The Three Primary Energy Pathways

Published July 24, 2014 by coachkatriel

I observed a conversation regarding whether a higher fat or a higher carbohydrate diet was better. The one has had great success in maintaining a low body fat percentage and having good energy throughout the day by eating a high fat diet. The other has had great success in achieving strength gains and having high energy during high intensity workouts by having a higher carbohydrate diet. This conversation got me interested in the different energy pathways the body uses and how to find a balance between what these two were saying in order to help people achieve their best results with the goals that they have.

Carbohydrate and fat are both food energy sources. In order for your body to use carbs or fat for energy, however, it must be converted to ATP, which is the energy currency of the cells. There are three primary energy pathways that the human body will use to convert our food energy into ATP depending on how quickly we need the energy.

The Phosphagen System is the fastest of the energy systems, used during short-term high-intensity activities such as a max effort deadlift or a short sprint. The phosphagen system uses creatine phosphate. Your body produces creatine phosphate using amino acids and can store a small amount in the muscles. Because there is a limited amount in the muscles, this system can get depleted very quickly. You might supplement with creatine in your post workout shake in order to more quickly replenish and even increase your creatine storages so you don’t fatigue as quickly.

The Anaerobic System is also used during high-intensity activities, but in those that are slightly longer, lasting between 30 seconds and three minutes. The anaerobic system requires carbohydrate and can replenish itself very quickly, assuming there is enough carbohydrate available in your system.

The Aerobic System is used during low intensity exercise and it can utilize either carbohydrate or fat. This is the system we’re most likely to spend the most amount of time in during every day life.

Carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for your brain and your muscles. It’s important to note that after high intensity exercise, muscle cells are very insulin sensitive, which means your muscles will be likely to take up the carbohydrates consumed shortly after your workout. Outside of this exercise window, it’s typically the fat cells that are the most insulin sensitive, so they would take up the extra carbohydrate consumed throughout the day.

If your everyday life is more sedentary, it might be wise to consume most of your carbohydrate dense foods such as fruits and grains around the time you workout and have primarily vegetables, fats, and proteins the rest of the day. If you are very sedentary, vegetables should give you enough carbohydrate during the day to adequately fuel your brain and muscles and would help you to avoid fat storage.

If you are very active during the day, eating some slowly digesting carbohydrates might be more beneficial to you as following a higher fat, lower carb diet might leave you feeling pretty fatigued.

Overall, listen to your body. Monitor your intake. Be mindful of what foods you are eating have carbohydrates and which have fats. Pay attention to what your weight is doing from week to week (if that’s important to you). Make sure you are eating enough to support your energy needs but not eating so much that your body can’t use all the energy and ends up storing it as fat.

No one likes burpees anyway

Published July 10, 2014 by coachkatriel


I’ve gotten to the point in my pregnancy where the list of movements I have to modify is much longer than the list of movements I don’t. Anything bodyweight or gymnasty or that involves bouncing is going to involve a modwod. Most things with a barbell, I can manage mostly…but if I have to pick it up from the floor, my stance will be significantly wider and depending on the day, it just might not work out.

The best part about being pregnant is being able to feel my baby girl move. I love that she’s getting stronger and that I can feel her move more now. I love that she likes to dance while I sing. I love that she kicks me in the morning if I’m slow getting up. I am learning to love and laugh at the comments I’ve gotten from people so far.

1. You look….uncomfortable.
2. No way you’re due in October! You’ll never last that long
and of course
3. I bet you pop tomorrow and have a perfectly normal healthy baby

I’m grateful for my husband for how well he’s been handling my crazy and my meltdowns and my panic attacks. And for being supportive of me in working out and eating healthy.

Third Trimester. Here we come!

Beachin and Week 24 Bumpdate

Published June 20, 2014 by coachkatriel


We took a week off from our normal routine and got on a plane to Portland, rented a Subaru and drove to the coast to meet up with my family. Our adventure included Denny’s, long walks, Pig’n Pancake, sunshine, ice cream, bike rides, reading, exploring small towns, America Ninja Warrior, the aquarium, and catching up on extra sleep. When my mom was a little girl, Seaside Oregon was her family’s vacation spot of choice. Loving the Oregon coast is in my blood and I hope to pass that love on to my baby girl. 

I had to take another week when I got home to really focus on catching up on my homework and getting back into my weekly routine. Seth’s been switching me to be a morning workout gal and I am finding that I am so much more productive when I am up at 8:00 instead of 10:00. I add an extra two hours at the beginning of the day and get an extra two at the end of the day after work since I get my workout in the morning instead. The hardest part is getting out of bed (I fight Seth tooth and nail every morning) but once I get out of bed and am on my way to the gym, I feel better.

Pregnancy wise, The Workout Mama posted a weekly bumpdate on her site, and I thought her format was cute, so I’m borrowing some of her ideas for today’s post :)

Estimated Due Date: October 9th, 2014 – at each appointment, the doctor has said I’m measuring very consistently with where they’d except me to be for that due date.

Gender: Girl!

Weight Gain: Yup.

How I Am Feeling: I definitely noticed a difference in my energy when we were in Oregon. On previous trips, I would walk for hours on the beach every day. I went on one really long walk that wore me out for the rest of the trip. My pelvis is also loosening up, which is awesome cause it’ll make it easier when I have to get the baby out, but also a little bit painful sometimes. I’m in love with my baby though and get excited whenever I can feel her dancing in my belly. I like to have conversations with her and tell people about them. I love looking at all things baby, and if I get too stressed, you can find me sitting in a recliner at target staring at the wall of baby stuff. I’ve got some baby clothes in my crib already and I’ll routinely sort through them or picture my little girl wearing them.

Movement: I did an awesome job of building a protective layer of insulation and cushion around my baby girl, so I don’t always notice her movements very well. As she’s getting stronger, I’m able to feel them better and am excited for that!

Sleeping: If I have my pillow nest set up, I’m golden.

Clothing: I have a pair of white ankle length maternity jeans and a pair of black maternity leggings (both from target) that I wear with all my shirts that still kind of fit. Other than that, I’m in maxi dresses. For the gym, I bought some tank tops that are longer and looser in the tummy but for the most part, my stretchy workout pants still fit well enough.

Exercise: This week so far, I’ve been able to get 4 days of exercise in at the gym with strength training on two of those days and a 15-25 minute conditioning workout after. I’ve also been able to fit in a walk and am hoping to get more of those in. I’ve been modifying movements that involve jumping, running, or lying on my back because of how my body feels. I’ve also had to modify things with pull ups (usually to ring rows) or push ups (going knees down) and burpees (I don’t always go all the way down to the floor cause it smooshes my belly and doesn’t feel right) Most of the time, I stick with the RX level weight on the MetCons, but I’ve been taking my snatches and cleans from the hang position instead of all the way down to the floor. Each night, I’ve been doing some stretches to help loosen up my back and they help a ton.

Most Looking Forward To: I sent my mom this text this morning: “We’re gonna get our nails did together and our hair did together and we’ll have tea parties together and dance parties together and we’ll deadlift together!! I’m so excited to meet my baby girl.” I’m also excited for my first baby shower coming up in a month!

I’m feeling Twenty-Two (weeks pregnant, that is)

Published June 5, 2014 by coachkatriel

I woke up this morning singing the Taylor Swift song “22” because…I MADE IT 22 WEEKS!!!
I’ve been able to feel baby girl dancing around in my belly and it’s the best! I’ve heard that as she gets stronger, I might not enjoy it as much, but right now I’m just loving that pregnant feeling.
Seth convinced me to start waking up a little bit earlier to “bro out” with him at the gym. Yesterday I did some back jerks, back squats and overhead squats (with a pause at the bottom) and hubby commented on how I’ve managed to maintain a lot of my flexibility still. I let him know it’s more likely just the relaxin. He said we might need to inject some of that into some of our less mobile clients. When deciding how heavy to go on my squats, I take about 70% of my old max and then take the recommended percentage off of that. I make sure to stop at a weight before I feel like I’m straining to put the weight up.
Today we did some Olympic lifting complexes. Olympic lifting is my favorite because I always feel so hardcore tossing the barbell around, but I’ve definitely had to cut back on the weights as my belly is getting bigger and I can’t keep the bar as close to midline anymore. After lifting, we did a metcon (The metabolic conditioning portion of the workout). I changed a lot of the movements from what Seth was doing but managed to get pretty sweaty and stinky in my 10 minute metcon still.
I felt much better about my nutrition this week and I feel a lot stronger and better than I have for awhile as well. I’m really enjoying this part of pregnancy and am even able to laugh instead of cry when I try something on and it doesn’t quite fit right anymore.
This post is part of a link up with Katie Did What for Healthy Habits today! Click over to her page to check out the other linkers!

Thoughts at 21 weeks

Published May 30, 2014 by coachkatriel

I’ve been really, really, really lucky and blessed with this pregnancy so far.
For one, we got pregnant really quickly after we started trying.
For two, the doctor’s never had any trouble finding our baby’s heart beat.
For three, at the ultrasound, baby was progressing properly and normally and had all her parts and pieces where they needed to be. I follow a lot of different blogs and talk to a lot of different people, and I know that those things alone make this pregnancy an abnormally smooth one. There have definitely been some difficulties that I hadn’t anticipated, but I still count myself as incredibly blessed.

I know this sounds super cheesy, but I am so grateful for the miracle that is life. What started as a couple cells has grown into a fetus with 5 fingers on each hand and two perfectly adorable little shins that make me giggle with excitement every time I watch the ultrasound video.

I’ve been grateful for this second trimester to have been able to get my workouts in. With my strength work, I listen to my body and stop before I feel like I’m straining and definitely stop before my form collapses. With my conditioning work, I try to give it my best while still incorporating lots of rest and drinking lots of water. It’s sometimes hard to not get too competitive during my workouts and to not get embarrassed on the days when I come in last place. I have to remind myself sometimes that it’s NOT ABOUT ME and it’s definitely not about my pride right now. It’s about trying to be healthy in preparation for childbirth and to keep my baby girl healthy as well.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t done a great job with the nutrition. It’s been really hard for me to get back into a good routine with my nutrition after feeling dreadfully awful my whole first trimester. I’ve struggled to find a healthy balance and have definitely overdone the free meals. And because I’ve been eating what I feel like when I feel like it, my weight gain in this first half of pregnancy has been pretty terrifying. I faced the scale for the first time in 3 months on Wednesday, and I broke down and cried. I’m so over that now and back to watching my intake-not restricting my calories because I know I’ve got to give my baby what she needs to grow, but also trying not to go overboard with my intake. Really trying to focus on having more vegetables and protein and drinking lots and lots of water as well.

Even if you’re not pregnant, I recommend tracking everything you eat for 1 week. I logged onto my personal account on myfitnesspal today for the first time in…I have no idea how long…and I logged every bite I’ve put in my mouth today. From where I’d ESTIMATED my intake had been to where it ACTUALLY was after two meals, I was about 500 calories off, and that’s with just two meals. So if you’re struggling in anyway with your weight and not sure what’s going on, log your food!

So grateful for the opportunity I’ve had so far to experience pregnancy and praying for things to continue going as smoothly as they have been! I know what I need to do to improve and am looking forward to the next months!

Oh, hi baby!

Published May 7, 2014 by coachkatriel

We’ve been really excited and hard at work getting The New Warehouse ready for our CrossFit gym. My family came down to help build stuff this last Saturday which was awesome since I am not a super helper when it comes to building stuff. Probably the highlight of the day for me though was when I was yawning and felt a little “bloop” (somewhere between a flutter and a punch) in my belly. For a moment, I was confused and wasn’t sure what had happened and then it dawned on me…my baby was trying to tell me to get back to work! But honestly, I was so excited to feel that little movement and although I haven’t felt anything as definitively as that bloop since then, I’m excited to be able to feel my baby more as he or she gets bigger and I’m REALLY excited to see the little cutie on the ultrasound in two weeks. Because I’m a bit of an emotional cheeseball, I started singing the chorus from Big and Rich’s “Lost in This Moment” shortly after I recognized the bloop as a baby movement and I definitely started tearing up a little bit. I’ve dreamed about being a mom since I was a little girl and I am so excited to meet my baby! And yeah, it’s been a little bit challenging emotionally to gain weight and have every. single. person. ever. comment on how big my belly is getting, but little moments like that when I remember why my body is changing, I just feel so blessed and grateful to be able to be growing a baby right now.

CrossFit While Pregnant

Published April 22, 2014 by coachkatriel

I took an English class this semester and was asked for my final to write a 6-8 page paper about a research topic of my choosing. I chose to write about CrossFitting while pregnant and thought I’d share my findings and research with you here in hopes that something I learned might help someone else!

CrossFit While Pregnant

CrossFit is a training methodology that uses constantly varied, functional movements, executed at a high intensity to increase the capacity to do work across broad time and modal domains (Glassman). I found CrossFit a little over three years ago while looking for something that could help me to improve my self confidence and health. Through training CrossFit regularly, I have been able to become fitter, leaner, healthier, and happier. Through CrossFit, I also began coaching and helping other people to achieve their goals. One question I am asked fairly often is whether or not a woman should continue participating in CrossFit when she becomes pregnant or what exercise is best for pregnant women. Two months ago I found out that I am pregnant and this question of how I should proceed with exercise during my pregnancy has been at the forefront of my mind. As I’ve been doing this research, I have thought of all those who have been asking me this question and who I think might be asking this question in the future and chose to write this paper as the answer. I am of the opinion that women should continue with whatever exercise program they were doing prior to becoming pregnant, modifying as necessary to accommodate their new shape, weight and energy levels as those things change throughout pregnancy. I encourage all women to speak with their doctor as early as possible after finding out about pregnancy in case there are any concerns given their specific situation. In this paper, I will address some exercise related concerns as it pertains to pregnancy and go over some solutions and benefits as found in my research.

Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can lead to serious health problems for both mother and infant including gestational diabetes mellitus, hypertension, pre-eclampsia, etc. Regularly preformed physical activity can reduce the incidence of these concerns. While originally 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week was the general recommendation for low-risk pregnant women established by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, now many suggest that higher intensity vigorous exercise, can more effectively help to manage and reduce weight as well as build and maintain the muscle mass which is critical if one hopes to not suffer from a slowing metabolism. In a study reported in the Journal Of Physical Activity & Health in 2013, pregnancy practices associated with healthy weight gain were identified. This study concluded that regular exercise alone wasn’t necessarily associated with normal pregnancy weight gain, but that staying active during the day and following a healthy eating pattern had more of an association (Cohen, 1003).  It has also been suggested that “the duration of labour is inversely associated with aerobic capacity” (Zavorsky, 347). Kat Grosshaupt, co-founder of, CrossFit coach, doula, and birthing instructor shared her thoughts on CrossFit during pregnancy in an article for the Huffington Post. She noted that the labor times for the CrossFit Moms she worked with were all extremely short and relatively easy. She went on to say, “In all the births I’ve attended I’ve noticed CrossFit Moms having a great deal of stamina, mental focus and endurance, and with all the squats we do- – shorter pushing times. Oh and let’s not forget recovery. CrossFit moms have shorter, easier recoveries.” (Grosshaupt)  Women who would like to have a healthy pregnancy, shorter labor, and a quicker return to their pre-partum weight, participating in CrossFit, staying active during the day, and following a healthy pattern of eating would be critical for this to happen.

When I spoke with my doctor about exercise during pregnancy, she encouraged me to continue with the level of intensity I had been exercising at before becoming pregnant, but just to make sure I stayed well hydrated throughout the day and particularly so during and after exercise as well as to stop if anything felt uncomfortable. The research I have done supports this recommendation. According to the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology, doctors used to err on the side of caution for pregnant women because of the lack of research done. However, “numerous scientific studies have shown no correlation between moderate or even vigorous exercise and miscarriage or pregnancy-related complications. In fact, ACOG says if a woman is accustomed to vigorous exercise, she can continue to do it as long as she feels okay.” (as quoted by Grosshaupt)

One potential risk of exercise in pregnancy could be cardiac related. People who exercise regularly tend to have a lower baseline risk of heart attacks during exercise and the relative risk of sudden cardiac arrests during exercise only occurs once in approximately ever 565000 hours of exercise for people without known heart disease. In terms of cardiovascular health, even for previously sedentary pregnant women, the benefits of increasing physical activity outweigh the risks of myocardial infarction (Zavorsky 351).

Another potential risk of exercise training is low birth weight or higher risk of preterm birth. However, high intensity exercise during trimesters one and two does not affect birthweight but high intensity exercise during the third trimester could attribute to a 200-400g decrease in birthweight. (Zavorsky) A more recent study has come out to show that there is really no meaningful difference between infant birthweight for women who exercise and women who don’t. (Zavorsky) Regarding preterm birth, there have been several studies done that relate an actual decreased risk of preterm birth for women who do exercise (Zavorsky 352).  One study in particular showed that physical activity was not associated with late preterm birth or hospitalizations and that it was associated with decreased odds of cesarean delivery (Tinly, e103).  Another study concluded that the association between birth weight and metabolic disease is lost in physically fit individuals and that the association between low birth weight and metabolic syndrome is accentuated in unfit individuals. (Siebel) It also showed that exercise during pregnancy doesn’t adversely impact birth weight, but that it can help reduce the risk of abnormally low or high birth weight (Siebel, 948).

While women with high-risk pregnancies may sometimes be encouraged to remain inactive during their pregnancy, a study done three years ago proved that bed ridden pregnant women can still participate in an exercise program. This study used resistance bands as part of a supervised exercise program and there was no statistical difference in heart rate, blood pressure, or uterine contractions during or after exercise in comparison to the women who did not exercise during pregnancy. According to this study, women with high-risk pregnancies can engage in supervised exercise program and experience some physiological benefits with minimal risks to mother and baby (Brun, 582). These findings were interesting to me because the findings of these studies seem to consistently indicate that exercise is the answer and can actually help to avoid the concerns that previously people thought were linked to exercise.

A third risk of exercise is the association between exercise and fetal health. I heard a lot about this during my first couple weeks of pregnancy, how higher intensity exercise could potentially compromise the blood and nutrient flow to the uterus. There are many mechanisms in place to prevent this from happening. There may be modest changes in the uterine blood flow during and shortly after exercise but the body corrects that by 5 minutes after exercise (Zavorsky 352). That study would suggest that occasional high intensity exercise won’t hurt the baby as long as it is of moderate duration. This article didn’t specify what an acceptable duration would be, which leads me to go back to the advice from my doctor: if my body is used to it already, I can do it, but if something feels uncomfortable, back it off and make sure I am staying hydrated.

According to research preformed in 2013, in addition to the benefits already mentioned, exercise also helps pregnant women avoid low-back pain as well as depression during and after pregnancy. In the study referenced, only 14.6% of the participants actually followed the exercise recommendations during pregnancy. The study also found that the more educated a woman, the more exercise she performed during her pregnancy (Gjestland, 515).  After reading this, as well as the other articles mentioned throughout this paper, I feel even more that it is important for me to share the information I’ve learned about exercising during pregnancy.

CrossFit during pregnancy is particularly beneficial because it is adaptable by nature. According to, “The CrossFit program is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience … We’ve used our same routines for elderly individuals with heart conditions and cage fighters one month out from televised bouts. We scale load and intensity; we don’t change programs … The needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree not kind.” (Glassman) A woman’s body will go through many changes during pregnancy and CrossFit is designed to be scaleable and adaptable in order to meet each individual’s needs. According to Grosshaupt, “This “issue” of whether CrossFit is safe or not if moms are harming their babies and putting them at risk has about 50 percent to do with exercise itself, but it also has to do with, in my very vocal opinion, trusting that women know what they are doing with regard to their bodies.” (Grosshaupt). Women who would like to have a healthy pregnancy should begin or continue a regular exercise program before becoming pregnant if possible. Ideally, CrossFit is an excellent program to start in order to ideally prepare the body for the demands of labor and delivery. Listen to your body and trust your instincts. Modify as necessary to accommodate your changing body. Rest when needed and drink plenty of water. If already pregnant and currently physically inactive, slowly increase your physical activity throughout the day and speak with your doctor about how best to begin an exercise program.


Works Cited

Barakat, Ruben, et al. “Exercise During Pregnancy And Gestational Diabetes-Related Adverse Effects: A Randomised Controlled Trial.” British Journal Of Sports Medicine 47.10 (2013): 1-7. SPORTDiscus with Full Text. Web. 16 Mar. 2014

Brun, Chantale R., et al. “Bed-Rest Exercise, Activity Restriction, And High-Risk Pregnancies: A Feasibility Study.” Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism 36.4 (2011): 577-582. SPORTDiscus with Full Text. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.

Cohen, Tamara R., Hugues Plourde, and Kristine G. Koski. “Use Of The Pregnancy Physical Activity Questionnaire (PPAQ) To Identify Behaviors Associated With Appropriate Gestational Weight Gain During Pregnancy.” Journal Of Physical Activity & Health 10.7 (2013): 1000-1007. SPORTDiscus with Full Text. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.

Gaston, Anca, Anita Grace Cramp and Harry Prapavessis. “Pregnancy—Should Women Put Up Their Feet Or Lace Up Their Running Shoes?: Self-Presentation And The Exercise Stereotype Phenomenon During Pregnancy.” Journal Of Sport & Exercise Psychology 34.2 (2012): 223-237. SPORTDiscus with Full Text. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.

Gjestland, Kristin, “Do Pregnant Women Follow Exercise Guidelines? Prevalanece Data Among 3482 Women, And Prediction Of Low-Back Pain, Pelvic Girdle Pain And Depression.” British Journal of Sports Medicine 47.8 (2013): 515-520. SPORTDiscus with Full Text. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.

Grosshaupt, Kat. “In Defense of Pregnant CrossFitting.”Huffington Post. (2013): n. page. Web. 13 Apr. 2014. <;.

Glassman, Greg. “What is CrossFit.” (2003):n. page. Web. 13 Apr. 2014. <;.

Hammer, RL, J Perkins, and R Parr. “Exercise During The Childbearing Year.” Journal Of Perinatal Education 9.1 (2000): 1-13 CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.

Melzer, K, et al. “Physical Activity And Pregnancy: Cardiovascular Adaptations, Recommendations And Pregnancy Outcomes.” Sports Medicine 40.6 (2010): 493-507. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.

Siebel, Andrew L., Andrew L Carey, and Bronwyn A Kingwell. “Can Exercise Training Rescue The Adverse Cardiometabolic Effects Of Low Birth Weight And Prematurity?.” Clinical & Experimental Pharmacoogy & Physiology 39.11 (2012): 944-957. SPORTDiscus with Full Text. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.

Tinloy, Jennifer, et al. “Exercise During Pregnancy And Risk Of Late Preterm Birth, Cesarean Delivery, And Hospitalizations.” Women’s Health Issues 24.1 (2014): e99-e104. CINAHL Plus with Full Text.  Web. 16 Mar. 2014.

Zavorsky, Gerald S., and Lawrence D. Longo. “Exercise Guidelines In Pregnancy.” Sports Medicine 41.5 (2011): 345-360. SportDiscus with Full Text. Web. 16 Mar. 2014


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