Tag Archives: fitness

Dear WordPress Followers

Thank you so much for following my blog.  It is moving to www.JoAnnMilPilates.com The site looks the same but there are some back end technical differences.

CONSIDER SUBSCRIBING VIA EMAIL
If you are following via WordPress, consider subscribing  via email on the blog site itself.  The subscribe link is on the right side of the page – you may need to scroll down a bit to see it.

Otherwise, I’m told RSS feeds will continue.  Those who have already subscribed via email should continue to get email alerts to new posts.

LOOKING FORWARD
In the days ahead I’ll be posting about

  • bringing more peace and happiness into your life
  • how to achieve greater health and fitness
  • miracles of modern medicine
  • joy and benefits of Pilates

I hope what I provide is useful and will help you enjoy life more.

Love,
JoAnn
follow me @JoAnnMilPilates

QUIT IT

What’s your reason for quitting smoking or overeating or acting out in anger?  The answer is an important one because the rationale has to be strong enough to keep you on the path.  Sure it could add years to your life, but what are you living for?

As a Pilates Instructor, weight-loss is often popular goal for clients.  I could recite all the health reasons why losing weight is beneficial but like quitting smoking, I think most people already know why excess weight is bad for health. When I pushed them to be specific about why they wanted to lose weight, here’s what I heard:

  • I want to be a better role model for my daughter
  • I want to hike in Vietnam and keep pace with the front of the group
  • I want to look/feel better naked

Specific, personal, and self-determined – that’s a golden combination.

THE WHY AND HOW
Once you’ve determined your strong motivator, the next step is figure out WHY you do what you do and put some strategies in play. Sometimes the answers can be simple.  For example, a client told me that she whenever she passes a fancy cupcake shop she can’t stop herself from going inside and eating a few.  When asked what she could do differently, she said, “I guess I could take a different bus route.”  Bingo.  She solved her own problem.  And that’s the key.  Good coaches/therapists can help you by asking the right questions so you can develop strategies that work for you.

PATIENCE AS A STRATEGY
I recently listened to a lecture by Buddhist nun Pema Chodron. She talked about how patience is the antidote to so many of our struggles and certainly it applies to addictions of every kind.  If we can add the balm of patience – just wait before you eat yet another cupcake or light up another smoke – we are one step closer to making a permanent change.

When we scratch the wound and give into our addictions we do not allow the wound to heal. Pema Chodron.

It will take time.  But keep taking steps toward your goal. Others have done it and so can you.  The choices you make in this moment will and do make a difference.

What one thing can you do right now that can help you quit?

Define it and do it.

Love,
JoAnn

CHAMPIONS

Age of Champions is the story of five competitors who sprint, leap, and swim for gold at the National Senior Olympics. You’ll meet a 100-year-old tennis champion, 86-year-old pole vaulter, and rough-and-tumble basketball grandmothers as they triumph over the limitations of age. But when one character loses a spouse and another is diagnosed with cancer, they’ve got to dig even deeper to make their Olympic dreams come true.

The film is slated for a slated for a national broadcast and commercial release tonight July 9th, 2013 on PBS, iTunes, and Amazon.

senior olympics

Inspiring. Joyful. Loving.

The 2013 Senior Olympics, is held in Cleveland, Ohio July 19th – August 1st. The filmmakers have partnered with the AARP, Alzheimer’s Association, and National Institute on Aging to encourage viewers to share the film and lead a discussion about healthy aging with their friends, families, and communities.

Also check out Growing Older is Not for Sissies – an awesome book featuring athletes of all types from swimmers to runners to dancers.

KEEP IT GOING ON ALL LIFE LONG
In Pilates we say you’re as young as spine – keep it strong and supple and you’ll love your life and your body for a long time. I love Pilates, taking it teaching it and continuing to educate myself with as many masters as I can.  I also know there is more than one way to do anything.  Whether you dance, box, yoga, tai chi, ski or any and all in between – move it and you will be moved. 

Love,
JoAnn

p.s. This is Joseph Pilates at age 57! Looking mighty fine. Legend has it he used to run around New York in his skivvies in winter!

 

p.p.s My dear friend Richard Miller’s father, D Paul Miller is competing in these Olympics.  At 95, he’s qualified for 8 events including discus, cycling, and track.  Go D Paul!

MAJORITY OF AMERICANS TAKE PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

An extensive Mayo clinic study reveals that most Americans take at least one drug, and many take two or more. While prescriptions for lifestyle-related chronic diseases (high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes) are on the list, the most prescribed drugs are antibiotics, antidepressants and painkilling opioids. Twenty percent of patients are on five or more prescription medications, according to the findings.

A COSTLY ISSUE
Prescription drug use has increased steadily in the U.S. for the past decade. The percentage of people who took at least one prescription drug in the past month increased from 44 percent in 1999-2000 to 48 percent in 2007-08. Spending reached $250 billion in 2009 the year studied, and accounted for 12 percent of total personal health care expenditures.

With obesity now officially classified as a disease, prescriptions will continue to rise especially as pharmaceuticals to treat obesity rush to market.

The cost is not only monetary, side effects to patients abound. Learn more about specific drugs and their side effects.  The good news is that lifestyle choices can reduce or even eliminate your condition and your drug dependence.

WHAT YOU CAN DO DIFFERENTLY
Type 2 diabetes, blood pressure, depression and of course obesity can be reduced and possibly reversed. It’s within your control.

  • exercise 3-5/x per week for at least 30-minute per session
  • eat more nutrient-dense whole foods (fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish)
  • avoid processed and fried foods
  • reduce stress (meditate, spend time in nature, get a pet)

Living a healthier lifestyle leads to a higher quality of life meaning more joy and happiness for you and those around you.

Love,
JoAnn

THE BUDDY SYSTEM

When it comes to achieving health and fitness goals, the buddy system has a proven success record.  It keeps you accountable, provides companionship on the journey, and gives rise to a little competitive spirit. Just yesterday a client of mine was talking about how she starting a walking program.  Her daughter, 14 years old, wanted to run but mom didn’t want her jogging around their neighborhood alone. They found a nearby outdoor track where mom could walk and keep an eye on her daughter. Within a short while, mom started running too.

SMART PLANNING
Include both short term and long term goals to help you stay on task.  For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds, set a realistic target weight loss date (say 2 months) then set mini goals along the way (about 1.5 pounds per week). Then work your plan with your buddy.  Hold yourselves accountable and perhaps include a challenge – the person who wins is rewarded with a professional massage, paid for by the loser.  If you both win, treat yourselves to a spa day.

WHAT’S YOUR RATIONALE?

Everyone has a reason for wanting to losing weight or get more fit.  Be specific.  And remind yourself often.  One person may want to lose weight to be a better role model for their daughter; another to more easily trek during the next exotic vacation; or just to look sleeker in a slinky summer dress.  What matters is that it matters to you. 

FOUR LEGGED BUDDIES
Purina and Jenny Craig have teamed to help people and their pets slim down. It’s called the Power of Two program. “The support of a weight loss buddy can be invaluable, and a four-legged friend fills the role without judgment,” says Purina Certified Weight Coach Heather Prendergast. She adds that exercising with pets can actually help boost both the duration and intensity level. According to researchers in Canada, dog owners walk nearly twice as much as people without dogs, and a University of Missouri study determined that walking speed increases 28 percent with a dog.

Among the special offers with sign-up is a choice of a free consultation from Jenny Craig, for up to 90 days (plus the cost of food and shipping if applicable), and a $15 veterinary visit rebate with the purchase of Purina Veterinary Diets® OM Overweight Management® Canine Formula, available by prescription only.

So grab a buddy, build plan and reach your goals, together.

Love,
JoAnn

THE MENOPAUSE WEIGHT GAIN MYTH?

Women complain to me about their menopause middle and ask how to get rid of it.  Exercise, good nutrition and sound sleep –  the traits of a healthy lifestyle at any age, are ever more important at middle age.  According to Nancy Clark, author of the upcoming new edition of the best-selling Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook (Human Kinetics, November 2013), women do not always gain weight during menopause. “Yes, women aged 45 to 50 commonly gain weight as fat settles in and around the abdominal area,” Clark says. “But, these changes are due more to lack of exercise and a surplus of calories than to a reduction of hormones.”

STAY ACTIVEPilates ball exercise
In a three-year study of more than 3,000 women (initial age 42 to 52 years), the average weight gain was 4.6 pounds. The weight gain occurred in all women, regardless of their menopause status. According to Clark, weight gain is not caused by the hormonal shifts of menopause, but by other culprits associated with midlife. That is lack of exercise and excess calories.

Middle age women (and men) tend to be less active which is especially unhealthful as we age.  We need to keep our muscles strong and flexible for many reasons: better balance, good bone mass, and for weight control.

more muscle = faster metabolism = increased calorie burn

FORGET DIETS AND EXTREME EXERCISE – GO FOR JOY
You’ve probably dieted a gazillion times by now, has it led to permanent weight loss or are you dieting several times year?  That ought to tell you something about how effective that approach is.  There is no magic bullet when it comes to food or fitness.

What does work is eating fresh, whole foods that are nutrient dense. That is foods that pack a lot nutrition for the amount of calories – think apple vs pretzels.  They may have the same calories but your body gets more satisfaction out of that apple.

Choose movement that you enjoy.  If you like boxing – great! Weight-lifting, Pilates?  Perfer bike riding to dancing?  Do what feels good.  Mix up some resistance training with activities that increase your heart rate enough so that you can talk but not sing while you are doing it and you’ve got a good aerobic pace.

exercise 3 – 5x/wk for at least 30-minutes.

Once you experience how good it feels to live in a strong, fit and healthy body, you’ll want to keep it that way.  You only have one body, one life.  It is mostly up to you how you’re going to feel in it.  Of course, you’ll probably reduce or get rid of the menopause middle too.  That’s just the bonus.  Feeling great in your own skin is the real prize.

Love,
JoAnn

PILATES LATERAL-BREATHING INCREASES LUNG CAPACITY

Joseph Pilates was known to say that breathing is the first and last act of life. Can’t argue with that.  But breathing is not something we think about ordinarily;  it is mostly an unconscious biological function.  When we do pay attention, breathing can transform your Pilates workout and your life.

PILATES LATERAL BREATHING
In Pilates, the breath is used to assist motion and to better activate the deep core muscle.  By following the natural exhale you find that your belly muscles compress.  Sneezing and couching are an extreme example of how much abdominals contract when breath is strongly pushed out of the body.  Go ahead, try it.

We want to keep the belly actively pulled in. So how the heck can you breathe deeply while holding in your belly?  Lateral breathing.  It means using the full capacity of our lungs.  Try this simple exercise using a flexible flat band.  You can do this standing, sitting, or lying down.  It’s a great way to start your workout and relax at the end of your day.

  1. wrap the band around your body just underneath or breastbone, at the highest point of your six pack
  2. cross the band so that when you pull it tightens like belt
  3. inhale to prepare
  4. exhale our of your mouth and slowly pull the band tighter as you complete your exhale (notice how it deepens your belly)
  5. inhale to release the band tension

Do this several times.  Repeat with the band around your waist and a third position, around your hips covering the hip bones.

For more on how to do this, check out this excerpt from Pilates Master Rael Isacowitz

Take care to breathe in through your nose and out of your mouth like you’re fogging up a mirror.  Do that consistently throughout your practice. You will notice a difference. As a Pilates instructor I know people can feel self-conscious about breathing audibly. At very least, you should hear your own breath.

Joe Pilates was asthmatic at time when there was no medication – he breathed his way back to life.   Someday we will all take our last breath – so breathe deeply and completely to get the most out of your life now.

Love,
JoAnn

PILATES IMPROVES SEX

Pilates does a body good in many ways. Improves balance, strength, flexibility, confidence and strengthens the pelvic floor. All that helps improve that most intimate of act, sex.  Most people have heard of the Kegel method to improve a woman’s pelvic floor, but Pilates can be better.  So says this blogger/ Pilates instructor in the Huffington Post.  As a longtime Pilates devotee and instructor myself, I totally agree with her post.

THE CORE AND MORE
If you’re talking about the “core” of the body you can’t get anymore centrally located then the pelvic floor. It’s what helps you activate your “corset” muscle known as the transversus abdominis, the muscles that hug around your waist and help support your spine.  Of course, all that flexibility can add much fun in the bedroom too.

When it comes to attractiveness, confidence goes along a way.  There’s nothing like the rush of mastering a new move like plank on the reformer, or teasers performed smoothly and slowly with control.  It’s elegance and power in motion.  It’s a turn on for you.  Nothing like post Pilates glow.

JUST SO YOU KNOW
Many people, especially men, come to Pilates later in life and because they have injured themselves. But why wait?  You can prevent injuries, get stronger and more flexible as you age instead of the reverse.  And guess what guys,  improving pelvic floor is not just for women. There’s a lot reasons it can benefit you too.  For details, read here.

And for more mojo, reformer planks will keep you going strong . . .

Enjoy the Journey
JoAnn

NATIONAL DONUT DAY

Well in case you missed it, yesterday June 7 was National Donut Day.  But don’t worry there’s still time to do something sweet for a good cause and you could win free donuts for a year. In its continued support of The Salvation Army, from May 1st to June 15th Entenmann’s Bakery will donate $1 to the organization for every person who “likes” the Entemann’s Facebook page up to $30,000.

Entenmann’s will also be rewarding lucky winners with ‘Free Donuts for a Year’ and additional prizes through a sweepstakes link on their Facebook page. All entries must be received by 11:59: p.m. ET on June 30, 2013. Winners will be randomly selected from all submissions. Official Rules can be found at http://www.entenmanns.com 

A SWEET TRADITION
The first National Donut Day was celebrated by The Salvation Army in Chicago in 1938 to help raise needed funds during the Great Depression and commemorate the work of the “donut lassies” who helped make the donut what it is today by feeding the tasty confection to American soldiers during World War I. The donuts became synonymous with The Salvation Army, as well as the American soldiers who were returning home with the nickname, “doughboys.”

This significant occasion established the donut as a long-standing symbol of the services The Salvation Army continues to provide. The partnership between Entenmann’s and The Salvation Army reinforces Entenmann’s as a brand synonymous with National Donut Day.

JUST SO YOU KNOW
While it’s fine to indulge that sweet tooth every once in a while, there are some down sides.  Sugar and fat in combination can create powerful cravings. Some experts even say that that combination is down right addictive.  Regardless, the scant nutrition means you’ll be hungry soon after chowing down on donuts.  That’s why you can eat a few of them in short amount of time but I double dog dare you to try to eat five bananas. Your body absorbs the nutrients from bananas but there isn’t much nutrition in a donut so nothing to really satisfy you biologically speaking. One Starbucks Old Fashioned glazed donut  has nearly 500 calories and so does five bananas.

How long does it take to burn off 500 calories? About an hour’s worth of moderate to high aerobics to burn off.  Just so you know.

Bon Appetit
JoAnn

FINDING A GOOD PILATES INSTRUCTOR

Pilates certifications can be snagged in weekend or take several years and hundreds of hours to earn. Good instructors gain the equivalent of a Master’s degree. When you want high quality instruction, look for:

  • Minimum of 300 training hours
  • Comprehensive and mat certifications
  • Several years of teaching
  • Ask about specialties. Some instructors focus on populations such as seniors, pre/post natal, rehab or high performance athletes.

Like yoga, Pilates has evolved through time. Today, there are a variety of styles but core development is fundamental to them all. Among the most well-known trademarked brands are: Stott, Power Pilates, Core Dynamics, the Physical Mind Institute, and Romana’s Pilates. But a trademark doesn’t necessarily ensure quality instruction.

“Anyone can take a list of exercises and teach them,” says Chicago-based Vered Arbel of Elements in Motion, “how you analyze and fit the exercises to the needs of the person requires anatomical and biomechanical knowledge. Really look for that.”

HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT STUDIO FOR YOU
A web search will result in lots of choices and can reveal a lot about a place.  What’s the vibe?  Warm and welcoming?  Super intense high energy?  Look at the pictures and the language.  Do they communicate well?  What do the instructors say about themselves? Look for client testimonials and consult Yelp.

Ask them questions that relate to what you are looking for and they should ask you questions too.  That will reveal their level of experience and care about new clients.  Questions instructors  should ask you include:

  • What do you do for exercise now?
  • What attracts you to Pilates?
  • What are your fitness goals?
  • Any injuries?

Taking a mat class is an inexpensive way to check out a studio and discover if the place simply feels right to you. Also, many studios offer discounted rates for first time students.

Counteracting the stresses of everyday life is among the main benefits of any exercise discipline.  Ultimately, Pilates can balance the body helping you feel at ease and comfort in your skin, increase energy, rid you of body aches and possibly back pain too. Well worth the price of admission.

Love,
JoAnn