Gratitude Fridays

I thought this would be a fun addition to the blog.   I know we have all heard of having a gratitude journal, where you write down 5 or more things you are grateful for whether you write it everyday or once a week . There really is no rule as to when or how much you want to write or how small or great it is. The simple things brings the greatest joy.

I will share here just a few things I have been grateful for this week,  it will be more pictures than words.

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Coffee ( i am a huge fan)

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Joseph Pilates ( self explanatory)

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Beautiful Scenery ( gotta love vacations)

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Saw this duck and her babies early one morning at work. How adorable!!

Desk Bound: Three Pilates Desk Exercises and Stretches.

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There have been numerous articles written about the perils of too much sitting. Researchers say that prolonged sitting may lead to a slower than normal metabolism, diabetes and a larger waistline etc. Among these we can also add an inflexible spine due to lack of movement, poor posture, weak upper back muscles, short and tight chest muscles, forward head posture and rounded shoulders to name a few.

Sitting is not only inevitable and necessary at times but the problems arise when we do not make the time to add movement through out our day.

Here are a few ways to add movement to your day while at the office. 1. If possible. instead of sending an email to your co-worker, walk to their desk or office. 2.   Add some stretches/Pilates exercises to your day that can be performed at your desk. 3. Have a walking business meeting. 4. Have lunch at a park. 5. Walk the mall on your lunch break 6. Take the stairs 7. Take calls while on your feet or better yet pace and talk 8. Set a daily reminder to step away from your computer screen at regular intervals, this is for your mental and physical health and 9. Use the restroom on a different floor.

Below are a few Pilates exercises you can include in your day, these can be performed at your desk.

Note: Abdominals should be engaged at all times, keep length in the spine and breathe!

Spine Twist:  

Sit tall, with neutral spine and pelvis., abdominals pulled in and up, feet hip distance apart. Extend your arms long in front you, shoulder height, palms facing in and shoulders down.

On an inhale, lengthen your spine, exhale and rotate or twist your spine for a count of 3, bending your elbow as you twist in the same direction while keeping the opposite arm long in front.

Inhale and return to the center and switch sides.  Repeat 5 times on each side.

Spine Stretch Forward:

The same seated position as the above exercise. Inhale and lengthen your spine, exhale and nod your head forward ,abs engaged, slowly curve or round your spine forward, arms long and down by sides.

Inhale at the bottom of the movement, taking slow breaths and breathing into the sides of your ribcage.  Exhale and slowly roll back up to sitting position. Repeat 5 times.

Seated Mermaid:

The same seated position as above, hands are resting at your sides. Inhale, reaching one arm overhead, pressing the opposite hand into the side of the chair. Exhale, bending sideways while reaching the extended arm over head. Inhale and return to the start position.  Repeat 5 times on each side.

A few reminders while actively sitting through out the day: Maintain neutral spine, keep your abdominals engaged always, breathe well, meaning fill your lungs air and exhale completely, sit tall and lengthen your spine, relax your neck and shoulders.

The Pilates method/ principles, are not only for inside the studio but the principles should carry you through out your day whether you are sitting or driving or whatever activity you are doing.  Being mindful of your own body awareness will improve your alignment and comfort level.

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Here are a few stretches that can be performed at the end of your workday.

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Back and Hamstrings:

Lie on your back, feet on the floor, knees bent. Draw both knees into your chest and rock side to side. Then alternate extending one leg and hugging the other leg into your chest. Hold each stretch for 20 -30 seconds. Enjoy this you should be able to feel the entire body relaxing.

Cross Body Stretch:

Still on your back keep one leg extended and use the opposite hand to cross the bent leg across your body, and look in the opposite direction to the crossed leg.

Shoulders. Stand and reach your arms behind you, you can hold on to each wrist if this easier or interlace your fingers, while raising your arms behind you so you feel a wonderful stretch in the front of your shoulders.

Figure 4 Stretch:

Lie on floor or mat. Bend knees with feet on floor. Cross lower leg over thigh of other leg. Grasp back of thigh of lower leg with both hands.

Pull leg toward torso. Hold stretch. Repeat with opposite leg.

How do you incorporate movement through out your day? What are your favorite stretches? 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Challenges

This weeks challenge will focus on adding more fruits and vegetables to our diet.   The recommended amount is 5-9 servings a day.  Some of us have no problem eating fruits daily. but we may find it more difficult adding leafy greens to our daily diet and vice versa.

Here are a  few ways we can add more of  natures medicine into our daily diet:

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Make a fruit and vegetable smoothie for breakfast.

This is my favorite breakfast smoothie recipe: 1 cup almond milk, 2 handfuls spinach, 1 handful kale, 1 frozen banana, 1 tbs nut butter,  1 frozen peach, 1/2c plain greek yogurt, blend and enjoy.

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Make vegetable omelette and serve with a side of fruit.

Have a huge salad for lunch and or for dinner, just make sure you add healthy fats and lean protein.

This is one of my favorite salads:  romaine lettuce, red bell pepper, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, strawberries and slivered almonds.

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It helps to think  of  vegetables as the main part of your evening meal and lean protein as a side.

As always I will be doing this with you.

What are your favorite ways to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet?

Extras:

10 Pictures of your daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Challenges

 

This weeks challenge not only builds strength but it adds a slight cardio burst to your routine.  At the end of your reps be sure to stretch.

Monkey push up

Strengthens: Arms and shoulders, abdominals, back

Get into the “up” part of push-up position with hands directly below shoulders and body in a straight line from head to heels. Keeping core tight, push through toes and hop forward, landing gently with feet on the outside of hands. Hop back to starting position. Bend elbows (keeping them close to body) to lower body toward floor, then push back up; that’s 1 rep. Do 10–12 reps.

 

MONKEY PUSHUP

Have a great week !

 

 

Weekly Challenges

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This week I would like you to  have positive thoughts. Think  positively and with appreciation for all your body has done for you.  I am not stopping there I would like you  to think about all you have accomplished in your life. One positive thought a day.

We all need to be reminded to do this. Stop being so hard on your self.   See you here next week for an exercise challenge.

I hope to inspire and motivate you. Have a great week.

 

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Feel free to comment and to share.

 

Weekly Challenges

Disconnect to take a Breath.

Breathe

This weeks Challenge is for you  to take a few minutes out of your day to disconnect. What I mean by that is, take a breath, step away from social media, go outside and enjoy the sunshine. Play some mellow tunes or just close your eyes and “rest” for a few minutes.  We get so caught up with work, checking Facebook etc  that we have forgotten to just enjoy the little things. I am guilty of this as well.  We need to make it a habit of taking thoughtful action on giving our own well-being our full attention.

Serene

Serene

I will be doing this with you as well. I don’t know about you but the pictures above already puts me in a mellow mood.

What will you do this week for your personal well-being?  Share your ideas in the comment section below.

Make it a great week!!

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Challenges

We will be focusing on 2 exercises this week:

Balancing Star Plank 

Balancing Star Plank

Balancing Star Plank

Get into the side plank position. So if you start on your left side, your right arm should be extended to the ceiling, now here is the twist, instead of raising your right leg, you will keep the right leg firmly planted on the floor and swing your left leg forward. Hold for 3 seconds and repeat on the other side. 3 reps each side.

 

High V  ( this is a classic move used in Barre classes)

High V

High V

Source 

Stand next to your support, feet in a narrow V. Rise onto the balls of your feet, keeping your heels glued together; bend your knees, bringing your butt down toward knee level. Slowly move down and up by an inch for 30 seconds. Repeat, smaller and faster, for another 30 seconds.

Keep your abs engaged, shoulders away from your ears, neutral spine and breathe!!

 

 

 

 

 

Pilates Breathing

 

 

There are 7 Pilates principles but I will be featuring the first one and that is “Breathing“.  Not only can proper breathing be used to decrease stress, lower our blood pressure  it can also help to facilitate movement and increase out mobility in exercises.

I always teach the following the breathing exercises to my Pilates clients:  Belly Breathing, One lung Breathing, Lateral Breathing and Sniffing Breath.  I will briefly  explain each one and share a few exercises that we use them in. I have also included the purpose/objective of each exercise for those of you that like to know why we perform each one.

Belly Breathing:

Place you hands on to your stomach and take a deep inhale so your belly expands like a balloon, on the exhale draw the abdomen in towards the spine expelling all the air. This type of breathing is used while performing Footwork on the Reformer.  The footwork is a fundamental move used following the warmup exercises before transitioning to the other exercises in the sequence.

Objective of the Footwork:  to strengthen the hip extensors, knees extensors, the feet, to align the foot and leg and to develop pelvic lumbar stabilization.

Footwork

Footwork

Lateral  (intercostal )Breathing:

This is when you breathe into the back and sides of your ribs, without allowing your abdomen to expand.  This type of breathing often used in the Pilates Hundred exercise.

Objective of the Hundred: to strengthen the abdominal muscles and for pelvic lumbar stabilization.

Hundred

Hundred

One Lung Breathing:

This type of breathing is as it sounds, breathing into one one side of your lungs at a time. This  type of breathing is used while performing the Mermaid.

Objective of the Mermaid:  Teaches spinal movement to the side, scapula stabilization, spinal mobility and stretches the quadratus lumborum, internal and external obliques.

Mermaid

Mermaid

Sniffing Breath:

This is when you take really small breaths through your nose and you exhale through pursed lips. This type of breathing is used while performing the Side Leg Series.

Objective of the Side Leg Series:  To learn and develop disassociation at the hips and  to stabilize pelvic lumbar area.

 

Side Leg Series

Side Leg Series

 

Remember to Breathe!

Have a fabulous Friday.

 

 

 

 

It’s Ok To Not Be Perfect!

Swan on Ladder Barrel

Swan on Ladder Barrel

“Remember, too, that ‘Rome was not built in a day,’ and that PATIENCE and PERSISTENCE are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.” -Joseph Pilates

 In our journey to self love and improving our health with both food and exercise please remember  it’s ok to not be perfect!!

In our journey of improving our health through diet and exercise and self love we unknowingly set ourselves up for failure by striving to be perfect in how we eat and or exercise. That is exhausting!! By that I mean do you feel guilty for eating a piece of chocolate? Do you beat yourself up for skipping a workout? How do you speak to yourself for a less than perfect day/meal?  Why should we put our mind and body through that stress or turmoil?

Mind Body

Mind Body

Believe me I understand all these feelings but as Mr Pilates has reminded us in  the above quote “Rome was not built in a day”. We need to be patient with ourselves and most of all not to give up!

Be happy with yourself for all the positive changes you make on daily basis, yes why not  congratulate yourself, give yourself a “pat on the back”. Changing/working on our health is a continuous process, we are all trying to do our best.

Keep making healthy choices, move your body daily, it can be running, dancing, Pilates, walking whatever you enjoy, whether it is 10 minutes, 30 minutes an hour.

Personally, the more I focus on nourishing my body with good clean food,  honoring  and listening to my body when it needs rest, being kind and gentle with myself the easier this journey becomes.

Let’s stay positive in our thoughts and thank our bodies for all it has accomplished.  And BE HAPPY!!

Happy

Happy

Feel free to leave a comment to keep this discussion going.