weight loss


The Myth of Holiday Weight Gain

santa-abs

Ahhh…the holidays. Seems like just yesterday us fitness professionals were posting things like “get your abs ready for summer!” and now look at us, advising you on how to navigate the holidays without gaining the “usual 7-10 pounds”.

First, let me clear up one point. The average person does NOT gain 7-10 pounds over the holidays. That’s just fitness industry malarky. Malarky I tell ya! The average person MAY put on 1-2 extra pounds that they will probably lose once they resume their normal eating pattern. Our bodies love to maintain status quo. Just like I’ve warned, a drastic low-calorie diet will cause your body to crave fatty foods and make you put some weight back on. On the other hand,  a diet that includes a little Piecaken will cause your body to adjust in a similar way, preventing you from gaining too much weight.

 

piecaken-3

It’s a cake with pies baked in it. It both frightens and fascinates me.

 

And if you regularly work out, you most likely won’t even have to worry about the one extra pound. When you weight train, there’s a chance the extra calories from your holiday indulgences will go towards muscle growth. Biceps for Christmas, anyone?

Work out for 20 minutes, feel good all day

What can be annoying during the holidays is the utter lack of time to get any exercise done. This is why I’ve created a quick little 20 minute workout that you can do anywhere, any time and feel like a champion. And I mean anywhere. I only picked exercises that  fit on a yoga mat, which is about all the space I have in my apartment to workout.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-d-snowman-lifting-weights-render-image42752678

 

 

 

 

 

20 Minute Holiday Workout

1:00-3:00 Warm up with with a circuit of jumping jacks, inch worms, and butt-kicks. Do at least 5 warm up push-ups.

3:00-4:00 Forward lunges in place

4:00-4:30 Push-ups

4:30-5:00 Plank

5:00-6:00 Alternating side lunges

6:00-6:30 Side plank with hip drops-right side

6:30-7:00 Side plank with hip drops-left side

7:00-8:00 Lunge jumps (see video below)

8:00-8:30 V-Ups

The V-Up. My eyes are closed but you get the point

A V-Up. I like to do them with my eyes closed, as you can see here

 

8:30-9:00 Mountain climbers

9:00-10:00 In and Out Squat jumps (see video)

10:00-17:00 Repeat minutes 3-10

17:00-18:00 Leg raises

18:00-19:00 Superman

19:00-20:00 Stretch

 

Here’s a quick video just to show you the jumping exercises. For lunge jumps, take the time to sink down low, then spring up and change feet quickly. Both squat jumps and lunge jumps should end in a soft landing.


Let me know if you try this workout at facebook.com/blitzyourbody

Instagram @blitzyourbody

Twitter @AmyBlitz1

You can also always email me with questions @amy.blitz@gmail.com!

 

On a diet? Eat MORE…That’s Right, I Said It

Congratulations to one of my virtual clients, who just reported that she’s lost 10 lbs in two months!

A great achievement. We’ve been focusing on tracking her food with an online journal, making healthier choices, and moving more. Notice how I use the phrase “healthier choices” and not “major diet over-haul,” because making small changes is more conducive to creating lasting healthy habits. Most days I have to remind my client to eat MORE calories, not less. Why would I do such a thing?

Lose Weight While Eating the Most Calories Possible

For years, fitness mags have encouraged ladies to eat a 1500 calorie diet to lose weight. This advice is doled out to us with no regard for our current weight, height, activity level, and muscle mass. Should an active woman who is  5’7″  tall eat the same amount of calories as a 5’2″ sedentary woman? Hell no!

homer-simpson-diet-screencap

If you’re looking to lose weight by solely using a cookie-cutter, restricted calorie diet, you’re setting yourself up for failure:

  • The potential for muscle loss is greater
  • You’ll feel your energy slump
  • Your workouts will suffer
  • Sleep patterns can be disturbed
  • You’ll find that maintaining your new lean body is even more difficult than your initial weight loss was.

And if you’re an active person of a healthy weight just looking to change your body composition (less fat, more muscle),  a low calorie diet will keep you spinning your wheels faster than your favorite Fly Wheel instructor.

Disclaimer: THIS IS A JOKE. NEVER DO THIS. UNLESS YOU WANT A LIFETIME BACK PROBLEM.

In addition to adjusting daily calorie counts to best fit your body type, keep in mind that once you have hit your goal weight, your calorie needs will DECREASE. A person carrying less mass needs less energy. Einstein said that, folks.

This is why it’s best to figure out what you specifically need to lose or maintain weight with a total energy expenditure (TEE) calculator  and go from there. There are a few really good calculators out there. I like this one: http://www.health-calc.com/diet/energy-expenditure-advanced because it allows for several factors like sleep, activity, and exercise intensity. You may be surprised at how many calories you need to eat to maintain your weight! Once you find out what your daily needs are, you can decrease your calories to create a deficit. I recommend using a food journal to keep track. If you don’t like to journal, I ask that you just try  it for one week, in order to give yourself an idea of what it’s like to eat within a calorie range. Finally, please don’t attempt to cut more 300- 500 calories per day. Slow and steady is the way to go!

When You Eat Is As Important As What You Eat

eating-clock

A couple of weeks ago, I put an article on my Facebook page about a recent study that analysed the importance of meal timing.

The article appeared in the New York Times Magazine January 18th. The researchers compared two different studies on meal timing.

…in a previous study…some mice consumed high-fat food whenever they wanted; others had the same diet but could eat only during an eight-hour window. None exercised. The mice that ate at all hours soon grew chubby and unwell, with symptoms of diabetes. But the mice on the eight-hour schedule gained little weight and developed no metabolic problems. Those results were published in 2012.

For the new study, which appeared in the journal Cell Metabolism in December, Salk scientists fed groups of adult males one of four diets: high-fat, high-fructose, high-fat and high-sucrose, and regular mouse kibble. Some of the mice in each dietary group were allowed to eat whenever they wanted throughout their waking hours; others were restricted to feeding periods of nine, 12 or 15 hours. The caloric intake for all the mice was the same.

The new study found that the mice that were allowed to eat at all hours of the day were obese and that restricting the mice to just a 12 hour eating window was enough to keep the mice “sleek and healthy”while eating the same diet. They even allowed them to cheat on their schedule on the weekends!

cheatmeal

I realize that this is a squirrel, not a mouse.

I have practiced intermittent fasting (going 14-16 hours between meals) for almost two years and am happy with the way I look and feel without being super strict with my diet. I still have to eat a healthy, balanced, diet, but intermittent fasting allows for a few “indulgences” without the guilt. Next week, I’ll share my tips on how to successfully fast, based on my own experience. For now, if you are looking to try this approach, I warn you that the results are not immediate. You must commit for at least a few weeks, and in some cases a few months, to see if this is the right approach for you. Check with your doctor before starting. Hypoglycemics, diabetics, and pregnant women should avoid time restricted eating.

The Definition of Insanity Is NOT Making This Pear Smoothie…

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

photo (50)

Happy New Year! I rang mine in with a midnight race and a bagel.

Whoa. What a holiday season! Parties, traveling, family, food, drinks, and more food, and then some more drinks for good measure. Normally, my plan of action during a period of massive consumption, is to become a cardio queen and hit up every spin class possible. Problem solved, right? Wrong. I still end up feeling puffy, bloated, and miserable by January 1st.

So this year, I handled things differently. I cut way down on my cardio, and instead focused on heavy weight-training. Heavy training includes any exercise that you do for eight reps or less.  Since November, I’ve been training like this 4-5 days a week, by performing basic lifts like squats, deadlifts, chest presses and back rows.  I’ve also been tacking on 10-12 minutes of high intensity intervals at the end of every other session.

weight-room

And lo and behold: I’m loving the way I look and feel, despite the fact that I ate my way through my birthday, Chanukah, and Christmas. This is not too shocking. I know that serious strength training is the key to fat loss. But sometimes even a know-it-all like me can get sidetracked by eggnog and stuffing.

If your new year’s resolution is to START working out, then you should definitely focus on body weight and moderate weight exercises for the first few weeks, so you that don’t hurt yourself. But if you’ve been a pretty regular exerciser, then pick up some of those big-ass weights and get lifting. It will make all the difference.

Perfect Pear Post Workout Protein Shake

It’s currently pear season and I was lucky enough to get a fruit-of-the-month club gift for the winter.

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What to do with all of these luscious pears? Blend ’em with some protein powder of course!

This Protein Shake is perfect for breakfast or post-workout. The protein/carb combo is just what your body needs to fuel up your day.

photo (49)

8 oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

1/2 chopped pear (leave the skin, it’s good for you!)

1/4 cup frozen dark cherries

1/4 cup oatmeal or oat bran (If you’ve never put oats in your shake before, give it a try. It adds a nice thickness to the shake and gives you the extra carbohydrates you need post-workout)

1 tsp Psyllium Husk powder

cinnamon

Ice cubes

Blend it. Drink it. Yum.

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

photo (8)

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

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!

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

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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

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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

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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!

Dear Diary…Why You Should Keep a Food Journal

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The 30 Day Food Journal Challenge I started in January is finally over! For the past month, my clients, friends, and I kept a detailed log of our daily exercise and food intake, using the My Fitness Pal app. So did my challenge work? Is keeping a food journal really worth the effort?

Here are some tips I learned:

Honesty is the Best Policy

A food journal can give you insight into your daily calorie intake and can help you determine areas where your diet can be cleaned up. But you must be thorough. It’s best to log right after you’ve eaten so you don’t forget. This includes the handful of potato chips you had, and that half of a chocolate chip cookie I snacked on (couldn’t help it, it had walnuts). Over a period of time, omitting little bites like those can mean the difference between reaching your goal or coming up short.

Be Consistent

Keeping a food log can work, but only if done with consistency. I recommend setting a specific time goal for journaling. Whether it is an entire month or even just a week, make a commitment to log every day for that time. Out of the 22 who signed up for the 30 Day Food Journal Challenge, about half didn’t keep up with their log, and dropped out after the first week. Everyone who recorded for the full 30 days experienced various degrees of success–from better fitting clothes, to a ten pound drop in weight. 

Underestimate Your Exercise Expenditure and Overestimate Your Calories

The My Fitness Pal app, as well as the cardio machines at the gym, grossly overestimate the calories you burn while you workout. My suggestion is to under report the amount of time you worked out to get a number that could be close to accurate. As for calories consumed, if you measure your portions, you don’t need to adjust for accuracy. However when dining out, it’s always best to over estimate. Last night I searched “pizza” on My Fitness Pal and many of the entries were under 300 calories a slice, which seems highly unlikely. Especially in New York, where a slice of pizza looks like this:

nyny_pizza1.sized

If your pizza fits on a plate, you’re not in New York

Review Your Previous Entries

You can’t learn about your food habits and triggers, if you don’t take the time to look at previous entries. Did you have a bad day at work on a high calories day? Are you too busy too eat a sufficient amount of food when the baby is awake? Reflection can be key to helping you make healthy changes that can last a lifetime.

Yes! Journaling Does Work!

Finally, some people would be above printing a letter of praise from a happy food journaler. I, however, am not one of those people! Read Shannon’s letter below to see  how keeping a food journal helped her break through a plateau:

Hi Amy- I just wanted to thank you for starting the 30 day food journal challenge . It was just the change I needed to shed a few more pounds, which I’d been trying to drop for months. I was basically stuck at the same weight and just figured that was it for me…but then I started journaling and bam, 5 lbs in 30. days!!! It’s incredible the difference those 5 lbs have made I am beyond ecstatic at how I look and how much more defined my muscles look now. I truly appreciate and just love people like you who start these sorts of things and are always looking to help those around them. You are a great inspiration!! Thank you thank you thank you!!! Xoxoxo

Oh and I plan to continue journaling, I’m addicted –Shannon

Thanks Shannon! Glad to hear that you love how you look and, more importantly, how you feel!

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.

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