From the Blog

Food and Skincare Safety

Is Our Go-To Sun Protection, Actually “Protective?”

With summer right around the corner, many people will spend any free time flocking to the beaches or taking vacations to places where they will spend time outdoors with friends or family. People are more knowledgeable about the negative, life-threatening risks of prolonged UV exposure now more than ever before. Studies on the effects of UV radiation have led people to be a bit more mindful about using sun protection when it comes to being outside for a long period of time. But what about the lotions and sprays that we apply to protect ourselves; are they safe for us to use on our skin? Well, there have been studies that suggest that this isn’t the case.

There are actually a few ingredients found in sunscreen lotions and sprays that are linked to breast cancer, hormone disruption, and other forms of cancer. There are two active chemicals that claim to be used to protect against broad-spectrum UVA and UVB rays: oxybenzone and cinnamates. What causes these chemicals to have their effect is that they are absorbed into the skin and are “penetration enhancers,” that help it stick to skin and maintain the effectiveness. When these chemicals are absorbed, they disrupt natural body processes, hormones, and can even cause skin allergy reactions.  Oxybenzone disrupts hormones by mimicking estrogen, changing sperm production, and more. Cinnamates have an effect on thyroid hormone production, the reproductive system, as well as altering behavioral activity in studies done on animals. To make matters worse, these harmful chemicals found in sun lotions and sprays accumulate in our oceans, reacting to make increased amounts of hydrogen peroxide which proves to be a hazard to marine life and the coral reefs.

Now, I’m not saying to completely skip out on protecting your skin because skin cancers, especially melanoma, are increasing in the US at an alarming rate. But it’s important to keep in mind and become aware of the active chemicals in most sun protection items on the shelves in our neighborhood stores. Be sure to look for ocean-friendly sunscreens that don’t include these harmful chemicals, because not only will you be saving your skin from toxic materials, but you’ll be saving our oceans as well!

About the author: Lauren Paton is a 4th year Marketing major at the University of Florida and Marketing Intern/Assistant at Snap Fitness of Tarpon Springs.


Additional Resources:

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Food and Skincare Safety

The Truth About Scented Candles

There is something special about candlelight. The ambiance, the romance, and my favorite, the scent; it creates a soothing, relaxing environment. Unfortunately, the truth is, the candles we put in our homes today pose a serious health risk to us and to our children.

Most candles are made of paraffin wax (a petroleum-based product), which when burned, create at least two chemicals – Benzene and Toluene. Candles with artificial scents pose a whole other set of risks. Do you know what else contains these two toxins? Diesel fuel fumes. Still feeling the ambiance?

Benzene causes damage to the brain, lungs, and central nervous systems and is linked to significant developmental problems. It can even trigger asthma attacks and migraines. It also causes leukemia. There is probably no safe level of exposure to benzene.

Toluene… well we will let OSHA explain that one: “Toluene affects the central nervous system, eyes, skin, respiratory system, liver, kidneys. Breathing high levels of toluene during pregnancy has been shown to result in children with birth defects and to retard mental abilities and growth. There is evidence that exposure to toluene at work is associated with spontaneous abortion.”

So what are our options? Give up on romance forever? There are alternatives. Look for pure beeswax or vegetable/soybean based candles to reduce your risks. Cotton wicks are a good route, up to 30% of other wicks may contain some type of heavy metal.

Another option is to consider diffusing essential oils. Essential oils like lavender, orange, spearmint, and rose offer soothing scents that aid with anxiety and restoration.

Resources about the health risks associated with scented candles:


Resources about the benefits of essential oils:


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DIY, Food and Skincare Safety

DIY Yoga Mat Spray

Yoga is a great way to increase your flexibility and learn relaxation techniques.  Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or a beginner, a good yoga mat spray can take the experience to a whole other level! Check out this recipe
3/4 cup distilled water
1/4 cup alcohol-free witch hazel or white vinegar
5 drops Lavender essential oil
3 drops Melaleuca essential oil
Glass spray bottle
Note: Not all yoga mats are treated the same. Using essential oils may affect the structural integrity of some yoga mats. Always sample a small area to test.
  1. Combine all ingredients in glass spray bottle.
  2. Shake until combined.
  3. To use, spray on mat and wipe dry with towel.

– See more DIY tips at

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DIY Lotion Bars

With just a few simple ingredients, you can make these lotion bars at home!

Special thanks to Beth Deneweth of Oil Can What! for providing this recipe.  Visit her website for more recipes!

2/3 c. beeswax

1/2 c. cocoa butter

1/2 c. coconut oil

1 tsp vitamin E oil

15 drops essential oil


Melt all ingredients except for essential oil in a double boiler 10-15 minutes.  Once melted, remove from heat and let sit for three minutes.  Add oil and stir.  Pour into silicone molds.  Let harden for 2-3 hours.  Wrap in plastic and store in an airtight container until ready to use.


Oil Can What?

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Food and Skincare Safety

Chemicals To Avoid in Your Skincare Products

People are becoming increasingly aware of the use of toxic ingredients in cosmetics.  Here is a quick snapshot of some ingredients and possible side-effects that you may want to consider:






  1. Parabens – hormone disruptors.  Often found in lotions, shampoo, shaving cream, sunscreen, makeup, and baby wash.
  2. Mineral Oil – Petroleum industry byproduct, pore-clogging.
  3. Methylcloroisothiazolinone – Allergen, harmful to nervous system
  4. ‘PEG’ and items ending in “-eth”, TEA, and 1,4 dioxane – Allergen, linked to cancer risk.
  5. Sodium Lauryl or Laureth Sulfate – Skin damage or reactions, toxic contaminants.  Commonly found in shampoo, detanglers, lotion, and liquid soaps.
  6. Triclosan and Triclocarban – Environmental toxin, thyroid disruptor, skin irritation and dryness.  Common in antibacterial soap and hand sanitizers.
  7. “Fragrance” – not specifically marked ‘phthalate-free’ – Often contain formaldehyde and phthalates, much safer options are available.
  8. Formaldehyde, ammonia, and diaminobenzene – Toxic to humans.  Often found in nailpolish, nail polish remover, hair dyes, an some perfume.
  9. Oxybenzone and cinnamates – Possible damage to cell proteins and DNA.  Hormone disruptor.  Commonly found in sunscreen lotions for children.
  10. Glycolic, AHA, and BHA acids – Irritation, redness, and photosensitivity.    May cause permanent cell damage.  Widespread use in anti-aging cremes and peels.  Use in moderation or not at all.



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Featured Athletes, News

Featured Athlete: Tori Brennan

Victoria Brennan (“Tori”), class of 2020, will be a Freshman at East Lake High School in Palm Harbor, Florida this fall.   Tori (#30) plays travel softball for the Tampa Mustangs ’02 team and is a starting pitcher.  She practices and trains several nights a week, including Monday nights at Snap Fitness of Tarpon Springs with CBC trainer, Sarah Edwards.  She also dedicates an additional 3 nights a week practicing, and pitching and hitting lessons, with weekends dedicated to playing in tournaments across the State of Florida or practicing with her team.  Tori has been playing softball since the age of 7 and pitching since the age of 8.  She has competed in many tournaments, but was also selected for the 2015 USA Elite Select All American Atlanta Team as a pitcher.  While there, Tori helped lead her team undefeated and to win the championship title of the Boombah USA Elite Select All American Games.  Also, Tori was recently selected to play in the Triple Crown event, 2016 14U Sparkler All Stars Game at Twin Rivers-Greeley in Colorado this past June, and will be traveling with her team the first week in August to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for the ASA Nationals.  Not only is Tori a all-star athlete, she is also a dedicated student, achieving honor roll for several consecutive years.
This coming year Tori will be attending various colleges and showcase events to perform and show her skills in the hope of being noticed by college coaches.  Her ultimate goal is to attend college, play for their softball team, and obtain her degree in physical therapy with the focus in pediatrics.

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Glutamine Uses and Dosage

By Justin Edwards, NASM-CPT, ISSA-SNS

As a personal trainer and NPC Men’s Physique competitor, I am often asked for insights on nutritional and supplemental tools for fat loss and lean muscle growth.  Without hesitation, my first suggestion to anyone new or experienced with strength training is L-Glutamine and BCAAs. Let’s take a closer look at Glutamine and how it is utilized among athletes and in the healthcare industry.

What is Glutamine?

Glutamine is an amino acid. Amino acids are the building blogs of proteins and are found naturally in the body. Glutamine is the most common amino acid in the body – in fact 60% of your skeletal muscle is made up of glutamine. Most glutamine is stored in the muscles, and also in the lungs, where a lot of glutamine is manufactured. Glutamine is needed in order to make other amino acids in the body as well as glucose.

What Does Glutamine Do?

Glutamine is important for removing excess ammonia (a common waste product in the body) by converting it into amino acids, amino sugars, and urea. It also helps your immune system function and may be needed for normal brain function and digestion. If the body is using up more glutamine than the muscles can make, the result is muscle loss.

When the body is injured or under stress, it releases cortisol. Cortisol reduces the amount of glutamine in the body. Studies have shown providing glutamine to brain injury patients and others in intensive care actually strengthens the immune system, and reduces the occurrence of infection. Glutamine supplementation has been useful in some cancer treatments in reducing the side effects of chemotherapy and preventing nerve damage. It is also used to prevent weight loss/muscle wasting in people who have HIV.

High intensity athletic training may also reduce the amount of glutamine in the body and glutamine has been shown to reduce the rate of infection in endurance athletes post event. Performing one hour of exercise can reduce glutamine levels in the body by 40%. L-glutamine supplementation makes it possible to recover more quickly, and with less pain. It can also help with fat metabolism and HGH (human growth hormone) secretion. Studies have also demonstrated L-glutamine and its link to insulin level suppression and stabilizing blood glucose levels.

New research is also indicating other therapeutic benefits of glutamine

-increasing T-helper cell counts

-reducing sugar cravings

-improving blood sugar

-improving metabolism

-intestinal support and reducing intestinal inflammation

-aiding in memory, focus, and concentration

-detoxification from high levels of ammonia

Sources of Glutamine

Good sources of dietary glutamine include parsley, asparagus, turkey, spinach, cottage cheese, wild caught fish, ricotta cheese, beef, pork, milk, poultry, ricotta cheese, yogurt, and cabbage. L-glutamine can also be taken orally and comes in powder, capsule, and liquid forms. Glutamine should not be added to hot beverages as heat destroys it. 10 grams is a typical recommended daily dose for people participating in weight training activities (5 grams before and after working out). Problems with high intakes of glutamine are rare, but taking B vitamins, especially B12, can help manage glutamine accumulation.

Talk to Your Doctor

People with kidney disease or decreased kidney function, liver disease, or Reye syndrome may need to avoid glutamine. Seizure disorders and some psychiatric disorders may worsen with glutamine use as well.

Additional Links for More Information on Glutamine and Related Studies:

About the Author:  Justin Edwards is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, ISSA Sports Nutrition Specialist, and nationally qualified NPC Men’s Physique competitor and athletic coach. He is the owner and operator of a 24-hour Snap Fitness fitness center in Tarpon Springs, Florida.


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Featured Athletes, News

Heather Doughty: Featured CBC Athlete

heatherMy name is Heather Doughty. I am a dental hygienist by day and a Champions Breed Champions sponsored, nationally qualified figure competitor with the NPC all the time! I found my passion for fitness in 2009 when I realized that my unhappiness wasn’t caused by everyone around me but because of my disdain with what I had allowed myself to look like. I was starting to show signs of high blood pressure and having some joint pain. I decided when my doctor told me I may need to be on medication to find a different way out. I committed to the at home fitness program P90x for 3 solid months. I learned all I could about fitness, food and how MY body reacted to it all. After 12 long weeks of lifestyle changes I can honestly say I had found my niche! I was addicted to challenging my body to achieve new goals and pushing myself to do things that others couldn’t. I stayed committed to learning new things over the next 2 years. I became a certified P90x group instructor, logged over 100 hours of yoga and found a new passion of my own, body building!

I started weight training in 2012. I educated myself online learning more and more about competitive body building. I used and continue to use 12 week programs to keep my body guessing and ultimately growing! I learned that the body is always looking for homeostasis, and if you challenge it, it WILL change. In March of 2013 I decided it was time to put my money where my mouth was and step on that stage. I buckled down on my nutrition to be sure I was ready when it came to competition prep time. I, with the help of Justin, owner and operator of Champions Breed Champions, chose a 16 week competition prep with Paul Revelia to prepare me for the stage. I trained 6 days a week and kept a detailed food log. With Paul and Champions Breed Champions’ support, I took 3rd at my very first competition, the Big Bea Championship Event in Davenport, IA on April the 5th, 2014. I met so many wonderful people and learned so much about the sport of body building. I am working hard to bring an even more symmetrical and fuller package to the stage later this year!

Heather Doughty

Fitness and Nutrition Success Coach

Success takes Accountability

Phone:  (217) 778-1580

heather_back-680x1024Heather Doughty

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