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How Many Meals?

5 Dec

thanyapura-mindful-training-eating-time-managementYou’ve probably heard the advice that eating small meals throughout the day is how you win the battle of the bulge. The claim is that frequent snacking, as long as it’s healthy, keeps your metabolism humming, staves off hunger, and controls blood sugar.  But in actuality, it may not work that way.  Unfortunately, in that statement is a mix of myth and science fact.  I’m here to help you work through it.  

The majority of studies show that  that switching from three daily meals to six did not boost calorie-burning or fat loss.  So, if that’s the case, why is it still touted as good?  The two key factors here are what you’re eating and hunger levels.  The longer you wait between meals, the hungrier you get, and then you’re more likely to overeat.

After about 3 hours without food, blood sugar begins to fall. And after 4 hours, your body has already digested whatever you sent down earlier.  Once you’ve crossed the 5-hour mark, your blood sugar begins to plummet, and you grab whatever you can to refuel. That’s why breakfast is so important. After 7-8 hours of sleep without food, you need energy to get moving.

People who regularly eat breakfast tend to weigh less than those who skip their morning meal. They also get more nutrients like vitamins D, B12, and A. They may even be more likely to resist food cravings and make better food choices, especially when protein is part of the meal.  If you start off your day with breakfast, and then continue eating every 3 to 4 hours, you’ll provide your body and brain with a steady stream of nutrients so you don’t go overboard at mealtime.  Studies also show that people who ate more often tended to consume foods that were lower in calories and higher in nutritional value, such as vegetables and fruits.  Meanwhile, people who ate less than four meals tended to consume more calories in the evening, and to have alcohol in the evening.

Now, how about those snacks themselves.  You don’t think I’m telling you to grab a chocolate bar every 3 hours, do you?  The key words up there are lower calories, higher nutritional value.   If you’re going the mini-meals route, you have to remember to adjust your portions and intake accordingly.  You can’t just have your regular meals with snacks on top of that.

The simplest strategy is mixing portion control with protein and fiber to fill you up. Avoid “junk” foods that are easy to overeat (processed foods, refined carbs, sugary drinks) and plan nutrient-dense snacks like these:

  • Fresh fruit with low-fat cheese
  • Raw veggies with 1/4 cup hummus for dipping
  • Whole-grain crackers with 1 ounce of low-fat cheese or one tablespoon of nut butter
  • 1/4 cup trail mix with nuts, dried fruits, and whole-grain cereal
  • 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt with fresh berries

Finally, know thyself.  There is still nothing wrong with three square meals a day.  If you know you have trouble controlling portion sizes, or you don’t have time to prep healthy snacks, you may be better off with the standard three-meal-a-day plan.  The number of meals you eat doesn’t matter as much as what you eat.  Quality, calories, and portion sizes ultimately make the difference.

So get that oatmeal and fresh fruit ready for breakfast and I’ll see you at the Studio!

~Dayna
PX Studio

 

Sources:
WebMD (www.webmd.com)
Huffington Post (www.huffingtonpost.com)
Daily Mail UK (www.dailymail.co.uk)

 

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Be Thankful for Health!

14 Nov

healthythanksgiving

Can you believe it?  It’s already the middle of November and you know what that means! In just a couple of short weeks, Thanksgiving will be upon us!   Thanksgiving has always been one of my most favorite holidays – the time with family and friends, the celebrating, and of course, the food.  With all of the festivities, it’s easy to go overboard with calories and over-consumption.  The delicious temptations on the plate and in your glass make it seem impossible to be disciplined – but you CAN win that battle!  Follow these quick tips and you (and your healthy lifestyle) won’t suffer a bit:

  1. Start your morning with a healthy walk!  Get moving and start burning those calories first thing!   You’ll be all the more thankful that you did later on.
  2. Eat a hearty, healthy breakfast!  This will keep you from over-indulging on snacks and dinner!
  3. Set your goals!  Remind yourself of your ultimate vision – a leaner you, a healthier you, a happier you. Julia Child (of all people) said it best: “Life is the proper binge.”
  4. Drink lots of water!  Many times when people think they are hungry, they are actually just thirsty. By drinking lots of water throughout the day, you’ll lower the risk of overeating.
  5. Divide your plate well!  Fill your plate half with vegetables, one quarter with white turkey meat, and the rest with a healthy starch, like corn on the cob, a baked potato, or sweet potatoes.
  6. Savor each and every bite!  Eat slowly and really savor each mouthful. It’s one of the easiest ways to enjoy your holiday meal without going overboard on calories.
  7. About that dessert… It’s a holiday, so indulge a bit if your diet allows it. But if you’re going to eat dessert, make sure you allot for the calories elsewhere – don’t go back for that second helping of marshmallow sweet potatoes.  If you’re going for the pie, pick fruit or pumpkin pies because they tend to have fewer calories than chocolate or pecan pies.
  8. Finally – end your day like you started – go for a walk!  After dinner, suggest everyone go out (if the weather permits) for a neighborhood stroll. What a wonderful way for families to enjoy the holiday together.

Remember, it’s a holiday!  No, you probably won’t eat perfectly (and that’s okay).  Don’t worry too much about it – enjoy the day,  but don’t lose yourself in the over-indulging cycle!  How you eat on Thanksgiving Day does not determine your health; how you eat the other 364 days of the year does. 

And when all is said and done – I’ll see you right back at the Studio, working on your fitness.   🙂

~Dayna
PX Studio

Sources:
LiveScience (www.livescience.com)
WebMD (www.webmd.com)

Vintage Pilates (Pilates 101)

7 Nov

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Also known as “classical pilates”, “contrology”, or “mat pilates”.  Anyone who does pilates has heard of the founder, Joseph Pilates – but how much do you really know about why he created the specific pilates exercises (34 to be exact) that he did and put them in their very specific order?

It was 1954 and  Joseph Pilates was 59 going on 60 when he demonstrated these poses and coined “pilates” as a fitness term.   He published a book entitled “Return to Life through Contrology”.  Within it, 34 classic mat work exercises which are at the heart of any pilates routine.  The moves he designed focus on core muscles in the “powerhouse” (abs, pelvic floor, lower back), proper alignment of the spine, and awareness of breath.

Joseph Pilates created this order of exercise to go through a sequence that he believed to be logical and appropriate. It first warms up the body, a principle common for all exercise programs. Then it progresses to more challenging exercises once the body is warmed up and ready for them. Finally, it progresses into cool down exercises before the end of the session. It also ensures all areas of the body are targeted in every position, first with gravity and body weight and then against it.

A classical pilates teacher will follow this order of exercises, but will pick and choose from the list to match the abilities of the student. For beginners, the more fundamental exercises will be done in classical order. For more advanced students and those who are ready for a challenge, the intermediate level, and advanced exercises will be chosen.  Each exercise can be modified to meet the level of the student and can also include equipment such as exercise balls, fitness bands, and the magic circle.

Without further ado, here are the 34 classic pilates exercises, in proper sequence!  You will surely recognize them (or variations of them) from your classes at Pilates X.   Examples and tutorials of each of these exercises can be found by clicking here and choosing which exercise you would like to learn about.  The best practice of course, comes from including your Pilates X classes consistently in your fitness routine, but refreshers in between are always recommended!og34exercises

Joseph Pilates said it best himself:  “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness…[and] everyone is the architect of their own happiness.”   See you at the Studio!

~Dayna
PX Studio

 

Article Sources:
Shape (www.shape.com)
Very Well (www.verywell.com)
Easy Vigour (www.easyvigour.net.nz)

Keep Your Fitness Goals Alive this Halloween!

31 Oct

It’s here!  Halloween Day – and all of the treats and sugar that goes with it.  You don’t have to let these scary calories kill your diet.  Armed with some knowledge and a little self-control, you and your healthy lifestyle can survive the wicked onslaught!   c9152d6e4702028bd2fe4758252d9e63

Pre-Halloween Preparation

Have some fun and get active with a Halloween-Themed circuit!  If you can’t make it to the Studio (or even if you can and just want a little bit extra goodness), try this:

  • Warm up with a “black cat” (cat cow) stretch.  Take your time and do as many as you need to get ready for the next exercise!
  • SPIDER-man push ups; do two sets of 10 reps – engage the whole body and get your heart pumping!
  • The Bug!  Do two sets of 10 reps and work both the front and back of your body – including your core.
  • Mummy Kicks” with extended arms – do your kicks for 30 seconds, take a 10-second break, and repeat three more times for a total of two minutes.
  • Cool down with a “corpse pose” – lay flat on your mat (or floor) in a relaxed position, arms and legs outstretched, and just breathe.  Take as much time as you need to cool down.

Treating Time

  • Drink a bottle (OF WATER): Staying well hydrated can help you control your sweet cravings and keep you full so you aren’t hunting for another treat.  This also has the added benefit of rinsing down the sugar and protecting your teeth.
  • Eat (CHOCOLATE DOESN’T COUNT):  Fill up on a healthy, balanced meal made with veggies, lean protein, and whole grains. The protein and fiber in your meal will make you more satisfied and less likely to sneak treats. If you’re going to a grown-up Halloween party, eating before you start drinking is key to not overindulging.
  • Have healthy snacks ready to go:  Instead of sugary candy, you can easily munch on trail mix, cheese crackers, individual fruit cups, or animal crackers.  You don’t have to skip the snacks, just make sure they have nutritional value!
  • Choose Wisely:  You don’t have to completely forgo the treats – after all, this is a holiday.  Just make sure that when you do indulge, you make it worth it.  If your favorite is the tiny Snickers, grab 2 – 3 and skip on the rest of the stash – those calories add up quickly.

Post- Treating Movie Time

You’ve tricked.  You’ve treated.  Now it’s time to enjoy your favorite scary movie!  But wait, this is a party – we have to make this exciting.  How about a drinking game?  “Sounds great, but what about all that you just said about being healthy, Dayna?”  Oh, I’m not talking about shots – I’m talking about SQUATS!

I present to you the Scary Movie Fitness Challenge!   <- (Click on the link to print)

  1. The car doesn’t start: 10 bicycles
  2. Someone can’t make a phone call: 15 jumping jacks
  3. Someone runs away: Run in place, 30 seconds
  4. Someone falls down while running: Run in place, 60 seconds (don’t fall down)
  5. There’s a loud noise, but nothing bad happens: 1 tuck jump
  6. There’s a loud noise, and something bad DOES happen: 10 sit ups
  7. Someone does something unquestionably stupid: 10 burpees
  8. Someone misses a clear opportunity to be rescued/save the day/escape: Hold a 45 second plank
  9. Ghost, zombie, monster, or mythological creature appears: Hold a 15 second plank
  10. A group of people splits up: 10 reverse lunges
  11. Someone screams: 10 russian twists
  12. Someone is attacked: 5 push-ups
  13. Gory scene: 20 lunges
  14. Someone dies: 20 squats
  15. Someone you thought died is actually the killer: 10 squats per death
  16. The killer/villain dies: Victory dance
  17. The ending hints at a sequel or has a cliffhanger: 15 mountain climbers

With a little planning, preparation, and perseverance – you’ll slay Halloween and crush your fitness goals at the same time!   Have a happy, safe, and healthy holiday!  

~Dayna
PX Studio

Get Fit in Fall!

24 Oct

 

fall_fitness_graphic1There are so many reasons to love fall:  the food, the foliage, the weather – and on top of that, fall happens to be the single best season for getting FIT.   Not only are you creating great habits for the upcoming deluge of holidays and winter months, but much like setting your clocks back, you too get to take a step back to re-evaluate your routine and set new goals.  So gather your energy, find your motivation, and prepare for the challenges ahead!  It’s time to renew yourself!

Use the weather to your advantage | Say goodbye to summer and embrace the new cooler, crisper air – perfect for getting outside!   Run, walk, hike, bike, go to the park!  All of those things that you gave up because it was just too hot – time to integrate them back into the routine.   If you get started now, by the time that summer season rolls around again, you’ll be in shape!

Embrace the darkness |  No, not like for Halloween, but for your health!  Just because it’s still dark when you get up and gets dark earlier doesn’t mean you can’t workout.  If you want to continue your outdoor activities, just make sure to wear reflective gear and take a flashlight.  And it’s still perfectly light inside the Studio, so continuing to take your Pilates and Cardio classes definitely isn’t an issue.

Get those vitamins |  Fall harvest is exactly that – an amazing array of colorful fruits and vegetables are at your fingertips!

“Squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, beans, avocados, broccoli, and cauliflower are all great antioxidant-rich vegetables, packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium.  Antioxidants help the body to combat free radicals in the body which we unfortunately absorb through everything from pollution in the environment to internal stress.”

Remember that 30-day rule | It takes roughly four weeks for the body to adapt to any lifestyle changes, which is why people who give up on their fitness programs tend to do so within the first 30 days.  Try to stick with your fit routine for at least a month – after that, your healthy habits will become integrated into your lifestyle and it won’t be nearly as challenging to stick with it.

LIVE THE 3C’s |  Commitment, Convenience, Consistency – having all three is the ultimate key to a successful fitness program.

  1.  Commitment:  Plan your exercise.  Yes, you are busy – that’s life.  Like with anything else, put exercise on your calendar.   If you don’t do it now, then “later” will turn into “never”.
  2. Convenience:  Pick a studio or gym location that is close to you!   If you can’t do that, pick exercises that you can do in your home uninterrupted.
  3. Consistency:   Stay on track.  Pick your days and times and keep going – strive for at least 3 days a week and add-on from there.   It will get easier.

Are you ready to get fit for fall?  See you at the Studio!

~Dayna
PX Studio

Sources
WebMD (http://www.webmd.com)
Prevention (http://www.prevention.com/)

 

The Power of Proper Breathing

17 Oct

204321-just-breathe

In Pilates classes, you often hear phrases like “remember to use your breathing” or “pilates breath”.  We know it, we do it – but… why?   What is so important about proper breathing techniques?  Turns out, research shows that how we breathe can not only change the effectiveness of our workouts, but also how we feel in day to day situations.  If you have the time, I highly suggest reading through this study.   Just stop and think about it – in stressful or anxious situations, our breathing becomes short and rapid (sometimes we call it “hyperventilating”).  When those intense situations are over we “breathe a sigh of relief”.   What is actually happening in our bodies is this:

“Internally, each time you inhale, you activate the sympathetic nervous system — our “fight or flight” response. And each time you exhale, you activate the parasympathetic nervous system — our “rest and digest” response.”

By extending and controlling those breaths, we can manage our psychological and emotional states.   That’s amazing power to have for our daily lives, but what about when we’re exercising?    A good breathing pattern ensures that your working muscles will continue to receive the oxygen they need to keep contracting – and thus, keep your workout going without you having to stop to catch your breath.

Curious to try some breathing techniques out?  Here are a few exercises to get your started:

Boost Your Mood 
Start by inhaling a tiny stream of breath through your mouth and gradually accelerate and intensify that inhale, then immediately exhale through your mouth without the slightest pause. That acceleration and intensification will give you a natural high.

Manage Stress
Inhale for four counts. Hold that breath for four counts. Exhale for four counts. Hold for another four counts. Keep repeating this pattern – it’s referred to as “box breathing”. You can do this through your nose if you’re already calm, in through your nose and out your mouth to regulate energy, or all through your mouth to channel the energy of the stress.

Calm Down
Inhale through your nose for two counts, and exhale through your mouth for four counts. Keep doing this until you start to feel more relaxed. Then increase the length of both breaths – inhale for three counts and exhale for six counts. When ready, move to inhaling for four counts and exhale for eight counts.

Energize
For more energy, you want to focus on your inhale. Your aim is to double the capacity of the air you normally take in.  Breathe through your mouth, inhale, then immediately inhale again without stopping (the double-inhale should be one smooth action). Then exhale.

Remember:  When in doubt, just breathe.  See you at the Studio!  

~Dayna
PX Studio

Article Sources:
LIVESTRONG (www.livestrong.com)
Taylor & Francis Science Journal Online (www.tandfonline.com)
MyFitnessPal (www.myfitnesspal.com)

 

 

 

Pumpkin Power | Use Pumpkin to Improve Your Health!

10 Oct

turn-pumpkin-guts-into-healthy-treats

Look on the shelves, read the ads, see the patches – wherever you look, there’s PUMPKIN! While we typically think of pies, lattes, bread and other tasty treats when we see pumpkin, there are a whole host of health benefits that go along with it!   It’s finally pumpkin season and there are so many reasons to celebrate:

Immunity

Pumpkins are an essential source of Vitamin C – which can ward off colds.  One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 11 milligrams, or nearly 20 percent of the 60 milligrams is recommended for women need daily (men need around 75 milligrams).

Weight Loss

Pumpkin is an amazing source of fiber, and with three grams per one-cup serving and only 49 calories, it can keep you feeling full for longer on fewer calories.  A fiber-rich diet seems to help people eat less, and thereby shed pounds. A 2009 study found that people who ate a whole apple before lunch ate fewer calories throughout the meal than people who ate applesauce or drank apple juice.

Post-Workout Recovery

A cup of cooked pumpkin has more of the refueling nutrient potassium than a whole banana, with 564 milligrams to a banana’s 422.  Extra potassium helps restore the body’s balance of electrolytes after a heavy workout and keeps muscles functioning at their best.

A Good Night’s Sleep

Much like turkey, pumpkin contains tryptophan, the amino acid that contributes to sleepiness.  Tryptophan is also responsible for helping the body make serotonin, neurotransmitter that helps you relax and unwind. Not only do pumpkin seeds promote better sleep, the serotonin will improve your mood!

Protect Your Skin AND Fight Off Cancer

Like the carrot, sweet potato and the butternut squash (all orange), pumpkins have the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a role in cancer prevention, according to the National Cancer Institute.   Those same free-radical-neutralizing powers of the carotenoids in pumpkin that may keep cancer cells at bay can also help keep the skin wrinkle-free.

Eye Sight

About that vitamin A:  A cup of cubed pumpkin contains almost twice the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which promotes good vision, especially in dim light. It has also been found to slow the decline of retinal function in those with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that can lead to blindness. Bonus: Vitamin A helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth and bones.  It’s an anti-aging nutrient that jump-starts your skin’s cell renewal process and increases the production of collagen for smooth, youthful-looking skin.

Heart Health

Nuts and seeds, including those of pumpkins, are naturally rich in certain plant-based chemicals called phytosterols that have been shown in studies to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol.  In addition, pumpkin seed oil is full of phytoestrogens, which research shows are beneficial for preventing hypertension. When researchers tested a diet supplement with the oil, they found that it helped lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in just 12 weeks.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

While I’m not suggesting that you go out and down a few venti PSLs – definitely consider adding fresh and pureed pumpkin to your recipes/meals.  It’s easy to find this time of year and the recipes are bountiful.   When you’re out picking your pumpkins to carve, pick up an extra one and make it part of your next meal!

~Dayna
PX Studio

 

Article Sources:
Health (www.health.com)
Nutrition Data (www.nutritiondata.self.com)
WebMD (www.webmd.com)
Huffington Post (www.huffingtonpost.com)
Daily Burn (www.dailyburn.com)
National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov)
National Institute of Health (www.nih.gov)