These days lemon water, gratitude journals, meditation, morning yoga and the $17 Erewhon Smoothie are all ubiquitous components of an aspirational regimen. I definitely love investing time and resources in health, but the pressure to be "that girl" is overwhelming. For many of my clients a typical morning might be waking up to a toddler taking over their side of the bed or a four hour conference call to London.
So here is your pared-down routine: Close your eyes, take a deep breath. Remember one to three things you did in the past 24 hours that made you proud. Anything that made you feel good counts. Did you take a walk around the block before your dentist appointment? Maybe you drank a liter of water? Did you listen to your body at dinner and stop when you were full?
Here's why this is important. When we recognize an achievement dopamine is released, elevating our mood. When dopamine is present, we are more likely to make better choices because our brains want more of that feel-good neurotransmitter.
Experts encourage smaller, more actionable goals to set off a positive domino effect. If our to-do list is too overwhelming the apprehension of failure can actually shut off our dopamine. Drops in dopamine levels have the opposite effect causing procrastination and paralysis. Which explains why if your morning routine isn't fully Instagrammable it can be tempting to throw in the Egyptian cotton towel.
If you're looking for and easy way to get your fix Starr Pilates On Demand classes offer videos of all lengths. You can do one at a time or mix and match for a longer workout. For the latest video click HERE. To make it even more accessible take advantage of the 14 Day Free Trial, cancel anytime.
In my last blog post I set out a perfectly sensible framework for when it comes to mindful movement and healthy eating (click this if you missed it). But here is the truth: rules are made to be broken and sometimes "being bad" feels so good. Read on for how to embrace your inner rebel and look cooler than ever.
Rule #1 Plan meals and snacks about 3-5 hours apart
It's true that waiting too long in between meals can cause all sorts of headaches, poor decision making, hangry arguments and even mess with your cortisol levels. From a metabolic viewpoint the idea of eating regular meals is that when our bodies go too long without fuel we and we have used up all our blood glucose our bodies will then turn to our stores to supply energy. Muscle is easier for our bodies to break down than fat. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, constantly skipping meals then overeating puts our bodies in a vicious cycle which can slow metabolism.
Break the rule
When you're legitimately not hungry don't stress it. Look, your metabolism will not grind to a screeching halt if you don't pull off to the nearest Starbucks and have a protein plate every 180 minutes. If you know you have a meal or snack coming up in the next hour or so and you know you have enough fuel to get you there, no biggie. Also, say you waited a bit too long and had an extra piece of bread at your meal... you're not going to gain a pound of fat instantaneously. Trust your body, it knows what to do.
Rule #2 Plan meals you like
It's crazy how diet/ health foods have changed throughout the years. Remember when bagels were healthy because they were low-fat? Or when kale wasn't even a glimmer in our eye? The point is that we tend to like things because they are familiar. Because mindful eating is ultimately more sustainable than dieting it is easy to confuse mindful eating with habit. But sometimes the things that seem "healthy" or feel good temporarily aren't moving the needle literally and figuratively. This leaves us feeling frustrated, burned out and confused.
Break the rule
Time to do a meal audit. The way I do this with clients is I look at what they normally eat. Then I look at what their dream meal would be. Trail mix is healthy. Protein bars are healthy. But so are tacos. Comparatively, looking at the nutritional information you'll get the same amount of calories yet more vegetables, lean protein, healthy carbohydrates with tacos. Also, clients are less likely to overeat later in the day because they "just had a snack for lunch." Just as self-care isn't all bubble baths and face masks mindful eating isn't all pizza and doughnuts. Taking a closer look at your meals isn't always sexy but it can payoff big time.
#3 Move your body in a way that you love at least three days a week to lower stress levels and boost endorphins
This one. Exercise has so many benefits, from stress reduction to injury rehabilitation and prevention. It can decrease lower back and shoulder pain. It increases flexibility. Studies show that physical fitness is a better marker of health than weight. This means that a body that exercises regularly but is at a higher weight is scientifically shown to be less at risk for heart disease and diabetes than a smaller body that is sedentary and doesn't exercise. Click the link here to learn more about HAES principals.
Break the rule
When you are tired. When you are injured. When you are blowing off friends for exercise. When you've already worked out a few times this week and you don't feel like it. If you're looking to create that ellusive caloric deficit keep in mind exercise only makes up a small portion of your calorie burn for the day. Also, the more you exercise, the better your body gets at conserving calories. Most clients in turn exercise more to compensate for this, which in turn can mess with our body's ability to recognize our hunger and fullness cues. It's a slippery slope, so cut yourself some slack.
If you need help bridging structure and flexibility email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on Nutrition Therapy services. To see what clients are saying about the Aligned program click here.
Stay tuned for more!
As we move away from diet culture and towards body acceptance I find many of my clients feeling confused. Can you still love and accept your body and want to change it? And if so, how to do this in a kind and sustainable way? The answer, is yes, you can! But first, I feel it is important to break down differences between dieting and mindful eating and learn how to find a structure that works for you.
There are two main differences between dieting and mindful eating. The first difference is that dieting relies on a set of concrete external rules such as what, when and how much to eat. Mindful eating is a practice of observing the body's sensations while eating. When, what and how much food is determined by the person eating responding to internal hunger and fullness cues.
The second difference is that dieting is primarily a results-oriented process, meaning that the goal of a diet is usually to lose a certain amount of weight or to manage certain health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. Studies have shown while dieting may work in the short term that a very small percentage of subjects who lost weight while dieting were able to maintain the weight loss. Weight cycling can also affect mood, causing depression in many chronic dieters.
Mindful eating is more process-oriented, meaning that mindful eating is a long-term practice that is honed by each eating experience. According to Joseph B. Nelson in Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat, "Mindful eating is not directly linked with weight loss, however experts believe with a mindful approach, the person’s choices often are to eat less, savor eating more, and select foods consistent with desirable health benefits." Experts also believe even if the goal is to manage a certain health concern mindful eating may have better long-term results than dieting.
Sooooo what if you feel your best a few pounds lighter or want to rock a six pack for the summer? Considering females start dieting at the age of 8, jumping straight into mindful eating may be like going zero to 90. The trick is to use what we know about how the body responds to too much or not enough food to create a structure that works. Structure done well actually is freeing. We are not talking about rigid rules like only wearing pink on Wednesdays or not eating carbs after 7pm. We are talking about guidelines. Read below for some of my favorites:
Plan meals and snacks about 3-5 hours apart to prevent blood sugar crashes
When blood sugar gets too low forget savoring our bodies need food like yesterday and carbs and sugar are the fastest way to get blood glucose back up. We are also more likely to overeat past the point of comfortable fullness and in a quantity that our body can't assimilate. Whatever we can't use gets stored for later regardless if it was a carbohydrate, protein or fat.
Plan meals you like
Look I know quinoa is very healthy but I have to add so much dried fruit and dressing by the time I'm done I could have had a side of French fries and been satisfied with less. A good rule of thumb is to use the Plate method. The plate method means one half of your plate is veggies or fruits, one quarter is protein, one quarter carbohydrate. So yes one quarter French fries add a salad with some protein and enjoy.
Move your body in a way that you love at least three days a week to lower stress levels and boost endorphins
Studies have shown when we feel better we make better food choices. Also, lean muscle tissue boosts metabolic rate, exercise improves posture. Good posture makes you look taller and therefore leaner regardless of body weight. Exercise is only one piece of the puzzle so make sure you're being mindful if you're crazy hungry after workouts.
If you need help bridging structure and flexibility please email email@example.com for more information on Nutrition Therapy services. Also, if you know someone who may benefit from this information please feel free to share!
I recently read "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg. He explains the key to changing any unwanted behavior is substituting it with a newer and hopefully healthier action. Modifying any routine will take willpower until it becomes automatic.
Willpower is defined as: "The ability to delay gratification, resisting short-term temptations in order to meet long term goals."
Duhigg cites an interesting study that tells us more about willpower. Two sets of subjects were placed in two separate rooms. Each room had a table with a plate of fresh baked cookies. The first set of subjects was allowed to eat as many cookies as they want. The second group told not to eat the cookies under any circumstances.
The cookies were removed, then both groups given a set of mathematical problems. The group that had eaten the cookies scored higher. What do these findings mean? Eat the cookies? Cookies make you smarter?
Scientists believe the subjects who had to employ willpower to resist the cookies had less mental energy to devote to the second task. This study explains why high-functioning, high-achieving folks may turn to compensatory behaviors. It can be really hard to swap a doughnut for a nap if you just spent an afternoon cajoling a moody teenager or just worked a 12 hour day.
So what to do if you want to change a habit? Number one: Duhigg recommends modifying one behavior at a time. Imagine trying to keep multiple beach balls underwater all at once. It's nearly impossible to sustain for a long period. It can take two to four months or even longer for habits to become ingrained. Small steps ensure new behaviors become second nature.
Number two: See the cookie, want the cookie, eat the cookie, enjoy the cookie. When we classify foods as "good" or "bad" we risk depleting our willpower. The more you resist, the more the craving persists and the more you wear down your willpower. This explains why when you finally give in and have said cookie you're more likely to feel like you've "blown it" and raid the cupboard for other forbidden treats.
Number three: awareness. Sometimes you want a cookie. Sometimes you want a nap, a vacation, or a new pair of shoes. It may not be feasible in the middle of the workday to go for a walk or draw a hot bath. The goal is to check in with yourself, and identify what it is you are really craving and try to work towards that. In my experience, this is the most difficult aspect for clients to implement but also the most effective. When we get our other needs met we are less likely to overly rely on food to cope.
Willpower may be an integral part in building behaviors that make us feel good long-term, however it is important to understand how our brains work and set realistic, compassionate and informed goals along the way. If you'd like support creating better habits email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Here's a super quick video to engage the low abdominals while massaging the neck and shoulders. Let me know what you think and comment what video should be done next!
Neck and shoulder pain is the worst. When muscles are tight, it has the effect of leaving the dome light on in your car- slowly draining the battery even when it's sitting in the driveway overnight. If you have 7 minutes grab a mat, a pillow, bolster or blanket and follow this video. Make sure to join Starr Pilates monthly on-demand subscription HERE for more videos. Let me know what you think below.
Introducing... our Starr Pilates Referral Program. When you sign up for our Virtual Mat or On-Demand Classes you'll get a personalized link to share with friends. Get credit for every friend who signs up. Sign up here: Starr Pilates Virtual Mini Mat
It's just about 40 minutes long which gives you a chance to sweat, stretch, smoothie and shower before your next zoom. Or try a mini on-demand class only $5-7 for a limited time HERE. All this is made possible by our new scheduling system!
Let me know how it goes!
My nutrition clients have a lot in common. They can eat the same things day in and day out. This is great, it's important to have things on hand that work for you. The problem is that eventually they get bored and feel deprived because there are only a few healthy foods that they know they can prepare and eat on the run. Inevitably they go back to convenience foods or fast food until they start feeling not so great. Then they "get back on the wagon" and start eating the same five things, resolving to try harder until they burn out again.
The problem is not that clients aren't trying hard enough. There's just not enough time in the day to research recipes and buy ingredients. That's where Starr Nutrition coaching comes in. Instead of creating a "meal plan" I want to empower my clients to find the things that work for them by giving them fun and creative takes on ingredients.
This month I'm taking the carrot. Check out the video above for a super easy and delicious Sweet & Spicy Carrot Hummus by Bowl of Delicious. You can put it in a wrap or bowl for lunch or have it with cut up veggies for a snack.
For a previous snack idea check out this easy days Starr Pilates Blog Post on Carrot Cake Energy Bites.
If you're short on time try these ab variations with a Pilates ball. Also every Wednesday at 9:15am join us for Starr Pilates Virtual Mat Vite. It's 45 minutes long which gives you a chance to sweat, stretch, smoothie and shower before your next zoom. Or try a mini on-demand class only $5 for a limited time HERE. All this is made possible by out new scheduling system which makes it easier to keep costs down and videos going up. Get the look by clicking on the link below...
Quick: how many calories in a piece of cheese? A cup of brown rice?
If you know nutritional information off the top of your head but you're still struggling with reaching your goals you may need a different approach.
What I am about to say may raise some eyebrows. If you count calories, eliminate carbs, measure portion sizes and track steps you will see a difference.
BUT... the numbers can only do so much. For example- the nutrition information on our food is based on the average amount of energy the portion size supplies.
Our minds can only manage so much at once. So if we are preoccupied counting calories or repetitions we aren't able to fully focus on other things.
I guarantee if you are counting how many leg lifts you are doing you are not pulling your abs in ;)
Maintaining a strict diet while balancing work and relationships is nearly impossible.
Learn how to make food a part of your life instead of letting food obsession hijack it
There are currently two spots open on the Starr Pilates schedule for private nutrition coaching. Book a complimentary consultation and go more in depth.