Hispanic girl can’t jump.

It’s official. I jump like an intoxicated frog.

My trainer actually asked me if I was drunk during my first plyometrics session today. When I convinced her that I wasn’t, she thought I had been drunk the night before. Nice. Next time I’m bringing a breathalyzer.

She said there were three things that led her to believe I was intoxicated:

1. I have no balance.

2. I was chugging water like it was going out of style (and sweating nearly as much).

3. I can’t jump to save my life.

The funny thing is I never actually realized I couldn’t jump until today. I always thought I was pretty ok. But when I got home and told people, no one seemed surprised.

Here are the comments:

  1. “Oh yeah, I knew you couldn’t jump.”
  2. “Yeah, I’ve seen you try to play basketball.”
  3. “You get about one inch off the ground.”

I wish I had been aware of this handicap sooner. I feel like Elaine from Seinfeld when she found out that she was a bad dancer. Suddenly I’m straining to remember all the circumstances in my life in which I might have jumped. Were people laughing at me??

Yes. Yes they were.

My trainer was a dancer and gymnast. She taught me some dancing tips to help me keep my balance on those twirls (I was doing some jumps, then a 180 or 360 degree turn in the air). She even tried to explain some basic laws of physics and gravity. I have to give my trainer props because she only laughed at me a LITTLE. At least she tried not to.

We really worked on my form and I got better near the end. It’s not like I could really get any worse. We didn’t get through the entire program that she had planned for me, but she promised that we’d get there. On Friday I have my Fit Test.

I thought I would take the rest of the post today to get caught up on some Q&A. The first question is from someone who is running and eating well but can’t seem to lose any weight. I solicited the help of a Canadian personal trainer and triathlete to help me answer it. I think he did a good job so I’m posting his response.

Please keep in mind that when it comes to personalized advice, there is nothing that will replace a trainer or nutritionist or being monitored by a health care practitioner. The person that asked this question is looking for a nutritionist (if anyone knows a good nutritionist in the Houston area, please let me know so I can pass the info along). These tips are intended for troubleshooting in the meantime.

QUESTION

I’m 5’6 154lbs and I just CAN’T seem to lose weight. I may need to increase my running, but I have just recovered from a knee injury.

I work 8-5 as a receptionist, so my physical activity is low at work. My breakfast is usually a serving of plain oatmeal (1.5 cups), half or sometimes a whole smashed up banana, a tbs of flax seeds and a tbs of raw almond butter. It usually fills me up until 10:30ish, then I’ll have a snack- either a Larabar or a serving of raw almonds, or maybe Greek yogurt with fruit.

For lunch 12:30ish I’ll have a thin whole wheat sandwich with a morning star bean burger, a serving of hummus and some spinach. Sometimes I’ll have an apple too. Around 2:30 I’ll get into a snaky mood so I’ll have some sort of fruit but by 4:30 I’m hungry again so I’ll have cottage cheese with blueberries or Greek yogurt with blueberries.  I run after work around 6:30ish about 3 miles. Then for dinner I’ll try to just have a green monster (spinach, almond milk and a banana as a smoothie) but I’ll get hungry before bed.

I’m also running about four times a week- three times during the week and Saturday as my long run (4 miles). I’m not ALWAYS hungry, but I am more often than not. I hardly eat any red meat. I have been eating Salmon and Quinoa for dinner two times out of the week (should I increase that?). I’m drinking average 80oz of water a day, sometimes more.

ANSWER

(Courtesy of trainer and triathlete Michael Andrew)

Four things jump out at me when reading this in terms of weight management.

  1. Total calories ingested
  2. Protein intake
  3. Type of running
  4. Lack of resistance training

1. I think that you make fantastic food choices, you’ve clearly done your research, but if you’re not losing the weight you want, part of it could be your portion sizes. You need to pay particularly close attention to the little things like hummus, yogurt, nuts, etc. People often consume two or even three times the recommended serving sizes without realizing it. Spreads like almond or peanut butter are particularly tricky because one serving often won’t adequately cover a slice of bread. Even your choices in fruit may be worth looking at. It sounds like you sometimes eat two bananas in the course of a day. Bananas are high in sugar (albeit natural occurring sugar) so you may consider replacing it with other fruit (citrus fruit have a fraction of the calories of bananas and apples, watermelons are also a great low-calorie fruit).

2. Protein, fibre and water are the components of food that make you feel full. Fat also contributes to making you feel satisfied.

You’re drinking plenty of water and it sounds as if you probably get close to the recommended daily amounts of fibre in your diet with all the vegetables you eat. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to add some bran to your oatmeal or yogurt to keep you feeling full longer.

But more than that, I think you might want to consider more protein in your diet. That hard boiled egg (without the hummus) might help you stay full longer in the mornings. Personally, I microwave an egg white veggie omelet every morning. It takes me 3 minutes and it’s delicious and filling. A good whey protein might be worth considering too.

3. Your running frequency sounds good (particularly considering that you’re recovering from a knee injury). Assuming you have clearance from your doctor, you probably need to look at your pace and consider some interval training. If you’ve been running those distances for a while I’m guessing you’ve gotten quite good at them. But have you been tracking your time? To break a plateau you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

So if you’ve been finishing a particular distance in a particular time for a while, you should try adding some speed intervals to improve your time. To accomplish that, your body will have to recruit more fast-twitch muscle fibres and in turn, burn more calories. You should also consider spending some days doing totally different cardio work. Biking, swimming, boxing and rowing are great alternatives. But even if you just stick to running, I HIGHLY recommend doing at least one day a week of sprint work. These make up most of my own workouts.

I go to a track or even a soccer field and I’ll do sprints and sports-specific drills from soccer to football to basketball. The whole workout is filled with high intensity stuff like jumping, change of direction, change of speed, etc. This will shock your muscles and I guarantee you’ll see huge results. Plus, after all that, straight-ahead running this provides some exciting new options and a lot of fun!

4. The final piece of the puzzle is resistance training. Here, I’d recommend you get some guidance from a professional if you’re not accustomed to it. If you have access to a gym, pay for a session with a personal trainer who can lead you through a full body workout. If you don’t have access to a gym (I personally don’t have a gym membership) you can still get a great workout doing chin ups, push ups, lunges, etc. The key here is that you must really challenge yourself with the weights. Too many people just do 10 reps of this, 15 reps of that, and think they’re working out. The fact is that if you don’t work to exhaustion on each exercise, then you’re not challenging your muscles and they have no reason to adapt and develop.

I hope this was useful. Thank you and good luck with this and your career pursuits!

(If you have a question for Michael, you can contact him at mkonlinetraining@gmail.com.)