Is seems that today the new buzz word in fitness is “Pilates”. From the runway to the basketball court, celebrities like Kate Hudson, Naomi Campbell, Kourtney Kardashian and Le Bron James are touting its many benefits. Pilates is hardly a new form of exercise – having been created by Joseph Pilates to help injured soldiers during World War I – so why all the hype now?
Fitness junkies are looking for a new way to move their body and seek more personalized forms of exercise. In doing so, many people have discovered the life-changing benefits of Pilates. Pilates is not just a workout, it’s an exercise system that focuses on the whole body (all the muscles), not just one piece, increasing core strength, flexibility, balance and establishing a more aligned and mobile spine (things that nearly all of us need). Pilates exercises and equipment are also unique because they can easily be modified and adjusted through spring resistance to the individual body and goal – be it training, toning, or rehabbing.
Pilates does this! Reformer springs provide both resistance and assistance to help tone and strength muscles. This is also great for clients in training and toning those smaller muscles that are overlooked in other workouts. Pilates offers a series of exercises that emphasize on core strength and tone your mid-section, stabilizing and supporting stomach and back muscles. Most other fitness programs create short muscles that are more prone to injury, Pilates creates long, lean muscles that are less prone to injury.
I love the fact that with Pilates, no muscle is under-trained, no muscle is over-trained, creating a balanced body. It allows me to do the things I love better. As a runner, I am concerned with getting injured. As a tennis and pickle ball player, I love the range of motion and body connection that it gives me.
You don’t have to be a celebrity, all you need is to want to improve. Whether you’re training, toning or rehabbing, you will do it better , stronger and more efficiently with Pilates.
Trek in Nepal – distance: 117.5 miles, altitude: 15,000ft.
Unplug, breathe deep, and take a step closer to your true, confident self!
We’ve been so isolation, yet constantly plugged-in these past few months. We stayed connected virtually, but in doing so have lost connection to our self. It is through real world experience that we come closer to our true self, gain confidence, and connect to our spirituality.
Several years ago, I stepped way out of my comfort zone and challenged myself to trek 117.5 miles in the Himalaya mountains to the Forbidden Kingdom of Lo. This challenge transformed my life, and I hope that it will inspire you to unplug, breathe deep, and take a step towards becoming your true, confident self.
Isolated in the northern Himalayas near Tibet, the Kingdom of Lo lies in a remote area known as the Upper Mustang. This fort city was built in 1380 AD, along a trade route where caravans carried salt, Yak wool and spices from Tibet and China to India. After the Chinese invasion, the road was closed and this Buddhist community was exiled from Tibet and the rest of Nepal. Trekking here is like stepping into a time capsule. For centuries, the people here have lived in this arid, harsh environment with no roads, electricity, and few possessions. That is the world I choose to enter. I felt privileged to be able to embark on this visual, emotional and physical experience. Still, I knew the hike was going to be long and challenging. I also knew that I would have no connection to my home and family for nearly a month.
Masked with a bandana to protect our faces from the hard winds, we set out along the beautiful Kali Gandaki River. It’s hard to grasp the scale of things here. As I stood in the deepest Gorge in the world and looked up at the massive Annapurna Mountains, I realized how small some of the things that I worry about at home are in the larger picture of life.
Our elevation rose somewhere between 200 to 500 meters a day and our max altitude was 15,000ft. As we climbed higher, the oxygen level actually stayed the same, but the pressure decreased, so less oxygen was pushed to our blood and lungs. I would describe the feeling much like wearing a mask while running. The only real symptom that I had was a slight headache – a small price to pay to be surrounded by such spectacular scenery.
The easiest climbs were the slow and steady one. The hardest were the ones the went up and down like a rollercoaster. Some were close to a 90 degree angle and could only be conquered by crawling on all fours. My legs still burned, but each hill ascended rewarded me with a wondrous view that will be etched in my mind forever.
We passed through several tiny villages along the trail. If we were lucky, we shared a room in one of the cement and stone structures. If we weren’t so lucky, we slept in a tent in a grassy area. What the tent lacked in comfort and warmth, it made up for with the view. I wrote in my journal one night, “Tonight the stars are amazing. I feel like I can see every star in the universe.”
My favorite town smelled of apple trees and mountain basil, there was a stepping stone river running through it where we washed our dirty clothes before hanging them in a tree to dry. The people here live a religious and quiet way of life. They are welcoming and sincere, eager to share the little they have. They inspired us to cheer each other on and pull together. I reached the Forbidden Kingdom, dirty, tired and sore. The city and the cave dwellings carved into the layers of colorful rocks surrounding it stood as if centuries of time has passed it by. But I had come so far. I felt a deep sense of gratitude, of self confidence and accomplishment.
Roasted sweet potatoes, grilled corn and zucchini, spiced just right and topped with a Poblano Crema, will leave you satisfied, not feeling heavy and gross. Who would have thought that the healthy could be this delicious. You won’t even miss the meat!
2mediumsweet potatos peeled and cut into bite-size cubes
1Tbspextra virgin olive oilcold-pressed
For the slaw
1cupextra virgin olive oillight tasting if possible
½tspfresh lemon juice
2tspfresh lime juice
1- 1½cupsBrussel sprouts shredded
For the zucchini
For the poblano crema
½cupfresh cilantrocoarsely chopped
1tspunsweetend almond milk
1tspfresh lime juice
8corn flour tortillas
½cupfresh cilantro coarsely chopped
½cupcrumbled cotta cheese optional
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic and ground cumin and toss to coat. Spread the sweet potatoes in an even layer over the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender and lightly browned. Set aside.
For the slaw
In a tall, wide-mouth mason jar or similar container, combine the olive oil, egg, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and salt. Let the ingredients settle for a moment.Place an immersion blender directly over the egg and begin to blend. Eave the blender in place for 5 seconds as the oil and egg begin to emulsify, them start to very slowly move the blender up and down until the oil and eg are fully emulsified, about 30 seconds.
Add ¼-cup of of the mayonnaise to a large bowl (reserve the rest for the poblano crema. Whisk together the mayonnaise, lime juice, honey, and salt. Add the Brussel sprouts, cabbage and green onion, toss to coat, and set aside.
For the zucchini
In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, chili powder, salt and paprika. Add the zucchini and toss to coat. Place the seasoned zucchini on the hot grill or grill pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove from the heat and cut each piece in half crosswide.
For the poblano creme
Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium heat. Using a pair of tongs, place the poblano over an open flame (such as a grill or gas stovetop burner). Turn the poblano every 5 to 7 minutes, until each side is charred. Keeping the frill on, remove the poblano from the heat and wrap it in a wet paper town. Allow the pepper to rest for 4 to 5 minutes, them use the paper towel to gently rub off the charred skin.
Coarsely chop the charred poblano and put it in a medium bowl. Add the mayonnaise, cilantro, garlic, almond milk, lime juice, salt. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Set the crema aside.
For the grilled corn: Brush the olive oil onto the corn and sprinkle with spices.Place the corn onto the grill grate or in a grill pan and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. Remove the corn from the heat and cut the kernels from the cob. Transfer the kernels to a bowl and set aside.
Place tortillas on the grill for 30 seconds per side. Remove from the heat. Evenly distribute the slaw among the tortillas and top with the sweet potatoes, corn, and zucchini. Drizzle the poblano crema over each taco and top with the cilantro and cotija cheese.
This recipe would make even the most notorious broccoli haters, such as former President George H. W. Bush, become believers in this superfood. It’s from one of my favorite websites Cooke + Kate. What makes it so delicious? It’s a trifecta of sweet, salty and tangy. I had to try this salad … now its a staple of mine for a healthy (and packable) lunch between Pilates clients.
What makes broccoli a superfood?
Broccoli is low in calories, yet, high in protein! It contains both anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer components. It’s rich in vitamins A, C, folic acid and fiber, plus contains some B vitamins.
If your first reaction is that don’t like the taste of raw broccoli, you can lightly steam it.
Keep in mind that the more you boil it, the less nutrients will remains. I don’t steam my broccoli for this salad because the vinaigrette breaks down the vegetable just enough to make it tasty.
To avoid the salt, use unsalted sunflower seeds which are low in sodium, but still high in potassium.
Nuts and seeds can be high in calories, so if you are looking to maintain or lose weight, go light on the sunflower seeds seeds.
Best Broccoli Salad
This recipe is from the cookbook "Cookie and Kate."
Pilates mat loop resistance band. Grab your mat and loop band then click the video below!
If you don’t have a loop band, I still encourage you to try this workout. for arms you can use light hand weights (1-3lbs), a hand towel and pull the towel “apart” for both sets and legs you can do without the band!
During this time at open I challenge you to try this workout 2-3 times a week. After I started Pilates I could feel and see a difference in my body. Its worth trying.
We are only eight days into the ‘Stay-at-Home’ order here in Michigan and already I’m hearing from many of my clients that they are feeling a little unmotivated. It’s hard to completely change your routine and stay at home for such a long period of time. But, staying at home doesn’t mean, that you have to give up everything. This Pilates routine will make you feel focused, energized and will help you reach your fitness goals, even when the studio is closed. So, let’s go! It will take you less than 10 minutes to sculpt, strengthen and stretch for a stronger, longer body.
You don’t need any equipment. Just you and a yoga/Pilates mat, if you have one.
Hundred: Laying down on back, legs together at at a 90 degree angle in the air and toes gently pointed. Pull the stomach in to avoid arching in the low back. Begin to lift head, shoulders and arms then reach legs straight out without letting the back arch. (modify by keeping legs at 90 degrees). Begin to pump arms. Inhale for 5 counts, exhale for 5 counts completing 10 rounds – 100 reps.
Single Leg Stretch: Lie on back, with legs in tabletop. Lift head and shoulders off mat with hands resting against the outside of legs. Extend one leg out on diagonal, then switch legs. Keep your core is engaged during exercise and to prevent rocking of pelvis. 20 reps (10 total).
Single leg stretch can flow right into bicycle. Still on back with legs in tabletop, now place the hands behind the head. Continue with extending one leg out on the diagonal then add the rotation of the upper body towards the flexed knee. Opposite shoulder to opposite knee. Complete 20 reps (10 total)
Spine Twist: Sitting upright, legs long and together with toes up. Arms reaching our to the sides with palms down. Relax shoulders from ears. Rotate completely, then repeat on the other side. Each time you are trying to increase rotation of the spine. Avoid shoulders creeping up towards the ears. This exercise is great for targeting obliques and mobility of the spine. Complete 3-5 on each side.
Roll Ups: Start laying down with legs together and extended along mat with feet flexed. Arms reaching over head. Start by lifting arms up towards the ceiling, slowly roll yourself up without letting the legs change. Flex over the legs reaching arms parallel to the floor. Slowly roll down. Complete 5-8 reps- don’t rush! Think about the articulation of your spine and the challenge for your core. Keep shoulders away from ears.
Hip Lifts: Start lying down on your back with knees bent. Feet should be parallel and hip distance apart. Keeping your head down lift your hips evenly and engaged your hamstrings and glutes. Complete 10 reps with 10 pulses at the top. Tones and strengths your glutes, hamstrings, and low back!
Side leg lift series: lying on your side, legs together and straight with toes gently pointed. Bottom arm can be under the head to support the neck if needed. Lower and lift the top leg while keeping the hips stacked, and core active. Complete 10 reps then added pulses at the top. Great for strengthening your outer thighs.
Pilates Pushup: the pilates pushup is slightly different from your normal pushup. Let me walk you through it. You start by standing tall then nod your chin and articulate your spine as you reach your hands to the floor keeping the weight in your feet. Walk hands out to your plank position with hands under the shoulders. From here complete 3 push ups by bending and straightening at the elbow, keeping elbows are in by your sides. Then walk hands back towards your feet and roll spine up to standing. Complete 3-5 full rounds.
There are many reasons for replacing your morning cup of coffee (or one of them) for a glass of green juice. Green juices are more nutrient dense and they have a revitalizing and refreshing effect on the body. Green plants take in sunlight and transform it into energy and chlorophyll. That gives the plant its green color and keeps it healthy. Here are a few of those healthy benefits that we can enjoy:
Low-Glycemic – Green juices have less calories and sugar than fruit juices. Boost Energy– Green juices are high in protein which burns slower than carbohydrates. Chlorophyll-rich green vegetables increase the amount of oxygen-rich red blood cells that power your heart and body to perform it’s best. Antioxidant effects -Vitamins and minerals concentrated in green juices smooth and nourish our intestinal lining. Chlorophyll kills bad bacteria in the GI tract. Promotes healthy skin – The antioxidant power of green juices help to boost your immune system and fight free radials from the environment. They provide the important precursors for collagen and elastic which helps to maintain our skin’s elasticity. Stimulates cleansing – Squeeze in a little lemon juice to help stimulate cleansing and flush out toxins.
Note: The only downside of getting your green vegetables in the form of a juice is that juicing breaks down the fiber, so be sure to include other sources of fiber in your diet. Because the nutrients break down quickly, drink right away to get the most benefit! Don’t keep for more than a day. If you can’t drink right away or have left-over, try making a frozen green pop to enjoy later.
Start with the milder vegetables, cucumber and celery. Work up to the spinach, then add bitter greens, like kale. Finally, squeeze in the lemon (or lime) to cut the bitter flavor.
Place ingredients in the juicer.
I recommend drinking your juice right away (or morning of) … they do not last more than 24-hours! It has also been shown that the best time to drink green juice (especially celery juice) is on an empty stomach and first thing in the morning.
Agritourism is certainly alive outside of Quebec in the Charlevoix area, but I couldn’t help but wonder ‘Why here?” What is it that makes this region so bountiful? I discovered the answer on a hike in the Parc des Grands Jardins, a splendid natural park spanning more than 120 square miles. My climb through forests of conifer and yellow birch led me to Lac Georges and stunning views of the surrounding cliffs, Canadian Shield (the exposed portion of the continental crush underlying the majority of North America) and evidence of the meteorite that stuck this region 350 million years ago. That’s right, this region literally sits at the bottom of a crater! At 15 billion tons, the meteorite shaped part of the Laurentian Mountain Range and created a series of micro climates that serve to enrich the soil and extend the growing season. At an elevation of 3,000 feet, the Summit of Mont du Lac des Cygnes offers views of the pastoral Charlevoisien heartland – it’s a spectacular site.
A hike like this can be challenging, especially at the end of July when the heat is on. So, after my hike I visited the Spa Nordique at Le Germain Charlevoix for some tips on how to stay hydrated and to experience the benefits of their thermal spa experience.
A view worth hiking for.
Spa Nordique located on a farm, uses fresh herbs from the garden to create flavored water – a great alternative to juice and sugary drinks for staying hydrated in the summer heat. Simply, blend some cucumbers, basil, lemon balm and fennel with citrus or perhaps strawberry and mine, blackberries with sage or watermelon with rosemary. Heat waves and spa aside, proper hydration is essential for the body to function properly. In addition to being a vehicle for vitamins and minerals, water is a major component for the blood and the lymph which contains the white blood cells that make up our immune system. Given that thirst is the first sign of hydration, followed by fatigue and headache, it is always a good idea to have a source of water on hand.
Before taking the plunge in the hot and cold outdoor pools, I decided to find out more about this Scandinavian tradition. Thermo therapy consists of a cycle of alternating hot-cold-rest periods. The circuit begins with 15 minutes in a heated pool which warms the body and begins to open pores. This is followed by a 10 to 15 minutes soak in the hot tub which increases sweat and and draws out the toxins. The cold water plunge stimulates your metabolic rate stimulating your immune system and the production of white blood cells. Even if it’s just 2 to 10 seconds, the cold plunge helps to close pores and rinse off negative toxins. The shocking sensation of of a hot and cold treatment increases the rate of blood flow. It creates internal heat – which is endorphins – that’s energy. At the final rest allows your body to return to its regular state.
Ditch the store bought trail mix and make your own!
Whether you are hitting the trails skiing, running, hiking or just feeling that mid-afternoon lull, trail mix is the ideal snack to boost your energy fast. Sadly, many of us avoid trail mix because it has gotten a bad rap as high in calories and fat content. While it’s true that most store-bought trail mixes are loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients, making your own trail mix can be less expensive, simple, and a lot more healthy!
Trail mix is generally composed of four main ingredients: nuts; seeds; fruit; and fun stuff. There are many benefits of adding nuts and seeds to our diet. Nuts are one of nature’s richest foods. The omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber in nuts helps us to feel full and satisfied longer. They are a heart healthy source of fat which our bodies need for energy, vitamin absorption, cell building and insulation. Nuts and seeds also provide us with good-quality protein, vitamins and minerals. Be sure to select nuts and seeds that are unsalted and either raw or dry-roasted. Nuts that are purchased ‘pre-roasted’ are cooked at high temperatures that destroy nutrients and contain unhealthy denatured oils and excess sodium.
Nuts are one of nature’s richest foods. They provide a good-quality of protein and are higher in fat than seeds. Almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts and peanuts are an excellent source of vitamin E. Most nuts have a general cross section of B vitamins and are well endowed with the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and other trace minerals.
I generally, include two different kinds of nuts in my trail mix, about 3/4 cups of each. Almonds, cashews and pistachios are good choice if you are looking to reduce calories, while Macadamia nuts and pecans have the most calories. Almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and peanuts are all excellent sources of vitamin E for skins and eye health.
Seeds are rich in minerals, iron, and zinc. I love to add pumpkin seeds because they provide a strong source of magnesium and and zinc. They are a great source of protein and contain a good balance of amino acids. They are also high in iron, as well as calcium and phosphorus. For people with high blood pressure, unsalted sunflower seeds are very high in potassium and low in sodium.
Dried fruit is delicious and can boost low blood sugar after physical activity. Look for a brand that does not have added sugars or preservatives? With the right choice, dried fruit can be a good source of fiber, antioxidants, calcium and vitamins. Often, dried fruit is coated with sugar, so select fruits that are unsweetened or sweetened in 100% fruit juice, and avoid those sweetened in high fructose corn syrup or other sugars. Try sprinkling a bit of sea salt over the fruit to bring out the flavor.
I like to add some fun stuff to my trail mix, but this is totally optional. Sweet and salty additions, added in moderation, can add flavor and provide a bit of a pick-me-up to tail mix. A bit of chocolate can satisfy those cravings, but look for dark chocolate with 70% cocoa and avoid milk and sugar filled chocolate. Salty treats could include mini-pretzels, air-popped popcorn, homemade granola or organic rice crackers.
After the sugar rush from Valentine’s Day, try this 15 minute Chili Kale Chip recipe. It won’t disappoint! This recipe is from one of my favorite cooks, Katie Lee. She is a cook on the Food Network as well as the author of The Comfort Table and Endless Summer. Enjoy! xxoo
In a bowl, combine kale and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Using your hands massage the oil onto the kale leaves. If the kale still seems dry, add more oil. Season with chili powder and salt.
Spread the kale onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until chips look crisp 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!
Kale, as well as other leafs greens, is said to be one of the richest in nutrients of any foods in the vegetable kingdom. They arehigh in vitamins A and C, as well as the minerals magnesium, potassium, and iron. Leafy greens are also very well known for being a rich source of folic acid.
Hi everyone! I am Nancy Blake and I’m a lover of health and wellbeing! I am a Nutrition Therapist, certified STOTT Pilates instructor as well as a certified Barre Intensity instructor here to share my tips and love of all things regarding a healthy lifestyle.