Gift of Health

Pilates Potatoes


One potato, two potatoes, three potatoes - four 
Five potatoes, six potatoes, seven potatoes - more 
Eight potatoes, nine potatoes, ten potatoes - all

Sometimes we can get a little discouraged with the parts of our body that do not seem to improve in Pilates as fast as we would like. For me, it is my lower back.  It's difficult, but crucial, to constantly pull your belly button to your spine to activate your deep abdominal muscles throughout the exercise. Sometimes I forget to concentrate on this which causes some soreness after a class. 

The strain in my lumbar spine, or small of my back, could possibly be caused by tight hamstrings or I could be overextending my lower back by forcing my legs to straighten. Weak ab muscles and tight hip flexors could also be the culprit.  If I stay consistent in modifying the exercises below, my lower back actually feels strengthen and unstrained after a Pilates workout.  

1.      Keep the spine neutral- (using the natural curvature of the spine) is the only place where the muscles can work safely and effectively to support the spine in all movements.

In neutral spine, we work the transverse abdominis, this muscle spans from the front of your belly to the connective tissue on each side of your spine. This is quite often an overlooked muscle, and it’s generally weak. It’s also difficult to access properly unless you are working with an experienced instructor who will know how to cue for proper muscle activation. You can continually connect with those muscles as you focus on the exhale of breath through each movement.

 

2.      Be careful with Roll-up movements- motion that moves from laying flat to sitting up.

This Pilates motion can cause lower back pains and injuries when done repetitively and with tight hip flexors and weak core muscles.  By jerking yourself up repetitively to try to accomplish this exercise, you can really damage your back over time.

 

Use a mini ball at your lower back to help support the spine as you roll into it only half way down, or, use a stretch band looped around the feet to give yourself a little bit of tension to go up and down easily.  Make sure to keep your arms long and not pull yourself up with your arms, but use the rolling action of the spine and deep abdominals.

3.      Laying on Stomach movements- like swimmers, “Superman” pose, laying on long box on stomach

While doing these exercises, only lift gently and maybe even just one leg and arm at a time, making sure to draw the abdominals up off the mat.  These movements, lifting the arms and legs too high, can cause the back to hyperextend and cause excessive disc compression.  Also, keeping the neck alignment in neutral will keep strain off the lumbar spine.

 

4.      Teaser movements- advanced movement requiring you to come up into a V - sit movement.  

If you don't have strong and developed transverse abdominal muscles then you will not be able to properly execute this advanced movement. You will strain the lower back when rising up into the V-sit with your legs straight.

 

When the class does this move, instead, bend your legs grabbing under your thighs as you gently rock yourself forward and then up into a balanced position.

As your hamstrings and hips loosen up and your abs become stronger all these Pilates moves above will start to feel easier. Easier on your back that is; Pilates is always going to be a killer on your abs, which is why we love it so. Also be careful to work within your range of motion when doing the exercises and only straighten and/or lower the legs if the low back can remain glued to the mat or carriage.  

Don’t be discouraged if you have lower back pain or strain, but DO let your Pilates instructor be aware so they can help make adjustments and cue moves to help strengthen your core and loosen your hamstrings. 

Five Potato, Six Potato, Seven Potato More Pilates

Leads to

Eight Potato, Nine Potato, Ten Potato ALL Pilates moves!

One, Two, Buckle My shoe

One, Two, Buckle My shoe

Three, Four, Shut the door

Five, Six, Pick up sticks

Seven, Eight, Don’t be late

Nine, Ten, Do it over again!

There are two questions I tend to get asked by new Pilates clients…

1)  How many classes a week do I need to take to FEEL a difference?

2)  How long until I SEE a difference?

If you have looked up some basic information about Pilates you might have seen a quote by Joseph Pilates himself….

“In 10 sessions, you’ll feel the difference. In 20 sessions, you’ll see the difference. In 30 sessions, others will see the difference.”  

Joseph was emphatic about being consistent. Regular practice can do more than just tone and lean out one’s body. It begins in those initial Pilates workouts. 

First 10 sessions:You will develop a greater awareness of your body. Your posture begins to improve, which elongates your silhouette, your breath will become more focused and you might start to alleviate muscle soreness and back pain.  With continued practice, you will see increased muscle tone and definition, and will feel different in the way you move in everyday activities. 

Second 10 sessions:  You will definitely feel stronger and maybe even see some physical differences in your shape. However, if your goal is to lose weight, you need to take into consideration that diet is about 70-80% responsible for weight loss and physical physique. Meaning, no matter how much Pilates you do, if you aren’t mindful of your diet, weight loss might elude you.  That being said, if your diet is well-balanced, I would expect 3–4 sessions of dedicated practice weekly to follow Pilates’ rule of thumb about when you’ll see results. Give it a couple of weeks, and you’ll really start to feel consistently better (usually that “feel better” feeling occurs immediately after a session…after a few sessions, you’ll see those feel good moments will start to stick). If you do other activities, you might even start to see the effects of Pilates seep through there (better golf score, hitting the volleyball harder, running faster, deeper Yoga practice). And if you have special conditions or chronic aches and pains, you might reap the benefits of Pilates there first.

Third 10 sessions:How often you practice Pilates also contributes to how fast you see and feel a change in your body, as well as the intensity of your workouts. When you focus on form and breath, challenge yourself with each session, and integrate the six principles of Pilates each time you exercise, you’ll see changes faster than if you approach it with less intensity and take lots of breaks. What I hear most from Pilates clients is that if they take a break from Pilates classes, THAT is when they feel how much Pilates had been doing for them. The old pre-Pilates complaints of back pain, loss of balance, weakness all come back.  Whether or not someone sees physical differences in you, they will most certainly see a difference in your attitude and confidence in your body and the way it moves. 

Therefore, there is no need to “count” how many sessions you have done. The results are conclusive that no matter how many or how often, YOU will feel better, move better, and look better when you practice Pilates!

 

New Year = New Beginnings

 

New Year = New Beginnings

 

My favorite day of the week is Monday…and I will tell you why.   

I LOVE new beginnings.

Each week is another chance to start fresh, to begin new goals, and to press forward with renewed energy. So, as I face this New Year of 2018, it’s like a REALLY big Monday. In the past, however,  I’ve made the mistake of giving myself a New Year’s resolution that is well-intentioned, but clearly near-impossible to keep, like exercise for 2 hours every day, never ever eat anything unhealthy, get 8 hours of sleep every night….the first week goes great, and then I burn out and feel like a failure. Not so good for my ego or my health.

 

Here’s some suggestions on how to keep those goals attainable:

1.  Be very specific on what you want to work on. For example, I need to eat breakfast and stop skipping it.

2.  Define how you are going to accomplish this goal.  For example, I am going to eat breakfast 3 days a week instead of EVERY day.  Be gentle on yourself and start slow. This is your goal, so don’t think about other people judging if it’s good enough. If one day a week is all you think you could realistically follow through with, start there.

 

3.  Choose a time frame in which you are going to reevaluate the goal. 
For example, I will eat breakfast 3 days a week for 3 weeks. Then when you reevaluate, you can add a day and make a new goal of eating 4 breakfasts a week.

 

I love that this year the New Year starts on a Monday! It’s almost too perfect for someone who loves Mondays to not look at this as a wonderful opportunity to REALLY start fresh, to begin with a blank slate, to feel renewed energy with the new week and new year. So, join me in celebrating new beginnings!

 

So what’s YOUR goal for the year?
Make it to Pilates every Wednesday at 6pm?
Eat something green at dinner Monday thru Thursday?
Only eat fast food once a week?
Put one less spoon of sugar in your coffee?
Practice your teaser 3 days a week?

 

Post below and share your goals and how you plan to accomplish them!

 

2018.png

On the Fist Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

On the First Day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me….

 
As the holiday season approaches it is SO easy to get in a rut of automatic “giving.” We make shopping lists, brainstorm the perfect gifts, and focus on “giving” gifts. We even feel the stress during the holidays of navigating our friends’ and families’ expectations for where we should be “giving” our time during the holiday season.

This party, that party, this food drive, that charity auction, etc. All good things….but…In the flurry of all the stress to “give” during the holidays, we tend to forget the life-changing gift of giving OURSELVES the gift of health and self-care we each deserve.

When I say “self-care,” I’m talking about doing what you need to do in order to stay healthy, energetic, and present in your life – during the stress of the holidays and beyond.  You must fill yourself with health, joy, and respect, so much so that is spills over to others. Give yourself the opportunity to say “YES,” to taking the critical time needed to stay healthy and take care of yourself. When that happens, it cannot help but spill out! This kind of giving is so infectious and so effective — but it can’t happen until you give yourself the gifts of health, joy, and respect first.

Then as you continue to nourish your own spirit and body, you will have the desire to have ALL those around you participate in that joy of health and strength.

So, consider giving a gift this season that benefits the health of those you love. It can have a lasting impact on their lives. We at BlisPilates wanted to share some of our favorite things; healthy products, pampering services, and exercise programs.  We tried to pick gifts that will adhere to the words of Joseph Pilates “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” So as we take care of our bodies through correct nourishment and routine, hopefully we will feel that joy and share it with those around us.
 
I made sure to add the links to the item’s sources so it’s easy for you to find all these fun things online. All of them will make the perfect gifts! Are you ready?
 
Botany Bay Sea Salt                                                                                                                         Very small shop located in S.C. Make an order by calling owner Bertha Booker. You can only find her on Facebook.
https://www.facebook.com/pg/BotanyBayCarolinaSeaSalt/about/?ref=page internal
 
Tessemae’s All Natural Dressings, Marinades, Spreads
Local Company located in Essex, MD
Handcrafted and homemade recipes
https://www.tessemaes.com
 
Strength Coach Marc Spataro
Gift Card to Get in Shape for You or Loved Ones
Baltimore’s Premier Private FITness & Health Studio.
http://fitnology.com
 
Acupuncture Marc Wasserman
Gift Card for Healing  
Maryland based clinic for Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine
http://www.flowhealthclinic.com
 
Local Honey Apex Bee
Apex Bee Company, Maryland based apicultural firm specializing in chemical-free beekeeping.
 https://www.apexbeecompany.com
 
Local Wild Kombucha
Mobtown Fermentation brews Wild Kombucha right here in Baltimore. Our goal is to share this delicious and healthy kombucha with our community.
https://www.mobtownfermentation.com

Local Meats Spring Field Farm
Gift Card
A family farm specializing in free-range eggs and meats on certified natural pasture.
http://www.ourspringfieldfarm.com
 
Sundays Nail Polish
https://sundaysproduct.com/collections/nail-polish
 
John Brown's Butcher
http://www.jbgbutchery.com/
 
Barefoot Dreams Robes
https://shop.nordstrom.com/s/barefoot-dreams-cozychic-lite-calypso-wrap-cardigan-nordstromexclusive/3112763?contextualcategoryid=60135750&origin=keywordsearch&keyword=women%27s+robes
 
Young Living Renewal Serum
https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/art-renewal-serum
 
Nespresso Coffe
https://www.nespresso.com/us/en/order/capsules/original/dulsao-do-brasil
 
Dough Run
Specializing in healthy snacks
https://www.doughrun.com
 
Cove
Activewear line started by a local Maryland girl
https://www.covewear.com
 
Now share YOUR favorites with us!