Ask Me Anything E5: Why blood work is more complicated than you think

Finally another episode of Ask Me Anything.

For the fourth episode, I tackle a question about ‘normal’ values for blood work. Ultimately, this was a really personal question about an individual’s own lab work, so I took it as an opportunity to talk about some really important aspects of blood work that often don't get discussed.

In a nutshell, I cover three main sub-topics:

  1. A broad discussion of the various internal and external factors that influence blood work
  2. Getting labs and why it’s important to be critical of the analysis process
  3. What do the results actually mean, and the power of creating personalized data

 

 


Want the quick notes version?


It’s complicated.


I fully support individuals taking an active role in understanding and managing their own health state, and the importance of working with health practitioner(s) to do so. I don’t support DIY lab analysis, conventional medicines use of testing as a singular, static and completely depersonalized diagnostic tool, and the overall ignorance towards the multitude of other crucial internal and external variables that must be accounted for, explored and discussed.

Blood work should not be the judge, jury and executioner.

It should be one of many tools used to examine an individual’s health state. Additional methods should be used in conjunction with bloodwork, such as tracking and applying other markers of biofeedback, and then looking at everything in individual context. Building personal data is how you can begin to build a healthier and sustainable body from the inside and out.


If you like what you see - feel free to share and comment below. Want me to cover a topic or quesiton a video? Please shoot me a message. 


Video by: Alora Griffiths
aloragriffiths.foliodrop.com
FB: Alora Griffiths
IG: @aloragriffiths

 

 

Advices Radio: The Menstrual Cycle

Advices Radio with Scott McNally #58

This podcast makes me smile. My good friend, Scott McNally gave me a huge challenge to cover the menstrual cycle in a concise, easy to digest way that would provide listeners with a practical understanding of an incredibly complex process. Thank you Scott for providing me with another opportunity to do what I love!

Within the podcast, we explore the shifting kaleidoscope of hormones that are part of the menstrual cycle. The goal of this program is to help promote a better understanding of what is actually happening, which is a difficult task since every female body is unique.

 

EPISODE link:

https://www.advicesradio.com/track/episode-58

 

ITUNES: 

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/advices-radio/id1104299645?mt=2#

 

Stitcher: 

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/scott-mcnally/advices-radio/e/53953022

 

 

Learn more about Advices Radio:
www.advicesradio.com
FB: @advices.radio
YOUTUBE: Advices Radio

 

SARMs: Golden Goose or Sitting Duck?

SELECTIVE ANDROGEN RECEPTOR MODULATORS: 

A GOLDEN GOOSE OF GAINS, OR JUST ANOTHER SITTING DUCK FOR YOUR LIVER?

 

Have you ever heard the story of the golden goose?

It’s an old incredibly old fable, literally about a goose that one day lays a golden egg. Rather than waiting to see if the goose would lay more gold, it was killed by its impatient owner who wanted all of the riches immediately.

On the surface this may not seem like anything more than a foolish children’s tale, the tale of the golden goose serves as vivid reminder that ‘greed loses all by striving all to gain.’  You’d probably never guess, but there’s a similar story behind the mythical substance, known as SARMs.

 

Originally developed as a 'big-pharma' ticket item since the late 1990’s, in recent years, selective androgen receptor modulator or SARMs have gained a cult-like following as the new magical-anabolic substance within the fitness industry. However, outlandish claims together with the exploitation of pharmaceutical patents, abuse of legal-loopholes, and booming black-market business, have the potential to destroy SARMs before they can even turn a legitimate profit or be used to treat some of the most vulnerable clinical populations.


What exactly are SARMs? Believe it or not, that’s not actually the simplest question to answer. For the purposes of this article we’ll be looking at a novel class of nonsteroidal selective androgen receptor modulators that fall under the popular umbrella-name of SARMs.
 

Before we go any further, let me clarify something about SARMs – they are drugs. They have medical, ethical and legal implications associated with them. Yet, many recreational users probably don’t have a clue what they are or how they work. To be honest, with so much misinformation about them out there, I can’t entirely blame them for that either.

Unlike many other popular-fitness articles about these drugs, you won’t get any advice on how to take SARMs here. Not only would that be totally unethical and illegal, but in my opinion, the trend of the blind leading the blind has only fueled the unsubstantiated worship of these compounds by bro-pharmacists and guru-prep coaches.

Don’t let the fact that until a couple years ago you could readily and legally purchase SARMs from various pseudo-supplement retailers, and often voluntarily be sold false claims about the effectiveness, safety or purity of these drugs.

As it stands today, there’s a lot still to be uncovered about the newest kid on the anabolic block. Indeed, SARMs are steroidal millennials. They haven’t even been a ‘thing’ for 20 years, yet have a reputation that far precedes the research, data and efficacy of these drugs.


With so much bad, incorrect and misleading information on SARMs, we’ve literally got to start at the very beginning. Let’s talk about androgens.

 

 

LAYING ANABOLIC GOLD

I’ll try to keep this as simple as possible, but in order to better understand how these drugs work it’s important to know a little about the biochemical properties and physiological processes of androgens and SARMs.

Even though they are dubbed ‘male’ hormones, each of us produce varying degrees of androgens naturally throughout the life course. They are complex molecules that act as ‘chemical messengers’ for numerous processes essential to bodily function. Made at different locations throughout the body including the ovaries or testies, adrenal glands and fat cells, androgens all share a 4-ringed cholesterol structure.

Regardless of the job at hand, many androgens act on - or send messages inside specific target cells known as “androgen receptors” or “AR”. As a member of the steroid receptor superfamily, the androgen receptor is an incredibly important target for numerous pharmaceutical interventions, including in, for example, cases androgen deficiency, osteoporosis, and muscle wasting. There are many drugs that interact with androgen receptors, and promote androgenic or anti-androgenic effects. These compounds are known as “androgen receptor ligands” and typically are thought of as either causing: (a) androgenic results (“agonists”); or (b) anti-androgenic results (“antagonists”).

 

Another way, and possibly simpler way to understand this process is by thinking of lock and key: only certain keys can unlock certain doors.

Here’s an example of what I mean. You have a house that has a front door, back door, side door, and a door that provides entrance to a basement suite. It’s likely that you would have a master key – a skeleton key of sorts that can open all four doors. This “key” represents substances like testosterone and other anabolic-androgenic steroids. These drugs “unlock” androgenic receptors, which results in various androgenic effects.

But, what happens if you want to provide limited entrance to your house only through the basement door?

Thanks to SARMs, you can now do that too.

 

The ability to only “unlock” some or selective androgen receptors is the main reason behind the development of SARMs. By doing so, researchers thought that it would be able to minimize undesirable side-effects normally associated with anabolic-androgenic steroids. At the same time, it was believed that by opening some ‘doors’ and not others would allow users to exploit desirable effects - aka. the gains. And, all it would take would be to swallow a pill or two, once a day. I’ll let you decide for yourself if maybe that sound a little to good to be true.

While it took a few decades, a lot of money and numerous failed experiments, by the late 1990’s pharmaceutical companies believed they finally had created the perfect oral-anabolic drug for use in clinical populations. To do so, they developed a nonsteroidal substance that could do the job of a steroid by acting on specific androgen receptor sites. It also had simply dosing, little side effects and all the anabolic benefits desired. Hopefully it goes without saying that this was no easy feat – and arguably came with some issues for both researchers and trial users.

How exactly do you create a substance that can act on androgen receptors and provide all the tuff’ with none of the fluff?

Completely change the way it looks.

 

Let’s go back to our house analogy. Is there a way to unlock a door without having the key? Sure, grab yourself a hair pin and pick the lock. Now, if you’ve ever tried picking a lock with a hair pin, you’ll know this is a skill that requires mastery. While it’s not impossible to do, you must have the right combinations to be successful.

Does a hair pin and a key look anything alike? Heck no.

Guess what?

Neither do steroids and SARMs.

As I mentioned above, as a steroid, androgens share a 4-ring cholesterol structure. Guess what? SARMs don’t. Just by nature of them being a nonsteroidal compound they can’t and don’t have this same signature structure. Instead, there are 8 different chemical structures or “scaffolds”, that make-up the SARMs family – and each family has a host of different SARMs nested within it. As a result, the total number of specific SARMs structures are endless.

Unlike steroids, SARMs shouldn't metabolize into DHT (dihydrotestosterone by 5-[alpha]-reductase) or aromatise to estrogen – which means there shouldn’t be the same side effects such a male patterned hair loss, or gynecomastia.

In theory, SARMs may sound like a pretty golden product to try… all gains and only glory. Think again. This goose needs a lot more time, before it can safely take flight.

 

 

THE DUCK TEST

Have you ever heard of the duck test? You know the one I mean … "if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck."

What happens if it doesn’t look like a duck?

What happens if we change one of the crucial identifying components? If it doesn’t look like a duck, but it swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, is it probably a duck? I’ll let you be the judge of that one.

The reason I bring this up, is that this premise underlines the popular opinion of SARMs safety.

If it looks like a steroid because of a specific 4-ring structure, works on an androgen receptor, and can promote muscle growth and strength, then it must be an anabolic steroid… and those come with some hefty side-effects. So, what happens if it doesn’t look like a steroid? There aren’t any side-effects, duh.

Just like that, we have the foundation for one of the biggest myths surrounding SARMs. That they are somehow ‘safe’ to use - a ‘healthy’ steroid alternative that doesn’t have any side-effects. Sure, SARMs many not ‘look’ structurally like steroids, but they still share a lot in common with anabolic steroids, including similar associated health risks.

 

Before I go any further I also want to make something else clear – contrary to what many in the industry are saying about SARMs, they are not “100% anabolic.” While a major selling point of these compounds is that they are drugs that can provide only the anabolic effects of anabolic-androgenic steroids, and that’s just not the case - at least not yet. Plus, many of the popular SARMs used within the industry still have androgenic components – thus, opening the door for androgenic side effects. And these go beyond potential visual changes, and suppression of testosterone and sperm development through suspending the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis.

SARMs have many of the same side-effects of oral anabolic steroids, including influencing a rapid breakdown to levels of HDL or high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (the good stuff) and inflammation-induced rise in liver enzymes. While it’s possible these could be rectified by using an injectable form of SARMs, the reality is, that probably won’t be manufactured anytime soon. Keep in mind, these drugs were almost exclusively designed for oral use in therapeutic populations.

Many of negative sides of SARMs are exaggerated by supraphysiological dosages … you know, the “higher than suggested” standard doses used by athletes and bros alike.

Clinical studies on SARMs have only been done in vitro, isolated cells or in either animal studies (aka on rats) - or like many steroids, on the sick or old within clinical population settings. They have not been tested on healthy, young active males and females, and the doses within the research on SARMs are significantly lower than those required for performance enhancing effects. Even those lower doses have been seen to result in negative side-effects!

I think this is a good time to remind you that we’re dealing with the millennial anabolic. If after over 75 years we don’t know the full extent of AAS side effects, how do we know the health consequences of SARMs? We don’t.

We do not know the health consequences of SARMs.

Not only that, but by the time that we learn about a new SARM, it’s often already been re-configured by researchers. Currently pharmaceutical companies are testing “second-generation” non-steroidal SARMs (maybe even third by the time you read time) – leaving an entire flock of first-generation SARMs behind.

Why didn’t those ones go to clinical trial? Simple, they didn’t work like they were supposed too. Many first-gen SARMs had far too many risky side effects to ever get ‘stamp of approval’ required for their use.

No stamp = no approved used = no profit for drug companies.

And so, first gen-SARMs got scrapped by the pharmaceutical world. But you know what they say. One man’s trash, is another man’s treasure.

 

 

KILLING THE GOOSE

First-gen SARMs were found by researchers to dangerous and not actually effective, but that didn’t stop our industry’s serial snake-oil supplement gurus from manufacturing, propagating and making millions off sales. Unfortunately, this is one of many shortcomings associated with mainstream SARMs use.

The propaganda surrounding SARMs are plentiful. Much of it is nothing more than a myth – it holds small fragment of reality, and a whole lot of bs.  

For example, SARMs do build muscle. I can’t deny that. In some of the early studies on first-gen SARMs, there were ‘modest gains’ in lean mass – 1.0 to 1.5kg over the course of 4 to 6 weeks. Here’s the kicker – studies on injectable testosterone resulted in 5 to 7kg of lean mass gains over the same period. Plus, the modest SARMs gains came with nasty side effects!

 

If you’re familiar with SARMs you’ve probably noticed that many of them have code names, usually being made from a combination of letters followed by numbers. The reason for this is rather simple. SARMs are patented products that have not been approved for use, and are either still in – or never made it out of trial phases. They are experimental drugs that have not been offered for commercial sale by legitimate companies. Nevertheless, this hasn’t stopped the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) or recent law changes from tightening the iron anti-doping grip on the sale and use of SARMs.

In early 2008, SARMs were added to WADA’s prohibited list, becoming one of the many substances banned for use in athletic competition. Mainstream use continued to fly under the radar. But in May 2016 that would come to an end when the FDA reportedly explored complaints of specific SARMs being marketed and sold by supplement companies.

Basically, a pharmaceutical company caught wind that one of the drugs they had been studying in clinical drug trials for nearly a decade was being reproduced by sport supplements companies and marketed to the masses. Under the guise of calling this drug a “dietary supplement”, these companies almost got away with it too! Obviously, there’s more than one legal issue here. One of these include that under US federal law, dietary supplements can’t include a substance being investigated as a new drug. Which as you’ve just read, many SARMs most definitely are!

 

There’s also been recent (and growing numbers of) reports discussing SARMs being found in various products that they shouldn’t have been included in… buyers beware: tainted supplements do exist!

As I mentioned earlier, SARMs are patented – that means any company manufacturing them without the consent of the founding pharmaceutical, is doing so illegally. While it’s recorded that at least one pharmaceutical company has begun sending cease-and-desist letters to stop the illegal manufacturing of a specific SARM, there remains numerous other SARMs still readily available for purchase.

 

How did supplement companies get away with selling SARMs illegally for so long?

Through the lovely legal loophole known as “research chemicals.” Discussing it is out of the scope of this article, but I’ll say this – at this time, SARMs are not available for resale under any circumstances in both United States and Canada. Yes, Canada too… contrary to popular belief SARMs are not licensed or permitted for medical or therapeutic use in here either. If you doubt this, just take a look at the numerous cases against athletes who have been caught using SARMs through the Sport Dispute Resolution Center of Canada.

There are also major questions being raised about the purity of SARMs currently being sold. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Those backyard black market labs who make dirty gear, are now also in the SARMs game too. Underground SARMs tested by academic researchers found that instead of containing a pharmaceutical-grade drug as claimed, the products were more like a D.I.Y. disaster – containing at least 15% impurities.

So, what does all this mean? Although SARMs can’t be legally defined as ‘anabolic steroids’ (since they don’t have structurally resemble testosterone), that doesn’t mean they are free game.

 

Thought to be the “future of androgen therapy,” SARMs were truly believed to be an alternative to steroids – a Utopian drug that would revolutionize the pharmacological world. It’s been nearly 20 years since their inception, and there has yet to be an approved drug in this category yet. Few have been close, and while there are a few hopefuls currently in trial stages, at this point in time the golden egg hasn’t had time to hatch. Ultimately, the golden goose of gains hasn’t even been laid yet.

Thankfully, this hasn’t killed the SARM dream yet. Researchers are continuing to reconfigure molecular structures at an astronomical pace, and the newest generation of drugs may be available for clinical use within the next few years. Presently, both the side-effects and suspicious claims are alive and causing a lot of potential harm for the future of these drugs.

For now, it looks like SARMs may be nothing more than a sitting duck.

 

 

 

© Victoria Felkar. All rights reserved. For informational purposes only, not to be construed as legal or medical advice.

 

 

SWIS 2016 Clip: The Prep Myth

A clip from my talk at SWIS 2016 on Muscle Hypertrophy & Fat Loss Nutritional Strategies for Female Competitors. 

 

· · · ·

See more at:  https://swisvideoflix.mykajabi.com/
FB: SWIS Symposium 2016
IG: @SWIS2016 

Ken Kinakin:
FB: Ken Kinakin
IG: @kenkinakin

 

The Vanguard Sessions Podcast: Drug Talk

The Vanguard Sessions with Andrew Rose #10

 

Back at podcast guesting thanks to Andy Rose and The Vanguard Sessions!

I first met Andy a few weeks back at the elitefts Sport Performance Summit. I was on stage just about to sit down with the other presenters for a Q&A session, when he introduced himself and asked me if I would be interested in coming on his podcast. In the days following, after exchanging banter and chatting about the current state of the industry, I knew that this was going to be a great podcast experience.

From the pervasive and historical use of drugs in sport, to talking about some of the current issues surrounding anabolics and women's health, we dive into the PED abyss. Thanks again Andy!

 

EPISODE LINK:

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-tapap-8dbc0c

 

ITUNES: 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-vanguard-sessions-podcast/id1350278649?mt=2

 

Andy's Summary: 

I think it's high time we unbury our heads from the sand. Drugs - the performance enhancing kind - are here and they're here to stay. What's not here, unfortunately, is the data needed to help keep us healthy and safe. Sure, we're all getting bigger, faster, and stronger. Are we dying quicker? Are we destroying our bodies faster than we're repairing them? Will we ever have the answers? Or will we keep fumbling around in the dark using anecdotal broscience from some forum our old gym buddy once read on his ex-cousin-in-law's phone? This is a long episode, but I couldn't cut it short. There was way too much to be discussed.  Enjoy.  

 

spartan_2.jpg

 

Learn more about Andy Rose & The Vanguard Sessions podcast:
www.aefit.net
FB: @AndrewRose
IG: @vanguardbarbell
 

 

Ask Me Anything E4: Keto, Fasting & Why I Hate Diets

Then there were 4! 

In the fourth episode of Ask Me Anything, I provide a response to two separate questions on nutrition protocols: (1) Keto for Fat Loss in Women; (2) Intermittent Fasting for Longevity. 

But in typical VF fashion, what I talk about is far from the overly generalized and 'absolute' answers that often get thrown around to these types of questions. I cover all of this and more → 
· A reminder why diets are only temporary
· The often forgotten therapeutic role of food
· A 'diet' is only as good as your digestion. 
· The Keto, PCOS & gallbladder connection ... (aka. why your poop is yellow liquid & burps smell like sulphur) 
· #gutlife - The importance of a healthy gut microbiome & functioning GI system
· Personal story about my own digestion troubles, elimination diets & trigger foods,  
· Why a tummy ache isn't the only thing you have when your digestion sucks
· Things to consider about about specific protocols like keto & IF
· Dispel some industry nutrition myths
· Provide some practical tips for eating for your BODY, health, performance and goals

Don't forget, eat for your body, eat for your goals! 


If you like what you see - feel free to share and comment below. Want me to cover a topic or quesiton a video? Please shoot me a DM or leave a comment. 

Video by: Alora Griffiths
aloragriffiths.foliodrop.com
FB: Alora Griffiths
IG: @aloragriffiths



 

The Enigma of Anabolics for Her

 

Women & Steroids:
Ignorance & the Enigma of Anabolics for Her.

Lately I've found myself disgusted with the sheer amount of overly simplistic and dangerous discussions of female anabolic-androgen steroid (AAS) use. By no means is this an easy area to unpack. Quite frankly, it's an enigma, and in order to host a responsible conversation requires a lot more than just reciting 'scientific data' like it's gospel.

To begin to understand this massively intricate topic takes challenging certain personal beliefs like biological difference between the sexes, typical “masculine” or “feminine” characteristics, and knowledge about the body itself. It involves understanding physiology, biomedicine, the endocrine system, hormones, and of course androgens specifically, while not forgetting to mix in ‘personalized medicine’ – a method emphasizing evaluation and programming based on the individual and their uniquely dynamic characteristics. It demands a grasp of the physical and chemical properties of AAS, and basic clinical pharmacology of the effects of specific compounds is also essential.

Most critical of all, there needs to be context. Who exactly are we talking about? What other health and performance variables must be considered? What additional factors - whether internal or external to that particular individual's body must be explored? What drugs were used, for how long, and what source are they from? In this conversation, context is everything. 

As an academic researcher I am writing this not as scare tactic. In fact, I’m very critical of, and often appalled by, pseudo-scientific, unethical, and propaganda-like scholarly publications preaching the ‘evils’ of steroid use without citing relevant studies to back such claims. Nothing irks me more than reading information, hearing conversations, and seeing firsthand the damaging results of uneducated and ill-informed bro-pharmacists. I recognize fully the dangerous influence of Dr. Juice – the contest prep cocktail isn’t just a concern for females but all AAS users, but to say it simply – the body is complicated. 

 

Often I see athletes getting so focused on the ‘outside’, that what is happening on the inside gets ignored. At the crux of most sport is the desire to perform, and not just 'good enough' but to excel. To take your body to a new limit - whether it's an achievement of strength, speed or physical appearance. It's ok to want to win. It's ok to push the limits. But we have to start appreciating that by doing so, we alter and modified how well our internal systems can function. No matter how much 'science' or 'evidence' is involved during the process, many times the extent of this is unbeknownst until it's too late.

 

Fem chem.

While AAS are a class of drugs often containing synthetic testosterone, we all have this steroidal hormone flowing naturally in our bodies. Of course there are large variations in natural (endogenous) levels of testosterone. Since we are talking about women, I want to mention a hugely important point – whether genetic or due to other causes, some females have high levels of androgens. Indeed, androgen excess is the most common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age.

Women naturally produce sex steroids in various parts of their body – primarily the adrenal glands and ovaries. Other tissues such as fat and skin can also assist in converting weak androgens to stronger ones. Furthermore, some women with excess androgens may have excess levels of circulating insulin (insulin resistance), which has a massive effect on metabolic function, and can manifest in a wide range of symptoms including weight gain and lethargy. High androgens are also a common marker for an endocrine disorder called 'Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome' (PCOS) (as I've discussed before, this is a misunderstanding panacea). While it may come with a list of sub-characteristics and manifestations, little is known about 'PCOS' in “fit” women. Currently there is a limited study exploring how AAS may interact with 'PCOS', metabolic function, or influence the body’s ability to create and use androgens naturally.

Why am I spewing this medical mumbo jumbo? All of this is hugely important to remember when discussing women and steroids for a number of reasons including the fact for whatever reason people seem to think the female body lacks any amount of androgens to begin with. Furthermore, there appears to be a lack of regard for the variance in natural levels of androgens, and the different ways in which women can metabolize these steroids. I told you, it's complicated. But guess what? All of this gets even more complex when you add in our abysmal knowledge of athlete steroid use in general.

 

Bro Knowledge

For over 50 years AAS have been a cluster of controversy and panic, which unfortunately has limited academically sound and clinically applicable information on these drugs. The studies that do get discussed within the industry often pertain to the use of AAS within medical populations, or are concerned with self-administration by males – neither can be translated for female use! So where do you go then to learn about women and steroids? Internet forums of course! And if that doesn’t work, hire a prep coach. If those thoughts crossed your mind, even for a second, please give yourself a very hard smack, as that assumption couldn’t be more wrong and dangerous.

Let's break a few things down –

Your prep coach is not a researcher and Internet forums are not medical textbooks. Many times the information isn’t even on the specific compound you are looking to better understand because (surprise) anabolic steroids are sold on the BLACK MARKET. They are unregulated and not controlled for purity or strength. Thus, there is a high chance they have been cross-contaminated. Please note that a little sticker saying “pharmaceutical grade” means absolutely nothing. For men this is important, but for women it is absolutely crucial. Although health risks exist with any AAS, there are certain properties associated with specific compounds that may pose less of a risk for some women (please note the absolute lack of any generalizing statement within this comment).

The effects of female hormone manipulation are murky. Even if you determine a particular steroid is acceptable for personal use, you’ll be lucky to get your hands on a bottle actually containing the desired drug. And this matters! You should know what you are taking as all AAS are not the same!

Different AAS elicit different anabolic and androgen responses- anabolic induced changes to rates of muscle growth AND androgenic responses such as acne, hirsutism (abnormal hair growth), and reproductive dysfunction. These vary from drug to drug, and are often described in the form of a ratio. For example, synthetic testosterone has an anabolic to androgenic ratio of 1:1. This is the one and only time you’ll read a specific compound name in this article. Why? There’s a sickening sense of “protection” associated with specific drugs due to this ratio. An assumed safety net has been cast over certain drugs deemed “ok” for female consumption simply because they have lower androgenic activity. This notion is not only irresponsible and foolish, but it’s created a lack of critical thinking and laziness around female anabolic use. It amazes me that someone will prep for months BUT won’t put in the time and effort to truly understand the drugs they are putting into their body, and the influence on their health. While there’s little assistance from medical sciences on anabolic steroids, education is not impossible.

 

I'm not getting off my soap-box yet. Please know, I’m all for personal choice. I completely respect an individual’s decision to build their body as they please, but regarding AAS, there is a responsibility to fully understand risks, rewards, and long-term consequences of usage. Who you are today may not reflect who you want to be tomorrow. While you may want to be the next Ms. Olympia, life changes - your health changes. If you really want to learn more about steroids for the female users start with the basics. Understand basic human physiology. Work with a health care practitioner to track your sex hormones and menstruation patterns, and know the interaction of these on the endocrine system. There is some work out there on women and steroid use - however, there is a lot of room for improvement... variables not controlled for or even mentioned, problematic methodologies, and just all around bad science. 

 

Ignorance & bad science

So no, women and steroids is not a topic that you can simply search on the Internet or ask a random bro about. As I mentioned above, unfortunately it's also one that recently some of the industry's "most educated" have completely dropped the ball on - spewing off preconceived notions and unsubstantiated information without any critical reflection of the impact that their words have on the health of others.

To be honest, I get sick to my stomach when I think about the far reaching consequences of the conversations happening on social media about women and steroid use. I'm not just talking about female AAS use either, but steroids and other pharmaceuticals used in hormone manipulation in all forms: androgens, peptides, selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs), anti-estrogens, oral contraceptives, hormonal IUDs, hormone replacement therapies -  oral, injectable, implants, patches, creams, sprays, and powders.

 

Do I know everything there is to know about female hormone manipulation? Hell no. By no means do I see myself as an authority on this topic. Even with my doctoral research being on women and steroids - the use of AAS and oral contraceptives by female athletes, and all the time I have spent specializing in this area and working directly with female athletes, doctors and other professionals, I am no expert. 

Guess what? When it comes to women and steroids, I'm not afraid to admit that there is a lot that I don't know. Now that I've probably lost the confidence of a few by admitting this, I'll tell you something that I do know about this topic: I don't know because we don't know. We don't know because there is a complete lack of study, critical conversation and personal dialogue - not only as it relates to female hormone manipulation, but women's health issues as a whole. Especially, information from a female perspective, which when it comes to these topics isn't important - it's essential.

 

As a result, it's vital to get good, reputable and contextual information out there. It's crucial to host conversations about women and steroids openly and without bias. But, there is a warning that should come with doing this - 

Words have power.

When you have power, words become the divine

 

Be careful what you put out to the world because the publication of inaccurate or misleading data is no different than the ignorance you seek to destroy. Ignorance is not bliss - it is dangerous. Ignorance disguised as scientific knowledge has infinite power. It is an incurable disease that spreads like wildfire, and puts the health and safety of women in serious danger.

It's time to start respecting that anabolics for her is an enigma. You are not an expert on this topic because no one is an expert. Maybe once you do that, we can actually start helping women.

 

 

Ps. I am working relentlessly to be able to start sharing more of my research on women and steroids with you. After the recent events online, it's clear that right now - more than ever it's needed. 


Copy the link, share and help spread the word.
victoriafelkar.com/library/womenandsteroids

 

 

Ask Me Anything E3: Women & Hair Loss

Ask Me Anything

Internal and External Variables for Female Hair Loss (including androgen use)

From hats to hormones, seasonal changes to genetics, there are a lot of internal and external variables that make this topic a complicated one!

To get to the root of female hair loss, within the video I talk about →

  • Why hair loss is more than just about androgens 
  • The multi-factorial basis of hair loss
  • Internal & external variables that contribute to hair loss including
  • Some factors that aren't often get considered
  • My own experience with PCOS, hair loss, and frustrations with physicians
  • Androgenic alopecia (AA), PCOS & anabolic-androgenic hormones
  • The combination effect: managing individual precursors & variables for AA
  • Various treatment routes for AA
  • Why knowing the ingredients of your hair products matters
  • PEDs and their influence on hair loss

 

If you like what you see, feel free to share. If you have any questions you'd like me to cover please feel free to shoot me a message.

Video Location: Android Bodies
www.androidbodies.ca
FB: Android Bodies Inc.
IG: @androidbodies

Video by: Alora Griffiths
aloragriffiths.foliodrop.com
FB: Alora Griffiths
IG: @aloragriffiths

Ask Me Anything E2: Periods, Training & Hormonal Adaptations

Ask Me Anything

Can you breakdown the stages of a women’s menstrual cycle, and how training volume/intensity should be adapted to their cycle?

 

I tackle this question by discussing why in my opinion you can't actually adequately adapt training to an individual's menstrual cycle. To do so, I cover all of this and more:

  • Menstrual life cycle & the huge degree of individual variance
  • The influence of various hormonal adaptions such as birth control, exogenous hormones & training
  • Why lab work is hard to do
  • Training for your own individual menstrual cycle including controlling inflammation
  • Some key biofeedback markers to track and follow


If you like what you see, feel free to share. If you have any questions you'd like me to cover please feel free to shoot me a message.

Video Location: Android Bodies
www.androidbodies.ca
FB: Android Bodies Inc.
IG: @androidbodies

Video by: Alora Griffiths
aloragriffiths.foliodrop.com
FB: Alora Griffiths
IG: @aloragriffiths

 

VF Vault: Kettlebell Interview

From the VF Vault

“The kettlebell has a long and complex history that ultimately parallels the embodied practices of weightlifting itself. You have multiple origins, names, figures, and ways to lift the object itself,” she says. “War, global politics, globalization, the multicultural climate of North America. There are so many factors that have influenced the rise of not only physical culture, but weightlifting, all the way down to the kettlebell itself.”

 

Back in 2016, a really awesome Auzzy writer for barbend.com named Nick English reached out to me to help him with a piece on the history of the kettlebell. 

A phone call and few hours later, an ongoing research project that I had been working on since 2013 transformed into a really great interview. As Nick said within the article, "the problem with kettlebell history is that surprisingly few people care" - however I do and apparently numerous others do as well. This article gained huge traction and the feedback was great.

See for yourself, you may be surprised with how interesting the history of the kettlebell actually is.

 

Kettlebell History Goes Back Much Further Than Russia
https://barbend.com/kettlebell-history/

 

 

Prepare with Flow

Here's part of my lower body warm-up sequence.

I could get technical and go into the specifics on movement patterns, activation, stabilization and mobility - but instead I’ll just say this: a warm-up should flow. 

Instead of warming up with single isolated exercises, by doing sequences of strategic exercises it helps prepare the body better to perform. After all, human movement is flow. Bonus, sequences are also time efficient.

Prepare with flow, move with flow!
 

 
 

Vlog with Alora Griffiths

So excited to share my first vlog experience with the incredible Alora Griffiths.

We get straight to business and get uber personal by chatting numbers from my strong days, reflecting on the first time John Meadows broke me at EliteFTS what’s in my closet, and a whole lot more! Check out the link in my bio to watch all the craziness.

In all serious, I cannot give this girl enough props and gratitude. Alora is not only quickly climbing the ranks as an absolute force on the powerlifting champ platform, but she’s also kicked my ass and pushed me to step up my social game.

Thank you Alora for everything, I am SO thankful for you, and so proud to see you continue to raise the bar (literally). Good luck with weekend at CPF Finals!
 

 

Video Location: Android Bodies
www.androidbodies.ca
FB: Android Bodies Inc.
IG: @androidbodies

Video by: Alora Griffiths
aloragriffiths.foliodrop.com
FB: Alora Griffiths
IG: @aloragriffiths

 

Ask Me Anything E1: PEDs

Do you believe there's a time and a place for PEDs?

In this clip I go over the complexities of performance enhancing drug use by discussing:
· A brief history of their use in sport
· What exactly is performance enhancement
· Societal ideals of PED use
· The importance of knowing your own stance on PEDs
· Therapeutic value of compounds vs. enhancement

If you like it, please feel free to share!
 

· · · ·

Video Location: Android Bodies
www.androidbodies.ca
FB: Android Bodies Inc.
IG: @androidbodies

Video by: Alora Griffiths
aloragriffiths.foliodrop.com
FB: Alora Griffiths
IG: @aloragriffiths

 

 

Muscle Expert: Hormone Manipulation & Food as Therapy

Muscle Expert Podcast with Ben Pakulski #58

USING food as a therapeutic tool and hormone manipulation in sports

 

Can’t thank Ben Pakulski enough for having me on The Muscle Expert. I'll admit, I was nervous as all when I found out that I was the first female guest - but I think he managed to keep the entire conversation organic and flowing by not telling me we were even recording! Seriously, though - this was such a good podcast, and it was great to catch up, talk shop and educate on some really critical topics. Thanks again Ben!

 

Key Highlights:

  • How to balance fat ratios.
  • The menstrual cycle myth and why women should be wary of missing their menstrual cycle.
  • Glucose disposal agents, sex hormones, sleep deprivation, post-diet binge eating mitigation strategies.  

 

"Just don't eat like an asshole" 

 

EPISODE LINK:

http://www.benpakulski.com/podcasts/victoria/

 

ITUNES: 

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/ben-pakulski-podcast-muscle/id725296816

 

STITCHER: 

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ben-pakulski-podcast-muscle-expert-interviews-how-to-build/ben-pakulski-podcast-muscle-expert-interviews

 

Learn more about Ben Pakulski & The Muscle Expert podcast:
http://www.benpakulski.com
FB: @IFBBbenpakFANPage
IG: @ifbbbenpak
Youtube: MI40 Muscle Intelligence

 

 

Time Stamps:

4:00 Victoria's dissertation topic, exploring the world of female hormonal manipulation in elite sport.

10:47 Hyperandrogenism in females. 

11: 40 Metformin for women post competition.

13:40 Strategies for women recovering from androgen use. 

16:12 Progestron, chronic inflammation and more.

17:35 Reducing dietary triggers, changing your breakfast and eliminating the major allergenic foods.

20:06 Testing for gut health, food mapping protocols, and biofeedback.

21:50 Using food as a therapeutic tool. 

23:38 Balancing fat ratios. 

25:29 The modern American diet,

25:1 omega 6:3 ratio? 

28:50 Women, the first line of defense to overcome the psychology the binge and purge mindset. 

33:43 Glucose disposal agents, hormones, sleep deprivation. 

38:05 Less is more when it comes to training and more is more when it comes to food.

39:00 The menstrual cycle myth.

42:10 Victoria's book, nonhormonal ways to fix hormonal imbalances. 

45:50 The critical biopsychosocial physical ecological model of dynamic relations. 

52:00 Finding gratitude and acceptance.

56:42 Managing variables. 

1:00:20 Morning routines and avoiding emails.  

 

 

 

SWIS 2016 Clip: Post-Comp Strategies

From my talk at the 2016 SWIS Symposium on Female Competitor Health. In this clip from the SWIS 2016 Video library,  I discuss post competition strategies, and introduce the cconcept of changing your training strategy to re-frame how you think about your body post-show. 

See more at: http://swisvideo.com/collections/all

Learn more about SWIS:
http://swis.ca/
Access to SWIS videos
FB: Swis Video
 

SWIS 2016 Clip: PCOS

From my talk at the 2016 SWIS Symposium on Female Competitor Health. In this clip from the SWIS 2016 Video library,  I discuss PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and the steroid list women may take for competition ... aka pixiedust. 

 

Learn more about SWIS:
http://swis.ca/
Access to SWIS videos
FB: Swis Video
 

SARMs for Women

In this Q&A I tackle a question about SARMs for women, but in doing so open up a bigger conversation about the "new" kids on the anabolic block and the importance of information literacy.

Health Advocacy

Work files? Not exactly... 

Work? Not exactly.

You're probably thinking, what's reflective about a giant stack of paper?

I get it. It's a little odd for an article that's supposed to be reflective.

Here's the thing. That's not work.

What you see is all of my medical files from 2008 onward, neatly organized and ready to go for when or if I have new meeting with doctors and specialists.

It's been a hell of a long road and I've learned so much along the way about medicine, health and hormones. But, possibly just as important, I've learned how to 'play' the system.

Now, I don't like to generalize at all. The world is a unique and beautiful place, but if there is one thing that I can share with others regarding my experiences it is this.

Pretend like every doctors appointment is a job interview.

NEVER assume that they have your file or have taken the time to read it. You have to make them care. Come prepared. You have to show them that you are serious about your #health and that you are doing the necessary steps to get better.

You have to be your own advocate. I always type a list of time-lined symptoms, medications & supplements (type, dose, duration), current diet and training program, and QUESTIONS for them. It may sound trivial but this has proven to be SO crucial in my many years in the system. It allows me to keep calm, focused and ensure that I don't forget anything.

My personal background, education and research, as well as having a mother who is deeply embedded in the medical system as a hospital administrator/nurse practitioner/nursing school instructor has lead me to these insights.

Research shows that when people take an ACTIVE role in their care, they have a greater sense of satisfaction - and yet, research also shows that many patients don't speak up for themselves or communicate effectively with doctors. 

By sharing my story I hope that I can help others navigate the sometimes long and unpredictable journey back to health. 

 

With love & gratitude,

Victoria Felkar

 

 

 

 

When bodybuilding is your passion, not your life.

From the VF Vault. 

competition blog.jpg

June 24, 2014,


Time to chat about something that recently has been grinding my gears. No one puts this baby in the corner.

Bodybuilding is my passion, hobby and escape but it is NOT my life. I love to create, sculpt and mold myself into the body that I PERSONALLY please. Does this make me any less of a bodybuilder? Hell no. Simply put, I am NOT a competitive bodybuilder. Last time I checked each meal I eat, every cardio session completed and weight lifted is a part of a collective journey of building-my-body.

I have been a pupil of physique artistry and athletics since age 16. I have had amazing opportunities, learned from many bright, successful people in the industry - combined with my Kinesiology degree and other certifications I am guided both educationally and experientially in this journey. For that I am truly blessed.

I have had my setbacks. I have overcome bulimia and anorexia, and continue to work with the lingering effects of failed adrenals, hypothyroidism and a little autoimmune disease called celiacs. I have battled depression and will always be challenged by my other crazies. Those experiences have helped me become the "bodybuilder" I am today. They are written on my physique, both internally & externally - in doing so they have made me continually rethink my goals and redefine the bodybuilder that I want to be.

I have had the opportunity to work with many amazing athletes, and live vicariously through those who I have helped reach the stage. The relationships I build with them are always built on trust and fostered by respect. I continue to learn and grow with each and every one of them. 

Now to the point of this long rant. Does the fact that I am NOT a competitive bodybuilder make me any less of a "coach"? In my personal and professional opinion the answer is crystal clear. 


For the first time I've revealed what's hidden under my sweaty men's large t-shirts as proof to those that have questioned my abilities and success as a bodybuilder.

This is the life I love. Bodybuilding is my art, not my sport. Lifting weights is my passion, not my sport. I acknowledge and respect all those who may differ in my philosophies and pedagogy - if we all had the same ideas the industry would be rather bland.

In my opinion, bodybuilding isn't just about building bodies. It is about building a lifestyle. It is about building relationships, ideas, passions and knowledge, because I think we all know that how we look on the outside is only a small fraction of who we really are. 

Many years ago I made a commitment to myself to always dream for more, believe in myself and work to inspire others. If I have done anything by showing my backside on social media I sincerely hope that I have done just that. 

Dream, believe and inspire. Never let anyone define who you are and what your passions are.

 

With love & gratitude, 

Victoria Felkar