paleo


But if We Can’t Eat Red Meat, What Will Become of the Paleo Diet?

There was BIG NEWS Monday about the IARC and World Health Organization’s report about red and processed meat causing cancer. It wasn’t the most shocking news, as we’ve be warned for years that eating red and processed meat could lead to future health issues. In other words, uh-duh!

Still, seeing the bold headlines was a little upsetting, especially since I had bacon with my Sunday brunch.

But meat lovers, don’t despair! While a simple glance at a headline may initially convince you that your next BLT is going to give you cancer, a little further reading clears up the finer points of this study. True, these types of studies are meant to tell us if something causes cancer, but they don’t describe how potent they are as cancer causing agentsHere’s a handy info graphic to give you some perspective on cause vs. risk.

151026-Tobacco-vs-Meat-TWITTER

 So yes, a steady diet of red meat and sausage will probably damage your health, however you can still enjoy these foods in moderate amounts and be fine.  For more information, this article from Cancer Research UK explains it further. 

So, what will become of the Paleo diet if we can’t eat bacon and grass-fed beef with abandon?  The modern cavemen are already firing back. One of their arguments is that the WHO didn’t test grass-fed beef vs. “MacDonald’s beef”. Unfortunately for them, the evidence shows that it’s the naturally occurring chemicals in meat and how our bodies process them that increase the risk of cancer. This is not to say that the quality of our protein doesn’t matter. It’s in relation to this bowel cancer study that the grass-fed beef vs. corn-fed beef difference is irrelevant.

What do you think of the WHO findings? Will this change how you eat at all? Or are you in the “Oh, well, everything causes cancer” camp?

Let me know on Facebook @blitzyourbody!

 

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.

kale_chips-01

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!

Facebook.com/blitzyourbody

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.

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…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!

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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:

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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!

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