Fitness


When Not to Trust Your Trainer

how-to-spot-a-bad-personal-trainer

 

I AM NOT A DOCTOR.

The amount of times I am asked about how to treat a chronic pain, (most likely induced by over-exercising), astounds me. It’s also a little humbling, as it makes me realize how much people trust me with their bodies.

Here’s a typical conversation I’ll have with someone who approaches me in the gym or after a class:

Exerciser: Hey Amy, for a few weeks, I’ve had this pain in my shoulder every time I bench press, and it’s not getting any better.

Me: You’ve been in pain for a few weeks, and you’re still working out?

Exerciser: Of course!

Me: Have you been to the doctor? You may need an MRI…at the very least it’s best to stop bench pressing until you can get a doctor’s appointment…

Exerciser: Oh no, I can’t stop benching!

Me: 

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If you are in chronic pain, and you continue the activity which causes that specific pain, be prepared to pay the price, which could include prolonged periods of rest and possibly surgery.

As a personal trainer I am qualified to create a workout plan for you, demonstrate and supervise you performing said workout plan, suggest some dietary adjustments to optimize your workout plan, and tag you in Instagram videos of people doing ridiculous exercises like this:

But I will not, at any time, attempt to treat a medical condition or injury without you first consulting a doctor. Any trainer or instructor who dispenses medical advice, or attempts to treat a medical condition or injury, is operating out of their scope of practice and is behaving irresponsibly. 

There are some trainers out there with some very advanced degrees that may include physical therapy. But even they can’t see what’s going on inside of you if you haven’t had an X-ray or MRI. So if something has been bothering you for a while, go get one, ok? As someone who has spent over 10 weeks in a walking boot due to an ignored pain in her foot, I can tell you this much: a little early detection goes a long a way.

photo (18) Perhaps a quick visit to the doctor before running my 8th half marathon would have kept me out of this beauty.

 

 

 

 

 

This also goes for the dispensing of nutrition plans. Believe it or not, your personal trainer–unless they have attained a higher degree in dietetics–is not qualified to put you on a diet. We can suggest ways in which you can make your diet more nutritious, and can help you to devise methods of calorie imbalance that may either gain or lose you weight, but this does not include putting you on a specific plan like paleo, vegetarianism, etc.

It should be obvious that this also goes for anyone out there giving out (0r in some cases selling) diet plans. But just in case, you should be aware that the following are NOT QUALIFIED to put you on a diet:

Got a question? Leave me a comment at facebook.com/blitzyourbody or on Twitter @AmyBlitz1. You can also email me at amy.blitz@gmail.com!

28 Day Blitz!

There’s a myth out there that people naturally slim down during the hot summer months…something about the higher temperatures making it too uncomfortable to overeat. Yeah right! Personally, the warm weather makes me want to eat more fro-yo, and go to more happy hours. When you factor in vacations and long weekends, the little indulgences can really start to add up.

I can’t be alone in this. In fact, I know that I am not. In the past few weeks, I’ve been asked by a number of people to create a month-long challenge that will inspire a healthier lifestyle, and help shake off that extra summer weight.

So, here we go…

The 28 Day Blitz

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No sugar is pretty self explanatory. It also means no white bread or pasta–these foods convert too quickly in your body, and spike your insulin levels, just like sugar does.

No fast or fried foods– a no-brainer.

Nothing highly processed– no soda, no scary Kraft products, nothing “light” or “fat free”…if it comes out of a package and has a ton of unfamiliar ingredients, stay away.

No junk: cookies, crackers, bagels, pizza, burgers, fries, cupcakes, ice cream,  frozen yogurt (yes, even fro-yo!)

So what can you eat? This is NOT a deprivation diet. I want you to eat REAL food and measure your portion sizes. Your exercise goal, if you accept, is to move your body five days a week. These five days can include a long walk, your favorite yoga class or intense HIIT training, you just have to get going.

Take this month to clear out the junk in your cabinets AND in your “trunk.”

asstrunk

I couldn’t resist!

And since I don’t want you to feel totally deprived, give yourself one “cheat” meal and one “cheat” snack each week. Also, you’ll notice that I haven’t banned booze. But let’s try to limit alcohol to 1-2 glasses of wine a week.

Every week I’ll feature a workout, healthy meal ideas, and encouragement to help you through the next 28 days. If you want to really get serious, measure/weigh yourself, or take a “before pic” before you officially start. By October, I hope you are looking and feeling better than ever!

So, what do you say?

Talk to me FB.com/blitzyourbody or Twitter @AmyBlitz1

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!

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

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.

upside down 3

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!

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.

Sober September, It’s Happening

No AlcoholSeptember is here.  People go back to work, kids go back to school and everyone gets the almost New Years-type feeling that now is the time to get serious about health and weight loss.

Sober September is a month long “detox” I am encouraging my clients to do to get them back on track after a summer of vacations, traveling and BBQ’s. It’s simple: abstain from alcohol and eat only healthy foods for the entire month of September. That’s it. Well, actually there are a few rules of Sober September. Follow them, and you will be looking and feeling your best by October 1st.

Rule #1 Talk about Sober September. You must tell the people close to you that you are doing this. Otherwise, who will hold you accountable when you are faced with a drink or a cheeseburger?

Rule #2 Measure yourself on day one of SS, which is actually Tuesday, Sept 3rd, or at the very least, within the first week of September. Take a waist and hip measurement, and weigh yourself if you have a scale. Repeat on Sept 30th. You can also go by how your clothes feel, but I like to be exact about these things.

Rule #3 No cheating. Under normal circumstances, I do recommend a moderate cheat day once a week. But this is Sober September! So for the next four weeks you must eat clean and abstain for the whole month. If you do cheat, you MUST own up to it. My clients know that they have to admit to any indiscretions. Accountability is key!

I will however, permit wine on the Jewish Holidays. My people have got to have their wine for the New Year!

Rule #4 Exercise. Make it a point to do at least two, 30 minute sessions a week of any weight bearing exercise and 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking. If you like vigorous activities like running or spinning, then you only need 75 minutes. These are CDC recommendations. You can read more about them here:  http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html

Going to give Sober September a try? I want to know about! Please leave a comment below or email me at amy.blitz@gmail.com to opt in. I will check on you throughout the month.

 

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