nutrition


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: 

polar_face_palm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Diary of a Trainer: What’s Trending this October!

Trends are fun. I usually don’t take them seriously, but I find that educating myself on the latest health trends are a good to shake things up a little. New diets, sports drinks, workouts, and healthy snacks… if it’s fitness related and “trending,” I’m going to at least read about it, and most likely give it a try. Remember when I tried three major lifestyle diets?  I’m glad that that’s over, but happy to have at least experimented a bit.

Here a couple of things I am into at this moment:

Intermittent Fasting

I’ve been skipping breakfast on and off for over a year, and it’s my go-to way to slim down after a period of eating with reckless abandon. I go on a 14-16 hour fast (yes, sleep is included), eat throughout the day, then cut myself off from food at 8:30 pm. You may read that a strict 8 hour window of “eating whatever you want” will work. I find that those articles are written for men, with no research done on women. Ladies, I recommend you eat a healthy diet, filled with fruits and veggies, to get the best results. However, intermittent fasting does allow for indulgences, so you don’t have to feel guilty after that Sunday brunch (whoop whoop!)

There are a few different ways to fast. There’s 20-24 hour twice weekly fasts and also a once a week 36 hour fast – no thank you! I prefer the mini-fasts that I do about five days a week. Last thing to note: I start every day by drinking two glasses of water and a coffee with half a TB of coconut oil every morning. This does not seem to disrupt the fast, as I still get results, plus it makes the process that much easier. Then I drink water or tea until breakfast.

There are some fasting articles online, but if you want your specific questions about the topic answered, just ask me here or on FB.com/blitzyourbody. I’m happy to offer my personal experience.

FYI, Hugh Jackman famously got in Wolverine shape with intermittent fasting.

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Glorious.

Flavored Coconut Butter

I wouldn’t know this existed if it wasn’t for Instagram, and now I can’t get enough of this stuff. Well played, Internet, well played. If eating almond butter out of the jar is your thing, then drop everything and get yourself a jar of Nikki’s Chocolate Hazelnut Brownie Coconut Butter STAT. There are other brands out there or you can make your own like this lady  from my Whole Food Life.

I will probably never make my own, but I will keep this stuff on hand despite it’s $13 a jar price tag. It’s just ground up coconut meat, ground nuts, cocao, and honey or dates to add a little sweetness. Just be careful with this stuff. Two tablespoons are about 220 calories and 20 grams of fat! Yes, that is a lot of fat, but the fact that is’s a plant-based saturated fat, as opposed to an animal sat. fat, means it won’t clog your arteries.

Note the photo bomb by my Kabucha squash.

Note the photo bomb by my Kabucha squash.

My Favorite Recipe Utilizing Coconut Butter

1 tsp all natural almond or peanut butter

1 tsp chocolate hazelnut brownie coconut butter

1 spoon

Scoop a little of your chosen nut butter on a spoon. Place a little chocolate coconut butter on the same spoon. Put in your mouth. Die of  happiness.

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Banish the Post-Workout Munchies

Don’t forget the 28 Day Blitz is ON!!! No junk for the rest of the month! Yes, I am aware that football, aka, buffalo wing season has begun. My advice is to have a taste and then move along to something healthier. Here’s the link I posted a few months ago to a delicious paleo-friendly buffalo chicken that is grain-free and baked.

http://stupideasypaleo.com/2014/03/30/crispy-buffalo-chicken-fingers/

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This is the pic I posted a while back when they were made for me. Turkey bacon  wrapped asparagus is optional.

 Your body will thank you!

And now a question for Blitz Your Body …

Amy, I have a question for you. When I do a lot of exercising (mostly walking and biking each for 30 min to an hour), I end up so very, very hungry the entire next day. Is there something that should be eaten before or after exercise to help curb this spike in appetite?–Linda

Before we get to the best foods to fuel and nourish your workout, let’s make sure that what you are experiencing isn’t really thirst. Many times, we are dehydrated and not truly hungry, so you must drink a lot of water, especially on your active days. How much does that mean? Well, there isn’t too much evidence that proves the “8-8 oz of water” per day rule is actually true.  But, the Mayo Clinic suggests that women take in 2.2 liters (9 cups) and that men take in 3 liters (13 cups) a day, adding an extra 1.5 to  2.5 cups when you exercise, which is pretty close the the conventional wisdom of 8/8 glasses of water. 

Here’s an accurate portrayal of what I look like drinking my water, post-workout:

drinkingwoman

Yes, I wear pearl earrings when I workout. You don’t???

Now for fuel. We need to pick foods that will satisfy your hunger and be in line with your fitness goals. Pre-workout, you want to make sure you eat healthy carbohydrates that will give you energy without weighing you down. The closer you are to your exercise session, the simpler the food should be.

What I eat BEFORE a workout

A handful of grapes (15-30 min prior)

Banana with peanut butter (30-60 min prior)

Coffee Smoothie (60 min prior-recipe below!)

Half Ezekial English muffin with almond butter (60-90 min prior)

Fruit smoothie with half scoop protein powder (90-120 min prior)

Nothing.

That’s right. Sometimes I don’t eat before I go to the gym. My body is used to a fasted workout and sometimes I just grab a coffee and go. 

What I eat AFTER a workout

Carbs + Protein = a satisfying post-work out meal or snack that will keep you feeling full. Stay away from heavy fats, since they inhibit your body’s ability to quickly process all the good stuff.

Fruit Smoothie with whole or half scoop of protein powder (cardio or weight training)

Eggs with 1/2 cup of rice or half a potato and green veggies (cardio or weights)

Plain 2% Greek yogurt (cardio or weights)

A veggie wrap (cardio)

Roast or grilled chicken (usually left-overs) with veggies (weights)

Coffee Talk

I recently discovered that freezing coffee in ice cube trays is an easy and tasty way to add a little zip to my protein shakes.

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My moose mug is my best friend.

Moderate amounts of caffeine can naturally enhance your exercise performance. The better your performance, the more your calories you burn, and you can have greater strength gains. Just brew a strong cup of coffee, then freeze.  Side note: coffee cubes are also great for homemade iced coffee!

Coffee Protein Shake

Blend the following:

8 oz unsweetened almond milk

half or whole scoop of vanilla protein powder

1/2 frozen banana

1/2 TB of peanut butter (if you want to bulk it up a bit. It’s good without too)

1 TB raw cocoa nibs or cocoa powder

1 Tsp of psyllium seed husk powder

3-4 frozen coffee ice cubes

A drizzle of maple syrup (or any natural sweetener) to taste.

Sometimes I throw a TB or 2 of raw oat bran to increase the amount of fiber. 

Try it as a pre-workout fuel source, or a perky mid-day snack. Let me know what you think!

Facebook.com/blitzyourbody and 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.

vegancheese

 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

Rockin’ the Paleo!

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

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

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Oops!

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

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

It was the bomb.

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

The 3 Month Diet Challenge: Starting With the Dawn of Man…Paleo!

When I’m asked about various lifestyle diets (which happens pretty often), I always repeat the same mantra: “Everything in moderation”. I’ve always been  proponent of a well-balanced diet that includes every food group, including the occasional Cadbury Egg. But lately there has been a lot of discussion about going back to basics and cutting out grains, meat, dairy, etc. Hmmmm. What if there’s something I’m missing regarding the grain free lifestyle? Is a meatless existence really the way to go?  It’s time to put my money where my mouth is, and try out some of these diets.

For the next three months, I’m trying out the most popular lifestyle diets. In April, I’m taking it back to the Flinstones era, and trying out the Paleo Diet. In May, I’m doing a complete 180 and going vegetarian. Then in June, I’ll take it one step further to vegan. Along the way, I’ll blog about my experience, updating you on things like ease of  the plan, what I’m eating, expense, my energy level, and any changes in my body.

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!

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!

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

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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:

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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.

 

 

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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