Tag Archives: des moines personal trainer

Weekend Wrap-Up For 8/29/2015: All Around the Internet

Hey all!

Happy Saturday! I hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend. Here in Iowa people are getting a little R&R after a week of sending kids off to school. The weather has been cool and rainy and it feels like the end of summer. I’m ready for fall: bring on the sweaters and pumpkin spice lattes. I’m on the fence about pumpkin beer though. This seems wrong. Anyone give it a try?

I got outside my comfort zone and went to the Iowa Yoga Festival with my girl Emily Friday night. Yoga isn’t something I regularly practice but I probably should. Even though I was pretty awkward at it and have the zen focus of a fly, I left with a happy glow and my body felt soooo gooooood.

Face plant during crow pose, not even once.

Face plant during crow pose, not even once.

My Own Training This Week
I’d been stuck in my strength training for a good month, despite following my routine 100%. My coach reviews my videos after every session and every time he’d tell me that he can tell I can lift more. Yeah right, I’d think. But he could read the expression on my face and see the fear and apprehension. It was time for a mindset re-boot. Something had to change, and it was the way I talked to myself before I trained.

I’m the least new-agey person among my friends. In the past I’ve scoffed at those catch phrases that you’re supposed to repeat in front of the mirror, but I found myself actually googling ‘positive affirmations.’ And I repeated them. Out loud. I felt like a dork but I knew that I had to stop telling myself that I might not be able to do it. So instead I told myself I was strong, hard working, and absolutely capable of lifting the weight. Also I grabbed a donut beforehand, so there’s that.

The result? I crushed it this week, lifting 25 pounds more in my deadlift than I had just a few weeks ago. I PRed my bench press by 10 pounds. What?? So there’s something to mindset, eh?

bonus angry deadlift face

bonus angry deadlift face

Clients Who Are Killing It

My client, Becky, is improving her lower body strength and stability by leaps and bounds lately. This week she began doing an exercise you may never have heard of: the deficit lunge.

Who it’s for: people who already lunge well and want a move that challenges your single leg stability, builds your butt and legs, and also challenges hip mobility.

When to do it: this one feels good early on in the workout because it gives your moving side some extra movement through the hip.

How much: I like 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps per side.

Technique pointers:
-keep your working leg grounded on the step. push through your midfoot and heel so that you don’t come up on to your toe.
-you don’t need your shin to be totally vertical. A little forward lean is fine, but keep your knee behind your toe.
-use a fairly long step back.

Want to apply for a spot to train with me online? Click here to fill out a short form and I’ll get back to you soon! 

Things to Read Instead of Finishing Your Home Improvement Projects/Cleaning the House/Working on Actual Work

I may slack on some home improvement projects on the weekend but I always take some time to sit back and catch up on reading articles that I bookmarked during the week. Grab a drink and cozy up for some great reads. I recommend a pumpkin spice latte. 😉

1. Squats squats squats. First of all, did you catch my article on setting up your squat? Read up if you know how to squat but want to make them mo betta.

2. Weight Loss Motivation: 3 Mind Hacks to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight. Jordan Syatt of Syatt Fitness is a brilliant motivator. I know because I’m his client. He’s really improved my ability to approach fitness with a healthier mindset and his advice here is wise.

3. Cardio Revisited. If you read about fitness online, you probably have a headache over debates about cardio’s place in your training. Tanner Baze’s article on the benefits of cardio is worth the read.

4. Vacation Workouts. Sohee of Sohee Fit is one of my faves to follow for nutrition and training. I’m super envious of her recent trip to Italy and liked reading about how she was able to use moderation to stick with her fitness goals AND eat the gelato. Because you don’t go to Italy and not eat that up. Her advice comes with excellent video demos to snatch up for your next vacay.

5. The 4 Most Abused Words in Fitness. Dr. John Rusin lays it out and should drop the mic at the end. If you read fitness magazines or go to fitness classes you’ve probably heard all of these words tossed around. Yet what the hell do they mean and are they even worth using? Get the straight dope here.

6. Are Wellness Bloggers Doing More Harm Than Good? One of the reasons that I wanted to start featuring articles from other bloggers on my page is that far too few people know about the really excellent fitness minds in the industry. They don’t get nearly the amount of exposure that people on Instagram and Pinterest seem to garner. Just because you have a rockin’ bod doesn’t make you qualified to dispense safe, reasonable advice. Learn more about why in this article.

Get something good out of this or have a question? I’d love to hear from you – send me an email at fit@amydix.com. Have a wonderful weekend!

The Beginner’s Guide to Fat Loss: Nuts and Bolts

Lego-WorkoutOut of curiosity, I typed “what exercises to do for fat loss” into Google today. I came up with a  mish-mash of Pinterest and Instagram workouts (resplendent with hashtags),  a fair amount of nonsense like “fat burning zones” along with a mix of supplement pages and some quality training advice to boot. If I were just starting to think about putting together a plan, I’d probably get a headache. The internet is a wonderful thing, but all that information can be overwhelming. When it comes down to it, losing fat isn’t all that complicated.So why does it seem so difficult?

First of all, there isn’t only one way to go about fat loss. That complicates the stream of information hurled at us. A large percentage of it is likely garbage as well. 

photo credit: Mark Smickilas

photo credit: Mark Smickilas

Most importantly, despite knowing all of these tips, many people still get stuck. My advice is not your key to the kingdom, it just gives you more tools for your kit. The real work to be done to create change starts within your heart and your head. Successful behavior change requires learning the skill of fitness as well as gaining insight on why you want to change in the first place. 

But still, when it comes down to the process of losing fat, there are things to know that will help you succeed:

1. Do something. If you’re just starting out, you’ll notice a positive impact on your energy, health, and waistline by just moving. Read more on that here. It’s easy to take on weight loss with an all-or-nothing attitude. This will invariably backfire. The plan will fall into place. If you’ve been inactive for a really long time,  ease yourself into exercise.

2. Your nutrition is the leading lady when it comes to losing fat. It has the most important role in your body composition by a big margin. No workout is magically effective. If you’re consuming more calories than you expend, your weight loss will stall. Period.

This is unfortunately where people get tripped up the most. Conflicting advice obfuscates a clear path even further. There isn’t one nutritional approach that is better than another. As I’ve mentioned previously, the best plan is the one you can stick to. Ultimately, using methods that help you develop habits that will carry you through life work best. 

3. Lift the things and put them down. Yeah, set off that lunkhead alarm because strength training not only helps your bones and overall health, it also helps you retain precious muscle that in turn improves your overall metabolism. Aim for between 2 and 4 workouts per week, depending on your level of experience and available time.


4. You don’t need a specialized strength training plan for fat loss. 
How you structure your weight lifting isn’t nearly as important as just getting it done. Some advocate doing a circuit in order to keep your heart rate up and give you some extra calorie burn. Nick Tumminello’s Strength Training for Fat Loss does an excellent job of this and his workouts are fun.

Others use alternating sets of two exercises for a similar effect. Some people still just complete their sets with plenty of rest in between. I’ve had success using all of these approaches with clients. If you’re a seasoned lifter, you might need a more nuanced program, but most of the time, the biggest difference between weight lifting simply for strength and lifting for fat loss is in the diet.

5. Running will not make you fat. Every so often, the fitness pendulum swings with a published study, and everyone jumps on the bandwagon in hysterics. Doing endless cardio isn’t the most efficient means to fat loss. If you hate cardio, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to go suffer on a treadmill for an hour.  Most people attempting an exercise program aimed at losing fat probably overdo the running around and getting sweaty and under-do (is that a word?) the strength training.


However, if you enjoy running, by all means, go run. It won’t kill your progress, and will give you some extra calorie burn to enhance your program.

6. Respect rest and move your body in ways that you enjoy. If you go balls to the wall every day, your efforts will backfire. You’ll lose enthusiasm, encounter injuries, and you’ll prevent recovery that enables you to get the most out of your training. Short, high-intensity workouts can be appropriate a few days a week if you’re already fairly fit. Lighter conditioning workouts are also a good choice. Check out one of my own here.

Regardless of what kind of movement you choose, you’re aiming to get some kind of activity, both for extra caloric burn and because it’s good for your health. These bouts of extra movement are just right for improving your fitness game without getting in the way of your recovery. Or go for a walk!

So in short, here’s what your game plan might look like:

1. Eat in a way that supports your goals. Calculating a modest rather than extreme caloric deficit is important. Tracking at first is helpful, but not the only way to create habits that foster weight loss. 
2. Lift the things 2-4 days a week.
3. On your off days from lifting, move your body in a way that feels good but doesn’t leave you too exhausted to approach your weight training with gusto.
4. Rinse and repeat.
5. Keep your head screwed on straight. Fat loss can really mess with your head. It takes time and tinkering.
6. Remember that fat loss can bring you health, or aesthetic changes you might welcome. It does not, however, define your worth as a person. Keep your efforts in line with the overall task of having a life. ♥

This outline is just that; an outline, an example of what often works. The path to weight loss is different for everyone, but these truths might help you create your own winning strategy. Look for more articles soon on some of the strategies mentioned here.

Have more questions or strategies of your own that work well for you? Leave a comment below!

The nuts and bolts are the easy part. Motivation and support can be another. Looking for a coach to design a program and help you on the journey?  Apply here!

School’s Out For Summer: A Playground Workout For When The Kids Are Home

Photo by SmartSign.com

Photo by SmartSign.com

We’re in week 1 of summer vacation and already my schedule has been blown to smithereens. With school-aged kids, I have  found my groove during the school year. I go to work, find time to get chores done in the early mornings or evenings, and pick up my crazy train of boys at 3:45 every afternoon. Until this week: enter summer vacation.

We decided to juggle schedules so that either my husband, me, or my mom could be home with the kids all summer. I love seeing my little guys more frequently. We’re playing board games, going to the pool, the zoo, and also digging out long forgotten toys. But some of our regular tasks have become trickier to accomplish. For many parents, that includes getting exercise.

I miss the days when my boys were all small enough to be pushed around in the stroller. They’re roughly 17 months apart, so we had only a brief window of time when all three kids would happily ride along. Soon enough they began to squawk at their rolling prison and demand to be allowed to walk, only to either run off or roll around on the ground. Bye bye, stroller walking.

You had one job, kid. Ride. Just ride. Photo credit: Bari Bookout

You had one job, kid. Ride. Just ride. Photo credit: Bari Bookout

Enter the playground workout – parents of young kids can all appreciate the beauty of taking the kids to the park. Kids can run and climb all their crazy out. Sometimes my friends and I sit and chat while they play. But if you’re pressed to find time to get moving, the playground is a pretty damn good gym in the summer time. Especially if you’re up for a little play too. Read on:

Fitness + Funness (is that a word?)
I got creative and designed a strength workout in my back yard while my kids played.  What I forgot, however, was that kids rarely give you 20 minutes of uninterrupted time to exercise. Duh! As if!

Pay attention to meeeee.

Pay attention to meeeee.

So if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Play is important for adults too – it helps us beat stress, connect to others, and stay sharp.  Annie Brees and I even created a program here in Des Moines called Recess for adult playground games.

I created this workout as a “meet in the middle”solution for getting some strength and conditioning work in while having fun in the yard or playground. Play is a fantastic way to bond with our kids, even if sometimes you wish they’d give you 10 minutes to get stuff done, or just go to the bathroom in peace.  Take short bursts of time to run around and move with them, and they’ll likely let you sneak in some sets of strength moves too. If they’re old enough, they can join in too.

The Work Hard Play Hard Workout:
3-4 rounds of the following, or as many as you can do with you kids cooperating:

1. As many reps of pullups/negative pullups (start at the top and slowly lower) as you can do from monkey bars…



10-12 suspension rows with a swing


2. 1 round of freeze tag.

3. 8-10 Bulgarian Split squats per leg, using a step or bench for rear leg.

Put your front foot around 3 feet in front of your bench, and your back foot elevated  on the bench. Slowly lower your rear knee toward the floor. It's okay to lean forward a bit on these to focus on your booty.

Put your front foot around 3 feet in front of your bench, and your back foot elevated on the bench. Slowly lower your rear knee toward the floor. It’s okay to lean forward a bit on these to focus on your booty.

4. Handstand/cartwheel/somersault showdown. Warning: somersaults are a lot more uncomfortable when you’re 40 years old. Good God.

henry handstand

5. As many pushups as you can do with good form. Use a bench or stair if it’s too hard to go from the ground.


6. 5 minutes of kickball, soccer, or playing catch.


7. 10 Leg curls using the swing.

Put your heels on the seat of the swing. Lift your hips and bring your heels toward your butt.

Put your heels on the seat of the swing. Lift your hips and bring your heels toward your butt. Try to keep your hips up high for the whole set.

8. Red Light Green Light – sprint, crawl, or shuffle your way to victory.

Finally, after the workout, play a round of hide and go seek. Find a really good hiding spot. Bring a good book, and maybe you’ll get a few minutes of quiet. Seriously though, when I take a little time to play with my kids for even a little while, they burn off their crazy, fight less, and then chill out so I can get some work done. Plus we have a good time together. Go play!

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