Pilates Reformer Sessions and What I Learned From It

photo by: Balanced Body Video

I finished up my Pilates reformer private sessions and I enjoyed them, much to my surprise. I had never been a huge fan of Pilates, I’ve taken mat classes here and there over the years. They never excited me enough to go regularly but injuries and insistence, uh I mean encouragement, from my cousin had me give it another shot.

Theses sessions had me working hard and they were an eye opener. It’s always humbling to start a new exercise and realize that even though you’re in good shape there are things you need to improve. I was aware that I had imbalances but this definitely highlighted where my strengths and weaknesses lie.

I would not say my core is my strongest part of my body but it has gotten stronger with a variety of core targeted exercises and mat Pilates classes. The reformer sessions really took things up a level and I can see why people get hooked. I was also able to try the Pilates chair and have signed up for small group classes so I can keep working on my imbalances and strengthen my core.

I noticed that it helps in my running, I can feel my glutes engaging more as I run. Before I run I add in a set of marching bridges to my warm up to fire up my glutes. Having a stronger core also helps with my running form and makes breathing easier. Gotta love that.

In general it helps more with my posture, both in daily life and while working out. I sit at a computer for large chunks of time where I slouch and hunch over. This causes tight hip flexors and lower back pain. It’s been a while since I haven’t had back or hip pain, I’m working on changing that.

As with most classes I do recommend taking one with a live teacher before you do dvd or on-demand class. They can help you adjust your posture and do the moves safely and correctly. For instance, I tend to hike up my hip in Warrior III, which can exacerbate the imbalances and add to injury. Now that I know this I am much more aware when I practice on my own.

What new exercise have you tried lately? Did you like or dislike it?

Are you fan of Pilates?

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Why I Dislike My Fitness Tracker and Use it Anyway

runners legsI am not a fan of my fitness trackers. Yes, I have two. No, I don’t wear them both at the same time. I’m not quite that obsessive.

They have their good points, especially if you tend to be sedentary during the day. I sit at my computer a lot for work and like the reminder to get up and move more. I also like to see how consistently I am exercising on days when I don’t run.

What drives me nuts is that FitBit seems more accurate with mileage and counts the exercise I log towards my steps. But the Jawbone UP3 wins for one simple reason; I can program it to buzz me when I’ve been sitting for longer than an hour. I can choose the time period as well as the days for this. (It’s turned off on the weekends. I move more than enough without the reminder).

The truth of the matter is most of us sit way too much during the day and an hour’s worth of exercise doesn’t negate that. Blech. There are days I’m better at getting enough movement in than others. For the days I’m not moving the tracker comes in handy.

There is a weird satisfaction on feeling it buzz when I’ve hit my 10,000 steps for the day. And it can be annoying when it doesn’t hit those steps when I’ve been active during the day. Some days I will walk around the house to get those extra steps, other days I don’t.

Would I recommend the activity band? If you sit a lot during the day and this can help get you moving I say yes. If you like data and want to track your food, sleep and exercise then I say go for it.

Rather not wear a tracker? There are other ways to remind yourself to get up and move. A reminder in your phone or computer can help. Wearing a cheap pedometer can help you track your mileage. There are plenty of apps to help you get up and get moving, too.

Do you get enough movement in during the day? Need some help in getting track for a healthier lifestyle? Send me an email, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, to set up a consultation.

Not So Challenging Fitness Challenge

cropped-running-with-dog1.jpgIt can be challenging during the holiday season to fit workouts in. There are a lot of fitness challenges out there right now to help motivate you. Run streaks, 21 day yoga, 21 day Fit and the Do Something Challenge. I happen to like the concept of the last one, even if I don’t love the exercises.

I’ve participated in an arm workout challenges, yoga challenges and a run streak. I loved my arms after the first challenge, ended up doing my own yoga practice (and that’s not a bad thing) and was close to hating running at the end of the run streak. (You can check out my blog on why I would never do another one). What I can say proudly is that for the last 15+ years I have exercised regularly.

I do some form of fitness at least 5 days a week, usually 6, whether or not I belong to a gym. So my challenge to you is to do some form of exercise for at least 15 minutes a day, every day through New Year’s Day. Yes, I want you to move on New Year’s Day – it will help the hangover.

There are no other rules. Activities could be walking, dance, yoga, Pilates, Cross Fit, running, strength training – or whatever else floats your boat. You can mix and match your activities. Do something gentle on days before or after a hard workout (if you choose to do one) to let your body recover. My goal is to get you to move during a time when you think you are too busy. Holiday shopping? Walk a few laps, take the stairs and park your car a bit further from the mall. There, you got your activity in.

Seriously, I don’t care what you do – just move. You can hashtag me on Facebook or Twitter with #notachallenge and let me know you got your fitness in. Add a picture if you like!

How To Motivate Yourself When You’d Rather Log Couch Time

treadmillA friend asked me how often I exercised and when I replied 6 days she seemed a little taken aback. She asked why I did it – did I enjoy the way I felt afterwards or the results from working out. The truth is I like all of it. I like the movement, the sweat, the sense of accomplishment and the way my muscles build.

I usually like the way I feel but anyone who does endurance or intense sports knows that sometimes you feel beat up. There is pride in knowing that I can do something I never thought possible and that only about 1% of the population actually does. I know if I can run 13.1+ miles I can pretty much do anything.

My friend doesn’t really like working out and sees it as something she has to do but would rather not. When she asked how she could motivate herself I ended up asking her the same thing. What would motivate you to adopt an exercise routine? Is it your health, the way you feel or the way you look? There is something very cool about seeing your body get stronger, fitting into a skinny pair of jeans or lapping someone younger than you.

Yeah, there are days I’d much rather sit on the couch than run or workout. Those days I make a deal with myself – I will run a mile or workout for 15 minutes and after that I can stop. It’s very rare that I stop but I know I have the option.

You won’t see me doing classes or workouts I hate either. I will check out new routines and workouts when they come out but if I don’t like them I don’t force myself to go back. I like riding a bike but can’t stand Spin.

Make a pact with yourself – 4 days a week you’ll start with 10 minutes of an activity you like. Then just build the time up from there. It becomes a habit after that and one you miss if you skip.

Need help on building health habits? Email me, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, to schedule your complimentary power session.

Will I Never Learn?!

Poison ivy plant isolated on black backgroundI was having a very productive day around the house on Monday. I got side-tracked when I took the dog outside and decided to do some yard work while I was out there. It was beautiful out and the weeds were wild so I couldn’t help myself. I also figured an hour of yard work was more fun & effective than working out to a video. I’d take care of two things at once!

I was yanking weeds with abandon and I didn’t put on gloves. I also had on a tee-shirt, bad move. I now have a rash that’s itchy as hell. Last time I had this I was told it’s contact dermatitis and was given some cream that didn’t really work. Nothing worked until my cousin took pity on me and had another cousin give me a tube of heavy-duty cortisone cream.

This time I went to the dermatologist and found out it’s not contact dermatitis, it’s poison ivy. I also have some eczema that now has poison ivy on top of it. I’m found out I’m not supposed to put the cream on with my fingers but with a Q-tip. That (and the scratching rubbing) would explain why every day I wake up with a few more spots.

It’s not the worst case of poison ivy but it’s still uncomfortable. Do yourself a favor and protect yourself while working out in the yard. Even better, learn what poisonous plants look like before you end up touching them!

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