Saturday, December 31, 2011

Let's Get It Right ~ Pick up heavier weights if you want to lose weight.

In my classes I try to push members to pick up heavier weights, especially those who have been lifting the same weight for months.  I always remind them that they can drop to lighter weights if needed, but they should start heavier.  The key is to not go so heavy that it compromises your form, it doesn't make sense to pick up a heavy weight if you don't have full range of motion and no one wants to increase the risk of injury.

I hear so many women say that they don't want to pick up heavy weights (and I am talking about picking up 8lb, 10lb, 12lb weights not 25, 30, 35) for fear of getting to big and bulky.  Guess what - it won't happen!  Women don't have enough testosterone in their systems to get big like men.  I can promise you that picking up 8lbs instead of 3lbs is not going to lead to bulk.

I know that none of us want to face the fact that getting older means you have to adjust your workouts - what you did in your teens, twenties and thirties doesn't necessarily work.  I know both men and women who grew up doing lots of cardio-based sports and never had to worry about their weight...until they hit their late 30s/early 40s and then they started gaining weight...gaining fat.  They spend hours on cardio equipment at the gym (steady state cardio...we will save that post for another day) and go on calorie limiting diets only to either see no change or lots of yo-yo changes to their weight.  The HARD REALITY - as we age we lose muscle mass.  Loss of muscle mass also means that metabolism starts to slow down.  Want to shed pounds and lean out the body, then you have to find ways to get that metabolism going again.  The key is to get it going and keep it going so that you lose the weight AND keep it off.  Developing lean muscle mass requires lifting heavy enough weights. 

How heavy is heavy enough?  I hate to tell you, but light weights is not enough.  The key is to safely use heavy enough weights to stimulate muscle growth (NOT BULK, growth) ~ what does that mean?  It means that if you can do more than about 16 reps with the weights in your hand, your weights are not heavy enough.  Continuing to test the waters by increasing the weight you choose by 1-2 lbs every few weeks will allow you to progress safely.  The key is that the weight is heavy enough for you to reach muscle failure within 6-12 reps.

Why should we lift heavy weight - ESPECIALLY if weight loss & lean muscle mass are your goals:

(1) In order to lose weight, you need to rev that metabolism.  Guess what - a pound of muscle burns 10-20 calories per day, while a pound of fat only burns about 5 calories per day.  I am no mathematician, but more lean muscle = more calories burned...I like those numbers.  By speeding up the metabolism, weight loss is much easier - let's shed that layer of fat that is covering up those muscles.

(2) Lifting heavier weights increases your resting metabolic rate - what does that mean?  It means that you will be burning calories all day long.  Compare this to cardio based programs where you only burn calories during the actual workout.  Over a 24-hour period, you will burn more calories from lifting weights than you will from cardio alone.  Who doesn't want to make their body a calorie burning machine?!?

(3) A pound of muscle is more dense than a pound of fat.  The more lean muscle mass you have, the smaller you look/are.  Again, who doesn't want a slimmer look?

(4) By strengthening muscles and increasing bone density, you will reduce the risk of injury doing the activities you like to do in every day life.  I have heard stories of people side-stepping down curbs, tripping, losing their balance, etc resulting in injuries that could be avoided if they had strong muscles and bone density.

(5) Guess what - your own body weight is also an effective tool, so do exercises which will have you reach muscle failure within 6-12 reps.  The key is to push yourself hard enough to reach muscle failure.  Think push ups, pistol squats, pull ups, etc

Good luck!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year’s Resolutions ~ 2012

I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions, but this year is different.  This year I have a long list of resolutions.  When you decide to make resolutions, it requires you to take inventory of your life, what you do and don’t like, how to approach or change the things that you can control and how to shift my perspective on those things I don’t like, but cannot currently control.

Goal One: Improve my Fitness Levels.  This year I realized that so much of my time is committed to work – both fitness and non-fitness, not leaving time for me to reach my own fitness/health goals.   In 2012, I am going to make changes to my work schedules  to carve out time to focus on my own workouts, to get stronger, to build endurance, to improve my flexibility.  In 2012 I will allow myself to be taught more and not worry about teaching all of the time.

Goal Two: Clean Eating.  I started the year so well, no gluten, no sugar, no dairy and then as the year went by, I wasn’t as diligent.  I allowed my diet to get “dirty” ~ it was harder to keep off weight and I became sluggish.  In 2012, I am going to hold myself accountable and I have enlisted friends to also hold me accountable.  I am racing straight into 2012 with the 21-Day Sugar Detox

Goal Three: Spend More Time with my Kids & Husband.  You may not think that these are fitness/health related, but they so are.  The more time I spend with my kids, the more time I spend running around and playing with them.  The more time I spend with my husband, the better our relationship gets and the happier I am ~ the happier our home is.  Happiness and Health go hand in hand.  If you are unhappy, your health is compromised.

I am setting goals for 2012 because I don’t want to allow myself to get too comfortable ~ I want to challenge myself to reach new heights, to excel in new ways, to be better than I am today. 

What are your goals for 2012?  Write them down?  Got fitness goals?  Enlist friends; they will hold you accountable;  they will help you succeed!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The 600 Rep Workout!

Merry Christmas b.a.s.e.Fitters!  This is a festive day for most and includes lots of tasty treats, delicious Christmas Dinner, alcoholic drinks and decadent desserts...we all want to indulge (at least to some degree) in these tasty treats.  Make those indulgences a little easier by getting in a workout early.

The 600 Rep workout is one of my favorites.  You have 10 exercises @ 30 reps each and you repeat a total of 2 times to hit the 600.  Only allow yourself to recover for 2 minutes after the first time through and then again at the end.

Get dressed, put on some music and even grab your kids (if you have young kids like I do, they will love doing this workout with you).  Don't forget to spend about 8-10 minutes warming up, getting the heart rate up, stretching a bit...which you should do before any workout.  Don't forget to cool down and stretch @ the end too.

The Workout

1. Jump Lunges
2. Dive Bomber Pushups (make it harder by taking opposite knee to opposite elbow when you come back to the start).
3. Hindu Squats
4. Mountain Climbers
5. V-Ups
6. Single leg Squat Jumps (if you can't do single, do both, if single 15 on each side)
7. 3 Series Pushups (wide hands/narrow feet, medium width both, narrow hands/wide feet - alt all 3 don't do 10 of each in a row)
8. Side Plank with Knee Crunch (15 on each side)
9. PopUps
10. Reverse Plank with Glut Lift (keep core enganged and don't let the butt hit the floor).


Friday, December 23, 2011

Tabata Timer Workout!

I LOVE Tabata Timer workouts!  They kick my butt every single time I do one of them.  I love the puddles of sweat on the floor.  Anyone can do the workout because you can add progressions to make it more difficult as your fitness level improves.  I love 20/10 for warm ups and then 60/30 to really bust it out.

For the 20/10 - max effort for 20 seconds with active recovery 10 seconds, I like to move from push ups, to V-Ups to Squats with Heel raise.  The key is maximum effort without compromising form.

For the 60/30 - Max effort for 60 seconds with 30 seconds to recover, I like to use those big dynamic exercises that get the heart pumping:  Burpees, Samurai Squat Jumps, Pop ups, Speed Skaters, Mountain Climbers, Army Crawl, Lunge Jumps, Push up variations, V-Up variations, etc.

We did a 90-90-60 Tabata workout at The Dojo this past Thursday and it was so much fun and everyone was drenched in sweat....everyone brought it and totally kicked butt.

You can download the Tabata Timer for your iPhone in the Apps section. 

Try it out! 

21 - Day Sugar Detox Starts January 2nd - Join the Group!!!

b.a.s.e.Fitters!  2012 is just around the corner and one of my top goals is a cleaner diet (yes, I am far from perfect and continue to be a work in progress). 

I am so excited to announce that a group of us will be doing the 21-Day Detox from Balanced Bites.  21 Day Sugar Detox - download your copy and join us today.  Diane's book has recipes, tips and she will provide you with emails to support and keep you focused on your goal.

If you are local, follow the program and come workout with me. Strength is in numbers.  I will hold you accountable. Your friends will hold you accountable.  You will hold yourself accountable.  Not local?  Don't let that stop you, discourage you or give you an excuse not to participate!  I will be posting regular body weight workouts that you can do in your own home...NO EXCUSES!  Got kids, guess what ~ put on some music and let them dance around while you do my workouts.  Got a job?  So do the rest of us!  Set your alarm earlier, get up and commit to starting your day with my workouts.  Everyone loves a good endorphin rush to kick off the day.

I teach classes 6 days a week and offer personal training sessions 4 days a seriously folks ~ no excuses!

Click on the link above and get ready to hit the ground running in 2012!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I am a huge fan of TRX ~ Love the idea of body weight and suspension training exercises.  I love that TRX can be done anywhere that you can mount the suspension trainer...that means that I can always take my door anchor and pack it in a suitcase and be able to workout anywhere at any time!

I have injuries ~ yep, it sucks, but I have them.  I have wrist injuries that will prevent me from every being a Crossfitter or from performing a handstand in Yoga (which really saddens me I must say).  I have also dislocated each of my shoulders a few times, so coupled with my wrist issues, I can't do unassisted pull-ups or chin-ups....which again, saddens me as I love how strong the back becomes when these exercises are added to the workout.

My injuries are why I love TRX most, why I can achieve the same results as pull-ups with TRX without worry of my wrists and shoulders.   TRX is adaptable for all fitness levels and can be modified to accomodate physical limitations due to injuries, age or mobility issues.  TRX is also so amazing at increasing ROM (range of motion) because you work against your own body weight to move into stretches and exercises that might be incredibly challenging outside of TRX.

I am so incredibly fortunate that I get to bring this fantastic to members and to create new and innovative workouts that will increase strength, flexibility and endurance. 

If you haven't tried TRX yet, get to a class! 
TRX Training

Want to take a TRX Class with me?  I will be teaching TRX @ The Dojo starting in January.
The Dojo (San Anselmo)

Ping me to find out more!

Happy Holidays Everyone ~ Keep it healthy, Keep on Moving and Keep it Happy!
~ Amy

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's Workout Wednesday Folks!!!

b.a.s.e.Fitters!!!  Get up early and get your workout in.  I will admit it, I am a total endorphinoholic!  I thrive off of the endorphines released from exercise and bank on those in the morning to jumpstart my day.  When I workout first thing in the morning, I am happier, more relaxed and ironically eat less over the course of the day.

This morning's workout is going to pack a serious punch!!!  Don't let the 6(am) start time scare my book, there is no better time to get that heart pumping.  In the mornings our heads are clear and we can focus on the breath, the form and each movement. 

Can't do this workout until later?  That's okay because any time that you can commit is the best time for you!

Try out this condensed version of what we are doing today.  You don't need weights for any of these exercises.  Just starting out?  Do 10 reps of each exercise.  Keep that core engaged (think about drawing the naval up and in towards the spine).  Want to hit it hard, do 30 reps of each and repeat 2-3 times total:

- Jump Lunges
- Dive Bomber Pushups
- Hindu Squats (arms come behind calves with fingertips to touch near heels)
- 3 Series Hand pushups (wide hands/narrow feet; mid-hand/mid-feet; narrow hands/wide feet...don't do 10 in each position, that's a lot easier than moving between all 3)
- Single leg squat jumps
- Side Burpees with Knee Tucks
- Sumo Squat Twist Crunch
- Reverse Plank Glut Lift


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December promises....

I downloaded this picture about a month ago as a reminder to stay on track with my workouts and clean eating during the holidays.  Holiday parties, holiday baking, less sleep, more of everything...except exercise can take its toll.  I keep this picture to remember why I get up every morning, why I try to make healthy choices and why I need to keep on pushing.  Those rock hard abs are not a gift, they come from hard work, sweat and a lot of dedication. 

December is almost over, but think about the promises you want to make to yourself, the goals that you want to set for 2012.  Write them down.  Set a time frame to hit your goal.  Keep a food diary.  Keep a workout diary.  Share them with a friend; friends can hold you accountable ~ hold yourself accountable!
Come take a class with me...I will definitely hold you accountable.

Smoothies ~ too busy to prepare a healthy meal, try one of these!

I  wish that I had nothing but time to prepare homemade, clean, perfectly balanced meals for everyone in our house all of the time...but the honest truth is that there just isn't the time.  I have a full-time job and I teach at 3 different locations, so I have to find healthy shortcuts that still pack a nutritional punch while keeping it quick and easy.

Here are two smoothie recipes that we use in our house (kids aren't on them quite yet as the green color scares them.  I make them the night before, then freeze them and drink them midday.  You get 3 servings of vegetables and 3 servings of fruit plus an extra boost! 

Current Favorite Smoothie Recipes:
½ cup frozen blueberries
2 cups spinach
1 cup kale
1/3 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 banana
1 tsp Macaforce Maca Powder
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp flax seeds
Small handful of goji berries & coconut chips
12 oz water
12 oz coconut milk
4 ice cubes

OR (Mark’s favorite):
4 oz water
10 oz coconut milk
1/3 cup of each: strawberries, mango, pineapple, peaches
2 cups spinach
1 cup kale
1/2  banana
1 tsp coconut butter
1 tsp coconut flakes
4 ice cubes

Monday, December 19, 2011

Don't let the holidays spoil your workouts ~ try this one out at home

I know, I know, the holidays are tough...but putting on holiday weight is even tougher to get rid of in the New Year.  Stay committed to your workouts, even if they are short.

Workout harder, workout smarter!

Do everything 50 reps of all exercises, rest 60 sec., then 40 reps, rest for 60 sec and so on

-          V-ups (or sit-ups)

-          Squat Thrusts (burpees without the pushup)
-          Pushups (want to make it harder, alternate hand and foot width) 
-          Squat Jumps

You can roll out of bed, warm up a bit and do this workout before you head to the airport.

Give it a try!

As promised ~ paleo friendly holiday recipes

I have been working on recipe modifications and substitutes for the past several months trying to make recipes more paleo friendly as I move our entire family to a completely clean diet.  The holidays are such a hard time as everywhere you turn there are sweet treats and indulgences that can easily add inches to your waistline. 

It is said that one can gain as much as 10 lbs between Thanksgiving and New Years...if you are going to holiday parties, work events, social events during this season and having a few drinks and adding nibbles and desserts not normally on your list, you could definitely start to pack on some weight.

I will be sending out some more savory options to add to your holiday meals.  Enjoy ~ Amy

Try these three out:

Coconut Flour Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Balls
1 3/4 cups coconut flour
1/3 cup coconut/palm sugar
2 large Omega 3 eggs
2 egg whites
1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda (slightly less than 1 tsp)
1/4 cup chia seedsb
2 tsp alcohol free vanilla (or vanilla powder - which I love)
Dark Chocolate Chips (70% if you can find them) - I use about 3/4 bag

heat oven to 375.  Mix dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, chia seeds) and set aside.  Mix wet ingredients until well blended then add to dry ingredients and mix.  Add in chocolate chips.  Because the coconut flour crumbles, you need to make balls and set them on the baking pan.  I line mine with parchment paper.  Bake for about 10 minutes.  These are dense and really high in fiber.  My kids love these now.

Dark Chocolate Dipped Macaroons (recipe from the healthy cooking coach blog). 
I suggest a double batch if you like coconut as these disappear in the blink of an eye.
4 egg whites from large or extra-large eggs (about 1/2 to 2/3 cup)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup raw honey 
1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract powder with nothing added to it - I have done two batches, one with stevia and one without and you don't need it w/ the raw honey (do not substitute stevia extract liquid; do not use stevia that contains FOS, maltodextrin or other fillers)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or alcohol-free vanilla flavoring
2 cups unsweetened, sulfite-free, finely shredded coconut; additional 1/4 to 3/4 cup if needed*
Virgin-pressed coconut oil grease baking sheets (omit if using parchment paper)
  1. Start with impeccably clean bowls and utensils. Separate the whites from yolks when the eggs are cold. Try to use a glass or metal bowl.  Let whites stand at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 300˚ F (lower if your oven runs hot).  Use parchment paper or coconut oil to grease the baking sheet.
  3. Using an electric mixer or beaters on medium speed, beat the whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar. Beat until stiff peaks form when mixer is turned off and beaters are lifted.
  4. Gradually add honey, then stevia and vanilla. Turn off mixer. Gently fold coconut in with a wide wooden spoon or stiff rubber spatula. Whites may deflate—don’t panic. Add additional coconut, a little at a time if batter appears wet and loose. You want it a to be stiffer than meringue batter, but not as stiff as cookie dough.
  5. Drop batter by level tablespoons onto the baking sheet
  6. Bake in the center of the oven until set and lightly brown around edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Once cooled, dip in melted dark chocolate (I love the 88% endangered species bars)
Chocolate Truffles
- 1/2 Cup 100% raw cocoa power, unsweetened
- 1 Cup coconut oil, cold pressed (from Whole Foods).  If you don't like the   taste of coconut, WF also makes a refined Coconut Oil which has a very very mild coconut taste.
- 1/3-2/3 Pure organic, grade B maple syrup, to taste
- 2 T. coconut milk

I used a variaton of all 3 of these toppings below and rolled the truffles in them after taking the mix out of the freezer and scooping out the truffles
- unsweetened shredded coconut
- finely chopped nuts
- Raw cocoa powder
- stiff rubber spatula, for mixing
- a double boiler or set a mixing bowl on top of a pot half-full of water. Fill pot with enough water to boil but not too much that the water touches the bowl.

1) Place pot of preference on stove. Set heat on high (low if using a single pot).
2) Drop coconut oil into pot. Wait for it to melt.
3) Mix in cocoa powder using rubber spatula.
4) Stir in coconut milk. (optional)

5)Add Maple Syrup to taste/desired sweetness. 
6) Transfer the chocolatemixture to a smaller bowl and place in fridge or freezer for a few hours to let cool and harden. Once hardened, the mix will be easier to shape into truffles.
Making the Truffles
1) Using a tablespoon measuring spoon or small ice cream scoop, scoop out balls of the hardened ganache.
2) Scoop a bit of truffle coating into a small bowl. Using two spoons, roll each ganache ball in coating.

I store mine in the freezer until I am ready to serve - they are really yummy!

Welcome b.a.s.e.Fitters!

I have been talking forever about starting this blog - sharing workouts, recipes, best practices and my journey to continually improving my own fitness levels as well as creating challenging workouts for all of you.

I wasn't always fit and I have been fitter at times in my life.  I grew up a chubby kid with a not so great diet.  I could polish off 1/2 medium pizza, big macs, chunky candy bars, diet consisted of more junk food than it did healthy food.  I ate vegetables because I had to, not because I enjoyed eating them.  My lunch bag consisted of BLTs, Ding Dongs, Chips and Juice - it is a wonder how I did so well in school fueling my body this way.

When I was 20, I was out shopping and looked in the mirror as I tried on a dress and was in disbelief.  I was 163 lbs and wore a size 12.  On the upside, my weight was all evenly distributed so I actually looked a little smaller than I was, but I was not healthy, was overweight and knew it was time for a change.  I joined a weight loss clinic, joined a gym and made the commitment to change.  I lost 37 lbs in 9 weeks and dropped from a size 12 to a comfortable size 6 and I felt great.  I was at the gym 4-5 times a week for an hour.  Not long after, I started working at 24 Hour Fitness.  I tapped into the knowledge of trainers and instructors on both workouts and diets.  I followed the fads, lowfat diet, low carb diet, vegetarian, vegan, etc.  I tried every workout I had time for...not always with the best results. 

In my mid-30s I was teaching cardio kickboxing, strength training classes and spinning, while also doing yoga, running and outdoor cycling.  I was in amazing shape, but my diet still left much to be desired and I still had a predominantly vegan diet.  I made it through two pregnancies and fought my way back to getting into shape while both teaching and working a full-time job.  It was already challenging to commit to my own workouts when we decided to move from San Francisco to Marin, adding up to a 3 hour commute each day.  While I had hoped that being in Marin and having the outdoors as my workout playground, instead my weight started to yo-yo again and my workouts were becoming compromised.

Fast forward to today and even as a fitness professional, I have learned so much about fitness, diet and myself.  I am learning how to workout smarter in less time, to have a cleaner diet, to carve out the time for my own workouts.  I am not perfect, I have my own slip ups and some commitments take more effort than others and my commitment can change on any given day.  I don't have the perfect body, but I am strong.  I have injuries, so I will never be an elite athlete, but I am constantly finding modifications to work around those injuries and continue to push myself to get stronger and to be the best me I can be.  I am not the fastest runner, but running is what I love to clear my head.  I don't get out on my bike nearly enough, but I know that I have all the conditioning to get out and ride a metric century (I can admit not a century) with relative ease.  I can't do 100 pushups in a row, but I can do 200 pushups over the course of a workout. 

This isn't about being perfect or having the perfect body, this is about being strong and healthy.  The workouts will kick your butt (and give you a tighter butt in the process).  The nutrition tips will help you when you hit a menu roadblock.  This blog is here to help keep you motivated and committed to your health.

Balance ~ Agility ~ Strength ~ Endurance...ready to be a b.a.s.e.Fitter?  Subscribe today!