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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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’.

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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” .

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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  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.

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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!

Dear Diary…Why You Should Keep a Food Journal

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The 30 Day Food Journal Challenge I started in January is finally over! For the past month, my clients, friends, and I kept a detailed log of our daily exercise and food intake, using the My Fitness Pal app. So did my challenge work? Is keeping a food journal really worth the effort?

Here are some tips I learned:

Honesty is the Best Policy

A food journal can give you insight into your daily calorie intake and can help you determine areas where your diet can be cleaned up. But you must be thorough. It’s best to log right after you’ve eaten so you don’t forget. This includes the handful of potato chips you had, and that half of a chocolate chip cookie I snacked on (couldn’t help it, it had walnuts). Over a period of time, omitting little bites like those can mean the difference between reaching your goal or coming up short.

Be Consistent

Keeping a food log can work, but only if done with consistency. I recommend setting a specific time goal for journaling. Whether it is an entire month or even just a week, make a commitment to log every day for that time. Out of the 22 who signed up for the 30 Day Food Journal Challenge, about half didn’t keep up with their log, and dropped out after the first week. Everyone who recorded for the full 30 days experienced various degrees of success–from better fitting clothes, to a ten pound drop in weight. 

Underestimate Your Exercise Expenditure and Overestimate Your Calories

The My Fitness Pal app, as well as the cardio machines at the gym, grossly overestimate the calories you burn while you workout. My suggestion is to under report the amount of time you worked out to get a number that could be close to accurate. As for calories consumed, if you measure your portions, you don’t need to adjust for accuracy. However when dining out, it’s always best to over estimate. Last night I searched “pizza” on My Fitness Pal and many of the entries were under 300 calories a slice, which seems highly unlikely. Especially in New York, where a slice of pizza looks like this:

nyny_pizza1.sized

If your pizza fits on a plate, you’re not in New York

Review Your Previous Entries

You can’t learn about your food habits and triggers, if you don’t take the time to look at previous entries. Did you have a bad day at work on a high calories day? Are you too busy too eat a sufficient amount of food when the baby is awake? Reflection can be key to helping you make healthy changes that can last a lifetime.

Yes! Journaling Does Work!

Finally, some people would be above printing a letter of praise from a happy food journaler. I, however, am not one of those people! Read Shannon’s letter below to see  how keeping a food journal helped her break through a plateau:

Hi Amy- I just wanted to thank you for starting the 30 day food journal challenge . It was just the change I needed to shed a few more pounds, which I’d been trying to drop for months. I was basically stuck at the same weight and just figured that was it for me…but then I started journaling and bam, 5 lbs in 30. days!!! It’s incredible the difference those 5 lbs have made I am beyond ecstatic at how I look and how much more defined my muscles look now. I truly appreciate and just love people like you who start these sorts of things and are always looking to help those around them. You are a great inspiration!! Thank you thank you thank you!!! Xoxoxo

Oh and I plan to continue journaling, I’m addicted –Shannon

Thanks Shannon! Glad to hear that you love how you look and, more importantly, how you feel!

30 Day Food Journal Challenge!

You show me yours, I’ll show you mine. Hey put your clothes back on, I’m talking about your food journal!

For the rest of this month and February, join me for the

 30 Day Food Journal Challenge!

How it works:

1. Get the free My Fitness Pal app

2. Tell me your username and we’ll sync up

3. Log every day or as much as you can for 30 days. The goal is to log as much as possible from Jan 13 to Feb 11.

If you want, I will check your journal for you, answer any questions, give advice, etc.
Contact me at amy.blitz@gmail.com Tweet me at AmyBlitz1 or hit me up on Facebook for more info

Your Top Gym Excuses-BUSTED!

Happy New Year!  Disclaimer: This is my  favorite time of year.  I love working with people who have resolved to get fit after the ball drops. Conversely, this is also the time of year that I hear a lot of excuses as to why people are NOT making regular exercise their priority. While a person’s reasons for not exercising MAY be completely valid, I am here to bust (or blitz) those excuses, and get you on your way to a healthier and happier 2014. Here it is, the list of reasons I hear most from people who are not working out.

I Hate to Exercise

Exercise doesn’t have to be a 60 minute slog on the treadmill or a series of unending crunches. If traditional exercise techniques don’t appeal to you there are ways to be active that don’t feel like “torture”. Dance classes, swimming lessons, pilates, yoga and walking are just a few ways that will help you move more without touching a dumbbell. The other option is to enlist a friend or workout buddy to meet you at the gym and join you in a sweat session. BUT, if even after that you don’t love it, just remember this: I have never met anyone who does not feel great after a workout.  Exercise is beneficial both physically and mentally. I promise you’ll feel more confident and proud of yourself after your workout. Remind yourself of that feeling anytime you start to hate.

You Don’t Have Time

SBTB

This is the one I hear the most. You can find the time, it just takes a little effort. Pack up your gym bag at night and wake up a little early. Create a walking lunch club at work. Cook a lot of food on Sunday so you can devote at least 3o minutes after work to some exercise. I have done all of these things and they do help. You need to schedule your workouts like you would schedule a meeting. Whenever I’m training for a race, I put my running workouts on my iPhone calendar so they pop up with all my other appointments. Even if you can only make times for 30 minutes, five times a week, you will improve your fitness level and depending how intensely you work, can lose weight too. I promise, after one month it will start to feel like a normal part of your life.

The Gym is Intimidating aka People Will Look at Me

I totally get why the gym may scare you off at first, especially if your point of reference are those ridiculous Equinox ads.

Yep, I am always fed grapes while wearing my bikini

Yep, I am always fed grapes while wearing my bikini

The truth, and I’ve been saying this for years, is that everyone at the gym is too busy checking themselves out to give you a second thought. Yes you may have seen the stud by the weight rack taking a peek at you, but it is most likely that you caught his eye while he was admiring his own delt– so relax and get your sweat on. It’s all good.

The Gym is Too Busy/ The Trainers Will Bother Me

Very true! It will be very busy in January. But give it a few weeks. By February, the crowds die down and you will be there with all the regulars. And that’s what we want–for you to be a gym regular, not just a “January Jane”. (I just made that up, but maybe we can make that a thing?)

As for the pushy trainers, also true, but here’s the thing: it’s their job to approach you and yes, to sell you training. If you really don’t want that, keep your ear buds in. Of course,there are some clubs where the trainers are especially aggressive. Ahem, I’m looking at you New York Health and Raquet. In that case, I recommend a friendly but firm “no thanks”. A friend of mine once faked an injury just to keep the NYHR staff from bothering them, so that’s an idea too.

You Have No Idea What To Do

A personal trainer’s job is not only to work you out, but to make sure you know how to exercise on your own. Don’t feel like you should be in shape to get the most out of a trainer. We love to teach and get you on the path to self-efficacy. You can also learn a thing or two from a group class, although I recommend telling the teacher you are newbie before the class begins. If a trainer or classes are not possible for you, then I recommend the rule of five. Pick five exercises for the day and repeat them circuit style for 30 minutes. Alternate upper body, lower body, pushing and pulling during your circuit, to allow your muscles to recover between exercises. Whatever you do, don’t walk into the gym for the first time ready to recreate the P90X commercial. You need to build a solid foundation in order to avoid injury and both physical and mental burnout.

My Gift To You: A Workout…and an Eggnog Protein Shake!

weight gift

This month DO NOT Blitz Your Body. Instead…Blitzen Your Body!  To honor my favorite reindeer, I have created a quick and easy-to-remember circuit, that will get you in and out of the gym in 30 minutes. You’ll burn calories, boost strength and endurance, plus get your endorphins flowing right in time for the holiday. And then, once the New Year comes around, you will already be ahead of the workout game.

Oh, and as an added bonus, I have included a special EGGNOG PROTEIN SMOOTHIE recipe at the end. Try it after your workout to aid in muscle recovery.

5 minute warm up

1/4 mile treadmill run at moderate pace – Don’t like running? That’s fine. Substitute any treadmill running portion of this workout with a treadmill hill walk, 5 minutes of stairmaster, or 1 minute of jumping jacks combined with 1 minute of mountain climbers and another 30 seconds of jumping jacks. This is the cardio portion, so just get your heart rate up for at least 2.5 minutes.

15-20 push ups: Works chest, triceps, back and core muscles.

15 side lunges (per leg) Works glutes and thighs

15-20 of any type of row. I love TRX rows, but you can also do a bent over dumbbell row. Works the muscles of the middle back and biceps. 

Plank for 30-90 seconds. Works the core stabilizing muscles and shoulders.

50 bicycle crunches. Works the obliques and abdominals

10-20 Forward lunges with a bicep curl AND an overhead press. This is the move that will get your heart pumping again after the core work. Grab a set of light to moderate weights. With the dumbbells in both hands, step forward into a lunge. With your back knee hovering above the ground, do a biceps curl, ensuring that you keep your elbows close to your torso. Flip your grip so that palms face forward and perform an overhead press. If you are a beginner  then just perform the curl. Lower your arms and step your back leg forward. Repeat on the other side. Works legs, glutes, biceps, shoulders, triceps and core muscles.

Rest for 1 minute or more if necessary. Go back to the treadmill or the cardio of your choice. Try to increase the intensity of the cardio portion by either going a bit faster or increasing the incline/resistance. Repeat weight circuit.

Do this circuit 2-3 times. If you have extra time at the gym, add some small muscle group exercises like triceps extensions and lat shoulder raises at the end.

And now for the NOG!

Blitzen’s Eggnog Protein Smoothie

1/2 cup Silk Nog (this will provide the eggnog taste without the egg nog fat and calories)

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 TB chia seeds (optional)

1 scoop Designer Whey Vanilla Protein powder

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 banana (frozen is best, but if you only have a fresh one, add more ice)

1 dash ground cloves

1 dash ground nutmeg

1 dag ground cinnamon

2 ice cubes

Combine Soy Nog and almond milk in your blender. Add chia seeds. Allowing the chia seeds to soak in this liquid for a few minutes will make your smoothie extra thick. Add the rest of your ingredients and blend, adding a bit more almond milk if it becomes too thick for your taste. If you need more sweetness you can add a bit of honey or liquid stevia, just adjust calories accordingly. I like it as is.

Serve over ice.

Serves 1. With chia seeds: 300 calories. 7 grams fat. 11 grams fiber. 7 grams sugar.

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