Monday, July 30, 2012

One Lovely Blog!

Friday was a huge day for me!  Friday morning one of my Pilates heroes, Brooke Siler, included me in her Follow Friday (#FF) tweet.  Just the fact that I get to communicate with her on twitter is so exciting to me, and that she knows that I exist in the Pilates world is mind-blowing!  I often feel very isolated in the Pilates world because there are just a handful of instructors in the KC area.

And then....

On Friday evening I found out that my pen pal and Instagram friend Michele had nominated me for a One Lovely Blog Award.  It was a very exciting moment for me.  I love how blogging and Instagramming have expanded my world!  Michele has a really fun blog, short girl, long island and I never would have known about her, her blog or her really fun posts (like this one about cheese) if it weren't for Instagram.  Funny how these social networking apps really do work sometimes!  We also have just started a little pen pal group that includes women, really, from all areas of the US.

courtesy of Red Stethoscope and short girl, longisland
Once nominated, the nominee gets to nominate three other bloggers.  This is such a fun way to learn about new people and new blogs and I am just so happy to be a part of it.  (Can you tell I am a bit giddy?)
  I read these ladies blogs whenever I see a new post pop-up.  Great ladies with great perspective!  Here are my nominees:

ribollita reboiled - I love Emily's blog because she is located in New York City!  It's fun for me to read posts about how she lives her daily life in a giant city that I have never been too, but hopefully will someday.  Blogs on motherhood, cooking, life in NYC along with her newest journey of working from home fill this blog with energy.  Emily is part of the pen pal group, too!

Big head...little body - Sandra is a mommy of 5 blogging about her adventures in being a mommy, staying organized and balancing mom-life and everything-else-life.  Sandra and I met years ago through mutual friends and have recently reconnected thanks to Pilates and the fact that her kids are close in age to mine.  Our oldest boys love to run, chat and drink coffee together ;) and my little Levi loves playing with the rest of her group when she and I are doing Pilates.  She claims to need a little help with organizing, but this post about how to make summer go more smoothly with little ones definitely helped me out!

IN SIGHT OF BALANCE - Elisabeth is another friend from Instagram, and pen pal, too!  She is the mom of three little lovelies, a Yoga instructor and fashionista!  I love reading her blog because she is so honest about motherhood, how it is exhausting yet so very, very rewarding.  I love her style posts, too.  I mean, who wouldn't want to look like this beauty, right?  I just love her pictures and thoughts about the dailies of being a busy, modern mommy!

I want to thank Michele again for including me!  If you have favorite blogs please share them below and don't forget to head to the above blogs to say hi to these great gals!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Pilates as an Olympic Sport

I love the Olympics!  Summer, Winter, I love them both.  I get so excited for the opening ceremonies.  I watch as many events as I can.  I remember during the Barcelona Olympics nearly crying when they came to a close.  I used to fantasize about being an Olympic gymnast, figure skater or swimmer.  Now with the start of the London Olympics and my involvement in Pilates, it got me thinking: could Pilates be an Olympic sport?

At first it sounds silly.  But then, think about it.  True Pilates follows a specific order.  You have Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Mat Work, Tower Work and Reformer Work.  In order to obtain a Pilates certification you need to pass a practical exam, where you follow the specific order, reps, rhythm and form.  So, couldn't that be an event?  The competing athletes would have to perform the various orders on mat, equipment, etc.  Points would be given and deducted based on performance, just like in the test out to become certified.

Arabesque II - I give myself the Bronze :)

I mentioned this idea to my students during class the last couple of weeks.  At first they laughed, but once I explained it like I did above, they started to get really excited about the idea.  One class brought up that there could be the more strict competition of following specific orders and then also a more "freestyle" competition where the Pilates athletes could add a little modern flair.  It would be several days of competition, just like with gymnastics.

It is also very exciting to think about the fact that so many Pilates practitioners are older, especially in Olympic years.  In my opinion, men and women in their thirties, forties, all the way through their sixties (or nineties!) are much more advanced in Pilates work than their younger counterparts.  How inspiring that a Pilates Olympian could potentially be someone in middle to senior age!

I could really go on and on about the potential of Pilates being an Olympic sport.  True, REAL, Pilates would also be shown to the masses, clearing up so much of the misinformation about what Pilates is, and once again showing the genius of the work that Joe and friends cultivated.  I love watching people do Pilates.  It's beautiful and has such a nice flow to it.

What do you think?  I would love to hear your ideas on what Pilates as an Olympic event should look like.  Would you watch?  Would you train to compete or coach?  Do you think it would help or hinder Pilates practice as a whole?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Avocado-blueberry sorbet!

So, last week I made an avocado-blueberry-spinach smoothie and froze the leftovers.  It turned in to a pretty tasty frozen treat, but it was awfully avocado-y.  I posted a picture on Instagram and had several requests for the recipe.  I wanted to get it just-right before sharing.  I added and took away some ingredients and here is what I came up with:

Half an avocado
1 large banana
2 cups frozen blueberries 
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Juice from 1 clementine orange

Combine ingredients in a blender.  I started with "blend" and moved my way up to "smoothie."  You may need to scrape the sides and stir it up a few times.
You can eat immediately.  It is thick enough to eat with a spoon.  I tried some right away and it is so tasty.  A definite treat in this hot weather and the bonus is that it is very healthy!  Place leftovers in an airtight container and freeze.  You will need to eat it within about a 12 hour window because the longer it is in the freezer the more solid it will become.

Let me know what you think!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sugar, oh honey-honey

I love sugary treats.  Cookies, cupcakes, and other pastries.  Ice cream, Fro Yo, and gelato.  Twizzlers, M&M's and other candy.  I 'm not really picky, I like them all.  However, diabetes runs in my family.  I tend to be hypoglycemic myself.  And I am of the thinking that it is sugar that is making us all overweight.  So, while I love a good sugary treat, I definitely don't need it.  And I usually feel the after-effects.  A candy hangover, I suppose.  I typically feel tired, foggy (that lovely not-real feeling I hate) and sometimes my side hurts.  Poor pancreas.  So, I often try to give up sweets.  I have tried giving it up completely many times, only to fail.  I am starting again, and I tweeted about it last week.  But I didn't give specifics, so, when I posted pictures of Key Lime Pie ice cream this weekend friends in my real and virtual world had questions.  So...lets chat!  Here is how I am choosing to cut sugar out of my diet:

I am going to avoid all refined sugar (white, brown, granulated, name it) Monday-Friday.  I am going to continue to have fruit because I like it and I have found that my body does need a little bit of sugar to feel normal.
During the weekend I am going to have a sweet treat here and there.  These were my picks this weekend:  

Green Tea Frapp!
Tangy and sweet!
A new favorite :D

I do the same thing with my eating.  During the week I am fairly strict with my diet, eating lots of veggies, fruit, nuts, and lean proteins.  I workout 5-6 days a week.  So, during the weekend I may allow myself to indulge in a couple fun meals.  Some call it "cheat meals" or a "cheat day" but I don't really like that terminology.  I am not cheating.  I am not bingeing.  I am just sitting down to a meal a little heavier in calories than my typical meal and contains a few more ingredients.  I don't eat everything in sight.  This article kind of sums it up.  I think I am on the 80/20 plan, where 80% of the time I am pretty rigid in my diet and 20% of the time a little more lax.  Notice I said a little more.  So, again, not eating candy bars and chips all day, but Friday may bring pizza and Saturday a scoop (or two) of ice cream.  This also helps to keep my body guessing, revving up my metabolism.  Similar to how you shouldn't do the same exercise routine for months on end, you shouldn't take in the same calories day in and day out.
I feel so much better when I avoid processed food and refined sugar.  Lighter, happier, more even.  I have my moments of cravings, especially in the evening after a long day of teaching fitness classes. Last week I made a tasty avocado-blueberry smoothie with unsweetened cocoa powder.  I froze some of it and ate it like ice cream when I was off work. It was sweet and filling without going off of my no-sugar diet. Don't worry--I am perfecting the recipe and will be posting soon!  

This method, of Monday-Friday strictness followed by weekend leniency, worked well for me when I cut soda out of my diet, as well as cutting out fast food.  So I am hoping it works for sugar.  I am so thankful that I have friends in my life that "keep me honest" when it comes to the plans I have for health and nutrition.

I hope this answers questions that may help you decide to cut out refined sugars from your diet.  If you want to continue the conversation, lets chat below!  And, please, follow me on Twitter.  Follow me on Instagram.  And, if you see me eating a giant cupcake on a Wednesday afternoon, yell at me!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Do these stretches NOW!

We spend a lot of time hunched over.  All of us.  Those that work at a desk for 8 hours.  Those that are with kiddos all day (think playing Legos or preparing lunch).  Those that drive any amount of time at all.  And any of you that text, type, read and watch on any sort of phone, tablet or computer.  So today I am sharing two of my favorite stretches.  I often tell my students that if everyone in the world did these every day there would be a lot less problems in the world!  And I believe it.  One stretch will open your chest to relieve tension and stress along with helping you to breather properly.  The other will open and stretch the hips, releasing tension in the low back and allowing you to relax your head and neck, or, more appropriately, allow Atlas to let go of the world for a few moments.

Do these stretches at work.  At home.  Once a day, three times a day.  Whatever you can manage.  I promise, you will feel better!

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

 Prayer Hands
Sit on the edge of your chair to engage the core.
Relax you shoulders down, keeping your gaze forward.
Let your arms relax at your side, then bring the palms together behind the back, with pinkies along the spine.  (Fig. 1)
If bringing the hands together is difficult, stack the hands. (Fig. 2)
Keep the shoulders relaxed down, do not let them hunch up.
Lift your ribs away from the hips.
Take deep breaths, with each exhale imagine your head lengthening away from your shoulders.
3-5 deep breaths.

Number 4 Stretch
Sit at the edge of your chair.
Cross one leg over the other, nice and wide, like a number 4.
Place your hands on the crosse leg, allowing the arms to relax.
As you exhale bend forward lowering your chest toward your legs.  Bend as far forward as you can, gently pressing the leg to stay flat.  You will feel this stretch through the glute (booty!) on the side of the bent leg as well as in the lower back.
Let your head relax completely.  Let it hang loose!
Hold the stretch for 3-5 deep breaths.
Switch legs and repeat the steps.

These stretches are perfect to do at your desk.  Or at the kitchen table.  Or at a rest stop during a road trip.  Anywhere and everywhere.  Goal yourself to do these once a day.  Really focus on letting your muscles relax and taking deep breaths.

Let me know if you try these and what you think!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

You guys like me???

I just sat down to take a look at my blog.  Answer some comments.  And read a couple of the blogs that I follow.  As I was looking at my past posts I noticed that several of my posts have been pinned!  Many times!  Seeing the "Pin It" badge with a number 4 or 7 or 10 completely makes my day!  I love posting workouts, recipes and wellness tips.  The fact that I have readers thrills me.  The fact that you choose to share my blog, on Facebook, Twitter and now Pinterest?  Well, that is beyond icing on the cake!  It is sprinkles and cherries and candles!  Thank you for reading.  Thank you for sharing!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Perfecting the work

As a Pilates instructor I have the wonderful chance to help my students change not only the appearance of their bodies, but how they carry themselves.  How they stand, how they sit.  One of the biggest compliments that I receive is when a student tells me that during their day-to-day life they begin to make changes in how they hold their body.  "I was walking at the grocery store and remembered to draw my shoulders down" or "I was standing at church and I lifted my ribs from my hips" are some of my favorite things to hear!  This means that the work (Pilates) has gone from "just" a workout to a frame of mind.  A way of living. This takes commitment from the student and from me.

I spend my days watching bodies.  Watching movement.  Adjusting form, correcting alignment, perfecting posture.  I touch feet.  I lift torsos.  I hold booties into place.  And I love every minute of it.  But it can be quite exhausting "holding people up" all week long.  There are many times throughout each week that I wish I could be like Patrick Swayze's character in the movie "Ghost" when he jumps into Whoopi Goldberg's body.  That sounds kind of creepy when it is actually in print, but what I mean is that I wish I could just do the exercises for my students so that they can feel the full benefit immediately.  I can't.  I have to use words, touch and even the inflection of my voice to coach them where they need to be. So quite often on a Friday I NEED to go through the work myself.  Sometimes it's the complete beginner Reformer order.  Sometimes it's mat work.  Maybe it's just a handful of exercises that I have really worked my students on that week.

In my trainings, I am taught that I have to have an exercise "in my body" before I can teach it correctly. Meaning?  That I have to feel it and know it properly.  Sometimes I need to be reminded where the shoulders go, how the neck feels, the timing of the exercise.  Other times, I have seen it done wrong and corrected it so many times that I need to do it correctly just to feel at peace.  On the other side of that, I may need to go over more advanced exercises in order to keep up with my advancing students.

I know that I am not alone in this feeling.  Whether you are a fitness instructor or any other profession I know that, throughout the work week, there are instances where you are using your expertise in your profession and it is sometimes tiring.

I would love to hear about how this relates to you.
What do you do at your job to find peace at the end of a busy week?  When my studio is quiet I like to get on the Reformer and work through the exercises.  What is your version of that? 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How to survive the treadmill

I love running.  I love feeling the breeze in my hair as I run past buildings, homes, grassy pastures and tree-covered trails.  It can be easy.  It can be hard.  During any given run I may feel like singing, dancing, quitting or kicking something.  Usually all of the above.  That's outdoor running.

Then there is the treadmill.  (Insert groaning noise here.)  I get so absolutely bored on the treadmill.  I have friends that can run 5 miles on the treadmill, nbd.  Me?  I feel like I have run 5 miles but then look down at the screen and I have been on for, ummm, a minute and a half.  But there are definite pros to a treadmill workout, like finding a steady pace or working on speed, both of which I need.  And there are days when a treadmill run is the only run possible, whether its due to outside conditions or time constraints.  I have found that if I do interval training on the treadmill it suddenly becomes fun for me and I do not dread it.  For todays Workout Wednesday I will share my favorite treadmill interval workout.

Warm Up - 5 minutes at 4.0 pace, adjusting the incline each minute
Minute 1:  2.0 incline, 4.0 pace
Minute 2:  4.0 incline, 4.0 pace
Minute 3:  6.0 incline, 4.0 pace
Minute 4:  8.0 incline, 4.0 pace for 30 seconds.  At 4:30 head to a 0 incline

Interval Workout - Jog at an easy pace for 1 minute, 30 seconds.  Sprint for 30 seconds.  The goal is to do this for ten minutes, or 5 total sprints.  The pace(s) below is just an example.  You can set the pace slower or faster based on your needs.
5:00-6:30 - 6.0 pace (10 minute mile)
6:30-7:00 - 8.0 pace (7.5 minute mile)
Continue like this through the 15 minute mark.  
You will sprint at 6:30, 8:30, 10:30, 12:30, and 14:30

Cool down - 5 minutes at 4.0 pace, adjusting the incline each minute, just like with the warm up, EXCEPT
Minute 19:  0 incline, 3.5 pace slowing to a 3.0 pace

Trainers Tips:

  • You MUST do the warm up and cool down.  Sprinting is hard work and you want to give your body the chance to properly be ready and then get cooled down.
  • If you are new to interval training you may need to work up to this.  I definitely have my days where I do not sprint all 5 times.  Sometimes I have to walk during the minute and a half recovery period.  Do what you need to do to work up to completing this 20 minute workout.
  • Add this workout once a week to your training if you are wanting to build your speed, burn calories fast, or improve your cardiovascular health.
Have fun trying this!  It has definitely improved my speed and kept me motivated on days when the treadmill is my only choice.

Let me know what you think!


Thursday, July 5, 2012

The day after...

I hope that you had a great Fourth of July!  Mine was filled with swimming, grilling and fireworks.  Lots of fun, but today I am a little on the tired side from staying up later than normal.  I am also feeling a little sluggish from overindulging in holiday treats.  I have a definite weakness for sweet treats and there are always plenty of those at holiday parties.
Here are a few tips to get back on track:

1.  Don't let the fly spoil the broth.
Huh?  What does that have to do with your healthy lifestyle?  Well, lets say the over-indulgance in treats yesterday is the fly.  Your workouts/diet is the broth.  Just because you had two cheeseburgers, a cupcake and a couple margaritas yesterday does not mean that your diet is completely dead.  Jump right back on today.  Get plenty of water.  Don't skip meals today, that will only lead to possibly overeating tonight or tomorrow.  Instead, get lots of fresh veggies, a little fruit, some nuts and other healthy proteins.

2.  Let the Force be with you.
The force meaning you may have to "force" yourself to workout today.  I decided to do the elliptical today, which is usually fun for me.  I like to listen to my iPod and just get down to cardio business.  Today, however, I wanted to abandon ship after about 12 minutes.  How to break through that?
Scroll to your favorite song.  Imagine you are sweating out all of the chips and dip you had (or was that me?)  Write your shopping list in your head.  Before you know it, the timer will be up and your 20 or 30 minute workout will be complete!

3.  Don't beat yourself up.
This is my weakest area.  Self-loathing and guilt can often get to you if you went a little crazy with eating.  But, you know what?  No one is perfect.  Even the most strict dieters have a treat now and then.  You had a holiday.  You had 4 slices of pizza and a giant slushy. You feel bad, but let it go.  Remember the feeling next time, as your hand is reaching for a third or fourth serving of something less-than-healthy, but for now, move forward. 

I hope these tips help you.  
How was your holiday?
Did you over-indulge or did you stick to your diet?
What helps you stay on track or get back on track?
I would love to hear from you...


Monday, July 2, 2012


I guess you could say I have been dealing with anxiety since childhood.  As a child, I worried a lot.  About storms.  About getting food poisoning at new restaurants.  About getting spinal meningitis.  For the longest time, I just figured that anxiety was a part of my life and it didn't need to be dealt with.  I would have rough patches, like my junior year of high school when the fear of vomiting at school caused me to miss nearly the entire last month and also eat only small bites of food.  "Are you anorexic?"  "No, just scared of throwing up in public."  Sounds silly, but that was my life.  Then months and even years would go by where my day to day life was not affected by my fears and worries.

Most recently, just two years ago, I began dealing with low blood sugar and it caused me to not "feel real."  It's hard to describe, but it feels like I am dreaming, only I am not dreaming.  For me, this causes me to panic, so then a low blood sugar episode turns in to an anxiety episode or even panic attack.  Fun times.
At first, it also made me feel very isolated.  I just assumed that no one felt this way but me.  That I must be "crazy"   <---- also a symptom of my form of anxiety.  But, through sharing how I feel, I have found out that there are quite a few people, especially women, that feel this exact same way.  This serves as comfort to me.  And, in addition to sharing helpful tips on dealing with anxiety and panic, I would also like these posts to serve as comfort for others that feel similar and perhaps even a place to share thoughts and feelings.  My goal is to make this blog a mixture of what I get asked about most often on a daily basis.  And, while fitness and nutrition are a big part of that, I also get tons of questions about how I deal with my anxiety.  I also feel that they all go together in the mind/body connection.
Back to not feeling real.  I can now tell the difference between a low blood sugar episode and when I am not feeling real due to anxiety, hormones or just being tired.  Thanks to my fantastic psychiatrist, dealing with the anxiety triggers are getting easier all the time.  

How I deal with low blood sugar:
I eat.  Something with sugar plus a protein.  Chocolate milk and nuts.  Graham crackers with peanut butter.  If out, a nice little drive-thru burger and coke.  Anything to get my blood sugar up.  If it has gotten really low, I usually feel nauseous, too, and don't want to eat but have to force myself to.  A short rest (couch or bed) is ideal.

How I deal with not feeling real due to anxiety:
After 2 years of cognitive behavioral therapy, I have a whole bag of tricks.  One of my favorites requires asking myself questions.  Here is an example of my internal dialogue:

Give me three reasons why you are real:
Ummm...I feel hot.
People that aren't real don't feel hot.
My bug bite itches.
If I weren't real, I wouldn't be itchy.
I'm teaching a Pilates class where 5 people are doing everything I say.
If I weren't real, they wouldn't hear me.
Okay.  Give me one reason you aren't real.
Ummm...I can't.

And that is how it goes.  Sounds silly, but for me it works.

Do you ever not feel real?  What causes it for you?  What helps you?

Thanks for reading!