Time to Shake That Booty

From my boot!

Yes, sweet, sweet freedom. After ten weeks of being burdened with a walking cast, aka Aircast boot, I am taking NYC by storm and walking on my own two feet.

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There they are!

I feel so lucky that I can perform a simple, everyday task, like walking. Having an injury sucks, but it does put things into perspective. When our health and vitality are taken away from us, we immediately bemoan how we took these things for granted. And when our health is restored, we have a greater appreciation for it. I hope I can keep this appreciative feeling as I leave my boot days far behind me.

Of course, I had to celebrate Boot Liberation Day with a few friends and mixed drinks.

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Don’t worry, this drink was way more pina than colada.

Vegan Stuff

When you don’t eat animal products, you miss out on some important nutrients. Here’s a quick little list I put together that are must-have items if you are going to go vegan.

Vitamin B12: important for DNA synthesis, and brain and nervous system health. Unlike the other B vitamins, B12 is only found in animal products.

Nutritional Yeast: already discussed here : http://blitzyourbody.com/2014/06/glutesnooch/ This weird but tasty substance adds flavor to veggies and is supplemented with B vitamins, including B12.

Textured Vegetable Protein or TVP: I know, sounds delish, right? These are dry soy flakes. If you’ve ever had Morningstar farm soy crumbles, this is the same thing, just in its plain form and a lot cheaper. You just reconstitute it in a bit of water and add it to pasta sauce or asia stir fries to bump up the protein content. It takes on the flavor of whatever you put it in.

Oreos Kidding, kidding! I recently came across this list of surprising vegan foods and, happily, Oreos made the list http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/12/surprising-vegan-foods_n_3895853.html

I would never eat a toxic, chemical riddled Oreo cookie.

Or would I…

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Yep, the Reese’s ones.

If you’re a vegan and have a food to add to my list, let me know on facebook.com/blitzyourbody or on Twitter @AmyBlitz1

Vegan Rage is Real, People!

It’s been a sad morning. Not because of the vegan diet (which IS growing tiresome), but because of this…

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Don’t you hate when the entire stem rips off?

I had to make a little hat so that I wouldn’t get banana in my backpack.

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Caution: Genius at work.

I am more than mid-way done with my 30 day vegan diet, and am most looking forward to eating cheese again. In fact, I have begun to think of the past few months as B.C. and A.C. (Before Cheese and After Cheese, respectively).

I tried some vegan, soy-based, “cheese” which was just about the most vile thing ever invented.

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 Slimy, smelly and EVIL. Why does this exist???

There are a few ways to create your own vegan “cheese” with cashews and nutritional yeast but I have yet to try it.  Has anyone ever made this stuff?

It’s a good thing that I live in NYC, where there is bound to be at least one vegan restaurant in any neighborhood you wander. I love Peacefood Cafe on the Upper West Side, where I treated myself to a piece of vegan carrot cake.

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It tasted just like carrot cake with cream cheese frosting-amazing!

There is even a new vegan soul food restaurant in Harlem which I will be hitting up very soon:  http://www.seasonedvegan.com/ Yes! SOUL FOOD! Get in my belly!

I often refer to veganism as the diet of side dishes. For example, last night I ate sauteed zucchini, a Kabocha squash mash, and a salad. I also tossed some black beans in there to help fill me up. This is a pretty typical dinner for me. I know, it sounds depressing to all you meat-eaters out there. But because I am eating a high volume of food I feel satisfied at the end of each meal.

Of course, satisfied does not mean happy, and as I write this I am being informed that I still have a poor attitude, and am short-tempered. I like to think that I’m being sassy, but yeah, I agree my fuse is short. VEGAN RAGE IS REAL, PEOPLE!

Finally, if you missed the grand announcement before, I have a new workout video on my YouTube channel! And it focuses on everyone’s favorite body part-the glutes!

 Talk to me on Facebook.com/blitzyourbody or Tweet me @AmyBlitz1

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

 

Work Your Core and Clean Your Floor!

I love using Gliders to pump up my core and leg training. If you haven’t seen them, they look like this:

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Actually, I don’t own my own pair–and not every gym has them. So when I’m in the mood to glide, I just grab a towel and get moving. In the exercise below, I have placed a towel under my toes while in the plank position. Then I pike my hips, return to plank, and drive my knees from elbow to elbow to work my obliques. Check out the video here:

Vegetarian Update!

Adjusting to vegetarianism has been a bit challenging for me. I thought that simply replacing meat with beans would be a breeze. But in reality, my body has had a difficult time processing all of the fiber I’ve been putting into it.  After two weeks, I started to feel the effects of all the Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower. Not to mention the avocados, nuts, seeds and beans I was eating as well. My stomach became distended, and I felt gassy and uncomfortable. Not good!

Here’s a list of my favorite veggies and fruits and their fiber content:

Vegetables (1 cup servings)

Broccoli and cauliflower, 5 grams

Brussels sprouts, 6 grams

Kale, 3 grams

Sweet potato, 4 grams

Fruits 

Medium apple, 4 grams

Banana, 3 grams

Avocado (half), 9 grams

Mango, 5 grams

These foods are delicious and wholesome. Their fiber content will fill you up  and keep you regular. You should include these in your diet, (just not all at once, every single day)– like I did!

So, to review: when you increase your fiber intake, go slow, make small changes, and  drink a lot of water to help all of that fiber make it’s way through your system. Your tummy will thank you!

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!

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