When I was dancing with the ballet company we had company class each day. The artistic director gave us a solid technical foundation that I use in my Pilates teaching on a daily basis. Then we had the ballet mistress and the associate artistic directors who would also coach and teach us. Some had years of experience and brought vast knowledge to the table. Others were new to coaching a company but brought fresh knowledge and enthusiasm. Getting the dancers out of our normal routine would be a challenge. Sighs of frustration could be heard across the studio as dancers tried a familiar step with a new approach. Then something magical would happen: movements became more effortless, turns multiplied and limbs lengthened. We came to accept the transition period and began to look forward to fresh insights and information. I think about how I'd like my clients to experience Pilates and I go back to my days dancing with a company. My goal is to instill in clients the knowledge, self-confidence and appreciation for their bodies that allows them to feel free to experiment, change and grow. I am proud to see Starr Pilates grow into a studio that is a collective of well-trained teachers offering a variety of perspectives and styles. I sincerely hope you enjoy it as well.
In my last post I talked about how restrictive dieting can take time and energy away from the things you truly love, friends, family and career goals. If you're sitting at work or in traffic trying to figure out what to have for dinner that won't blow your calorie count that's time taken away from figuring out how to solve that problem with a co-worker or how to plan that dream trip to Europe. And during the holidays it can get really tricky to stay balanced with all the parties and events.
Here's where meal planning comes into the picture. Meal planning is the opposite of dieting. Meal planning is making sure you have healthy, nutrient rich snacks and foods available at crucial times. The more nutrients your body has the less likely you'll want to reach for an extra cookie when you hit that sugar crash. The more stable your blood sugar levels, the better you're able to handle holiday and end of the year stress.
Here's a recipe for Carrot Cake Energy Bites from Running on Real Food. I love it because carrots have tons of nutrients and any vegetable is going to contain antioxidants that will take your stress levels down. Let me know what you think!
This took me a while to write A) because I'm not a nutritionist and B) I don't think I have the perfect body or have the perfect diet. However, as a professional dancer and pilates instructor of ten years I've picked up a few things along the way that helped me and I felt it was important to share. In my personal experience and from what I have seen with my clients, focusing on being healthier and happier actually results in positive physical change. We have all fallen into the trap of thinking that when you reach that certain size all problems will be solved. But being thin doesn't automatically fix relationship problems or money issues or guarantee that you'll never have a bad day again. In fact restrictive diet and compulsive exercise can actually take time and energy away from creating that perfect life. However, when people have a strong support system and know how to problem solve when issues arise they are less likely to overeat which results in weight loss. So I'd like to encourage you to try the next time you start obsessing about food take a moment and think about what would really make you happy. And do that instead. Let me know how it goes.
For another article on the topic of food and emotion I highly recommend this article by Kelsey Miller for Refinery 29 "What to say instead of 'You're Not Fat.'"
Summer is Coming...In the last blog post I wrote about the mental and physical health benefits of Pilates but did you know that Pilates can make you look thinner instantly? Pilates strengthens muscles that create good posture making you appear taller and redistributing weight. In fact a University of Louisiana study asked participants to guess who was thinner- a 105 pound woman who was slouching or a 125 pound woman who was standing straight... And participants chose the 125 pound woman.
People with good posture are also perceived as more confident and and more attractive. Pilates helps with neck and shoulder alignment, which is affected by low back and core muscles. We all know it's not what you wear but how you wear it. So whether its a bikini or a caftan this summer Pilates helps you feel and look your best from the inside out. Click here for a posture exercise you can do at home or contact us for a session!
Sometimes when we are under pressure the last thing on our mind is a Pilates session, but that may be exactly what you need. Exercise releases endorphins and helps us metabolize fight-or-flight stress hormones that are triggered when when we get in a car wreck or are under prolonged stress such as a 14-hour workday.
Anxiety causes our muscles to tense up resulting in headaches, and insomnia. Working core muscles combats headaches and neck tension by dropping our center of gravity and supporting our bodies from the abdomen allowing muscles in the jaw, neck and hips to relax.
People who experience stomach aches and acid reflux benefit greatly from Pilates abdominal exercises which create greater circulation in the digestive system. Pilates exercises such as rollup, rolling like a ball and short spine literally massage the spine and release the area around the adrenal glands which control our stress hormones.
The focus and precision of Pilates movements creates mindfulness while moving the spine relaxes the nervous system for benefits can be felt in both mind and body.
When schedules get busy making time to prepare and eat healthy food gets pushed further and further down the list of priorities. Usually it isn't until a raging headache hits and I've polished off the better part of cheese and crackers we have in the fridge that I realize what I've done. For years I've resisted the truth that shopping for, preparing, and cleaning up after meals is a huge effort, but in my experience the alternatives are way worse. Thankfully I've stumbled upon the Minimalist Baker. All her recipes are 10 ingredients or less, use one bowl or are less than 30 minutes to prepare. I've taken her No Bake PB&J Energy Bites and subbed out dark chocolate for the dried fruit. Tell me what you think and let me know how you stay healthy on the run!
Joseph Pilates was a pretty interesting guy. He developed the Cadillac or Trapeze Table (shown below) when he was working with the sick in England in an internment camp during WWI. He took the springs from the hospital beds and attached them to the posts so his patients could exercise while lying down. In 1918 a flu epedemic hit killing millions, but legend has it those who were practicing Pilates didn't get sick. Scientific findings today are backing up what Pilates knew almost 100 years ago. Pilates exercises have been praised for helping remove toxins via the lymphatic system. Lymph gets circulated through our bodies through movement and breath, two integral parts of Pilates. Lying down while doing these exercises helps because our systems aren't having to work against gravity and if you are coming back from an injury or sickness there is less stress put on the body while you recover. Seems like Pilates is a pretty good deal: enviable abs and the saved up sick days to to enjoy them on the beach...