Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too! You can lose weight and still eat cookies and fudge, but not all sweets are equal. The majority of desserts at restaurants and stores contain sugar and dairy which increase inflammation, and flour and gluten that can lead to leaky gut syndrome, and chemical flavorings that are known obesogens (which cause weight gain).
After I was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic, I had to avoid candy and sweets that caused my blood sugar to spike. I love sweets, so I came up with recipes, for myself, to manage my blood sugar, and decrease bodyfat. I share my favorite recipes in my dessert cookbook, Slimming Dairy free Desserts and Smoothies, along with fat loss tips. My favorites are the Banana-Coconut Pancakes (photo above), Chocolate Cupcakes, Banana Muffins, Fudge with Peanut Butter Filling, and Sweet Potatoes with Vanilla and Toasted Pecans.
Click the link from Amazon below to start reading the cookbook and even make some of the recipes for free:
My clients told me they wanted a workout they can do when they are on vacation or when they can’t get to the gym. Here’s a short, 20-minute, lower body workout, with an emphasis on the glutes (the butt), that you can follow along to. All you need is a soft surface, like a yoga mat, or carpet, a glute band (aka booty band) [you can do the exercises without a band, but it’s a much better workout with it], a foam roller and/or a Swiss ball. You can always take it up a notch, by adding dumbbells or kettlebells. If you have YouTube TV, you can watch this video on your TV.
In one section of the video, I misspoke, and said to bring your feet closer to your butt if your quads (the front of your legs, above the knee), feels tight. I meant to say, to push your feet back a little bit. [I get nervous when I’m being filmed].
Try to do this workout twice a week to strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, hips and quads, but if you’re not sore, you can definitely do it three times a week; just take off at least one day in between.
You can comment here, or on YouTube to let me know what you think of this workout.
If you’re an athlete, you do anything you need to make yourself more powerful, stronger, and faster…your career depends on it. Some athletes do cold therapy, take steroids and/or a myriad of legal, and illegal substances to have a leg-up on their opponents. A new Netflix movie titled, “The Game Changers,” showed athletes, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, fire fighters, and football players, gave up dairy and all animal products, and got stronger, had more energy, and were able to exercise longer, all by going vegan. Their cholesterol levels improved, and they lost bodyfat while maintaining lean muscle.
Gladiators, who we thought subsisted on meat, actually ate plants. The movie tells us that tofu, which has estrogenic properties, does not increase estrogen levels in our bodies. By swapping out one evening meat-centered meal to a vegan entrée, the men’s blood levels became healthier overnight. We no longer get sufficient B-vitamins from eating animal meat because the animals, which solely subsist on plants, are consuming less vitamins due to fewer nutrients in the soil, so most people, even meat-eaters, are deficient in essential vitamins.
I’ve watched many documentaries touting the numerous benefits of a plant-based diet, and I became vegan twice, but I couldn’t sustain that lifestyle for more than three weeks because my energy dropped after giving up animal protein. Why did those athletes succeed, get stronger and feel better, while I got weaker and felt worse? It’s not because I ate fewer calories, or was replacing meat with junk carbs. I tabulated my calories and made sure to eat beans, oats, protein powder, and grains with vegetables and fruit. Was it because I needed to take additional supplements? I don’t know why these big guys who are lifting heavy weights can feel great on a vegan diet, when I felt awful, but I’m going to give it a go again.
My husband, a typical meat, potatoes, and beer guy, exclaimed, after watching the move: “We’re going vegan.” I was shocked. I told him that I’ll try it again, but this time I’m going to supplement with B-complex vitamins, add a lot more green vegetables, allow myself to eat more carbs, and permit myself to eat some packaged foods like seed crackers, whole wheat bread, and pasta because those items are enriched.
It’s fun to try new meals. I love sweet potato fries, veggie stir-fries, huge salads, and bean stews. I didn’t like the black bean burgers. I’m hoping this less restrictive vegan diet gives me the strength and energy I need, because vegetables are the most important foods to eat, and I’d rather not eat animal products if I don’t have to.
Photo: Me, removing the top and seeds from bell peppers.
Am I the best certified personal trainer? Nope! There’s lots of trainers who have more experience, and more certifications than I do (they also typically charge a lot more too). I also know that I’m a superior trainer, than a lot of other trainers, because I’ve seen them work with clients, doing risky exercises, not correcting form, making them lift too heavy too soon, prioritizing cardio, and wasting clients time with exercises that don’t burn many calories, and should be performed last.
What makes me different from other personal trainers is that I worked with over 20 trainers for 8 consistent years. Most of those trainers were okay, some were awful, and a small handful that were impressive; I learned something from each and every one of them. I learned not just how to do the exercises properly, but I also figured out what I liked, and what I hated about personal trainers, and their methods.
I liked it when my trainers shared a little bit about themselves, and asked about my life outside of training; getting to know the person is really important when you’re trusting them with heavy weights. One of my trainers that I liked, used to ask me at the beginning of every training session if anything hurt, or if anything was sore. It was my favorite question because he wanted to hear about how I was feeling so he could help me feel better via various stretches. I ask all my clients this very same question: “How are you? Any thing hurt? Anything sore?” If a client is tired, stressed, or just got over a cold, I can lower the intensity. If my client has a tight back, we may start with foam rolling. If my client’s quads are still sore from a previous session, I’ll take out exercises that target the quadriceps so my client can recover. It’s important to let muscles recuperate, to rebuild; you don’t want to keep breaking down muscle. If my client injured themselves, it’s a reminder for them to tell me right then and there.
I liked working with knowledgeable trainers who wanted to teach me as much as they could about gaining strength, losing weight, and proper nutrition. At every session, my clients come away with new information to help them get stronger and healthier. I fired the trainers who refused to stop and talk, said to avoid all carbs, and equated health with leanness (which is a falsehood). My clients get to learn a little about me, but my focus is on them, as this is their time to exercise, and ask questions.
I couldn’t stand the trainers who showed off how awesome they were (I should hope they know how to lift..it’s their job), or those who made any excuse to lift up their shirt to show me their six-pack abs (how obnoxious). Many clients envy that I can do exercises with great form with ease, but I remind them that I’ve been doing this for over ten years, and it’s my career. I don’t flaunt how lean I am; I admit, that if I don’t watch what I eat, I gain fat really easily. Maintaining and losing weight is constant challenge for me too.
I appreciated the trainers who showed up on time and ended the sessions on time. Some trainers tried to end the training sessions early because they had some place they needed to go, but if I’m paying for their time, they better spend every minute of that time with me. I had a trainer who extended many sessions an additional 30 minutes, but that stressed me out because I had to leave to go straight to work. If I have extra time available to spend with a client, I ask them if they would like to go over their allotted hour. Time is a precious commodity, and it’s important to respect that.
I had one trainer, who wouldn’t progress me to other exercises unless I got the form down perfectly. I don’t know anyone who performs an exercise perfectly all the time. If an exercise is too advanced for a client, I’ll have them try different exercises that work those same muscles, and come back to that exercise at a later date when they’re stronger.
Another trainer I worked with gave me the same routine every time, which was boring. I switch up my clients workouts to make it fun, and to progress quicker.
There were exercises I despised, that my trainers made me do anyway. Sometimes I appreciated that they made me do the hard exercises, but some exercises that I tried that I was leery of, I actually got hurt from doing. It’s also important to weigh the risk versus reward factor; some exercises are too risky to try, since the chances of getting injured are high.
If a client doesn’t want to do a certain exercise, first, I find out why. If it’s something they’ve never done, I ask they try one set, and if they hate it, we never need to do it again. There’s so many exercises, there’s no reason to be forced to do an exercise that doesn’t feel good.
After working with numerous trainers, I found that most of them either never, or rarely, had me do calf raises, ab exercises, or stretches. I make sure to have my clients perform exercises to work the entire body every week. No muscle should be left behind!
Every training session ends with five minutes of gentle stretches, to cool down and aid in recovery. A tight muscle is more likely to get pulled or torn, than a flexible one.
Some trainers have no formal education, they’ve been lifting for years, but taking courses is really important to keep clients safe. Knowing what to do when, how to do it, understanding the latest research, what exercises not to do for certain clients, the proper sequence of exercises, knowing when to push a client to lift more or do more advanced exercises, and protecting the spine, are just some of the reasons why it’s important to work with a trainer that’s certified. I’m constantly reading and researching. I have earned my personal trainer certification, certification in fitness nutrition, and strength and conditioning certifications. I’m presently reading several textbooks on strength and rehabilitation, and plan to earn many more certifications in the years to come.
Exercise is part of health, but diet is a huge part of it too. My clients are given healthy recipes, diet and exercise worksheets, and if they are interested in learning more about me, nutrition, the pros and cons of various diets, tips and motivation to reduce calories, they can purchase my book, The High-Five Diet. I offer diet analysis and a customized, flexible eating guide to those ready to make dietary changes.
Some people overdo it with exercise, but many people don’t do enough exercise. I let my clients know what exercises, and for how long, and on which days, I recommend they do outside of their training sessions. For those that will only come to the gym to train with me, I send them videos they can exercise to at home for no extra charge.
If you’re interested in training with me, and you live in San Diego, contact me for a complimentary consultation. Trainers are NOT a dime a dozen. They are some awful ones, ones that are just okay, and other trainers that really care, have a lot of knowledge, and will help you reach your goals a lot faster.
The reason why I discourage my clients from inputting their exercise into apps like MyFitness Pal, or estimate the amount of calories they burn, is because it’s inaccurate. People overestimate the amount of calories they burn doing exercise, and underestimate the amount of calories they eat. This is one reason why it’s difficult to lose weight, is the perception that they are hardly eating any calories, while burning a ton of calories. I don’t like the idea of listing on a food label, how long it would take to burn off those calories, such as running 22 minutes to cancel out a 229 calorie milk chocolate bar (1), because it may not be true.
While it might take some people about 22 minutes of running to burn off 229 calories, it may take other people, who are smaller or more fit, an hour or more to burn the same amount of calories. How hard, or how long that run is, if the run is on sand or on asphalt, if the run is uphill or on a flat road, all those variables affect how many calories will be burned off.
While there is a “…push to include food labeling that describes the amount of exercise needed to burn off calories consumed…” and 14 studies “…found that people make healthier choices and ate less when confronted with exercise equivalents,” (1) if this strategy is adopted, my hope is that the number of calories expended will be a range, such as “30-90 minutes,” in addition, my desire is that it would also include the intensity of the exercise, such as “walking at a fast pace with heart rate around 130 PBM.” With this additional information on food labels and menus, people may be more likely to eat less, make healthier food choices, and exercise more, while losing excess bodyfat…one can dream!
- Source: “Listing Calories as Exercise Amounts Can Influence Food Choice.” The San Diego Union-Tribune, Health day News. Jan 14, 2020. Pg 1. Print.
The fitness manager at my gym asked me why I don’t write down the exercises for my clients ahead of their personal training sessions. I write out my own workouts, and follow it for about a month, but my clients are not me, they don’t have over an hour to train if the piece (or pieces) of equipment is/are being tied up.
If I have someone’s protocol set it stone, it makes it more difficult for me to be spontaneous on the spot. Thinking on the fly is a specific mindset, so it’s easier for me to start every workout with my clients with the knowledge that I need to think fast on my feet and change course at any given moment. Also, my client may want a difficult focus that session, or may still be sore from a previous session so certain exercises will need to be cut out for that day. A lot of my clients come in with a neck pain or soreness from an outside activity, or from sitting too long at work, so the workout is going to deviate from a set plan. I stopped writing my clients workouts ahead of time, because nine times out of ten, that plan ends of being completely different.
While it’s good to have some sort of plan when you go to the gym, being flexible, and listening to what your body tells you, is going to be the most beneficial. What matters most, is not the workout, but the results.
Photo: me (on the left) with a fellow trainer, having fun taking photos
When you’re hungry and you can feel your blood sugar drop, it can seem like an emergency, and sometimes it is. I used to carry a fruit and nut bar for times when I’m hungry, feel dizzy, and won’t be home for awhile. One of my friends used to carry a bag of skittles in her purse. Other people, I’ve spoken to, get chips from 7-11 or a vending machine. Many of my clients, stop at the nearest fast food restaurant for a quick meal when they’re starving.
When you need a small snack to tide you over when your blood sugar dips, all of the options above are not ideal because high-calorie junk food is not what you need. You need fast-acting carbohydrates from whole foods that don’t contain a lot of calories, but just enough to tide you over for about 30 minutes so you have time to get a healthy meal.
That perfect food is figs. What I love about figs is that they don’t need to be refrigerated, I can carry a few in my gym bag or purse in a small sealable plastic sandwich bag, they’re easy to eat, they are low in calories with just enough carbs, and they taste like candy. One fig is just 7 net carbs, not too low and not too high. Sometimes, I’ll need two figs to stabilize by blood sugar, which is imperative for a type 1 diabetic like myself. The reason why I switched from the fruit and nut bars to figs, is that I couldn’t resist eating the entire bar, so I was eating too many carbs and too many calories (bar: 220 calories vs 1 fig 37 calories, 2 figs 74 calories). Figs are also a wonderful snack to satisfy a sugar craving, without the guilt.
Low back pain is miserable and, may, or may not be caused by certain exercises. If you have low back pain, you may want to avoid doing the following exercises for 30 days to see if your back pain goes away.
Leg press. The leg press (photo of me above) is a great machine for building the quads (front of the leg, above the knee), and the glutes (butt). I loved that I could go heavy and feel my muscles working hard, but I also felt pain in my lumbar spine right afterwards, and up to several days after using the leg press. The further apart my legs were, to hit the glutes, the worse the pain was. Even when I put my feet low on the leg press, with my feet fairly close together, to target my quads, my back would scream in pain. To this day, I cannot use the leg press, even with light weight without feeling low back pain. It’s not just me, it’s the movement and exercise itself. Seated, with your feet in front of you, the lower back is rounded, and that added weight just makes matters compounded. If the leg press doesn’t bother you, you’re welcome to keep the leg press in your exercise routine, but if you have any back issues, you may want to skip it.
Deadlifts. The deadlift is a total body exercise that can build crazy strength, but has the capacity to leave you in a world of hurt. It’s an exercise that’s frequently done with incorrect form, and very difficult to perform with perfection continuously. The deadlift uses almost all of your muscles, but targets the low back and hamstrings. There are many deadlift variations, so you don’t have to skip it altogether, but the one that’s most likely to cause injury is the traditional deadlift with feet close together, toes pointed forward, with palms down on the barbell. Safer deadlifts are sumo deadlifts with feet in a wide stance, with toes pointed outwards, with a mixed hand grip (make sure to change the grip every set); and the trap bar deadlift is less taxing on your low back, where your torso is more upright, and your arms are at your sides. Less advanced deadlifts that shouldn’t hurt the low back are single leg deadlifts, but they challenge your balance more, which is not a bad thing.
Back squats. With a barbell on your traps, the back squat is an advanced exercise, and great for loading up with heavy weights since your arms aren’t taking the strain with dumbbells. A lot of people perform back squats with incorrect form or go too low. If you go too low in a squat, likely, what will occur is a “butt wink.” That’s where your lower spine curves under, which, like the leg press, puts you in a vulnerable position with all that load on your back.
In addition, if you don’t come up or down with the barbell evenly, it’s puts a lot of torque on the spine. Since one of my shoulders has less range of motion than the other, when I did performed the back squat, the bar wasn’t even. I didn’t think it through, the fact that the uneven bar, because I couldn’t get one of my hands back enough to match the other, meant that I wasn’t aligned and shouldn’t perform this movement until my full range of motion was regained. What I was doing, inadvertently, was twisting my back on the way up and down. I haven’t done the back squat since, and had to avoid all squats for a few months while my discs healed.
There’s lots of squat variations to play with, like front squats, goblet squats, sumo squats, and box squats. Giving up the back squat doesn’t, and shouldn’t mean you should give up squats altogether.
Crunches. Everyone wants strong, flat abs, but crunches put unnecessary load on the spine. Crunches are, basically, crunching your spine. Crunches are completely unnecessary, and won’t make your abs flat. Crunches only work the upper abs. The abs that typically need strengthening are the obliques (side abs), and the lower abs. Hanging leg raises with your arms in slings are great for targeting the lower abs and obliques, and most people can do them. I also like front and side planks, and the Pallof press to keep the abs and the core strong.
Some exercises are great for some people, and can cause harm for others. Do the ones you like, and avoid the ones that you hate, and cause you pain. I tell my clients that there’s numerous exercises for every major muscle, so we can always change the workout to make it fun without pain. Exercise is meant to be healing, not to cause injury.
You may have seen articles that recommend that weight lifters drink chocolate milk immediately after their workout, but drinking hormones, cholesterol, animal fat, and animal sugar (lactose) is a terrible idea. What you want to consume after exercise is whole foods that contain micronutrients, macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but if you love your chocolate milk, drink this instead.
My version of chocolate milk won’t increase your cholesterol or blood sugar levels, and tastes great. Place 2 cups of refrigerated almond milk (sugar free), 1 scoop creatine, and 1 tablespoon of Truvia chocolate vegan protein powder in a small blender cup and mix for 7 seconds. Optional add-ins are: a dash of cinnamon, a few dashes of fennel powder, frozen banana chunks, peanut butter, and/or additional plain protein powder. Drink immediately.