire body, 400+ species of which are known (2). The GI system begins with the mouth, and proceeds to the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, small intes-tine, large intestine, rectum, and the anus (1). It has a big role to play as the body’s gatekeeper between the outside world and the body’s inside environment. Our GI system is con-stantly analyzing everything coming in, differentiating between beneficial and harmful. It attempts to put to use beneficial (think high quality food) while discarding harmful (think poor quality, highly processed food). How do you know if you have opti-mal GI health? You have a couple easy bowel movements daily, don’t fart with each step you take, sleep soundly, have consistent energy throughout the day, feel good after eating, and experience minimal food cravings or mood swings. You aren’t taking acid blockers or antidepressant medications (to name a few) (1).

Good Guts Gone Bad

We spoke above about the gut as the “second brain”. Remember, trillions of cells, and tons of bacte-rial species? It’s a sensitive, highly aware system. If we bombard it for long enough with a poor diet (low protein, low veggies, low omega 3 fats, high sugar, high starch) certain medications (anti-biotics, acid blockers, NSAIDs) (3), genetically modified foods, and chronic stress (constantly being “connected” to mobile devices, relentless work and family stress, persistent unhappiness) the GI system will eventually fail.

Bad Guts Restored

Good news prevails, however. If you suffer from poor GI health and various symptoms associated with it, there’s hope. But, it’ll require change, and a few beneficial supplements. Initial dietary steps include the removal of of-fending, but often favorite foods. Get rid of anything containing gluten, toss the sugar bomb cereal (your kids don’t need it, either), and pick up a good cookbook (I recommend Paleo Comfort Foods, by Julie Sullivan Mayfield) and get to work.

Multiple supplement protocols are available to assist this process, and will vary slightly depend-ing on your health care provider. These include essential fatty acids, amino acids and peptides such as glutamine and glutathione, and direct digestive support such as betaine HCL, pancre-atin, and bile acids (3). Probiotics have proven to be extremely effective in healing the gut, largely due to their role in re-establishing healthy bac-teria and intestinal barrier function (1,2).

As you can tell, the GI system is fascinating and complex. Nurture it with good food, basic digestive support, probiotics, laughter, and daily attempts at stress management/reduction. Work closely with your health care provider to eliminate the harmful medications listed above.

To your success!

Ashleigh Gass
MS, CSCS, Certified Sports Nutritionist
Muscle City Fitness, Clearwater Beach

This article was also published in the March 2013 Issue - Page 20 of the Tampa Bay Wellness Magazine.

1. Brewster, Geri: The Biochemical Connection between the Gut and the Brain: How food, Bugs, and Barrier Affect Mood, Health, and Behavior.
2. Kresser, Chris. 9 Steps to Perfect Health #5 – Heal Your Gut.
3. Lord and Bralley: Laboratory Evaluations For Integrative and Functional Medicine, 2nd edition.

Simple-To-Follow New Year’s Fitness Routine

Posted in News, Training Articles

Backflip off the fitness wagon this holiday season? Let me tell you how to stick the landing...

Back to reality, or at least the perception of it. Back to the gym, to work, to 'healthy' eating, regular sleep, and te desire to look good naked. (I'd really like to assist you with the latter category). Good news - it's easier than you think. Bad news - all of your herculean goal setting won't work if you are still guzzling lo-fat instant oatmeal for breakfast every day.

In this article, I will outline severl simple and easy strategies, that will, if followed, result in fat loss. I'' condense years of formal education and complicated biochemestry into a few bullet points for you. Here goes:

1. Upon rising, have you normal cup of coffee. This time though, after drinking it, head outside and do a 20 minute walk/jog session. The caffeine tastes good, and helps mobilize fat. Already complaining about lack of time to do this? Get up earlier. You want to look good naked, remember! The other option is to get your weight training session completed during this time frame.

2. When you're finished, head to work with food to go. Rules: you must eat protein, healthy fat, and vegetables. Preferably, green vegetables. Oatmeal, or any other concentrated carb source, will shut down fat-burning hormones immediately. Only eat a huge bowl of grains if you desire obesity and diabetes.

3. Throughout the day, continue to eat meals that consist of proteins, fats, and lots of vegetables.

4. After work, hit the gym (if you haven't done so already). Hit the gym doesn't mean social hour. It means train with intensity, come work with me and you will soon understand.

5. Go home, and eat a meal rich in proteins, vegetables, and good carbohydrate sources such as yams, squash, and sweet potatoes.

6. Go to bed, and repeat this cycle 3-4 days/weel.

The above 6 points, truthfully, is as complicated as most of you need to make it. Doing this long enough to see long enough to see results and you'll earn a spot in "Club of Complicated", where we can begin tinkering with different notritional protocols, supplements, etc.

Until then, keep it simple.

To your success!

Ashleigh Gass
MS, CSCS, Certified Sports Nutritionist
Muscle City Fitness, Clearwater Beach

This article was also published in the 01-13-2012 Issue - Page B3 of the Clearwater Gazette.