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Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Power of the Push-Up and Plank

Have 5 minutes and want to break a sweat? Do some push-ups and planks. 


  • Start on all-fours with your hands directly below your shoulders and knees directly below your hips.    Engage your belly by sending you belly up to the lowest part of your spine. Take one leg back at a time planting both feet firmly onto the ground about hip-width apart.
  • As you bend your elbows, take a long inhale. For these kinds of push-ups I recommend keeping your elbows narrow to your waist as you bend. Make sure your head doesn't drop down and that your mid/upper back stays domed (to avoid winging your shoulder blades).
  • As you exhale, straighten your arms all the way. Repeat 10 times. 

  • For this plank, start on your forearms. Remember to engage your belly throughout the exercise and send your shoulder blades down your back. Hold for 20 seconds.
  • Without wobbling, press yourself into a full plank (on your hands) one arm at a time.  Try to keep your pelvis stable as you move into full plank. Hold for 20 seconds.
  • Go back down into your forearm plank and repeat entire exercise once more
This is a perfect way to sneak in a little exercise during your lunch break or even if you're feeling restless at your desk. It will tone your arms, shoulders, and abs. Give it a try and tell us what you think! :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Drink More Water Today!

We all know we're supposed to drink lots of water to keep our skin healthy, stay energized, and boost our metabolism. For some reason, though, I find it very difficult to drink my daily dose of water. Maybe it's because I find it boring. I just don't get super thirsty that often. Apparently not feeling thirsty is one of the first signs of dehydration... go figure. So I wanted to look up some tips on drinking water and here is what I found:

Have a big glass of water first thing in the morning. Better yet, put some lemon in your water as it will speed up your metabolism. Few of us realize how dehydrated we get while we are sleeping and it can really brighten up your complexion and perk you up if you're feeling tired. 

If plain water seems boring, try adding some slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, or mint leaves. Or if you're feeling extra sassy pop in some strawberries ;). 

If you live in the Bay Area, you are lucky to have access to tap water that has been tested as one of the best in the country. I still filter my water just to eliminate any extra unnecessary minerals - plus it makes it taste better!

Make sure you use a container that's BPA-free. BPA in plastic bottles has been linked to breast and uterine cancer, an increased risk of miscarriage, and decreased testosterone levels. Better safe than sorry so invest in a good metal bottle like this one.

If you prefer bottled water, check to make sure the mineral and sodium levels are relatively low and don't reuse as wear and tear in plastic bottles has been shown to cause BPA to leach into the water. 

I've been drinking more water the last three days and I must say I do feel more energized! 

How about you, dear readers? Do you have any tips for getting your daily intake of water? Do you also find it difficult to remember to drink plenty of water? 

Photos: Ashley Horning BlogUndersink Chillers

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Arugula: The New Superfood

Arugula is one of my favorite greens. It tastes a bit peppery and a tad bit bitter and is packed with essential, feel-good nutrients. It is also known as one of the most potent anti-cancer foods. AND if that isn't enough, it is also super low in calories. So EAT! EAT! EAT! 

Arugula is a source of:

Vitamin A
Vitamin C
Vitamin K
Folic Acid

With its unique peppery flavor, arugula spices up typically boring dishes. Try adding arugula to your sandwich, salad, or wrap and ditch that boring iceberg lettuce forever. 
Do you adore arugula as much as I do? 

A Little Motivation

Isn't this fun? You can create your very own rendition of the famous "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster here.

Photo: Keep Calm-O-Matic

Monday, June 27, 2011

How To Tone Your Booty

What you need: a desk or table and a small towel. Time: 8 minutes.

1. Stand about one foot away from and facing your table and fold forward at the hips. Place your forearms one on top of the other on the table and rest your forehead on your arms.

2. Make sure your back is flat as your deeply engage the muscles of your belly. Imagine your belly button is rising up to your spine.

3. Take your right leg back so it is just behind your standing leg and reach it long. Slightly bend the standing leg to avoid locking your knee.

4. Take the right leg up as high as you can while maintaining square hips and pelvis. Keep the leg up and bend the knee. Put your towel into the crease of your knee and deeply squeeze into it. Flex the foot deeply and maintain for the duration of the exercise.

5. Keep the leg elevated and squeeze 20 times into the towel.

6. Now maintain the squeeze into the towel while you pulse your leg up to the ceiling 20 times.

7. Alternate squeezing into the cushion and pulsing to the ceiling 20 times (10 times each).

8. Repeat on the opposite side.

9. Remember to stretch out your hamstrings afterwards by placing one leg up on the table and folding at the hips. Repeat on the other side.

Do this 3-4 times a week and you will be ready for those short shorts in no time :).

Friday, June 24, 2011

Do or Don't: Barefoot Running Shoes

Recently, I've been seeing more and more people wearing these Vibram FiveFingers on my runs. Although I have to admit they're not exactly the most aesthetically pleasing of footwear, the reasons to wear them do make sense. According to their website, barefoot running shoes:

1. Strengthen the muscles of the feet and lower legs

2. Improve range of motion in the ankles, feet, and toes

3. Stimulate neural function important to balance and agility

4. Eliminate heel lift to align the spine and improve posture

5. Allow the foot to move naturally

Sounds pretty great, don't you think? You can wear them for running, walking, yoga, Pilates, and cross training. Would you wear them?

Photo: Vibram FiveFingers

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pea Pesto Linguini

Oh my goodness. How good does this linguini with pea pesto look? I don't even like peas that much but I'm sold. You can find the recipe here

Photo: Smitten Kitchen


A few months ago I did the Clean Program cleanse with amazing results. My skin never looked better, I had tons of energy and a clear head, and my cravings for junk food disappeared. The video above explains what it's all about. I was a bit skeptical at first because I didn't think I could last all 21 days... but somehow I managed to do all three weeks and I loved it. 

Rather than sign up for the expensive online program, I just bought the book and made my own smoothies and meals. The best part about getting the book is that there are hundreds of healthy recipes to choose from. I still make a lot of the dishes to this day. 

I'm thinking of completing another cleanse in the next couple of weeks but I wanted to ask you all: do you have any cleanses or detoxes to recommend? What are your thoughts on cleanses? 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

There's Lead In Your Lipstick...

Gillian Deacon's new book, There's Lead In Your Lipstick is a harsh dose of reality about the products we put on our hair and skin every day. Here's a excerpt from her website:

"Each morning we spritz, soak, and slather ourselves in 127 different chemicals, many of which are toxic. Each time we draw a bubble bath for a child, lather foaming cream for a shave, or deodorize our underarms, we expose our bodies to innumerable chemicals with limited research on their long-term health effects. The cosmetics industry is not required to prove an ingredient is safe for human health before it is used in a consumer product." 

The book's website also has this handy wallet tip sheet that you can print out and take with you when you go shopping. 

What are your feelings about hair and skin products? Do you look for natural ingredients? If so, have you found any that you like just as much or more than the "mainstream" products? 

Photo: There's Lead In Your Lipstick by Gillian Deacon

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dance, Sing, Floss and Travel...

My lovelies, I wanted to share with you all Lululemon's manifesto... some great thoughts and inspiration in there, don't you think? You can download the pdf here. I currently have it as my computer's wallpaper and it gets me thinking every time I see it. 

What are the mantras you live by? 

Photo: Lululemon

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lunch Break Mini Workout

Do you need a midday energy boost to motivate you through the afternoon? Try these 3 simple exercises to help get you out of your afternoon slump!

What you need: a Pilates mat like this one.

1. Lie on your stomach with your arms outstretched in front of you and your legs straight behind you. Imagine your belly button rising up to the lowest part of your spine. Shoulder blades are gently settling down your back.

2. Lift your arms, legs, and head a few inches off the ground. Flutter your arms and legs as though you were swimming for 30 seconds. How high you go depends on the flexibility of your spine. If you feel any pain whatsoever, stop, take a break, then try engaging your abdominal muscles more as you lift.

3. Repeat 2-3 times. Remember to breathe continuously throughout the exercise!

Target muscles: back, shoulders, abs, glutes

1. Set up as though you were about to do a push up. Make sure your butt is in line with the rest of your body and your shoulders are away from your ears. Imagine as though your hands were pushing the ground away.

2. Keep your abs engaged throughout by lifting the belly button to the spine. Imagine you are wearing a tight corset.

2. Hold this plank for at least 30 seconds. As you develop more strength, you can hold for up to a minute. Continuously breathe.

3. Repeat 2-3 times.

Target muscles: shoulders, abs, arms

Roll Up
1. Lie flat on your back with your arms by your ears and your legs straight and pressed firmly into the mat about hip-width apart with feet flexed.

2. As you inhale, take your chin to your chest and reach your arms forward. Exhale to scoop out your belly and continue to roll all the way up until you are on your sits bones. Reach for your toes, maintaining a round back and scooped out belly throughout.

3. Inhale as your begin rounding back and exhale to finish laying your spine down onto the mat one bone at a time.

4. Repeat 6-8 times.

Target muscles: abs, hip flexors, hamstrings

Try out these Pilates exercises and tell us what you think!

Friday, June 17, 2011

What's Your Favorite Smoothie?

Here's the recipe for my all-time favorite smoothie. It will fill you up and get you going in the morning!

1 cup coconut water
1 scoop organic whey protein
1 scoop super greens powder
1/2 cup ice
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 avocado

Blend all ingredients in a blender and enjoy!

How about you, dear readers? Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe?

Double Leg Stretch

Here's an ab exercise that will get your blood pumping and your belly burning!

Double Leg Stretch
1. Lie on your back and pull both knees into your chest, elbows extended and head lifted. Hands are on your shins.

2. Inhale deeply and stretch your body long, reaching your arms back by your ears and with your legs out long in front of you and raised off the mat at about a forty-five degree angle. Imagine you are stretching out of bed in the morning. Note: make sure your lower back stays completely pressed to the mat.

3. Do not allow your head to move off your chest - keep a deep upper abdominal curl.

4. As you exhale, draw your knees back into your chest by circling your arms around to meet them.

5. Sink your belly further from your knees to increase the emphasis on the exhalation, as if you were compressing air out of your lungs.

6. Repeat the sequence 7-10 times, remaining still in your torso as your inhale to stretch and exhale to pull.

7. End by pulling your knees into your chest for a deep exhalation.

~ Try it out and tell us what you think, dear readers. Did you feel the burn??



Welcome to Le Petit Atelier! This is a very exciting time for our little studio and we are so happy to have you. This blog will keep you updated on le petit atelier's latest news, Pilates in the news, and health and exercise tips. Take a look around, leave a comment, and enjoy!

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