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#FASTFIT: 5 Minute Meditation

Meditation will help fix your mind in the present moment, instead of dwelling in the past or future.  In a highly technological and fast paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the noise around us, and lose sight of the inner voice that guides us in our decision making and keeps us focused on our priorities.

A few minutes each day, set aside to focus and quiet your mind, is a great tool to reinstate some of that stillness.  You would be amazed at how quickly the stillness pervades into even the most stressful of situations.

Here is a simple practice to get you started.

  • Find a quiet space, and a comfortable cross legged or lotus pose seat.  You may want to sit on a small pillow for low back comfort.
  • With a tall spine, place your hands in your lap and draw your head gently up and back.
  • Gently sway side to side like a pendulum until you settle into a still, centered position.
  • On each breath in, you count from one to ten.
  • Each time your mind wanders away from your breath or the counting, you begin again at “one.”

When I first started using this meditation tool, I counted “one” over and over again for the entire session. That happened repeatedly. Until slowly, I learned to focus on only the breath. To quiet the voices and noise.

If a thought arises, acknowledge it and let it be like a cloud that drifts by, ungraspable. Them begin again at one.   If you reach ten, then begin again at one.

The beauty is in the simplicity.

A regular practice can bring greater focus and awareness into your work, your day to day, your workouts or training, and help bring ease and quiet to the noise.

Easy Celery Soup

After a session of providing STOTT PILATES® instruction to a client at Pilates South Texas which finished at 9:00 PM, my client inquired that which I was going to have for a late diner.  My reply was “Celery Soup” as it is simple, easy and maintains nutritional benefits.

Fresh celery stalks taste great especially the crisp stalks, but what does one do with the remaining celery that usually one throws away?  You make celery soup.  Don’t waste it.use it.

CelerySoup

So, I do this:

  1. Two cups of water and boil the celery parts with a diced carrot for two (2) minutes in a boiling pot
  1. Then, I let put this in a blender until it is all liquefied
  1. This mixture goes back into the boiling pot
  1. Add a small amount of your favorite bouillon for flavor
  1. Bring this back to a boil
  1. I like to add a small amount of lemon pepper at the end

If I have some baked or grilled chicken then I will add it to the soup, but if I do not.the “Celery Soup” is good enough.

Happy eating!

Weekend Workout Tip: Leg Stretches With a Band

There are many ways that you can stretch your legs after a great workout. Using a stretchy band is one of my favorites. bandstretch

  1.  To stretch your quads- lie on your stomach and loop the band around your foot. Gently pull your foot towards your seat using the band until you feel a stretch in your quad. Hold for 30-45 seconds and then change sides.
  2. To stretch your hamstring and calf – lie on your back with one leg on the floor and the other extended towards ceiling. Loop the band around the foot of the extended leg. Keep the leg straight as you pull it up towards your head. Add a flex and point of the foot to deepen the stretch. Add a side to side motion of just the foot (hold the rest of your leg still) to stretch the inside and outside of the ankle.
  3. To stretch the outside of the leg – Keep the extended leg straight (with the band looped around your foot) and cross it over the midline of the body. To keep the stretch in your leg, be sure to keep the back of both hips on the ground.
  4. To stretch the inside of the leg – open the extended leg to the same side of the body. Aim it towards your shoulder until you feel a stretch in your inner thigh / groin.

Be sure to hold each stretch for 30-45 seconds and then repeat the series on the other leg.

Have fun!
Cathy

 

#FastFit: AM Kickstart /PM Calm

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As a practitioner of Ashtanga yoga, a tradition that calls for practice six days per week (one day for rest), I am convinced that it is the changes we incorporate into our daily routines, however small or large, that create the largest impacts on our bodies, minds, and lives.

In my dream world, we would all have both the ability and motivation to eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet, exercise regularly, and meditate daily. In lieu of that—or, even better, in addition to it!— I want to share two very small changes I have made over the years to my daily consumption habits, both of which take less than two minutes to prepare, include just a handful of ingredients, and have helped my digestion, and, thus, my overall health, enormously.

First things First: My wakeup call.
I start the day by drinking a mug of warm or hot water with a quarter of an organic lemon in it. (If you’re not using an organic lemon, just squeeze the juice into the water, without submerging the piece of lemon itself.) There are just too many benefits of this most simple remedy to list here, but consider it a kick start to your digestion, metabolism, and day.

Ending it Right:  My last call.
I end the day by sipping homemade Cumin, Coriander and Fennel Tea in bed. I buy the seeds (organic if at all possible), mix them up in a jar in equal quantities, and then put about one teaspoon in a tea ball or strainer before pouring boiling water into the mug. Steep for five minutes before drinking, and voilà, you have one of Ayurveda’s most beloved beverages for improving digestion, aiding in detoxification, and calming inflammation.

Try these for a week or two, and I promise you’ll feel lighter, calmer, and stronger, inside and out! Enjoy!

Megaformer Moves

I am so excited to be the newest Splits59 FitPro Elite! I’m also excited to be the first megaformer instructor of the group. What’s the megaformer, you ask? It’s an amped-up version of a traditional Pilates reformer, with all sorts of crazy bands, straps, and springs. The popularity of the megaformer workout has been widely documented, and celebrities with to-die-for physiques like Sofia Vergara and models like Karlie Kloss are fans, so I highly encourage you to try the megaformer workout if you haven’t!

Unfortunately, megaformer studios are few and far between outside major American cities and are even harder to find internationally (you can find the nearest megaformer studio to you here: http://training.lagreefitness.com/lagree-locator.html?/locator). Because I’m so passionate about the workout, my first blog posts are going to demonstrate moves similar to those done on the megaformer that you can do at your gym, no matter where you are!

Given warmer weather is ahead, below I’m demonstrating the gym version of several of my favorite megaformer moves to tone the backs of the arms. To do the moves you’ll need:

  1. a resistance band, preferably with handles;
  2. two heavy dumbbells heavy enough to be stable against your movements (I’m using 30 pound weights, but you might need more or less depending on your body weight and the strength of your resistance band); and
  3. a mat, to make kneeling comfortable.

The moves are:

  1. chest opener (handles stay behind the body as you squeeze shoulder blades together and rotate knuckles to the sides of the room);
  2. tricep kickbacks (hinge torso forward, shoulder blades squeezed together, seat off of heels, elbows stay high, palms face each other, full range of motion while keeping tension in band);
  3. tricep kickbacks with limited range of motion (same move as before but range of motion is only to the hips then to full extension);
  4. straight-arm tricep lifts (with arms fully extended, lower and lift arms several inches in each direction; be sure to keep tension in the band); and
  5. straight-arm tricep squeezes (with arms fully extended and tension in the band, squeeze arms in toward the midline of the back).

Note that my video is sped up! When starting out, do 8-10 reps of each move *slowly* without rest between the moves. As you become more advanced and can proceed through each move and variation without taking a break, scoot further away from the weights for more resistance, do more reps of each move in the set, and/or opt for a stronger resistance band for the challenge!