Fitness


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: 

polar_face_palm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

piecaken-3

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!

 

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!

homer-simpson-diet-screencap

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!

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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motivational-running-quotes-2

 

The Definition of Insanity Is NOT Making This Pear Smoothie…

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

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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.

photo (9)

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.

Cheese Steaks, Pizza…and a Great Exercise to Burn Those Things Off!

The Philly Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon was this past weekend. Not only did I set a personal record by running the entire thing in 1:30 min, but the headlining band at the post race concert, Rusted Root (never fear, they’re still alive) actually brought me up on stage and asked me to sing back-up vocals for Send Me On My Way 

rustedroot

They’re like a cool band, minus the cool part.

And then I woke up, and realized I’m still not allowed to run around the block, let alone a half marathon.

Yes, I’m still banned from running. It’s been almost six months since my last run.  After all this time, you’d think I would be used to sitting on the sidelines. But not being able to run still pains me, especially as the temperature cools down, and every day becomes “perfect running weather”. Fortunately, I’m able to work on the cardio equipment and do some lower body exercises to keep in shape, which is pretty much saving me from going stir-crazy.

Since cardio machines can be pretty boring, lately I’ve been using compound body-weight exercises to get my heart rate up. They even have fun names. I am especially fond of the spider man-mountain climber, with a little push-up action added in.  You can insert this challenging move anywhere in your workout. It’s a total body exercise that really gets your heart rate up.

Here’s a little video I made on my phone to show you:

Try it and let me know!

Being a bit bummed by the lack of running in my life doesn’t mean I can’t go to races and be a kick-ass cheerleader for my friends.

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Turns out I’m pretty great at making signs. And of course, I’m always happy to help someone stretch their sore hammies.

The Philly R ‘n’ R Half is quite the party, with bands along the route and free beer handed out at the finish. And although I didn’t get the chance to eat a cheese steak, I did finally get a tour of the city I missed out on in 5th grade (I got sick during the field trip and had to lay on a chair in a hotel lobby all day).

Liberty Bell Madness!

Liberty Bell Madness!

And Now A Very Important News Article

Apparently Pizza Hut is testing out the “Skinny Slice”, which I  will be avoiding at all costs once it hits New York City. Much like I abhor “skinny margaritas”, a low-cal pizza just doesn’t do it for me. I eat healthy foods all of the time. So when it’s splurge meal time, I’m going for it baby!

http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/09/20/and-pizza-huts-latest-offering-is-skinny-slice-pizza?cmpid=foodinc-fb

What do you think? Will you be trying out the “Skinny Slice”? Or will this go the way of the Burger King “Satis-fry”?

Facebook.com/blitzyourbody Twitter @AmyBlitz1

The Stuff You Have to Add to Your Smoothie! (and I don’t mean tequila)

It’s mid-way through September, and the 28 Day Blitz rages on! Hmmm, maybe rages is the wrong word in my case. Let’s say that the 28 Day Blitz nagged at me as I tried to navigate a social life with long-lost friends this past Sunday. I was all set to tuck into my cheat meal–the best veggie burger in NYC, located at La Flaca down on the lower East Side. (Go there ASAP) I had good intentions and ordered a salad with said veggie burger. Unfortunately, the *200 margaritas I drank after  dinner definitely negated my best intentions.

margaritabanner

*estimate of margaritas, 5 is probably more accurate. 

Just a reminder: the 28 Day Blitz is a challenge to eat only the best, cleanest food during the month of September. No fried foods, nothing overly processed, no ice cream, candy, or chips…and for goodness sake, moderate your alcohol intake please.

So yeah, things happen, even to health-conscious personal trainers who create 28 Day challenges. I don’t let these things set me back, I just shake it off and start over the next day.

Pump Up Your Protein Shake

Thanks to the wisdom of rock star client Kerry, I started adding psyllium seed husk powder to my breakfast smoothie.  Sounds delicious, right? Well, this stuff  almost tasteless and is high in soluble fiber which swells in your stomach, making you feel fuller, longer. The gel that is formed once the powder is mixed with liquid helps move metabolic waste through your intestines.

Uh-huh,that’s right,  it fills you up, then makes you poop. These are good things.

Adding psyllium seed husk powder can also help slow down the breakdown of sugar and fats, which keeps your glucose levels in check. Don’t use the powder if you are already taking medication for constipation.You certainly don’t want to go overboard and have an unfortunate mishap on your commute to work.

siFerry2.med

A public transportation bathroom, or Hell on Earth. You be the judge. 

I add only 1/2 to 1 tsp in my smoothies, which is enough to thicken and add volume to my breakfast. It really does keep me feeling full, therefore I eat less. Win, win!

Does anyone else use an almost empty nut butter jar as a vessel for their smoothie? I actually can’t wait to get down to the end of a jar so I can enjoy the nutty goodness with whatever concoction I’ve come up with.

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Yay! An empty almond butter jar! Obviously, I need to get out more.

Remember, if you have committed to a having a healthy fall, one slip-up is not  justification to let the entire month go.Your next meal is your opportunity to set yourself right and get back on track.

Facebook.com/blitzyourbody Twitter @AmyBlitz1

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