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Work Your Glutes and Eat Your Nooch

First thing’s first: my exercise video is out on YouTube! In this, the first of many workouts, I focus on low-impact glute exercises that anyone can do. Don’t let the words “low-impact” stop you from trying them, even if you think of yourself as more advanced. The exercises I picked are  very effective for targeting the glutes, and can be made more difficult by adding weights. Check it out here:

Thanks to my friends at DSnap Photography! They did an amazing job!

And the Blitz goes on…

So, I’m a vegan now. Add in last month’s vegetarian diet, and I admit that I miss eating meat. It’s not so much that I crave it–I just miss having it as an option. But my energy is back (my workouts feel good), I’m not as sleepy in the mid-day hours, and my body finally seems to be adjusting to the new diet. Whew!

I’ve been playing around with some vegan products to ensure I get the protein and nutrients my body needs. In the strange-but-good category, I came across Nutritional Yeast.

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Hmm…looks strange…

And if the name sounds weird to you, just wait till you actually see it. The stuff looks exactly like fish food and the smell…I can’t describe it. But it’s not  exactly pleasant. However, once it’s sprinkled on food, it takes on a nutty, cheesy taste. I like it over steamed or stir-fried kale, broccoli, and cauliflower. It’s also good with beans and on salads. I’ve also heard it’s a tasty option for popcorn. Interesting. But really…what the hell is it?

Nutritional Yeast or “nooch” is an inactive yeast grown on molasses. It won’t help your bread rise, but it will provide you with vitamin B12, selenium, zinc, and protein. Basically all the stuff you need if you aren’t eating animal products. Try it, (on things rather than alone), and you’ll like it–I swear. If you aren’t eating any meat or dairy, you need this stuff in your life!

Got any vegan pro-tips for me? Easy recipes? Let me know on Facebook.com/blitzyourbody or Tweet @AmyBlitz1

My Month As A Vegetarian!

I made it! Even though May was tough on my digestive system, I did enjoy the vegetarian foods that I hadn’t been allowed to eat during my Paleo month in April. Yay for bread and cheese!

Here’s the thing though: I honestly have been more forgetful than usual this month. I left my keys at home at least three times, and left my cell phone behind twice. Also, apparently I owe my loved ones an apology, as I was told by a few close friends and family members this weekend that I have been cranky.  If you’re a new vegetarian and have ever had these types of symptoms, I’d love to hear from you!

Vegetarian Diet: A Breakdown

Difficulty: Preparing the food and finding veg options when dining out (healthy or not) was easy. Digesting all of that fiber: hard.

Expense: Cheap. Beans, fruits and veggies are way less expensive when compared to animal products. But my grocery bill was higher than last month (about $320) since I was buying veggies for me and meat for Vin (I just can’t understand why he didn’t want to go vegetarian!) Note from Vin: “I like food to taste good, and have been given teeth meant to tear apart animal flesh.”

What I Ate: All of the same veggies as I did with Paleo (kale, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli, etc) plus a ton of beans. I also ate a lot more mushrooms this month as a substitute for meat. My grains of choice were quinoa, brown rice, and Ezekial bread.

Energy Level: The first two weeks I felt a big drop in energy. Now that it’s been 30 days, I feel my energy is restored.

Body Changes: No change. I’m exactly the same as the end of last month. So eating carbs doesn’t automatically equal weight gain. Sorry Paleo.

Food Time!

One of the best things I made this month is a Thai red curry Kabucha squash recipe I found at

http://www.chow.com/recipes/30268-thai-red-curry-with-kabocha-squash

Yes, I know it’s not Kabucha squash season (duh), but this is America, dammit, where you can eat out-of-season foods with abandon! I served it over a combo of brown rice and cauliflower “rice”. If you’ve never heard of cauliflower rice, give it a try. It can add bulk to a grain dish, or replace the grains altogether. There are hundreds of blogs with methods to make cauliflower rice, but really, all you have to do is put dry florets in a food processor and pulse until you get that “grainy” look. Then, in small batches, toast up the cauliflower in a dry non-stick pan. Don’t overload the pan, or the cauliflower will just steam instead of toast. You can also do all of the prep work in the food processor , then freeze it until you are ready to toast  it up.

Here’s the finished product:photo (29)The recipe is a little conservative in the spice department. I like things hot, so I added an extra TB of red curry paste. 

June is Vegan month. I’m a little worried about 30 days of no eggs, which is a pretty big staple in my diet. If you’re a vegan and have any tips or questions, please hit me up on FB.com/blitzyourbody or talk to me on Twitter @AmyBlitz1

 

Don’t Let Tracy Anderson Ruin Your Workout

“I get it. You want lean, strong legs (and a tight, lifted butt). The problem is, in the quest for toned thighs, we often overdo it and end up with big old bulky legs…I’m not saying don’t ever run or spin or use the leg press machine at the gym, but doing so several times a week can create thigh thickness…” –Tracy Anderson

Thank you, Tracy for warning me off my favorite exercises like running and spinning. I wouldn’t want to (gasp) get “bulky” legs from putting on any unsightly muscle.

SIGH.

First, Tracy is wrong.  I regularly take spin. I weight train my legs with both heavy and light weights. Up until a month ago when I injured myself, I ran several days a week. While I’m not rocking a thigh gap (and wouldn’t want to anyway), my legs aren’t bulky. Spinning and running are endurance exercises, which use slow twitch muscle fibers. These muscles do not bulk. Also, unless she is genetically predisposed with the ability to put on a lot of muscle, the only way for a woman to bulk is to eat. That’s it. Anybody that looks like is body builder is probably working very hard for those results.

Which brings me to my next point: even if it were possible for spinning and running to add bulk to legs, SO WHAT? Why does everyone assume that a woman doesn’t want to “get big”?  Because I’m a female I need to be stick thin? If my pursuit of a nice booty means my thighs get a little bigger, than so be it.  And I’m not the only one who feels this way. This group of sporty people just started their own jean company for muscular legs: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/22/barbell-apparel-denim-jeans-for-athletes_n_5192767.html

Instead of worrying about putting on too much muscle, which again, is not likely if you are a lady (sorry, I never met a dead horse who I did not want to beat), why not celebrate the fact that we are working out? For some, it’s a miracle that they can squeeze a few spin classes into their busy schedules. Let’s be happy that we’re exercising and getting stronger, not stressing over a stupid fear of looking “too big”.

Women’s fitness has come a long way. We say things like “Strong is the new sexy” and I think we actually mean it. Although sometimes that sentiment is accompanied by pictures like this-

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 Oh no! Somebody should tell her she forgot to wear her pants to the gym!

-the evidence that the ladies are killing it at the fitness game is right there in every Crossfit and BodyPump class. Besides being the consumers, we’re also leading the charge to create new ways to get your sweat on. The hottest boutique cycling studios, Soul Cycle and Flywheel, were created and are currently run by women.

Let’s keep running, spinning, swimming, or doing whatever the hell it is we like to do and celebrate that we can improve our bodies and our minds through exercise. I’m on my way to a spin class. I hope I see you there.

Next week I’ll share some vegetarian recipes and products I’ve come across during my 3 month diet experiment. Got any tips on how to be a healthy vegetarian? Let me know on Facebook.com/blitzyourbody or Twitter @AmyBlitz1

My First Week As A Vegetarian!

Beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat them… Wow, I am past the first week of vegetarianism and am definitely feeling the effects of all this fiber!

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The interesting thing about the diet switch is that I do feel different, despite the fact that I only did Paleo for a month. It was surprising how my energy soared while on the Paleo diet. This week, eating vegetarian…not so much. Despite the fact that I’m eating some seriously healthy grub, I feel tired and run down. Remember how I bragged in my last post about eliminating afternoon coffee breaks from my routine?

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I admit that I’ve been very tempted to have that afternoon caffeine fix this week.

BUT I DIDN’T! 

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I’m not worried though. In the book, Eat to Live, Joel Fuhrman explains that much like detoxing from alcohol or nicotine, our bodies experience withdrawal symptoms when we remove meat, aka “toxins” from our diet. Dr. Fuhrman says that it can take up to two weeks for my body to resolve this, so I will wait patiently for my old mojo to come back into my life.

One last gripe and this one goes out to restaurants: you are making it very hard to eat clean and eat vegetarian at the same time! Unless I plan on going to a special place, the veg options are always pasta, cheese quesadillas, pizza or just plain old salad. Eating out was easier and healthier on the paleo plan. Of course I know that a little pasta once in a while won’t kill me, but I really want to eat as clean as possible.

I prefer to eat at home anyway so I can make yummy things like this:

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A portabella mushroom burger on an Ezekial English muffin topped with a little Gruyere and avocado.

It’s the first time I made something like this and I was stunned by how delicious it came out. Oh, and those things on the side are parsnip “fries”. This meal pretty much rocked my face off.

Pro Tip: marinate your portabella caps in a couple TB of balsamic vinegar, a little olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper before grilling. 

This week I  was a guest blogger for Ideal Shape (http://www.idealshape.com/paleo-diet-experiment/ ) where I talk about the first phase of this three month diet trial. Check it out!

P-P-P-Push-Up Real Good: Start Advancing Your Push-Ups Today!

What kind of advice do you have for someone who is looking to develop their push up proficiency? I can currently do 5 push-ups from my knees. —Jamie Lynn

Go Jamie Lynn! There’s a reason  you always see trainers making their clients do push-ups. Personally, I do push-ups almost every time I strength train my upper body. They are the perfect exercise for beginners and gym rats alike. A push-up is a compound exercise that strengthens and tones the chest, shoulders, back, and abdominal muscles, as well as stabilizing the shoulder girdle.

They are also very challenging. Since you are only able to do five push-ups from your knees, the best thing to do is actually regress the movement, and do your push-ups in the incline position from a bench.  Start by doing a plank on any surface that will put you at an incline, then slowly lower yourself down.

picstitch (1)Don’t leave your butt in the air! Tuck your pelvis, and as you lower yourself towards the bench, make sure you keep your hips in line with your body. 

Every time you strength train at the gym you should do three sets of ten bench push-ups at the beginning of the workout, preferably before your cardio. Once you can do this, it’s time to move to knee modified push ups from the floor.

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Again, work your way to three sets of ten reps. At this point, you should start adding real, from the toes push-ups into your sets. Each week, try to add at least one or two”real” push-ups. Eventually, you will be able to do full sets of manly-man push-ups, I promise!

Besides the actual exercise, you can also strengthen your push-up power by working the same muscles with dumbbell presses, bench presses (just start with the bar if you’re new to this) and the smith machine. Make sure you lower the bar slowly all the ways down to your chest so you get full range of motion. Since push-ups also use the triceps, finish up your work-out with triceps kickbacks, rope extensions or skull crushers.

Vegetarian Life

I’m reading Eat To Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman to get me psyched up for my months of vegetarianism and veganism.

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Fuhrman’s book states that a vegan or near vegan diet is the cure for chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. And if that sounds familiar, then you must be remembering my first post about the paleo diet, which claims the exact same thing! The one thing the two books seem to agree on is that wheat and dairy should be avoided. There goes my pizza party!

It’s not even my first week of vegetarian, so I’ll update my blog again soon.

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I just really like this picture.

Bye-bye, Caveman! Hello, Bambi! Transitioning from Paleo to Vegetarianism

My month-long trial of the Paleo diet is over! Woo hoo! Time to celebrate with all the pizza and cake I can eat!

Pizza cake

This is an actual piece of pizza-cake. Really.

Kidding, kidding…

Paleo is strict, but I enjoyed all the healthy fruits, veggies and lean meat I ate this past month. I allowed myself 5 cheat meals in 30 days, which I believe actually enabled me to ultimately stay within the diet’s rigid guidelines. So my first piece of advice if you are going to try the Paleo diet…is to cheat! Ha, ha, easy right? Seriously, you can’t be perfect all the time, so if you reward yourself with a piece of pizza on Friday, to celebrate eating healthy the rest of the week, then you’re golden.

Here’s a breakdown of my 30 day Paleo diet:

Difficulty: It’s not difficult if you stay home and make all of your own food. Going out with friends was a challenge. If I went out socially on a weekend, then that night would generally include my splurge meal. Since I usually like to order fish when I go out, most of my cheats were paleo-esque anyway.

Expense: Not too bad. I mainly stuck to Trader Joe’s, the cost per pound of grass fed meat, wild caught fish, and omega 3 eggs was only about $1.00 more than the regular stuff. All told, I spent about $225 on groceries this month, which in NYC, is not bad for two people!

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What I Ate: Kale and spaghetti squash made perfect “beds” for my protein. I also ate sweet potatoes, kabucha squash, spinach, and broccoli slaw on a regular basis. My animal protein was mostly chicken, fish, pork and eggs. I  ate red meat only three times this month. Nuts, especially walnuts and my beloved cashew butter, were staples, but I made sure to watch my portions.  Overall, I felt like I was eating a very healthy diet.

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Energy Level: High. It’s pretty telling that I no longer needed my afternoon cup of coffee two weeks after I started this diet.  I felt so good this month that I am actually starting to wonder if I have a sensitivity to gluten or to something else that was in my diet before. Hmmm…we’ll see what happens in May.

Body Changes: While I wasn’t necessarily trying to lose weight, I did lose two pounds. I also lost about three inches, which is OK because I maintained my muscle mass and still look healthy. I lost the inches around my hips and thighs.

While Paleo is the most “fad-ish” of the diets I’m trying, it’s emphasis on all natural foods gives it more staying power than Atkins. I may even go back to that style of eating (with a few tweaks once I’m done with my project). But who knows? Maybe I’ll fall in love with being a vegetarian. Which bring me to…

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Month 2: Vegetarianism

Wish me luck!

Got any tips on how to be a healthy vegetarian? Let me know on Facebook.com/blitzyourbody or Twitter @AmyBlitz1

Coconut Oil Smoothie? Yes! Plus, Tips for Getting You Ready for the Gun Show…

The weather is warm! Let us all rejoice and wear short sleeves! Since tank top season is on it’s way, I’ve been concentrating on my biceps a little more than usual.

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Here are three quick tips for those of you who are looking to get some backstage passes for the gun show:

1. Try different grips. In the picture above, I have my hand in the supinated position. At the start of the exercise, my hands are at my sides, but as I lift, I rotate my arm so that the palm then faces up. Another option is the traditional hammer curl. Or you could get really crazy and do a reverse curl. For this you’ll just keep your hand in the pronated position, which means your palms face down.

2. Change up your arm position.

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Here I just rotated my arms so that my palms face away from me.

3. Use different weight and rep ranges. One day, go light and try for 15 reps per set. Another day, pick up heavier weights and try 6-8 reps per set. 

Coconut Oil Recipes!

Coconut oil is everywhere these days, and it’s a good thing because I love it. I keep two jars in my house at all times: one in my kitchen for cooking and baking, and one in my bathroom for my daily beautification ritual (wash my face, apply coconut oil, sacrifice a virgin…)

Paleo peeps love putting it their coffee so I thought I’d give it a try.

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It’s so good! Creamy, foamy and slightly coconut-y, this is a big time upgrade from my usual coffee with almond milk.

Coconut oil supposedly speeds up metabolism, increases your energy and immunity to diseases, and aids in the reduction of belly fat. Yeah, I know, too good to be true, right? I don’t know if all these things are true, but I love the taste, and my skin looks great so I’m going to keep on using it- in moderation, of course, since it has 120 calories per tablespoon–if you eat it. Feel free to smear as much as you want on your face.

This got me thinking, what if I added some of this magical oil to my protein shake instead of almond butter?

And the Banana “Daiquiri” Protein Shake was born!

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I mean…c’mon. I could go on about how good this shake is, but really, you just have to try it yourself.

Drink this shake as a snack as opposed to a post workout recovery meal, since the fat provided by the coconut oil may impede your body’s ability to absorb the protein quickly.

“Paleo” Coconut Coffee (Blitz Your Body style)

*True Paleo coffee also includes butter, which I omitted because it requires melting a high quality butter. Too many steps at 6 am!

1 cup of coffee

2-3 oz  unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 TB coconut oil

cinnamon

Combine in a blender and blend until it looks creamy and foamy. Done!

Banana “Daiquiri “Protein Shake

No rum required. But if you add it, I won’t judge you!

8 oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk or any milk of your choice

1 scoop of vanilla protein powder

1/2 banana (frozen is best)

splash of vanilla extra

1 TB organic virgin coconut oil

1-2 ice cubes, or more as needed

 Let me know if you try these coconut oil concoctions. I want to know what you think!

Facebook.com/blitzyourbody

Cashew Butter Bread and Tips for Race Season

Let me break it down for you. Cashew. Butter. Bread. Whaaaat? YES, you can make bread out of cashew butter, eggs and a few other things, and it’s awesome and pretty much tastes like bread. If you’re grain-free, or even grain-free curious, make this:

Yummy

Yummy

The recipe can be found here: http://www.elanaspantry.com/rochels-cashew-bread/

And while you’re there, just go ahead and check out her entire site. Recipes galore!

Also, I love answering questions, so anytime you have one, hit me up on Facebook, email, or this blog and I will be happy to assist. 

From Ginny:

Hi Amy! I’m running my first half marathon on May 18th. Any Blitz Tips for the final month of training?

Good for you, Ginny! The half is my favorite distance race. It’s long enough that you get a feeling of accomplishment, but not so long that you need tons of recovery time. Not everyone can or wants to run 13.1 miles, so you should already feel pretty great about yourself just for signing up.

My “Blitz Tips” as you said, (LOVE  the moniker, by the way), are based on my own experiences and quite frankly, my mistakes. I’m going to assume you have been following a training plan so none of this will be about an actual running schedule.

1. Take it easy on the drinkin’, sister. Unless we’re talking about water.

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You don’t have to be a nun during the final month, but keep in mind that you will be asking a lot of your body for the next few weeks. If you want the very best out of your final long runs, which are typically on the weekends, it does no good to be totally hung over and dehydrated. Your body must be hydrated to fuel proper contraction and relaxation of the muscles, so take it easy and get a lot of sleep. Try to totally abstain from drinking alcohol the last week of your race. But if you’re feeling nervous the night before your race, one glass won’t hurt.

2. The long slow distance run really means SLOW.

Your long run is not the time to test out how fast you can be on race day. Just get the “time on your legs” completed. Your pace should be approximately 50-60 seconds slower than your planned race pace. Check out the book, The New Rules of Running, by Vijay Vad, M.D. which talks in detail about training for long races.

3. Don’t over-hydrate the day of your race.

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…Unless you want to hit up every port-a-potty on the route. I made this mistake at my first few races and it’s no fun standing in line while the race passes you by. Have 8-16 ounces of water an hour before the race, and then another half a glass before you run. During the race, drink if you’re thirsty. Personally, I like to just take sips of the Gatorade they hand out during the race.  If it’s hot outside, drink more.

Good luck and let me know how your races are going!

Rockin’ the Paleo!

My first couple of days on the Paleo Diet have been pretty easy, and delicious! Paleo definitely requires a lot of cooking, though. This week, I made sure I was fully stocked with wild-caught cod, shrimp, grass fed beef, and pork tenderloin. As usual, I’m thankful for the Trader Joe’s in my neighborhood. These items are a pricier than the regular stuff, but you can find most things at TJ’s for a lot less than Fresh Direct and Whole Foods.  Meat pictures aren’t so pretty, but just look at these beautiful paleo-friendly fruits and veggies I picked up:

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The big green guy back there is a Kabucha squash aka Japanese pumpkin. I haven’t cooked it yet, but I hear it tastes like a cross between a butternut squash and a yam. I’m saving that starchy squash and sweet potatoes for those days when I am very active, and exercise longer than an hour. They’ll be perfect for my long run days. Oh, wait. About all that running I was supposed to do this month–

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Oops!

Apparently I have a benign cyst on my foot that has been the culprit of all my ankle woes. The MRI is tomorrow. Not that I don’t just LOVE wearing this Aircast boot, but I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be out of it in a few days.  I can still lift weights and ride a spin bike so I’ll be sticking with my exercise routine and keeping busy. And if you see me hobbling around town in my boot, why not slow down and walk with me, ok?

Back to the good stuff–the food. The exclusion of grains from my diet has forced me to be a little experimental in the kitchen. Yes, it is just a diet of vegetables, meat and fruit, but I know I’m going to get bored if I don’t add some variety to my day. So, instead of my usual pre-paleo turkey wrap for lunch, today I made a simple crab salad with avocado, yellow peppers, and lemon juice, served up in some lettuce cups.

It was the bomb.

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Got any questions about Paleo? Or some kick-ass recipes for me to try? Don’t be shy and let me know!

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.

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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? 

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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

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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!

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