Tag Archives: Pilates

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

THE ULTIMATE HANG

A number of years ago I was on a bike adventure riding between Bryce and Zion National Parks.  In the distance way up high on some sheer cliffs I saw a couple of hammocks hanging as if floating onto the rock.  Climbers, I later learned, carry light weight hammocks, attach them to the rock and actually sleep perched onto the cliff.  Not something I’ll do in this lifetime, but hang I will and do.

Pilates fuzzy boots and aerial yoga inspired me to hang a pink parachute hammock

Hanging Fuzzy Boots Pilates

Woman hanging from fuzzy boots on Pilates trap table. Image courtesy of Balanced Body.

from the ceiling in my living room. Huge hooks mounted right into the studs easily support my body allowing me to swing, stretch, and hang upside down.  In Pilates, one of the most blissful acts is to hang in the fuzzy boots.  It helps the spine stretch, provides the benefit of reverse blood flow, and allows your hip sockets to release.

INVERSION THERAPY
Turning the body upside to promote a healing effect is nothing new. It’s why yogis do shoulder stands, handstands and other upside down postures. From the standpoint of pure physics, inversions counteract the effects of gravity.  All day long gravity is pressing down on your body, including the spine and intervertebral discs. When we turn upside, the spine is decompressed and surrounding muscles are lengthened.

You don’t have to be completely upside to experience the benefits of hanging. Simply having your torso below your waist you can feel the effects, even at -5 or -10 degrees. For those with back problems, fully hanging upside can overly stress discs and facet joints, and create too much slack within joints. An inversion table allows you to control how far over you will go. You lay down, securely fasten your legs, and tilt the machine backwards. You can move upside down in small increments from as little as a few degrees to fully upside down.

The intervertebral disc is the largest organ in the body without blood supply. Most lumbar discs are the size of a watch face and have no arteries going to them. Discs rely on the surrounding bone for nutrients. These nutrients percolate into the disc much like coffee going through a filter. Some studies suggest that pulling the bones apart through inversion therapy may help this process by drawing more fluid into the disc. This allows greater nutrient flow and improves disc hydration and height. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Back Pain

Inversion tables are primarily devices that you purchase for home use. Some physical therapists or exercise professionals may also have them. Try before your buy.  And talk to your doctor before doing inversion therapy. You shouldn’t invert your body if you have certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, detached retina, or glaucoma. Inversion therapy can also exacerbate laxity of the joints or spondylolisthesis.

But if you’re back is fine, hang away wherever you can: with your kids at the monkey bars, off the limb of tree, or from your very own living room hammock. Your back will feel better and you’ll gain a whole new perspective on life too.

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!

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

MONEY CAN BUY YOU HAPPINESS

Turns out the old adage that money can’t buy you happiness is not true.  Money CAN buy you happiness IF you know how and where to spend it.  In this Ted Talk , Michael Norton shares fascinating research on how money can, indeed buy happiness — when you don’t spend it on yourself. Listen for surprising data on the many ways pro-social spending makes a difference in your life and the lives of others.

Michael I. Norton,  is Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Marketing Unit and Marvin Bower Fellow at the Harvard Business School.

For more on creating happiness in your life, check out the book: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Life is what you make it.

Love,
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

THE MIGHTY MUSHROOM

There has been much ado about eating colorful produce for health.  While it’s true that deep color is an indicator of phytonutrients; that might lead you to believe mushrooms, especially the white button variety, may pale in nutritional comparison.  Not so. Turns out mushrooms are a very good source of a number of nutrients for example, selenium. They contain more of this immune-enhancing mineral than any other form of produce. They are also a good source of B vitamins, including riboflavin and pantothenic acid.

Read more about how vitamins and minerals perform mini miracles in your body in The Essential Guide to  Healthy and Healing Foods, a book I co-authored with R.D. Victoria Shanta Retelny. 

WHAT’S INSIDE THE WHITE
The button is the most widely available and least expensive mushroom variety.  Research published in the Society of Chemical Industry’s Journal of Food and Agriculture cites that the humble white has as much anti-oxidant properties as its more expensive rivals, the maitake and the matsutake mushrooms – both of which are highly prized in Japanese cuisine for their healthful benefits including lowering blood pressure and their suggested ability to fight cancer. Mushrooms are also the only veggie with vitamin D.  About five white button mushrooms provides 15 IU of D (or 4% of the daily recommended value).

Check out this cast-iron mushroom recipe to get all the mushroom benefits plus iron!

Farmers markets and produce aisles will soon be bursting with blueberries, tomatoes and the ubiquitous white mushroom.  Eat to your heart’s content. Then freeze some to enjoy in smoothies and stir-fry.

For more information on how to freeze food, check out the recipe section of The Green City Market.   In Chicago, this market dedicated to local and organic farmers is now open.

Enjoy!

JoAnn