Saturday, October 23, 2010


SWEET Temptations abound at the end of October. Not only has Starbucks been selling Pumpkin Spice Lattes for a while and grocery stores have been selling candy for a while, but people make homemade treats for the holidays.

For most people without a health condition that precludes their eating sweets, it's OK to give in to the holiday temptations/cravings every once and a while. The sweet treats may be a comfort food that reminds you of childhood or a guilty pleasure once a year. Whatever reason you break from your normal meal plan and have a special treat, you need to be mindful not to indulge. Satisfy a craving with a small portion!

Are you aware of the proper nutrition and calorie count for your body? Have you visited to look at the USDA's food guidance program?

Perusing the Food Pyramid one encounters the Discretionary Foods Category. This small category includes caloric drinks, sweets, sauces and foods that contain solid fats. This category should be only a SMALL component of your healthy diet. Starting at Halloween time and through the holidays there are many temptations that cause the DISCRETIONARY CATEGORY to become a larger component in your dietary plan than it should be. How can this be avoided? Here are a few tips:

Purchase candy in single packaged in single serving pouches. Take small candies that are bite size and easily consumed in multiples like M&M's, Skittles or Candy Corn. Why not purchase them in a large bag that contains several packages of individually wrapped treats. If you must give in, have 1 package and stop there. Eat nutritious meals throughout the day to balance out the extra sugar in your diet.

Pack snacks to eat when you get tempted. One option is to pack baby carrots and/or apple slices and keep them with you. They can be eaten raw or combined, conservatively, with a dip (remember dips are discretionary foods). Apples can be given a peanut butter or caramel topping while carrots can be dipped in ranch dressing. Grapes are another snack that is bite size and can be eaten on the go.

Another option would be to create a homemade snack mix. You can purchase a combination of dried fruits, crackers like Goldfish, and nuts (almonds are a healthier options than some others). The mix can be made in a large portion then individually packaged so you control the portions you consume.

A simple rule of thumb, according to the target for a person to keep in mind is to have no more than 10% of your daily caloric intake be from Discretionary Foods.

Make healthy choices. Don't let discretionary foods get the best of you!


Friday, October 15, 2010

Care for your LEGS and CORE at the same time...

ADD the Pilates Single Leg Stretch to your daily routine...or KEEP it in your's good for you!

Start reclining on your back. Draw your navel to your spine as you elevate your legs to a 90 Degree Angle. Keep your transverse abdominis engaged throughout the exercise. On an inhale, curl your head neck and shoulders up, tucking an imaginary orange between your chin and chest. Imagine your sternum reaching to the sky.

Keep the curve in your upper spine and draw your navel toward your spine.

Since your body has a tendency to work itself differently on an inhalation and exhalation...we'll vary the traditional exercise a bit here...

keep your left knee at the 90 Degree angle with your left hand outside your left ankle and your right hand on the inside of your left knee. Extend your right leg forward. Point your big toe like you are pressing a button on the elevator. Extend and lower the right leg to the level where you still can maintain hips and ribs in alignment.

Repeat on other side

Exhale: Repeat on Side 1

Exhale: Repeat on side 2

Complete 4-6 sets of pairs of inhalations/exhalations

To complete the exercise, hug your knees into your chest on an inhale. As you exhale, curl your head, neck and shoulders into your knees to make a little ball with your body. Exhale to uncurl and recline to a prone position.

Photo courtesy of Google Images

Friday, October 8, 2010

Take Care of Your Legs

Whether we are aiming for longer leaner gams, an increase in range of motion or greater flexibility, we all need to care for our hamstrings when engaging in any form of exercise. None of us want to be the person that pulls up lame during an activity with a hamstring pull.

How can we strengthen our lower body and care for our hamstrings?

There are a couple of exercise that you can start adding to your routine.

The FIRST is A Seated Forward Bend, Paschimottanasana if you wish the Sanskrit term.

You may think the pose looks easy, how can it be worthwhile? It IS worth it after you set yourself up correctly for your body.

Sit on the floor with a folded blanket or bolster (bath towels work if that's what you have at home) just enough to slightly elevate your pelvis. Pull the flesh away from your sacrum so you are sitting evenly. Internally rotate your thighs and press actively through your heels. if you are caring for your knees and they remain a rolled towel under then so they can release (still actively pressing through your heels).

Inhale as you press your hands into the floor next to your side body (seams of your clothes). Allow your sternum to rise as you draw your shoulder blades together. As you exhale walk your fingers along the floor in the direction of your toes. Keep your back protected by drawing your navel in toward your spine. Think length...fold at hips, navel folds over thighs, heart over knees and crown of the head reaches toward your toes.

If your body is tight another rolled blanket, towel or bolster between your torso and thighs. Allow your body to open as it melts into the bolster.

Once you have settled into your fold, turn your palms up and passively melt into the pose. As you inhale, lengthen and as you exhale...hold the stretch.

After a few minutes, continue to stay folded and low while allowing your palms to turn toward the ground once again. Use your left hand to hold outside your right leg and your right hand outside your left. Hold at the feet, ankles or up the calves...wherever you are today. The criss-cross with your arms will help you open your upper back. Inhale and lengthen your spine like a ruler, exhale and bend your elbows outward to allow space for a deeper fold. At this point, the criss-cross allows the upper back to open. You should feel a gentle stretch from spine to shoulder. Stay for a few breaths then release your hands. Turn your palms facing upward once again.

To return to upright, with a slow inhalation start to slide your hands toward your pelvis. Slowly re-stacking your spine, navel drawing in and shoulder blades meeting behind your back.

The Hamstrings were stretched. The fringe too were the spine and shoulders, as well as the mind calmed and digestion improved. a

Next...Pilates for the Hamstrings...Single Leg Stretch

Photo Courtesy of