When Not to Trust Your Trainer

how-to-spot-a-bad-personal-trainer

 

I AM NOT A DOCTOR.

The amount of times I am asked about how to treat a chronic pain, (most likely induced by over-exercising), astounds me. It’s also a little humbling, as it makes me realize how much people trust me with their bodies.

Here’s a typical conversation I’ll have with someone who approaches me in the gym or after a class:

Exerciser: Hey Amy, for a few weeks, I’ve had this pain in my shoulder every time I bench press, and it’s not getting any better.

Me: You’ve been in pain for a few weeks, and you’re still working out?

Exerciser: Of course!

Me: Have you been to the doctor? You may need an MRI…at the very least it’s best to stop bench pressing until you can get a doctor’s appointment…

Exerciser: Oh no, I can’t stop benching!

Me: 

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If you are in chronic pain, and you continue the activity which causes that specific pain, be prepared to pay the price, which could include prolonged periods of rest and possibly surgery.

As a personal trainer I am qualified to create a workout plan for you, demonstrate and supervise you performing said workout plan, suggest some dietary adjustments to optimize your workout plan, and tag you in Instagram videos of people doing ridiculous exercises like this:

But I will not, at any time, attempt to treat a medical condition or injury without you first consulting a doctor. Any trainer or instructor who dispenses medical advice, or attempts to treat a medical condition or injury, is operating out of their scope of practice and is behaving irresponsibly. 

There are some trainers out there with some very advanced degrees that may include physical therapy. But even they can’t see what’s going on inside of you if you haven’t had an X-ray or MRI. So if something has been bothering you for a while, go get one, ok? As someone who has spent over 10 weeks in a walking boot due to an ignored pain in her foot, I can tell you this much: a little early detection goes a long a way.

photo (18) Perhaps a quick visit to the doctor before running my 8th half marathon would have kept me out of this beauty.

 

 

 

 

 

This also goes for the dispensing of nutrition plans. Believe it or not, your personal trainer–unless they have attained a higher degree in dietetics–is not qualified to put you on a diet. We can suggest ways in which you can make your diet more nutritious, and can help you to devise methods of calorie imbalance that may either gain or lose you weight, but this does not include putting you on a specific plan like paleo, vegetarianism, etc.

It should be obvious that this also goes for anyone out there giving out (0r in some cases selling) diet plans. But just in case, you should be aware that the following are NOT QUALIFIED to put you on a diet:

Got a question? Leave me a comment at facebook.com/blitzyourbody or on Twitter @AmyBlitz1. You can also email me at amy.blitz@gmail.com!

The Myth of Holiday Weight Gain

santa-abs

Ahhh…the holidays. Seems like just yesterday us fitness professionals were posting things like “get your abs ready for summer!” and now look at us, advising you on how to navigate the holidays without gaining the “usual 7-10 pounds”.

First, let me clear up one point. The average person does NOT gain 7-10 pounds over the holidays. That’s just fitness industry malarky. Malarky I tell ya! The average person MAY put on 1-2 extra pounds that they will probably lose once they resume their normal eating pattern. Our bodies love to maintain status quo. Just like I’ve warned, a drastic low-calorie diet will cause your body to crave fatty foods and make you put some weight back on. On the other hand,  a diet that includes a little Piecaken will cause your body to adjust in a similar way, preventing you from gaining too much weight.

 

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It’s a cake with pies baked in it. It both frightens and fascinates me.

 

And if you regularly work out, you most likely won’t even have to worry about the one extra pound. When you weight train, there’s a chance the extra calories from your holiday indulgences will go towards muscle growth. Biceps for Christmas, anyone?

Work out for 20 minutes, feel good all day

What can be annoying during the holidays is the utter lack of time to get any exercise done. This is why I’ve created a quick little 20 minute workout that you can do anywhere, any time and feel like a champion. And I mean anywhere. I only picked exercises that  fit on a yoga mat, which is about all the space I have in my apartment to workout.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-d-snowman-lifting-weights-render-image42752678

 

 

 

 

 

20 Minute Holiday Workout

1:00-3:00 Warm up with with a circuit of jumping jacks, inch worms, and butt-kicks. Do at least 5 warm up push-ups.

3:00-4:00 Forward lunges in place

4:00-4:30 Push-ups

4:30-5:00 Plank

5:00-6:00 Alternating side lunges

6:00-6:30 Side plank with hip drops-right side

6:30-7:00 Side plank with hip drops-left side

7:00-8:00 Lunge jumps (see video below)

8:00-8:30 V-Ups

The V-Up. My eyes are closed but you get the point

A V-Up. I like to do them with my eyes closed, as you can see here

 

8:30-9:00 Mountain climbers

9:00-10:00 In and Out Squat jumps (see video)

10:00-17:00 Repeat minutes 3-10

17:00-18:00 Leg raises

18:00-19:00 Superman

19:00-20:00 Stretch

 

Here’s a quick video just to show you the jumping exercises. For lunge jumps, take the time to sink down low, then spring up and change feet quickly. Both squat jumps and lunge jumps should end in a soft landing.


Let me know if you try this workout at facebook.com/blitzyourbody

Instagram @blitzyourbody

Twitter @AmyBlitz1

You can also always email me with questions @amy.blitz@gmail.com!

 

But if We Can’t Eat Red Meat, What Will Become of the Paleo Diet?

There was BIG NEWS Monday about the IARC and World Health Organization’s report about red and processed meat causing cancer. It wasn’t the most shocking news, as we’ve be warned for years that eating red and processed meat could lead to future health issues. In other words, uh-duh!

Still, seeing the bold headlines was a little upsetting, especially since I had bacon with my Sunday brunch.

But meat lovers, don’t despair! While a simple glance at a headline may initially convince you that your next BLT is going to give you cancer, a little further reading clears up the finer points of this study. True, these types of studies are meant to tell us if something causes cancer, but they don’t describe how potent they are as cancer causing agentsHere’s a handy info graphic to give you some perspective on cause vs. risk.

151026-Tobacco-vs-Meat-TWITTER

 So yes, a steady diet of red meat and sausage will probably damage your health, however you can still enjoy these foods in moderate amounts and be fine.  For more information, this article from Cancer Research UK explains it further. 

So, what will become of the Paleo diet if we can’t eat bacon and grass-fed beef with abandon?  The modern cavemen are already firing back. One of their arguments is that the WHO didn’t test grass-fed beef vs. “MacDonald’s beef”. Unfortunately for them, the evidence shows that it’s the naturally occurring chemicals in meat and how our bodies process them that increase the risk of cancer. This is not to say that the quality of our protein doesn’t matter. It’s in relation to this bowel cancer study that the grass-fed beef vs. corn-fed beef difference is irrelevant.

What do you think of the WHO findings? Will this change how you eat at all? Or are you in the “Oh, well, everything causes cancer” camp?

Let me know on Facebook @blitzyourbody!

 

What Protein Powder is Best?

Hello! Happy September! (I know, it’s a little late for that–sorry guys!)

I love getting fitness questions from my clients and friends. I recently got a great question from Leslie about protein powders. Specifically, she wanted to know what types are best for recovery, satiety, and purity of ingredients.

Protein Powder Breakdown

If you have any dietary concerns, the first issue to address is the source of the protein powder. Whey, cassein, egg, and beef protein are animal source protein powders. Vegetarians would want to consider a protein powder made from soy, peas, hemp, and rice. Soy has gotten a bit of a bad rap in the past few years due to claims of effecting testosterone levels in men, and rumored breast cancer concerns for women. There has also been some controversy regarding arsenic in rice products. However, the FDA has released a report claiming the levels of arsenic in rice powders are too low to cause “immediate health damage”. As for soy, I’ve never seen anything definitive about any side-effects. This short article from cancer.org sums up there findings on the soy-cancer connection.

My personal preference has always been for whey protein, which tastes the best, and since it absorbs into the digestive system quickly, is a popular choice for people post-workout. Casein is the other milk-derived protein and absorbs more slowly into the digestive system, so it may be preferable for people who are using it for weight-loss or control. Personally, casein shakes are too rich for me, so if I do use casein, I like it blended with whey.  PS, I have nothing against veggie protein powder except for the taste, which is awful.

alpacinoproteinpowder

 

Kefir

If you’re looking for a pure, whole-food protein source for your skakes,  you should definitely try Kefir. I loathe the phrase “super-food” but if I had to use it, it would be to describe kefir.

Kefir is a fermented milk drink from India, famous for it’s tart taste and impressive levels of gut-loving probiotic bacteria. A cup contains 10 grams of protein, so I also add about a 1/4  scoop of protein powder just to bump that amount up a bit. I recommend getting plain and then adding frozen fruit and a little maple syrup for sweetness, rather than the pre-sweetened varieties. If kefir is too tart, you can sub it out with greek yogurt and some milk instead.

Once I blend it with frozen fruit, my kefir/yogurt shake reminds me a lot of the taste of the frozen yogurt from Red Mango or Pinkberry. Kefir also has a lot of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals (vitamin A, D, iron, magnesium, and more) so I feel pretty darn good about myself after I drink a shake–and I don’t just throw around words like “darn” without meaning it.

Amy Smoothie

Feeling great about this shake. *healthy glow provided by Instagram

 

Probiotic Health Shake

The kefir and cherries in this shake are great combo for muscle recovery. I love this shake after deadlift day! 

1 cup plain kefir (or 1/2 cup of greek yogurt + 3/4 cup milk)

1/4 to 1/2 scoop of vanilla protein powder

1/2 frozen banana

1/4 cup frozen cherries

This shake comes out super thick, you can thin it out with a splash of milk or eat with a spoon 🙂

So, now you know, Leslie. Kefir + a little whey+frozen fruit=a perfect breakfast, snack, or post-workout recovery meal. If you give this recipe a try, please let me know what you think!

Tweet me at AmyBlitz1. Check me out at Insta: blitzyourbody or Facebook.com/blitzyourbody

 

On a diet? Eat MORE…That’s Right, I Said It

Congratulations to one of my virtual clients, who just reported that she’s lost 10 lbs in two months!

A great achievement. We’ve been focusing on tracking her food with an online journal, making healthier choices, and moving more. Notice how I use the phrase “healthier choices” and not “major diet over-haul,” because making small changes is more conducive to creating lasting healthy habits. Most days I have to remind my client to eat MORE calories, not less. Why would I do such a thing?

Lose Weight While Eating the Most Calories Possible

For years, fitness mags have encouraged ladies to eat a 1500 calorie diet to lose weight. This advice is doled out to us with no regard for our current weight, height, activity level, and muscle mass. Should an active woman who is  5’7″  tall eat the same amount of calories as a 5’2″ sedentary woman? Hell no!

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If you’re looking to lose weight by solely using a cookie-cutter, restricted calorie diet, you’re setting yourself up for failure:

  • The potential for muscle loss is greater
  • You’ll feel your energy slump
  • Your workouts will suffer
  • Sleep patterns can be disturbed
  • You’ll find that maintaining your new lean body is even more difficult than your initial weight loss was.

And if you’re an active person of a healthy weight just looking to change your body composition (less fat, more muscle),  a low calorie diet will keep you spinning your wheels faster than your favorite Fly Wheel instructor.

Disclaimer: THIS IS A JOKE. NEVER DO THIS. UNLESS YOU WANT A LIFETIME BACK PROBLEM.

In addition to adjusting daily calorie counts to best fit your body type, keep in mind that once you have hit your goal weight, your calorie needs will DECREASE. A person carrying less mass needs less energy. Einstein said that, folks.

This is why it’s best to figure out what you specifically need to lose or maintain weight with a total energy expenditure (TEE) calculator  and go from there. There are a few really good calculators out there. I like this one: http://www.health-calc.com/diet/energy-expenditure-advanced because it allows for several factors like sleep, activity, and exercise intensity. You may be surprised at how many calories you need to eat to maintain your weight! Once you find out what your daily needs are, you can decrease your calories to create a deficit. I recommend using a food journal to keep track. If you don’t like to journal, I ask that you just try  it for one week, in order to give yourself an idea of what it’s like to eat within a calorie range. Finally, please don’t attempt to cut more 300- 500 calories per day. Slow and steady is the way to go!

Intermittent Fasting: What Every Beginner Needs to Know

The Diet Industry is a billion dollar business for a reason. It doesn’t just promise to help us shed weight, it also taps into our psyche about how we can be better and more happy humans…if we can just drop a size in our waistbands.

dietcycle

I don’t diet.

But I do practice a pattern of eating referred to as intermittent fasting for about 14-16 hours per day (including sleep time).  Two weeks ago I wrote about a New York Times article regarding a study where lab mice were forced to go on mini-fasts of at least 12 hours. I have become that mouse. Before trying intermittent fasting (IF), I was always hungry about 90 minutes after breakfast, no matter what I ate. My eating schedule was breakfast, then “second breakfast”, lunch, snack, and then dinner. It was a lot of food! Since cutting out breakfast first thing in the morning, I am not hungry until lunch time.  I actually feel less preoccupied by food when I skip breakfast, and, after a bit of practice, I can easily go at least 14-16 hours between my last meal and my first.

Why and How

So why is fasting now being associated with healthy living? Well, there is a lot of hoopla on the internet about getting into your “fat loss” mode after 12 hours, and how this method will burn off more abdominal fat than any other. There’s also the supposed anti-aging benefits of the mini-fast. But for me, it’s even more simple. This strategy is an easy and effective way to eat less food, while not feeling hungry! If you’ve been thinking of trying intermittent fasting, keep reading for some tips and tricks to having a successful fast.

Intermittent Fasting is Not For Everyone

Do not try IF if you are hypoglycemic, diabetic, pregnant, or breastfeeding. This is also not a good idea if you’ve ever had an eating disorder or feel like you may be susceptible to one.  Please, if food has ever been an issue for you, do not try intermittent fasting.

Fasting Tips

  • If you are trying IF, please understand that you still must eat a healthy, balanced diet. Any claim that you can “eat whatever you want” is false. Conversely, you may also see a bunch of blogs from people who claim to only eat one meal every day. That’s not for me, and most likely not the best eating plan for most people. Do what feels right, and try to track your calorie intake for a few days, to make sure you are eating enough/not eating too much.
  • Coffee with a little cream during the fast is actually ok. I take mine black, but a splash of half and half in your coffee (as long as it’s only up to two tablespoons) should not break your fast. You can also drink tea, chew gum, and of course, water is fine. Stay away from sugar until after your fast.
  • Start slowly with this new pattern of eating. On the first day, start with 12 hours, on day two fast for 13 hours, and so on. At the end of week one, you can try for a 16 hour fast and see how you feel.
  • One blogger’s advice is NOT gospel -except this one, of course 😉 When I was first researching intermittent fasting, every site claimed that at least a 16 hour fast was necessary. This approach is not for everyone! Because of differences in our hormones, some women can’t comfortably fast longer than 14 hours, and that’s fine. Martin Berkhan’s site leangains.com has been writing about IF for years and addresses both women and men on his site.
  • Should you work out fasted? A lot of IF sites tout the benefits of a fasted workout, but there is no actual evidence that this is the best approach. I like to take a small amino acid shake with me and drink it either before or during my workout.
  • Finally, don’t allow any IF to interfere with your life. Want to grab breakfast with a friend? Go for a long run or bike ride in the morning? By all means, eat! There are plenty of times I break my own rules of eating all the time to fit my needs and schedule.

Just remember that the best diet is the one that you can stick to. Intermittent fasting has worked for me, but in the beginning, I gave myself time to adjust to the eating schedule. I eat a balanced diet, and most importantly, I don’t allow it to stress me out.  If you decide to try it and have any questions, please hit me up on Facebook or email me at amy.blitz@gmail.com.

Finally, according to the Weatherman, Thursday, March 5th was our LAST SNOW DAY!

Did anyone else enjoy our "last snow of the year"?

Catching major air on the slopes

When You Eat Is As Important As What You Eat

eating-clock

A couple of weeks ago, I put an article on my Facebook page about a recent study that analysed the importance of meal timing.

The article appeared in the New York Times Magazine January 18th. The researchers compared two different studies on meal timing.

…in a previous study…some mice consumed high-fat food whenever they wanted; others had the same diet but could eat only during an eight-hour window. None exercised. The mice that ate at all hours soon grew chubby and unwell, with symptoms of diabetes. But the mice on the eight-hour schedule gained little weight and developed no metabolic problems. Those results were published in 2012.

For the new study, which appeared in the journal Cell Metabolism in December, Salk scientists fed groups of adult males one of four diets: high-fat, high-fructose, high-fat and high-sucrose, and regular mouse kibble. Some of the mice in each dietary group were allowed to eat whenever they wanted throughout their waking hours; others were restricted to feeding periods of nine, 12 or 15 hours. The caloric intake for all the mice was the same.

The new study found that the mice that were allowed to eat at all hours of the day were obese and that restricting the mice to just a 12 hour eating window was enough to keep the mice “sleek and healthy”while eating the same diet. They even allowed them to cheat on their schedule on the weekends!

cheatmeal

I realize that this is a squirrel, not a mouse.

I have practiced intermittent fasting (going 14-16 hours between meals) for almost two years and am happy with the way I look and feel without being super strict with my diet. I still have to eat a healthy, balanced, diet, but intermittent fasting allows for a few “indulgences” without the guilt. Next week, I’ll share my tips on how to successfully fast, based on my own experience. For now, if you are looking to try this approach, I warn you that the results are not immediate. You must commit for at least a few weeks, and in some cases a few months, to see if this is the right approach for you. Check with your doctor before starting. Hypoglycemics, diabetics, and pregnant women should avoid time restricted eating.

The Winter Blues

Oh New York City, I love you but you are gross today!

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I skipped the gym today. Frankly, just maneuvering around the dirty snow and muddy, mystery puddles feels like a workout.

If you also didn’t get out to the gym today, here’s a quick a link to my Youtube page where you will find my glute video. You can also view it below. All the exercises featured can be performed at home, which means no leaping over dirty slush. Yippee!

There’s some other exercise ideas on my Blitz Your Body workout page. Check them out, and if you have any questions, or anything you’d like to see, let me know!

Facebook.com/blitzyourbody             Twitter @AmyBlitz1                Amy.Blitz@gmail.com

The Biggest Loser, Plus How to Find Your Fitness Mojo

biggestloser

 

Have you seen the latest article written by a contestant about the Biggest Loser?

If not, read  the first person account of the goings on behind the show right here:

http://nypost.com/2015/01/18/contestant-reveals-the-brutal-secrets-of-the-biggest-loser/

Surprise! BL is not a show that depicts the true process of losing weight and exercising! I have to be a little snarky here because as a trainer, it’s obvious to me that the show is dangerous. In coercing (and rewarding) extremely overweight and deconditioned folks to sprint on treadmills and lift heavy weights for hours, I’m surprised there haven’t been more injuries than the above article suggests.

I’m also put off by the way they push their sponsor’s “foods” as healthy.  The one time I watched the show last season (I swear, it was only once!), the trainers were making “Strawberry Mouse Cups,” which consisted of sugar-free Jello paired with Cool-whip Free. They then threw in like two strawberries. Ummm…this is not food, and I hope that people don’t think that they have to resort to these types of “snacks,” if they want to be healthy.

New Year, New You!

Anyway, we’re moving right along into 2015 and I have been trying to come up with an inspiring blog post about how this year is going to be YOUR YEAR. How you should take the opportunity to do something wonderful for yourself- namely, eating healthy, and getting to the gym more frequently. Or to get into any kind of workout at all, in the case of some people.

I’m realizing that I can’t write that blog, because I won’t be the motivation for you to start your healthy lifestyle.

Please understand. I want so badly to be the reason that you decide to get stronger, fitter, and better in 2015. I became a trainer because I wanted to make my love of exercise and wellness someone else’s love too. I suspect (and hope) that my friends and clients will recall how they’ve tried new exercises, eaten new things, gotten up early for an extra workout because of something I have said. I’m always thrilled if I can inspire in that way. But here’s a thing I’ve come to understand about someone who has not been able to make fitness and healthy eating a regular part of their lifestyle:

Motivation comes from within.

Yes, that statement is cliche but it’s said for a reason. I know you can do it, but the most important thing is that you want to.

If you’re ready, I offer online training for those that need a little guidance:

The 4 week program includes:
Weekly, 30 minute phone calls or skype to discuss the exercise and nutrition plan, your progress, and areas that need improvement. These meetings are vital to ensure you are doing the program correctly and sticking to it!
Exercise program based on your fitness level and goals
Nutrition planning, including shopping lists
Nightly email check-ins to keep you accountable to the plan

This program is great for beginners and for those with experience as it is as close to training with me in the real world as possible.
Email me at Amy.Blitz@gmail.com or message me for information!

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The Definition of Insanity Is NOT Making This Pear Smoothie…

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

photo (50)

Happy New Year! I rang mine in with a midnight race and a bagel.

Whoa. What a holiday season! Parties, traveling, family, food, drinks, and more food, and then some more drinks for good measure. Normally, my plan of action during a period of massive consumption, is to become a cardio queen and hit up every spin class possible. Problem solved, right? Wrong. I still end up feeling puffy, bloated, and miserable by January 1st.

So this year, I handled things differently. I cut way down on my cardio, and instead focused on heavy weight-training. Heavy training includes any exercise that you do for eight reps or less.  Since November, I’ve been training like this 4-5 days a week, by performing basic lifts like squats, deadlifts, chest presses and back rows.  I’ve also been tacking on 10-12 minutes of high intensity intervals at the end of every other session.

weight-room

And lo and behold: I’m loving the way I look and feel, despite the fact that I ate my way through my birthday, Chanukah, and Christmas. This is not too shocking. I know that serious strength training is the key to fat loss. But sometimes even a know-it-all like me can get sidetracked by eggnog and stuffing.

If your new year’s resolution is to START working out, then you should definitely focus on body weight and moderate weight exercises for the first few weeks, so you that don’t hurt yourself. But if you’ve been a pretty regular exerciser, then pick up some of those big-ass weights and get lifting. It will make all the difference.

Perfect Pear Post Workout Protein Shake

It’s currently pear season and I was lucky enough to get a fruit-of-the-month club gift for the winter.

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What to do with all of these luscious pears? Blend ’em with some protein powder of course!

This Protein Shake is perfect for breakfast or post-workout. The protein/carb combo is just what your body needs to fuel up your day.

photo (49)

8 oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

1/2 chopped pear (leave the skin, it’s good for you!)

1/4 cup frozen dark cherries

1/4 cup oatmeal or oat bran (If you’ve never put oats in your shake before, give it a try. It adds a nice thickness to the shake and gives you the extra carbohydrates you need post-workout)

1 tsp Psyllium Husk powder

cinnamon

Ice cubes

Blend it. Drink it. Yum.

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