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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wednesday Inspiration


My lovelies, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed some special moments with family and loved ones. Here's a little Wednesday inspiration for you; it's one of my favorite quotations by the wonderful Marianne Williamson. Happy Wednesday! XO

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Homework Part Three: Butt and Thighs


Today's final part of the Holiday Homework series shows you how to tone your butt and thighs. These exercises may seem simple but don't be fooled - they are extremely effective!



SIDE-KNEELING LEGS
  1. Kneel on the mat with hip creases open and shoulders, hips, and knees aligned.
  2. Reach the right leg out to the side, and take your left arm out to the opposite side, with the right hand behind your head.
  3. Tip over until your right leg is not touching the mat and you are relying on your left hand and left knee/shin to balance.
  4. First Set – Back and Forth: Inhale, flex your foot and bring right leg forward, exhale and point your foot as your leg goes back. Make sure to keep hips still. Repeat 8-10 times.
  5. Second Set – Circles: Bend the right knee to 90 degrees and draw little circles with your knee going forward. Keep the knee at hip-height or higher. Repeat 8-10 times then switch directions
  6. Third Set – Up and Down: Straighten right leg out to the side and pulse up towards the ceiling slowly. Repeat 8-10 times.
  7. Repeat on the opposite leg.

*** Please note that you should always consult with a doctor before beginning an exercise program and that all information conveyed is for entertainment purposes only and does not intend to diagnose or treat any medical condition.***

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Homework Part Two: Arms and Shoulders


In today's post, part two of the Holiday Homework Series, I will teach you how to strengthen and tone your arms and shoulders (so they will look like Eva's! :). These simple exercises not only build strength in your upper body, but also in your core muscles. Enjoy and feel free to ask any questions by leaving a comment!

Regular Plank
Position hands shoulder width apart and feet shoulder width apart in a plank position. Remember to dome between the shoulder blades, tuck your tailbone between your legs, and send your bellow button up to your spine. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

Single Arm Plank
Same as above but take hands narrower and feet wider (like a tripod). Lift one arm up at a time switching. You can take your arm straight in front of you, to the side, or bend your elbow and bring your hand (plan down) to your chest. Keep hips level. Repeat 8-10 times on each side.

Single Leg Plank
Legs and hands in regular plank position. Lift one leg up at a time, maintaining alignment throughout body. Repeat 10 times on each side

Plank Knee-In
Set up in the regular plank position. Take one knee into to chest at a time, maintaining square hips and shoulders, using the abdominals to draw the knee in. Repeat 10 times on each side, alternating sides. 


*** Please note that you should always consult with a doctor before beginning an exercise program and that all information conveyed is for entertainment purposes only and does not intend to diagnose or treat any medical condition.***

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Homework Part One: Abs


Many of my clients have asked for some "Holiday Homework" during the Holiday season since they won't be coming in for Pilates sessions for a couple of weeks. Over the next few days, I will be sharing what I give to my clients to stay in shape over the Holidays and keep the extra lbs and muscle loss at bay.

In today's post, I will share with you the perfect abdominal set. Known as the "Ab Five" in the Pilates world, each exercise is intended to be done one after the other with no breaks in between, and targets all four layers of abdominal muscles! Do these every day and you will build a strong core and notice results quickly.


THE "AB FIVE"

Single Leg Stretch
  1. Sit in the center of your mat with your knees bent. Take hold of your right leg with your left hand on the knee and your right hand on the ankle. (This will keep your leg in proper alignment with your hip).
  2. Roll your back down to the mat, bringing your bent leg with you.
  3. Extend your opposite leg out in front of you and hold it above the mat at an angle that allows your back to remain flat on the mat.
  4. With your elbows wide and your chin lifted to your chest, inhale and watch as your navel sinks deep into your spine.
  5. Imagine you are anchored into the floor below. 
  6. Exhale and switch legs, bringing the left hand to the ankle and the right hand to the left knee. Stretch your extended leg long out of your hip and in line with the center of your body.
  7. Repeat 6 times on each side for a total of 12.
  8. Note on breathing: "inhale (switch), inhale (switch), exhale (switch), exhale (switch). 

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 and elbows are wide.  
  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 you 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 your 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 6-10 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.

Single Straight Leg Stretch
  1. Lie on your back and pull both knees into your chest, elbows extended and head lifted into your deep upper abdominal curl. 
  2. Extend your right leg straight up to the ceiling and grab your ankle with both hands as you stretch your left leg long in front of you, keeping it hovering slightly above the mat. 
  3. Imagine anchoring your torso firmly into the mat and keep your head lifted onto your chest. 
  4. Inhale and pull your raised leg in toward your head pulsing it twice at the top of your range. 
  5. Switch the legs by scissoring them and exhale for two pulses with the other leg at the top of your range, using your arms to stabilize the leg.
  6. After 4 repetitions, switch the breath so that you are exhaling for two beats on the opposite leg, and inhaling on the other leg.
  7. Complete a total of 8 repetitions. 

Double Straight Leg Stretch
  1. Lie on your back with your hands interlaced behind your head.
  2. Extend your legs straight in a slightly turned out stance, feet straight up to the ceiling. Squeeze your inner thighs together until no light comes through them. 
  3. Anchor your center firmly into the mat and lift your head onto your chest into your deep upper abdominal curl. Remember to lift from the back of the shoulders and abdominals, not your neck. Imagine your arms are a hammock for your head.
  4. Squeeze your buttocks, for stability in your lower back, and lower your straight legs down toward the mat a few inches as your inhale. Keep your lower back pressed firmly into the mat.
  5. Squeeze your buttocks tighter and exhale as you raise your straight legs toward the ceiling again. You should feel your chest pressing slightly toward the legs as they return to their upright position.
  6. Imagine your legs are attached to springs above your head and you must stretch the springs on the way down and resist their pull on the pay back up.
  7. Repeat 8 times and end by bringing both knees into the chest.

Crisscross
  1. Lie on your back with your hands behind your lifted head and your knees into your chest.
  2. Extend the right leg out long and above the mat in front of you and exhale as you twist your upper body until your right elbow touches (as close as possible) your left knee. Remember to twist from your ribcage, not your arms. 
  3. Return to the center, bringing the knee back into your chest as your inhale. Exhale as your twist to the other side, extending your left leg long in front of you, while maintaining your imprint with your lower back firmly pressed into the mat. 
  4. Imagine your center anchored to the mat so that you don't rock from hip to hip. 
  5. Complete 8 sets and pull your knees tightly into your chest.


*** Please note that you should always consult with a doctor before beginning and exercise program and that all information conveyed is for entertainment purposes only and does not intend to diagnose or treat any medical condition.***

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Chard & White Beans


This Holiday season, swap out a heavy dish for this lighter and delicious alternative. With its natural shape making it just right for stuffing, this baked acorn squash with white beans, olives, and parmesan cheese hits the spot with just a touch of Mediterranean flair. Coming in at just under 350 calories per serving, it makes for the perfect meal without the guilt.

Ingredients:

2 medium acorn squash, halved and seeded
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon tomato paste
8 cups chopped chard leaves (about 1 large bunch chard)
1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/3 cup coarse dry whole-wheat breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preparation:
1. Cut a small slice off the bottom of each squash half so it rests flat. Brush the insides with 1 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Place in a 9x13 inch (or similar size) microwave-safe dish. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on High until the squash is fork-tender (about 12 minutes).

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring, until starting to brown. Add garlic, stir for 1 minute. Stir in water, tomato paste, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir in chard, cover and cook until tender. Stir in white beans and olives; cook until heated through. Remove from heat.

3. Position rack in center of oven; preheat broiler.

4. Combine breadcrumbs, parmesan and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a bowl. Fill each squash half with about 1 cup of the chard mixture. Place in a baking pan or on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture. Broil in the center of the open until the breadcrumbs are browned (1-2 minutes).

5. Enjoy!

Nutrition: 342 calories; 13 g fat (3 g sat, 8 g mono); 11 g protein; 12 g fiber

Source: eatingwell.com

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fresh Cranberry Chia Pudding


It's the time of year where cookies abound and refined sugar seems to be sprinkled on everything. Why not give your system a break and treat yourself to a healthy dessert instead? Crazy Sexy Life has this great little recipe for a chia pudding. It's easy, tasty, and oh-so-good for you. You'll be glad you have this in your fridge when a sweet tooth attacks! You can find the recipe here.

Source: crazysexylife.com

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How to Find Real Food at the Supermarket


Grocery shopping can be confusing. With so many different marketing tactics screaming at you in every isle, it becomes difficult to tell which foods are actually good for you and which ones you should stay away from. This handy and amusing little chart from the Huffington Post will help you navigate through the junk and find the real food at your local supermarket.

Source: Huffington Post

Friday, December 9, 2011

Have a Wonderful Weekend!


My lovelies, what are you up to this weekend? Tonight, Mike and I are going on a low-key movie date complete with comfy jeans, sweatshirts, and Ugs (for me) and a few snuck in (somewhat) healthy snacks. Tomorrow night is my favorite duo's Christmas party, and Sunday we are finally getting our Christmas tree. Hope you have a wonderful, relaxing weekend, and here are some healthy living posts from around the web:


Do Pilates while you walk to work.

Foods that food safety experts won't ever eat.

The top 10 best workout videos on Youtube.

Delicious fall vegetable recipe. Just swap the butter for Earth Balance, sour cream for greek yogurt, and use whole wheat pasta instead. 

How to preserve lemons in a jar (makes for a great and inexpensive Christmas present!).

Some bikini workouts for your winter getaway. 

Foods to eat if you're trying to grow out your hair. 

Why coconut sugar may be the new agave

Thursday, December 8, 2011

2 Waist-Whittling Exercises

Side Plank-Up
Side Plank-Up
Targets: Rectus and transversus abdominis, obliques, and inner thighs

1. Lie on left side on floor with legs stacked and a rolled-up towel between thighs, propping torso on left elbow so that left forearm is perpendicular to torso. Make it easier: stagger feet so that side of right foot is on floor in front of left foot for a wider base of support.

2. Lift hips so that body forms a straight line from head to toe and squeeze towel between thighs. Hold for 1 count, then lower. Do 10 reps. Switch sides and repeat. Do 3 sets.

Round Back

Round Back
Targets: Rectus and transversus abdominis

1. Sit on a folded tower on floor with shoulder blades against a wall and knees bent, feet flat; make sure back is rounded. Place hands on floor near hips, fingertips pressed into floor.

2. Squeeze abs and lift feet off floor, bring knees toward chest, then straighten legs so toes point toward ceiling. Do 10 pulses: Bring legs 1 inch closer to wall, then move them back 1 inch. Make it easier: keep one foot down and repeat on both sides. Do 3 sets.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dinner Idea


Not sure what to make for dinner? Here's an easy little dish you can whip up in just minutes. Take some quinoa, cook as directed on the package, mix in some vegan cheese like this one, and salt to taste. Being the spicy-foodaholic that I am, I add hot sauce and red pepper flakes. Just add whatever tickles your fancy. Then, plop yourself on the couch, turn on a good show or movie and devour :). Happy Wednesday!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Move of The Day: Arm Circles



Targets: shoulders, back, triceps, biceps
What you'll need: Two 3-pound dumbbells

1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms extended straight out to sides at shoulder height.
2. Keeping shoulders down, do 20 small backwards circles.
3. Switch directions; do 20 forward circles

Make it harder: stand on one foot for 10 circles, and on the other foot for 10 circles. Repeat in both directions.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Move Of the Day: Couch Decline Push-Up



Targets: Chest, arms, and abs

1. Get into full push-up position with palms on floor, arms extended, balls of feet resting on couch cushion and hips lifted to that the body forms a straight line from head to heels. Make it easier: place knees on cushion or do an incline push-up with feet on floor and palms on cushion.

2. Bend elbows to lower chest toward floor, then return to start. Do 15 reps. Make it harder: keep your elbows narrow, skimming the sides of your body when you bend.
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