Friday, May 6, 2011

Pilates Moves for a HOT Bikini Bod

As the spring rolls though, and with summer just around the corner, the weather has gone from cold to warm to HOT here in LA--and tiny bikinis have arrived!! My all-time FAVORITE line is this new company called "Boys & Arrows" --just looking through their catalog is motivation enough!!! [] *Quick Self Test of "What-is-your-bikini-fear?" Are you more afraid of bikini season because: (A) you're budget can't afford a new bathing suit--let alone a trainer to get looking good in one! (B) the color of palely skin doesn't look good against any form of fabric, especially tiny fabric :/ (C) you can't figure out how to get rid of that pooch in your stomach region...does everyone have this problem?? and/or (D) you need a "butt lift" but can't figure out for the life of you how to get one without surgery (which is another thing you can't afford right now!) Well, whether you related most to A, B, C, D or ALL of these scenarios, I'm here to let you know that its NOT TOO LATE to start sculpting your bod to make it "bikini-ready" before summer is officially here--so LISTEN UP & take notes! These are some of my favorite and most popular pilates moves that I train with clients before they need to strip down for summertime (figuratively speaking of course)... Pilates Move #1: The Bridge (2 sets of 5 reps) Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, approximately hip distance apart. (Your feet should be in a comfortable position — not too close to your butt and not too far away.) Inhale as you take a deep breath in, expanding into your back and your lungs. As you exhale, keep your torso in one flat piece, press your feet down as you lift your hips up off the mat. Come up high enough that your body makes a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Inhale and exhale maintaining the bridge position for 3 full breaths. On the final exhale, maintain a neutral spine as you come back down to the mat. *You can also advance this exercise by lifting 1 leg up at a time and holding for 30 seconds! Pilates Move #2: Criss-Cross (3 sets of 15 full twists) Lie on your back in neutral spine. Bend your knees and bring your shins up so that they are parallel to the floor (also known in pilates as "tabletop" position). Place your hands behind your head, supporting the base of the skull. Keep the elbows wide. Reach your left leg out long, and as you keep the elbows wide, ROTATE YOUR TORSO toward the bent right knee so that your left armpit is reaching toward the knee. Inhale as you switch legs and come back center; exhale as switch, extending the right leg and rotating your upper body toward the left knee. *Keep your chest open and elbows wide the whole time. Pilates Move #3: Swimming (3 sets of 20 reps/breaths) Lie on your stomach on a mat with the legs straight and together. Keeping your shoulder blades settled in your back and your shoulders away from your ears, stretch your arms straight overhead. Pull your abs in so that you lift your bellybutton up away from the floor. Extend your arms and legs in opposite directions and lift both off the floor into a "superman" position. Keep your face looking down toward the mat so your neck stays long. Continue to reach your arms and legs out very long from your center as you alternate right arm/left leg, then left arm/right leg, pumping them up and down in small pulses. *Go slow at first to really reach the arms and legs; then swim faster, like you are swimming against a river current! Each full breath counts as 1 rep. Rest in childs pose or rest position after each set. Pilates Move #4: Planks (3 sets of 30-60 second reps) Lie face down on mat resting on the forearms, palms flat on the floor. Push off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on the elbows. Keep your back flat, in a straight line from head to heels. Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals to prevent your rear end from sticking up in the air or sagging in the middle (or slightly round your lower back so your belly "tucks in"). *You can also do planks with straight arms and up on the hands, similar to holding a "push-up" position without doing actual push-ups. Make sure your body is in slight diagonal from the top of your head to your heels, and every muscle is contracted. If you only have 15 minutes, here is your workout to do at home or in the gym! I recommend doing these exercises 3-5 times a week, but if you have a BIG event coming up--or want to get fit fast--I would do them as many as 6 days/week! *TIP: Do these moves after your cardio sessions when your body is warmed up and in "fat-burning-mode." Just think of that tiny bikini for motivation EVERY TIME. ;)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cheers in 2011!

Happy 2011! I hope each and every one of you had a happy and healthy holiday season, and was able to ring in the new year with exciting and challenging--yet attainable goals! A LOT has happened to myself over the holiday break...first and foremost, I got engaged!!!! Celebrating with our families & friends has been so amazing (many champagne bottles have been emptied and indulgent food has been eaten), but now I'm back to kick my butt into reality--its wedding boot-camp time!! I asked on my pilates facebook page last month about some possible discussion topics you were interested in hearing about, and a couple stuck out to me that I would like to elaborate on by using my own tricks of the trade and work experience... ;) Question: I do pilates 2-3 times per week, but what are some good supplemental exercises that I should be doing? Answer: Such a WONDERFUL QUESTION! I get this asked a lot in my studio, especially for those looking to speed up their metabolism and see results more quickly. I would take the 3-and-3 rule: 3 days of pilates and 3 days of cardio. (Of course you can up this up to "4-and-4" or "5-and-5" routines if you have a huge event that you need to crunch for!) Cardio can be ANYTHING that gets your heart pumping for longer than 30 minutes (45-60 is what I recommend if you can swing it!). Can't get out of the house or afford a gym membership? No problem! Pop in your favorite exercise DVD or Wii Fit game, run outside, speed walk with a 2-3 pound weight in each hand, go on a hike with a friend or dog, swim laps at a local YMCA or college, ride your bike, rollerblade, etc. Of course if you can get to a gym, most have great cardio classes such as spinning, running or aerobics, or you can always hop on the elliptical and grab a magazine! Anything to get your legs moving and heart pumping is a great workout in my book! With cardio pumping up your heart, pilates exercises keep your body LEAN! Pilates literally lengthens the muscle to the bone, which is why you never see a "bulky" pilates trainer or client if they are keeping up with their workouts. I am shocked at how many people come into my studio and are surprised when their bodies start to shake or they begin to sweat heavily. Your body is letting go of all that tight muscle tension which is why it becomes leaner. Its so important to keep up with these types of resistance-training workouts so you can stay fit and trim! Although cardio will burn fat, weight training (aka resistance training) will keep that fat OFF and keep your metabolism running at a fast pace long after your workout! I've never had a client "bigger or bulkier" once they begin doing pilates consistently, each and every one of them has become leaner, smaller & amazingly confident. Pilates has created the most TONED BODIES just from the pure fact of getting into your body and re-sculpting the muscles you never knew you had the ability to sculpt! On that note, bikini season has never looked so good! :) Question: What are some healthy snack ideas that can cure my mid-day sugar cravings?! Answer: There is a ton of great stuff out there--you just have to look beyond the vending machines and aisles of processed foods!!! Here is one of my favorite tips: if the box says "A Healthy Snack!," most likely it isn't. Or not as healthy as you are hoping. A lot of companies are now relishing on the fact that people have no idea what is good for them, and use advertising to make your decisions mindless and manipulative. Remember Michael Pollen's book, "Food Rules" that I posted about a while back? Well using his analogy, you never see a single piece of fruit promoting themselves or a bag of broccoli getting any hype, farmers don't have the kind of money these processed food companies do! Plus, they don't have to--we know fruits and vegetables are good for us!! So then WHY are we always trying to re-invent the wheel with all this processed (excuse my language) crap?! Most of the time, we crave sugar because we are low on protein and other healthy carbs that we've forgone most of the day. Think about your breakfast and lunch...did it mostly contain of lean protein (i.e. eggs, chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, beans, yogurt) with some complex carbs (i.e. vegetables, fruit, whole grains/fiber), plus a little healthy fat (i.e. olive oil, avocado, nuts)? I'm going to go out on a limb here and say NO...which is why you are now craving sugar at 3pm!! In any attempt, the #1 way I cut a sugar craving is by having a piece of fruit. Verses reaching for a snickers bar or Starbucks frappacino, think of these ideas instead... Here are some of my favorite snacks to cure the mid-day sugar urge: Apples or Celery Sticks and Raw Nut Butter You can pack these easy, or just throw an apple in your bag before you leave for work and get a packet of raw almond or peanut butter at a local health food store such as Whole Foods. Whole foods now has these adorable and SMART packages of raw nut butters for those on-the-go and looking for an organized snack! Fage Greek Yogurt 0% Fat or Low-Fat Cottage Cheese with sliced Banana or Berries & Cinnamon Easy to find at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, this snack will satisfy you until dinner and kick that sugar craving to the curb! Greek plain yogurt & cottage cheese are both full of protein (very important for watching your figure) and the potassium in the banana will help you de-stress & relax. Plus, cinnamon is one of the most IMPORTANT spices to have in your cupboard, it can be used as a natural belly flattener and satisfy as a sugar stabilizer since its a natural antioxidant! Hummus with Fresh Raw Veggies My new favorite discovery: Tribe came out with these portioned-controlled servings of all natural "hummus snackers" (available at Smart & Final) that are packaged in three delicious flavors: original, garlic and red pepper! Take a pack to work with a bag of organic baby carrots or some sliced cucumbers and you will be happy you did! You can always keep bags of fresh washed vegetables in your fridge at work or home, so there's no excuse why you don't have any! Crackers (although veggies are my first choice) are also great for dipping. I personally always have a box of ak-mak crackers in my house! Turkey or Shredded Chicken Lettuce Roll-Ups Lay out a few large washed romaine leaves on a plate; drizzle with 1 tbsp of dijon mustard, a few slices of low-sodium sliced turkey or shredded chicken breast, and 1 thin slice of avocado each (you may add any other veggies you wish). Roll romaine leaves up to make tiny wraps and enjoy! If you're wanting a more sweet kick, sub the avocado slices with green apple slices and a few dried cranberries. Flavored Protein Smoothie Easily made, easily satisfying! In your blender, combine 1 serving of low-carb/low-sugar vanilla, strawberry or chocolate protein powder with 1/2 banana, 1 tsp cinnamon, ice and water. Anyone with taste buds will like this!! Peanut Butter & Cinnamon Toast: Take one piece of whole grain high-fiber bread (such as ezekiel or Food for Life--if its in the refrigerated section of the health store that's a good sign because its less processed, aka "raw" sprouted grains or seeds). Place bread in toaster and begin toasting. In a small bowl, combine 1 tbsp raw unsalted peanut butter with 1 tsp of cinnamon and raw agave nectar. Once bread is ready, spread toast with mixture and enjoy! (Tastes like something so bad for you, but in reality you're getting your protein, complex carb & healthy fat--plus the cinnamon for antioxidants!) Green Tea with Dark Chocolate: Just like it sounds, and oh do they go good together! Make a cup of your favorite green tea and add a fresh squeezed lemon wedge to it. Set it on a plate with a single square of dark chocolate (make sure its at least 70% dark) and enjoy! (I actually like to hold the chocolate over my tea so it melts a little and then eat it... :)) Spiced Warm Popcorn: Get 1 bag of 100-calorie plain popcorn and prepare as directed. Place popcorn in a bowl once ready with as much cinnamon as your little heart desires and any other spices you tend to love (be careful, a little goes a long way!). This is one of my favorite snacks to make when I'm watching movies or reading a book! Nuts with Citrus Fruit I love the taste of raw mixed nuts, such as almonds, pistachios, walnuts, cashews and Brazilian nuts combined with citrus fruits such as oranges or grapefruits. A lot of times, especially when its warm outside, I'll chop up some fruit and sprinkle an array of these raw nuts on top. Of course (if you haven't already noticed), I love cinnamon and sometimes sprinkle some on top as well! So there you have it--my two topics of questions and answers that I think everyone can benefit from! The first few things you need to do for yourself is go grocery shopping (throw away all that bad food!), create a workout plan (join a gym, book a trainer, set up workouts with friends) and STICK TO YOUR GOALS this year! On a side note, if you have a favorite easy sugar-satisfying snack that you would be able to share I would LOVE to hear it--and so would the readers!! Keep me posted with any progress, thoughts, opinions, or questions you have on this post or for a future one! Happy 2011 everyone!