Monthly Archives: March 2014


The 3 Month Diet Challenge: Starting With the Dawn of Man…Paleo!

When I’m asked about various lifestyle diets (which happens pretty often), I always repeat the same mantra: “Everything in moderation”. I’ve always been  proponent of a well-balanced diet that includes every food group, including the occasional Cadbury Egg. But lately there has been a lot of discussion about going back to basics and cutting out grains, meat, dairy, etc. Hmmmm. What if there’s something I’m missing regarding the grain free lifestyle? Is a meatless existence really the way to go?  It’s time to put my money where my mouth is, and try out some of these diets.

For the next three months, I’m trying out the most popular lifestyle diets. In April, I’m taking it back to the Flinstones era, and trying out the Paleo Diet. In May, I’m doing a complete 180 and going vegetarian. Then in June, I’ll take it one step further to vegan. Along the way, I’ll blog about my experience, updating you on things like ease of  the plan, what I’m eating, expense, my energy level, and any changes in my body.

flintstone

The Paleo Diet is not new. The book was originally published in 2002, but has really started to gain more popularity due to the explosion of cross-fit, which promotes the diet to its devotees.

So, What Exactly is the Paleo Diet? 

paleo foods

In a nutshell, the author of the book states that advances in the modern age to mass produce grains has resulted in the loss of humanity’s original way of life. We as a society are suffering from diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes because our bodies are not designed to eat a grain based diet. In order to restore health, vitality, and weight loss (if desired) we must act like cavemen and return to the diet we are genetically programmed to eat.

Not Permitted: dairy, grains, seed-like grains (quinoa, aramanth), sugar, cereals, starchy vegetables, legumes, processed foods, vinegar, beer, liquor

Permitted: Lean meats, fish, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts (4 oz a day), wine (1 glass). Also, trace amounts of raw honey is permitted.

Finer points

noatkins

This is  not a low-carb “Atkins” style diet where you can go crazy on bacon and bun-less cheese burgers. The author stresses the importance of choosing grass fed, lean cuts of meat, wild caught fish, and Omega 3 enriched eggs. You are allowed to use oil, but only moderate amounts of flax, olive or coconut oil. Salt must also be limited or avoided altogether. Also, the book states that in the beginning stages of the diet, you are permitted 1-3 cheat meals a week. The author concedes that this type of diet will be too strict for 100% adherence. I’ll keep the cheats to a minimum.

An Important Note

Since I work out at least five days a week and will be running a half marathon in mid-May, I will be doing Paleo Diet for Athletes. The only difference is that this plan permits starchy fruits and vegetables, energy gels during exercise that is over an hour, and whey protein for post workout shakes.

One Last Thing

Up until last year, I never touched a diet book and worried when any of my clients read one. Then last spring I decided to try intermittent-fasting and read “The 8 Hour Diet”. Despite the the book’s lack of hard scientific facts, I gave it a try and was actually pretty impressed with the results. In fact, to this day, a year later, I still do mini 14-16 hour fasts a few times a week. I’m not sure if I will continue this for the next three months while I change up my diets, but if I do, I’ll let you know!

fastfoodcavemanNo! He doesn’t want fries with that!

Secret to a Flat Belly-Fast! (Did that get your attention?)

Now that I have your attention, I just want to complain one more time: it’s still cold. But I think that pretty soon we’re going to be complaining about how hot it is, right? In the spirit of wishful thinking, I’ve been working on my core a lot lately. I didn’t want to wait much longer to start working on my lean, mean summer body, and you shouldn’t either.

A quick note before we talk about getting a ripped six pack. Despite what the supplement companies state there is no magic pill to help you lose stomach fat. There is also no magic food that you can eat that will help in that department either. The only way to melt fat from your midsection is to eat a clean diet of lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. You should also be diligent in your cardio, (AT LEAST three days a week), and strength train your total body at least twice a week for overall tone and balance.

Try these exercises to start sculpting a tight midsection. Start now and you’ll be thanking me in June.

Crossover Crunch

photo (12)

Works abdominals, internal and external obliques, the “waist” muscles.

Lay on your back with your knees bent and hands behind your head. Place you left ankle on your right knee. Crunch up and moving diagonally, bring your right elbow towards your left knee. Contract your abs at the top of the motion. Lower to start and repeat on that side for 12-20 reps, depending on your fitness level. Switch sides and repeat.

Hanging Leg Raises

photo (11)

Works abdominals and hip flexors

This move is a advanced. Fortunately for beginners, most gyms have a captain’s chair which you can use to do this same movement. If you’ve been working out for a while, hang from a chin-up bar with your hands in either a wide or narrow grip. Before you start, pull your shoulders away from your ears. Raise your knees up to a 90 degree angle from your torso, then lower down with control. Each rep should be slow and deliberate, don’t swing through the movement.  If you are  having difficulty hanging from the bar, look around for ab straps, which you can place under your armpits. Try this one for anywhere between 3- 8 reps, unless you are super awesome and can perform double digit reps.

Dead Bug

photo (13)

Works the deep core muscles and stabilizes the lower spine.

Lay on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor and tighten up your core muscles. Extend your arms above your shoulders and your legs over your hips. Beginners should keeps their knees bent, while more advanced exercisers can straighten out their legs. Inhale, and lower your left leg and your right arm until they are about an inch away from the floor. Exhale and return your limbs to the original position. Switch to the right leg and left arm. Perform this move for 8-10 reps per side. Maintain the position of your spine throughout the exercise.  If you feel this in the lower back, keep your knees bent throughout the movement or keep your arms at your sides.

Try each exercise for 3 sets. Let me know how it goes!

Who Cares if You Run Slow?

Happy Friday! I had to share this article from Competitor Magazine because it was about me. I too am guilty of being self-deprecating when I discuss running. Years ago, when I first started running, I was so proud of being able to do it that it never occurred to me be self-conscious about my pace. It wasn’t until I started participating in races that I felt slow compared to everyone else.  At the same time, I am a cheerleader for my friends and clients. I would never allow any of them to disparage a running achievement, whether it be a 5k or marathon, regardless of their finish time.

I never gave much thought to how my negative thinking could actually effect my running. It’s time for me to be my own cheerleader and leave the negative thoughts behind.  Give this article a read and let me know what you think.

Hope you have a great run this weekend!

http://running.competitor.com/2014/03/training/slow-is-a-state-of-mind_70265

Green is the New Black: New Smoothie Recipe!

Yesterday,  I  joined more than 20,000 people in running the NYC Half Marathon. It was thrilling to run down the city streets–particularly Broadway,right through Times Square.

photo (7)

This was the first race in a long time where I had no problems with swelling in my ankle. I’m still utilizing Jeff Galloway’s run/walk/run program, but had to rely on it for only a quarter of the race. If you don’t already know, Mr. Galloway is an amazing running coach whose program got me running again pain free. Read more about him here: http://www.jeffgalloway.com/  or my original JG love letter: http://blitzyourbody.com/2013/11/marathon-envy/

Afterwards. we celebrated with pasta, green mimosas and a little dancing, which, by the way, is absolutely the wrong way to recover after a race. I should have skipped the mimosas and and instead had plenty of water and stretched my overworked muscles.

Celebrating my 7th and Ana's 1st half!

Celebrating my 7th and Ana’s 1st half!

But today is  a new day! And while I didn’t aid my body with proper recovery yesterday, I can still give my muscles what they need with my favorite protein shake for breakfast. Since it’s St. Patrick’s day, I made sure to add plenty of spinach to give it a gorgeous green color. Don’t worry, adding spinach only boosts the nutritional content of this shake, as spinach is rich in muscle building iron, and bone strengthening calcium. It does not taste like spinach, trust me.

photo (10)

St. Paddy’s Day Recovery Shake

260 cal/5.5 grams fat/27 grams protein

Serves 1

1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 scoop of vanilla protein powder  (I still like Designer Whey the best!)

1/2 frozen or fresh banana

1/4 cup lowfat Greek yogurt

1 splash vanilla extract

1 tsp honey or whatever sweetener you prefer

1 cup baby spinach

2-3 ice cubes

Blend and enjoy!

Pump Up the Blueberry Chia Jam!

Question for Blitz Your Body: I’ve recently been choosing plain yogurt over vanilla to save calories, but find plain yogurt so unappealing. Should I go back to vanilla? How much am I really saving?  –Lisa

Don’t worry about calories. When it comes to yogurt, pick the most natural option that offers the benefit of probiotics, a little fat, and very little sugar. Vanilla flavoring almost always means the addition of chemicals and sugar. I’d rather have 150 calories of Greek 2% yogurt, than 80 calories of fat free chemicals any day. And, if you go Greek, the 18 grams of protein in the Greek yogurt will keep you feeling fuller longer than a flavored yogurt, so the extra calories won’t matter in the long run.

If plain yogurt is too, well, plain for you, I’ve got a simple and delicious way to jazz it up: Blueberry Chia Jam! The jam will give you that “fruit on the bottom” experience without adding a lot of sugar. Plus, blueberries are high in vitamins and antioxidants. I could go on and on about them but instead I’ll just send you here: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=8

Blueberry Chia Jam

photo (8)

Serves 1

1/2 cup blueberries

I like frozen wild blueberries from Trader Joe’s. Wild blueberries are smaller than cultivated blueberries. Since most of the nutrients are in the skin, wild berries are a better choice because you’ll be eating more skin per serving. Any type is fine though!

1 TB Chia seeds

2 tsp water

Honey, maple syrup or stevia to taste.

I used 1/2 tsp of raw honey

Add all of the ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and stir. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave again another 15-30 seconds.

Let it sit for 10 minutes.  Serve with plain Greek yogurt or refrigerate for later.

Caution: Making Blueberry Chia Jam will make your hands look like this:

photo (9)

Personal Trainers: Step Your Game Up!

badpt

The other day I was putting my client through drills on a treadmill when another trainer put his client on the adjacent treadmill. Then he disappeared. A few minutes later he reappeared with a fresh cup of coffee in his hand. Yes, he had actually left the gym, gone to the nearby store and gotten himself a cup of coffee while his client worked out.

The next day, at a completely different gym, I watched a trainer stare at his smart phone while his client performed floor exercises. He looked at his phone for so long, I began to suspect he was watching a TV show on that thing! Meanwhile, his client politely waited for him to be finished before asking “what next?”.

There are already a ton of articles out there with headlines that read ‘How to Spot to a Good Personal Trainer’ and “When to Fire Your Trainer’ for people contemplating hiring one. This isn’t one of those.

This is for the trainers. Step up your game. We have a lot of competition these days with boutique classes like Barry’s Boot Camp and Flywheel, not to mention DVDs like Insanity and P90X, all of which promise people the same thing we do: results. Instead of phoning it in during your session, give your client 100% of your attention. Most people are too polite or feel awkward about pointing out that you didn’t.

I have a lot of pride as a trainer. I want my clients to get stronger, move better, and get the results they are after. I also want them to feel like they are my priority for the hour they booked with me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not writing this to point out that I AM GREAT and how terrible everyone else is. I have several friends who are personal trainers and they are the most knowledgeable and caring people I know. A lot of trainers are experts in the industry and total professionals.Which is why it is so disturbing to me to see clients wasting their time and money with people who could care less about them and their progress.

Trainers, outside of sessions, let’s continue our education and consult with each other when one of our clients has an issue we have never seen before. Let’s stay engaged with our clients even though it’s 6:00 am and the gym is empty. Let’s bring our ‘A’ game each and every hour, for each and every client.

Trainers, do you agree? And for the people who have been clients, have you ever had to fire your trainer for bad behavior?

 

 

 

Label Check: Evolution Fresh Juice

Last Saturday I was in the grocery store, and was dying for a healthy protein drink to take the edge of my hunger. I had just finished a workout and was trying to avoid “the hangries” (anger+hunger=hangries), since it was going to be a while until I could get home and make my own protein shake. Like Bruce Banner says ‘don’t make me hangry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m hangry’.

2737175-hulk_marvel_uk

Figuring the organic health section of the store would be ideal, I came across Evolution Fresh. The front label, aka “the sexy label”, had the words I look for in a supplemental beverage: “Protein Power” and “no added sugar” .

photo (3)

But when I turned it over to the nutrition facts side, I was shocked to see the stats:  210 calories, 28 grams of sugar and 0 grams of fiber per serving. And there are two servings per container. So potentially, if you are a normal human being who would think nothing of drinking the entire bottle, there are 420 calories and OVER 55 GRAMS OF SUGAR PER SERVING!

photo (4)

Let’s put that into perspective. 56 grams of sugar is about 11 teaspoons. The American Heart Association recommends women consume no more that 6 teaspoons and that men consume no more than 9 teaspoons per day.

Also, 420 calories is a small meal.  On the Real Simple website, I found a post with recipes for a months worth of DINNERS that are all under 400 calories. http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/healthy-meals/400-calorie-dinners-00000000027141/

Why waste all those calories on a juice?

Finally, even though the sugar in Evolution Fresh Juice is derived from fruit, the amount is way more than your body needs, which means it will be stored as fat. And for all that fruit, you are not getting any of tummy-filling fiber. Skip the juice and grab an actual piece of fruit instead.

Evolution Fresh does have a few vegetable juices that have only 50 cal/serving or 100/bottle. If you’ve got to drink a juice, try one of those instead.

 

 

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: A Recap

Vin and I just returned from our vacation in Puerto Vallarta. Of course, after this horrible winter we needed some time to relax and get some sun. But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t make it my goal to be active.

Our room had an amazing view and even though we were on the 8th floor, we were able to hear the ocean. It’s enough to lull anyone to sleep , so we spent little time indoors, choosing instead to rock some outdoor action.

photo

Ok. Most of that “action” took place on a beach. Sure, I love to lay out on the sand with my book and a couple Pacificos (under an umbrella,of course). However, I couldn’t stay still all day, every day. So I scheduled trips for the mornings, so that we could be back on the beach by at least 2 pm. On the itinerary: a horse back ride through the Rio Cuale Valley, zip lining, and a snorkeling trip that included hump back whale watching. Our resort also provided ocean kayaks and paddle boards which we definitely took advantage of!

photo (2)

On days that we didn’t have a trip scheduled, I made my way to the gym. It was pretty bare-bones, so I used the patio outside the gym to do dips and push-ups, followed by  a little running on the treadmill. But I preferred to get my exercise by exploring the area, so I asked around about hiking trails. I heard a rumor that there was a beautiful, easy-to-access waterfall that was just a short bus ride from our resort. “Easy-to-access” is definitely a subjective term, since it took us at least 3o min just to find the beginning of the trail! Finally, we found our way to a rocky and rusty old trickle of water, and were a little disappointed to discover that the “river” bed was dry. But we turned it into a rock scrambling hike and made the most of it.

picstitch

  The absolute best excursion was the zip lining. We hiked up a bit up the Sierra Madres and then made our way back down using 11 zip lines. Our tour guides cracked us up with dirty jokes as we zipped through the valley, over 600 feet in the air.

upside down 3

This was as fun as it looks.

 Since our return coincided with the arrival of March, I hoping that NYC would warm up a bit and we could move past this horrible winter. Wrong!

Ugh!

Ugh!

I’m already making plans for the next trip. Does anyone else look for vacation deals as soon as they get back from one?

photo (2)Ahhh Puerto Vallarta, I miss you already!

%d bloggers like this: