Self-Care

A Wise Old Owl

A Wise Old Owl

A wise old owl lived in an oak

The more he saw the less he spoke

The less he spoke the more he heard.

Why can't we all be like that wise old bird?

 

If you think of Pilates as exercise for your physical core, you are correct, but there are reasons to think these popular workouts might do some good for your mental core, as well.

For those who are new, Pilates is a fitness program intended to build strength and flexibility, using carefully controlled, precise movements first developed by Joseph Pilates nearly a century ago. The exercises can be performed on mats or specialized equipment, including the Reformer, a contraption that looks like a narrow bed equipped with springs, pulleys and a sliding base. Pilates first caught on with professional dancers but now is taught in gyms and studios for the masses.

 

Joseph Pilates aspired to the idea of attaining complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.  While just a few studies have looked at the mental benefits of Pilates, researchers say there are several ways it might be good for your brain and your state of mind.

1. It promotes focus and mindfulness-

It is difficult to practice Pilates with a wandering mind. In Pilates, your instructor will ask you to move one vertebra at a time, for example, and that requires attention and focus. Students are taught to notice sensations produced by each movement and to coordinate their movements and breathing. When movement, breath and attention all are in sync, that can create a meditative state

2. Pilates could strengthen your brain-

Pilates is a form of strength training, and that kind of exercise, though less studied than aerobic exercise, has been associated with positive brain changes in some research.

For example, a study of 155 women, published in 2015 in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, found that those who engaged in strength training twice a week for a year saw improvements in executive functioning and memory that lasted for at least one additional year. They also saw less brain atrophy, as measured on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, than women who engaged in balance and toning exercises. Brain shrinkage has been linked to problems with memory and thinking skills.
 

3. It could improve your posture, but also your attitude.

One goal of Pilates is to improve posture by strengthening core muscles, including those in the abdomen and back, and by making students more aware of body alignment as they move through their exercises and their daily routines.

Better posture can produce physical benefits, such as less back and shoulder pain, but it also can provide a powerful mental boost, some studies suggest. 

4. It is a chance to learn new things-

If you are new to Pilates, your brain will reap the benefits of learning new patterns of movement.  Any time you are learning something new that requires sustained effort, you are changing your brain.  

With the help of a good instructor, you should be able to keep building and modifying and changing your routine over time, benefiting body and brain. You may think you’ve mastered a move, and then your instructor will say, ‘Now let’s do it upside down and backward.’ ”
 

5. You may find you sleep better-

It has generally been proven that any kind of physical activity helps with regular sleep, but Pilates may be especially good for slumber. Those who practice Pilates report better sleep than those who do not.  Pilates may engage the body and brain in ways that help clear our head noise to let us lie down and sleep.

The modern world is full of distractions, stresses and chaos. Each one of us is looking for a personal state of peace and tranquility that would help us make sense of everything that is going on in our lives. When searching for that inner balance we usually consider popular self-improvement techniques like meditation, simplifying, affirmations etc. but we rarely consider any form of exercise as a viable tool to help us balance our lives.  

Joseph Pilates was one Wise Old Owl when he said

“A body free from nervous tension and fatigue is the ideal shelter provided by nature for housing a well-balanced mind, fully capable of successfully meeting all the complex problems of modern living.”

 

Little Jack Horner

Little Jack Horner

Little Jack Horner
Sat in a corner,
Eating a Christmas pie:
   He put in his thumb
   And pulled out a plum
And said, “What a good boy am I!”

 

Ah, if we were all only as proud as Little Jack Horner was when he pulled that plum out! It is often said that COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF JOY. Of course, some comparison is healthy and important. You should take a look at what your peers and competition are doing to stay current. However, don’t let it eat away at you and give you feelings of doubt or negativity. We should be happy for others successes. If we are doing things right, we will have our OWN successes and at our OWN pace. Let others successes be the driving motivation to keep you working hard to compete. The minute you let it get you down, it will only distract you from your goals and what you have accomplished so far. So it’s like I commonly say to my clients during Pilates class “Keep your eyes on your own Reformer”. Never compare yourself to others…their path is different than yours. 

Exercise is usually thought of as a physical activity, but it can be just as much an emotional and mental journey -- one that should positive nurture and support your overall well-being. While society often portrays fitness as a means to change the way you look by reducing your size or actually changing the shape of your body, for me, those ideas aren't fuel for self-acceptance and positive self-image. This is why, in your journey to better both your physical and mental well-being, it's so important to learn how to stop comparing yourself to those around you.

Because, in the end, comparing your fitness journey to another person's doesn't accomplish anything for yourself, for the other person, or for anyone, really. And, personally, the more I work toward practicing positive thinking and self-acceptance in my own exercise practice, the more fun, free, and balanced the experience feels overall. Besides isn't that the point of doing Pilates anyway, to feel good about the whole thing?

We should redefine what exercise and movement mean to us.  Consider your own body, your own abilities, and your own speed when you think about how to guide your movement. 

Then use encouraging words that speak uniquely to you. And that applies not just to your body, but your whole self. You're doing this to support your well-being so you can be the best version of yourself and live your absolute best life. That's real strength. You go dig out your own plum and hold it up proundly!

 

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!

 

THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN

THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN….

There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.

He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.

He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,

And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

 

WHILE IT SEEMS THAT WOMEN dominate in Pilates classes, reformer workouts hold plenty of benefits for men who rise to the challenge. So, let me reach out to you men out there.

Whether you're a powerlifter or prepping for your first marathon, a Pilates class can help fine-tune your performance. The truth is Pilates was created by a man, Joseph Pilates, -- for men! Pilates offers a great workout, regardless of your gender. Plenty of pro athletes, including LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Tiger Woods, incorporate Pilates into their fitness regimen.

Why? Exercises are made up of subtle, concentrated movements that can help you do the following:

1. Develop often neglected muscle groups. Some of your muscles, like those that dominate your daily movements, are stronger than others, and a big part of Pilates is focusing on those muscles that don't typically get a lot of attention. In Pilates, you consciously move in certain ways to build muscles that you don't hit while lifting.

2. Improve flexibility. In general, the more muscle mass you have, the less flexible you are. But Pilates' focus on stretching helps prevent injuries and muscle strains, and increases range of motion.

3. Build core strength. Every Pilates exercise focuses on using your core to power movement in your limbs. Pilates also hits your transverse abdominals, the base ab muscle under your six-pack.

4. Live with more awareness. Pilates forces you to pay attention—you've got to focus on your breath while working through each movement and concentrating on proper form. After a Pilates session, you'll feel refreshed and relaxed, which can even carry over into the next day if you're lucky.

The first couple of times you try Pilates, you might feel stiff and a little out of place, but don’t give up!  Flexibility and coordination will improve with practice. And you will be focused so much on controlling your breathing, keeping your balance, and maintaining a straight spine, you won’t have time to worry about anything else. 

Pilates is multi-layered, which is what keeps it interesting for people, even after years of practice. You’ll learn the basics of each movement first, breaking them down as much as needed, then adding things in to deepen the experience or simply add more challenge.

So, don’t think of Pilates as “FOR GIRLS ONLY.” We would love to see you there!

Shoulders

 

Shoulders

You shoulder the burden
And shoulder the storm
Provide me your shoulder to
Protect me from harm

 

My life has been in overdrive lately and all that tension and stress has ended up in my shoulders.  I try to think about it and relax my shoulders, but I still find them creeping up to my ears and causing a pinching between my shoulder blades. 

 

  • Have you ever injured your arms and shoulders?
  • Do you carry stress and tension in your neck, upper back?
  • Do you ever notice your shoulders hiked up around your ears?

     

    It’s not surprising that so many people, including myself, experience one, or all of these shoulder issues.  To maintain our erect human posture we have two options – good core support, or overuse of our arms and shoulders to try and hold us up.  You might experience more headaches, or be prone to shoulder injuries and rotator cuff problems.  The good news, things can change quickly with the right body awareness, exercises, and improving our posture.

    First of all, we need to strengthen our core and back. It seems a little odd to focus on our muscles SOUTH of our shoulders, but the stronger our abs and back are, the more our shoulders can relax. It’s like the abs and back are a tent pole holding the shoulders up.

    We can also do some active work to pull the shoulders away from the ears. While standing with your spine in neutral, let your arms hang down by your sides. Inhale into the back ribcage and lengthen your spine. Then exhale and draw the shoulder blades gently downward towards the back of your waist. Repeat that 3-5 times.

    Good Pilates exercise techniques makes a healthy body.  If you have a weak core, chances are your shoulders like to be hiked up around your ears.  With a strong center it’s much easier to improve shoulder mechanics, reduce joint pain, and maximize your Pilates workouts.  Doing the right exercises to strengthen your abdominals and back, along with practicing your active relaxing of the shoulder blades, and you’ll be off to a great start for developing strong and healthy arms and shoulders with any and all of the exercises you do. Then we can keep that tension out of our shoulders and put them to better use for those we care about.

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!

 

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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!