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.

winerun

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.

port-a-potty-lines

…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!

A Crock-Pot Recipe You Can Jump Into with Both Feet…Or Maybe Just One

Working out is so much more fun when you have a buddy with you, right? Shout-out to my girl Angie, who’s been kind enough to come all the way from Queens over to my gym, and lift weights with me! See, ever since I’ve been wearing this beautiful boot…photo (18)

Woomp, there it it-thought you knew…

…my work outs have been pretty perfunctory. But when I have my gym buddy, we have a great time challenging each other. In fact, if you happen to see us together in the gym, stand aside because Angie and I are getting the job DONE. (Just kidding, actually, come talk to us, cause we’re really friendly).  So my only fit tip this week is this: if you’re in a fitness funk, not motivated, or just generally feeling down, grab a friend and get moving. I can now speak from experience, and tell you that the combination of exercise and good company is a one-two feel-good punch in the face.

Paleo Time!

It’s officially the end of week two of my little experiment and I gotta say, I love Paleo! I was very skeptical at first, however I feel energized, focused and even a little lighter. I don’t miss the foods I thought I would miss like yogurt and oatmeal, two very major staples in my life up until now. One tidbit: after a pizza cheat night, I thought it would be smart to go very low carb for a day or two and only have protein and vegetables. Not. Smart. And I know better; a little bit of pizza would not be enough carbs to get me through a few days of  low carb eating. Let’s just say I  MAY have been a little moody. Actually, let’s also just say that I MAY have wanted to tell off every single person I encountered on the subway during my commute, and MAYBE I  cried because I missed a train because my boot was making me walk too slow. But, don’t worry, I figured out my problem , and promptly ate an apple, which pretty much changed my life. So, lesson learned. If you ever try paleo, eat your fruit!

apples

I’ve been cooking A LOT, so there are always veggies to chop and some kind of mess to clean up, which I admit is kind of a pain. But, and I think everyone will agree on this, it is just so much better to cook your own meals. Even when your order out healthy food, you never know what they are putting into your dinner.

Speaking of cooking, do yourself a favor and make this in your crock-pot for an easy, paleo friendly meal that you can totally serve with brown rice if you want to. I had mine on top of spaghetti squash.

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken

from Allrecipes.com

1 jar of salsa without preservatives (Newman’s Own is good)

Taco seasoning (Google up how to make your own and avoid all the sodium in the package)

1 lime or 1/2 of lemon (I used lemon cause that’s what I had)

1 handful of cilantro

3 lbs of skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Mix it up all up and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6-8. Top it with a little bit of chopped avocado. It’s really good!
It’s a proven fact that crock pot food does not look good in pictures, so no food pic on this one. Instead, enjoy this picture of my boot enjoying a Yankee game.
photo (19)

 

I’m So Bad…And That’s Ok!

I came across a blog the other day about the problem with “diet mentality.” You know, that feeling of failure and lack of willpower that comes from being “bad”at the dinner table. The declaration of a food fail or “food shaming” seems to be the way some of us relate to each other lately as we all try to squeeze into our skinny jeans.

Amy Schumer totally nailed it in her April 8th sketch on her show that highlighted this trend. If you haven’t seen it, check it out here:

 

Amy-Schumer

Love her!

Does confessing our food sins really make us feel better? Or does it actually hinder real progress by constantly focusing on our failure? If we always take for granted the good things we do and only stress about the negative, then how can anyone expect to actually stick to a healthy lifestyle?

Let’s change our mindsets. Eating healthy and exercising is a reward for our bodies, not a punishment for being ‘bad’. True, it’s easier to just hang on the couch. And sometimes it’s difficult to pass by the good cupcake place without stopping in. But eventually it becomes easier to make the choice of good health. And when you do, you should CELEBRATE IT! And if on one of those days you actually go in and get the damn cupcake, don’t beat yourself up afterward.

Read the original blog post from WeightPsychology.com here: http://www.weightpsychology.com/blog.php

As for my own diet experiment with Paleo: it’s still going well. Vin and I are both cooking up some amazing food!

photo (17)

Paleo Crispy Buffalo Chicken with Bacon Wrapped Asparagus.

Made by Vin. Recipe at http://stupideasypaleo.com/

 I had a major cheat with some pizza the other night since we were out celebrating my girl Lisa’s birthday.

AND THAT’S OK!

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:

photo (15)

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–

photo (16)

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.

photo (14)

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.

flintstone

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

So, What Exactly is the Paleo Diet? 

paleo foods

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

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

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

Finer points

noatkins

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

An Important Note

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

One Last Thing

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

fastfoodcavemanNo! He doesn’t want fries with that!

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

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

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

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

Crossover Crunch

photo (12)

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

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

Hanging Leg Raises

photo (11)

Works abdominals and hip flexors

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

Dead Bug

photo (13)

Works the deep core muscles and stabilizes the lower spine.

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

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

Who Cares if You Run Slow?

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

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

Hope you have a great run this weekend!

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

Green is the New Black: New Smoothie Recipe!

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

photo (7)

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

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

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

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

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

photo (10)

St. Paddy’s Day Recovery Shake

260 cal/5.5 grams fat/27 grams protein

Serves 1

1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk

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

1/2 frozen or fresh banana

1/4 cup lowfat Greek yogurt

1 splash vanilla extract

1 tsp honey or whatever sweetener you prefer

1 cup baby spinach

2-3 ice cubes

Blend and enjoy!

Pump Up the Blueberry Chia Jam!

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

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

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

Blueberry Chia Jam

photo (8)

Serves 1

1/2 cup blueberries

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

1 TB Chia seeds

2 tsp water

Honey, maple syrup or stevia to taste.

I used 1/2 tsp of raw honey

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

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

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

photo (9)

Personal Trainers: Step Your Game Up!

badpt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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