Since I’m a personal fitness trainer, people come to me for strength and fat loss. Some people just want a free consultation to get information without paying anything; others want a trainer, but can’t afford the cost of personalized sessions; or, there are those few that are ready and willing to get help from a professional, and sign up for training sessions on the spot.
One of the common explanations I get as to why people decide not to hire a personal trainer is that they are “just going to take group strength classes.” What I’ve found is that after doing many strength assessments, people who have been taking group fitness classes cannot do proper push-ups, squats, or lunges, and have poor balance. People just won’t get strong solely by taking group fitness classes.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for classes, I take yoga classes and teach TRX; and these classes do increase strength, BUT, they won’t get people strong enough to do day-to-day tasks without compensating, or injury.
The reasons why group fitness classes fail to give people adequate strength is that they are designed for a general population; they are not customized to you or your goals. They are also set up in a format for enjoyment, with limited reps and sets, not strength. Even if the class instructor corrects your form every now and then, they cannot be at your side continuously, or change the exercise to suit you.
Based on a person’s strength, fitness level, injuries, flexibility, medical history, goals, and age, I give them exercises that are best suited for them. No one person gets the same workout. I won’t put someone who has back pain on a leg press machine, or put someone on the leg extension machine who has knee issues. Certain exercises are reserved for advanced lifters, and are too dangerous for beginners.
The bottom line, is that group classes are a great way to increase your cardiovascular system, burn extra calories, make friends, and increase strength. But if you want adequate strength, you need to lift heavier weights and do body weight exercises that hit every muscle, at least twice a week with proper form.
These gluten-free, flourless, oil-free, dairy-free cookies have only five ingredients, and are easy to make. I made a batch in the morning, and brought a bunch to the gym. Shortly thereafter, I was getting texts from people writing that they were delicious and wanted my secret recipe. My husband, who is really good about just eating one cookie a day, ate two bags-full by the time I got home at lunchtime. You might want to make more than one batch. Here’s the recipe:
- 1 cup tahini (crushed sesame seeds), creamy, unsalted
- 1 cup sucanat sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp baking soda
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Put parchment paper on top of two cookie sheets. Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Scoop out 1 tablespoon for 1 cookie and roll into a ball. Press gently so that it sticks onto the cookie sheet, but not too hard because these cookies, flatten and spread out. You’ll need two cookie sheets to bake the cookies at one time. Keep cookies widely spaced, or you’ll get one large cookie instead of 20 or so. Bake 12 minutes. Let cool completely, about 15 minutes, for cookies to firm up.
About 100 calories per cookie
Shoulder pain doesn’t always mean you can’t do shoulder exercises. With these small tweaks shown in this video, you can still do push-ups, bench press and shoulder presses without pain. Read the information below, too, for clarification.
When performing push-ups, use a narrow stance (examples are triceps push-ups, or chaturanga push-ups.) Wide push-ups put too much pressure on the shoulders.
Barbell bench press: use a narrow grip, which should alleviate the shoulder pain compared to the traditional grip.
Dumbbell bench press: point your elbows down about 45 degrees, instead of having your elbows flared out. What also helps is to keep the bench flat, instead of raised (elevated).
Shoulder press: use a narrow stance, with your thumbs facing you. This technique will reduce that shoulder pain, and it’s much easier to do.
After you do any shoulder or chest workouts, put an ice pack on that area to cool any inflammation.
The on-going trend that needs to stop immediately is consumption of bulletproof coffee. Bulletproof coffee is a brand name, and also a high-calorie, high-fat drink that people make at home; it’s just butter and/or coconut oil, added to coffee. People claim that the butter-coffee combination gives them energy.
Butter is mostly fat, and fat is one of the three macronutrients, like protein and carbs, that have calories that are converted into energy, once consumed and broken down. In other words, any type of food = energy.
Saturated fats and oils should be limited, and saturated fats from animal sources lead to higher cholesterol levels. If your body craves fat first thing in the morning, grab a handful of nuts, or blend some almond butter in your coffee, or, better yet, eat a real breakfast with fiber, that contains nutrients.
While our parents may have had good intentions, telling us, as children, to clean our plates, when we were no longer hungry, this set us up to be overweight adults. No one should be forced to eat if their body is telling them they are full.
By cleaning our plates, our stomachs expand, and our bodies get used to eating more food. When we go out to a restaurant, most people eat everything, except maybe the broccoli, that they are served, and then exclaim that they are full. Fullness is when you’ve eaten too much. Stop eating when you’re no longer hungry, not when you’re full.
Since we’ve been so accustomed to cleaning our plates, put an appropriated sized portion of food on a small plate, which looks like more food to our eyes. Our parents may have fed us unhealthy foods, and excessive portions, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t change our habits.
Healthy foods can be delicious, depending on the recipe, but don’t expect a vegan, gluten-free pizza to taste anything like a cheese and pepperoni pizza. Instead of a pasta alfredo makeover, think instead, of shrimp tacos. If your healthy, lower calorie meals and snacks taste good, you’re more likely to stick to the plan.
You should be hungry when you’re eating fewer calories, that means you’re losing weight. You shouldn’t feel like you’re starving though. Drink more water and add cauliflower, broccoli and/or beans to your meals to fill you up.
Instead of dreading going on a diet, think about all the positive outcomes of weight loss: more energy, buying nicer clothes, reducing or eliminating medication, looking younger and fitter, sleeping better, having less aches and pains, feeling happier, getting compliments, and finally liking the reflection in the mirror.
Don’t feel obligated to clean your plate, no matter who served you, or how much that meal cost. You can always eat the leftovers later. And, don’t tell anyone they have to clean their plate.
I’ve been complaining that there isn’t any really yummy low-calorie vegan ice creams, so when my husband brought home this pint of Cranberry Cherry Swirl Mousse from So Delicious when he went to Sprouts market, I was skeptical. I don’t really like cherries, or cranberries, so I was excited when it tasted more like raspberries. It’s sweet, light and fluffy, and only 300 calories for the whole pint! I ate half the day he bought it, but since it was only 150 calories, that made me even happier.
The other flavors, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, Strawberry and Lemon are good too, but Cranberry-Cherry is my absolute favorite.
Here’s the link for the company: http://sodeliciousdairyfree.com/product_groups/dairy-free-frozen-mousse
I was asked, “What is the most important thing for fat loss?” The answer is: meal prep. If you’re hungry, you’re going to grab what’s quick: takeout, chips, a protein bar, cookies, and/or a frozen meal (typically mac & cheese, or pizza). I tend to gravitate towards tortilla chips, and too many nuts.
Those items are high-calorie, high-fat, and lack nutrients, so you’ll probably eat more than you burn. Your body needs nutrients, not just calories, which is why you want to chose the most nutrient-dense foods which will fill you up.
Here’s a recipe to reduce the oil and calories from your diet. The popcorn comes out fresh and crunchy and it takes just two minutes to make.
Put 2 tablespoons popping kernels in a brown sandwich bag. Fold bag over in one-inch sections, four times. Place bag in microwave, right side up (so flat part is on the bottom and folded side is on the top).
Heat in microwave for 1.45 seconds. Watch microwave, as popcorn can burn easily, and since different microwaves are hotter than others.
Remove from microwave, open bag slowly, keeping your face away from the steam.
Add your favorite toppings to the top of the bag, close it and shake a few times. I use a combination of salt, cayenne pepper and coconut sugar.
Approximate calories: 125 carbs: 30 grams.
I love granola, but I don’t like all those calories and I try to limit sugar, so I make my own. Just toss the ingredients in a bag and shake!
I keep a zip lock bag of this granola in my purse, and another in my gym bag so I have something to snack on when I’m out and about, and hungry in between meals.
Hunza golden raisins cost a bit more, but you don’t need too many (you can always substitute dark chocolate chips), are a good source of healthy fast carbs, and have the added benefit of tasting like chewy, sweet gummy bears.
- ¼ cup sliced cashews, slivered almonds, or chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup toasted oats
- ¼ cup coconut flakes, unsweetened
- ¼ cup Hunza golden raisins
Put all in a zip lock bag and shake. Serves 4.
Nutritional information Per serving: 152 calories gross carbs: 14 protein: 3 grams
Crispy, shredded, baked sweet potato with crunchy kale topped with fresh, red bell pepper, and drizzled with a sweet and nutty dressing makes this salad unique and absolutely delicious! I’ve been making it every week for over a month. This recipe has no oil either!
Sweet Potato Crisps with Kale Chips & Tahini Dressing
1 large sweet potato*
2 large shallots
1 large bunch of curly kale
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 T tahini
¼ cup coconut milk (any type)
1 T pure maple syrup
2 T golden raisins
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel and coarsely chop sweet potato into large chunks. Placed chopped sweet potato in a food processor select the shredding attachment. Shred sweet potato. Place shreds in a large glass of a baking dish, lined with parchment paper, and spread sweet potato shreds evenly in half the pan.
Wash kale and remove leaves from stems. Put kale in food processor and shred. Place the shredded kale in the other half of the baking dish. Slice shallots and place on top of the kale.
Bake in oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes, keeping the kale separate from the sweet potatoes, until sweet potato and kale are crisp. While this is baking, make the dressing by combining the tahini, coconut milk, and maple syrup in a small food processor until incorporated.
When sweet potato and kale are cooked and crisp, remove from oven, and place ¾ cup of shredded sweet potato on a small plate. Top with the following ingredients in this order: kale, red bell pepper, raisins and dressing. It’s best eaten right away. You can add your favorite mild flavored protein such as tofu, grilled chicken, or tilapia. Drizzle dressing over protein too.
*Sweet potatoes are white. Yams are frequently mistitled as sweet potatoes, and they taste different. Yams are orange and yams don’t crisp up, so make sure you get white sweet potatoes and not orange yams.