Quick and Dirty:
A Q&A With Jam Murphy
Personal Trainer & Fitness Model with Wilhelmina Models
A lot of health and fitness questions come through my inbox from both friends and strangers in hopes of getting some pro advice to a healthy lifestyle. I was born to two fitness professionals, started my own personal training business, and I am a fitness model — so I like to take the time to explain my answers, and serve as someone you can ask for advice when you need it! To save us all some time, I put together this list of Quick and Dirty FAQ's — the questions that I get time and time again.
Q. My back hurts after doing the stairs, why does this happen?
A. It might be because you are sticking your butt out, which is something I like to do, too! It makes your torso look longer, tummy look flatter, and exercises easier, but it’s poor posture that can lead to injury and less noticeable results. Avoid sticking you butt out (example B in this picture) as it lengthens your abdomen and “shuts off” your core control, as well as applies dangerous pressure to your precious spine. Practice pushing your pelvis forward, and pretending like a string is connected to the top of your head pulling you straight up, to correctly and safely step/run/skip/dance.
Q. What do you think about juice cleanses?
A. I love them if it's only a few days long, and guaranteed that the produce being juiced is 100% organic. If you're doing a juice cleanse one of the greatest benefits is getting the toxins out of our body. If the produce being juiced is not organic, then the purpose is completely defeated as preservatives not only add to the level of toxins in your body, but they significantly reduce your body’s ability to burn fat.
Q. I just finally got a gym membership but I have no clue what to do in there, so I just keep using the elliptical machine... Help!
A. Most gyms offer a free trial session with a personal trainer — take advantage of this. If you can't afford regular training, be honest and say that you would love if they would show you a routine you can do on your own for a few weeks. Chances are that if they help you, you'll hire him/her for another session to learn a new routine once you need more of a challenge.
Q. I'm not hungry in the morning, do I have to eat breakfast?
A. Getting your metabolism started first thing with breakfast is no myth, and it's definitely a good idea. It doesn't take much in the morning, however: a small Greek yogurt, 1 egg, or a piece of fruit will do the trick. Every once in a while you can get away with it, but consistently skipping breakfast will eventually slow your rate of progress in improving your health.
Q. I want to eat healthy, but I am living on an assistant's salary and can't afford it. Any advice?
A. Invest in some sturdy Tupperware, shop smart on Sundays, and think ahead by pre-planning. Some of the best homemade meals can last the entire week: Soups (my favorite recipes from my mom are Kale/White Bean stew and Butternut squash); Chicken and Veggies (my favorite is mild jalapeno sauce-marinated chicken with broccolini, mushrooms & peppers); or quinoa & veggies (try dicing an apple to add!). Other ways to make healthy eating affordable: invest in a Brita to save money on drinking water, make cheap breakfast for more than one meal (eggs, oatmeal, Greek yogurt), and buy produce that's in season (not only is it better, it's less expensive!)
Q. I'm trying so hard to eat healthy and stay away from junk food, but my husband and kids bring it in the house. How can I get them to follow suit?
A. Talk to your family about why being healthy is important to you, and that you care about them and want them to be healthy, too. Try healthy exchanges they will enjoy, like spaghetti squash with garlic and olive oil or tomato sauce; low-sodium/ organic beef and potato stew; cauliflower-crusted pizzas; turkey or tofu chili; veggies and guacamole; and put yogurt cups in the freezer during dinner for a guiltless dessert everyone can enjoy! Most importantly, stay faithful to YOUR plan, and model healthy habits for your family.
Q. How does someone with no time to workout fit it in? I go to work 7am- 6pm, then have to pick up kids, etc. Any ideas?
A. If you are short on time, set daily minimums for yourself like walking or jogging at least one mile before or after work. It will add up, and by then end of the week you'll have done much more and feel much better than making time for just one long gym session.
Q. My knees hurt when I run outside but it's the only exercise I enjoy, what can I do?
A. Slow down your pace for a while and try uphill walking, this will have less impact on your joints while keeping your heart rate high enough to burn close to what you're used to. That being said, don't ever run downhill. At a decline, our joints endure 8 times our body weight, so you must carefully walk down stairs or a hill. If your knees are suffering, this may be to blame. If you NEED those running endorphins, try shortening your distance for a while and work your way back up slowly as you notice improvement.
Jam Murphy's fitness philosophy is to prioritize gaining mental strength while training, which she says will not only help you get through the workout but will significantly increase your abilities outside of the gym, as well. She started Body by Jam in 2006 after growing up to two health and fitness professional parents, eventually landing modeling campaigns for Gap Fit, Champion, and Everlast, as well as features in SHAPE, Fitness, Self, and Cosmopolitan Magazine, including Women's Health Magazine who named her one of the Top 5 Trainers in America in 2013 and one of the Top 5 Most In-demand Fitness Models in 2014.