Summer Recipes- Halibut Tacos and Fruity Mojitos

Summer Recipes- Halibut Tacos and Fruity Mojitos

Summer Yummies: Halibut Tacos & Fruity Mojitos

We are still in the glory days of summer, so it’s the perfect time to experiment with new fresh food recipes that you wouldn’t normally give a second look. This month, we’re highlighting Pacific halibut and putting a spin on one of our favorite summertime mixed drinks.

These halibut fish tacos are so easy to grill or bake, they can quickly become one of your weekday staples or weekend party go-to dishes. On top of offering you a quick option, they deliver a full range of health promoting ingredients. And the flavor? Your taste buds will be turning backflips and begging for more.

I prefer to use a white-flesh fish for my tacos, since the flavor is mild and the texture is tender. I elevate my fish taco game by putting the spotlight on the seasonings and extras. Halibut is a legit omega-3 protein source; it’s high in energy-boosting vitamins B12 and B6, magnesium, and vitamin D; and it provides the full daily intake of selenium!

You’ll pair the fish with a traditionally prepared nixtamal tortilla and an easy cabbage slaw for the ultimate nourishing crowd pleaser. The versatility of simple slaw leaves room for chopped seasonal fruits like strawberries, blueberries, or pears, or an unexpected crunch from jicama or sugar snap peas.

Now for the drinks.

To add some nutrition to your adult beverage, give a blackberry mint mojito a shot. This drink is void of refined sugar or other ultra-sweet juices that can leave you dehydrated. Now, look below for these refreshing recipes that are full of antioxidants, freshness, and deliciousness.

Fish Tacos with Lime Cilantro Crema

(Adapted from Cooking Light)

Serves: 2

Tacos:

1 lb wild caught Halibut, Cod, or Snapper

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

½ tsp smoked paprika

¼ tsp ground black pepper

1/8 tsp Himalayan sea salt

1/8 tsp garlic powder

Cabbage slaw and crema:

¼ c extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp lime rind

1 lime, juiced

½ c full fat plain Greek yogurt

¼ c Cilantro, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1/8 tsp Himalayan sea salt

¼ tsp ground cumin

½ purple cabbage, shredded

Optional: summer berries, mango, jicama, shredded carrot, green cabbage, sugar snap peas

4-6 organic corn tortillas (Recommended: Three Sisters Nixtamal, Portland OR)

Additions: avocado, lime

Cabbage Slaw Instructions

1.     In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, yogurt, lime rind, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, sea salt, and cumin. Shred cabbage and place in medium bowl.

2.     Pour yogurt mixture onto the cabbage and mix thoroughly. Add additional prepared items if desired.

3.     This can be served on top of the fish or as a side salad.

Fish Taco Instructions:

1.     Preheat oven to 425 degrees, or prepare grill

2.     Line baking sheet with foil in preparation for the fish.

3.     To prepare slaw, combine first 8 ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Pour crema over shredded cabbage and mix thoroughly.

4.     To prepare tacos, combine cumin, coriander, paprika, pepper, salt, and garlic powder in small bowl. Place fish on lined baking sheet, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil to coat all sides. Rub fish with spice mix until all sides are covered. Cook at 425 for 9 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. If using a grill, wrap fish in foil and grill for approximately same amount of time.

5.     Wrap tortillas in foil, and heat in the oven or grill for 3-5 mins.

6.     Break fish apart into bite size pieces, watching for bones and removing if necessary. Place fish on taco and top with cabbage slaw. Finish with lime slice and additional items if desired. Enjoy!

 Blackberry Mojito Cocktail

Adapted from LetsTalkFitness

Serves: 1 or 2

Ingredients

6 oz blackberries

3-4 mint leaves

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

2 tsp raw honey or raw maple syrup

¼ cup plain vodka or rum

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

½ cups seltzer water or club soda (no sugar added)

4 ice cubes, crushed

Instructions

1.     Put the blackberries, mint, lemon juice, lime juice into the glass(es).

2.     Muddle the mixture.

3.     Add seltzer or club soda and vodka or rum.

4.     Stir cocktail.

5.     Add ice and serve.

***If you want to make this blackberry mojito alcohol-free, remove the rum or vodka and replace with an additional 1/4 cup seltzer water. Also, a fun way to serve the cocktail (either version) is to freeze some of the blackberries and serve them on top of the drink in place of 2 ice cubes – the frozen fruit will keep the drink cold and makes for a nice presentation.

Planning a trip? Pack your Pilates!

Planning a trip? Pack your Pilates!

It's travel season, which means you're probably going to be hitting the road or the friendly skies soon for an escape from reality. Some time off from a normal routine is extraordinary for our physical and mental health, but only if we do it right.

Travel has a tendency to throw our bodies all out of wack if we let it, but the power to maintain your fitness progress is in your hands. If you're planning a getaway, here are a few tips to keep your Pilates practice in line.

1. Put in the extra time before you leave.

Spend some time before or after your normal class having your instructor observe your form and routine. This way, when you pack your bands or mat to take with you, you can workout in full confidence that you're performing each movement correctly.

2. Stay focused.

Trips can mean long nights and lazy days, but it's possible to carve out some quality you time, even when you're in chill mode. You're probably thinking about how exhausting vacation activities can be, or how the point of the trip is to recuperate from the craziness of everyday life in the first place, but arguing with the fact that exercise gives you energy is a battle you just can't win.

3. Do it online.

Does your instructor offer online sessions? Could you tease and 100 your way through a Skype workout? Why not?! Ask if she'd be willing to make that accommodation for you while you're away. That's the beauty of the Internet—it's made the world much smaller.

4. Find a studio where you're going.

In fact, your coach may even be able to refer you to a quality instructor in your destination city. This is a great way to stay accountable while making new acquaintances. And for a bonus, the locals will be more than happy to point you towards the hottest spots in town.

So there they are—four excuse slashers to keep your body moving in the right direction while you're gone. The discipline it takes to stay on a fitness regimen on vacation can empower you. Now go have some fun, and come back rested and ready for some advanced Pilates action.

STP + ECP: Why Cycling & Pilates are a Win

STP + ECP: Why Cycling & Pilates are a Win

STP + ECP: Why Cycling & Pilates are a Win

Emerald City Pilates would like to take a few moments to give a shout out to the thousands of super-fit maniacs who just completed the STP Bicycle Classic!

You trained, you showed up, and you cycled over 200 miles through the beautiful hills of the Pacific Northwest. We have no doubt that you feel euphoric, accomplished, and stiff. While you bask in your accomplishment, let us school you on how Pilates can help elevate your recovery to the next level—not only after ultra-races like the STP, but as part of your normal training regimen.

Upper Body

If you experience pain in your shoulders and chest after riding, chances are these muscles lack the strength to support your head’s weight for extended periods of time. Any muscle group that must stay contracted for long periods must intentionally be developed to do so. Otherwise, you can consider pain and injury a constant sidekick. When riding a bike, there is a lot of work going on with the nerves and muscles between your shoulders and chest. Pilates is an ideal way to strengthen these muscle groups, because it strengthens and balances not only the shoulders, but the muscles around the shoulders. Pilates employs strengthening dynamic and static movements, which ensure a synergistic balance between the shoulders, neck, and chest, taking the pressure off the muscles that work to support the head the most.

Lower Body

If you get off your bike after a long run and feel like being the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz would be a step up, it’s time to give some focused attention to your hip flexors. Pilates considers the hips as part of the core, so naturally, we give them all the attention they deserve. Cycling’s repetitive movements can result in shortened hip flexors, which can cause tight glutes, which can cause pain and injury. Pilates ensures that not only are the flexors strengthened, but that they’re lengthened, as well.

Movement

Cyclists spend a lot of time leaning forward in what’s called the sagittal plane. In order to maintain quality mobility, stability, and balance, it’s important to also operate in the frontal plane (moving side to side) and the transverse plane (rotating and twisting). The body is created to work in all three, so when we neglect doing so, we increase our probability of injury and weaken muscles and joints throughout the entire body.

Working on a bike for hours, while a formidable accomplishment, is sure to throw the body out of balance. Incorporating Pilates into any cycling regimen is a move that will keep you rolling in the right direction.  

How to Love Monday

How to Love Monday

How to Love Monday

Mondays have gotten a bad rap. Honestly, this leading day of the week hasn’t done anything wrong to anybody, but on Sunday afternoons, millions of people everywhere start to dread Monday mornings, consider writing letters to their congressmen and women about adding a third day to the weekend, and question the overall choices and direction of their lives. But perhaps this isn’t the fault of Monday at all—maybe it’s a result of what psychologists call “negative affect.”

Psycologydictionary.org defines negative affect as, “an internal feeling or emotion which is typically experienced after one has failed to complete a task or goal, or where they have completed the task but at a lower than required standard.” Not everyone hates Mondays, as we see on ads for webinars that promise to help you cultivate a life you don’t need a vacation from. The “Mondays” are an individual disorder that attacks those who desire to be “there,” but feel stuck “here.” So what can its victims do to fix it?

Pilates. One session. Ten weeks.

Seriously. They did a study on this, and the numbers show that just one session of Pilates each week, for ten weeks, yielded a significant 12% decrease on negative affect for sedentary young women. It also showed positive changes in muscle mass, flexibility, balance, core strength, ab strength, and body awareness. One of our previous blogs expounded on how Pilates increases mindfulness. One session of Pilates each week isn’t enough movement for the human body, but it’s a good start. And think about it—if one hour can bring such results, what could happen with a regular practice?

A decrease in negative affect, an increase in body image, and the practice of mindfulness can all work wonders for the state of our mental health. Eckhart Tolle, author and spiritual coach, says, “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but your thoughts about it.” When we practice presence in our daily lives, we can see value and beauty in our circumstances, and the dread will melt away. We can find satisfaction in even the most mundane tasks. We can show gratitude for abnormal schedules and the ability to pay our bills. We can look for good qualities in the most annoying colleagues. And we can do it all while creating the physique we want.

How’s that for getting rid of the Mondays?

July Events

July Events

Meet the Artist Spotlight

We cordially invite you to join us for Meet the Artist on July 7th, where Dr. Agnes Lee, contemporary Chinese painter and biomedical researcher, will be the guest of honor.

Agnes will be at the studio from 6:00-7:30pm, displaying specially selected art pieces especially for this event. All are welcome to stop by, mingle with the artist, and check out the studio. Vine Street Markets will provide the wine. We would be honored for you and a friend to join us.

After retiring in 2003, Dr. Lee traveled throughout Europe to study art, a love affair that began as a grade school student who learned to create pencil sketches from her sister. A chemist, Lee assisted the Tzu Chi Organization in establishing a Bone Marrow Registry in Taiwan, and as a result, has had a hand in assisting hundreds of people over the greatest obstacle of their lives. Through all her accomplishments, art remained a passion, and with the help of her teacher, Mr. Deng Zuolie, coupled with the experimentation of various techniques, Agnes has created a style all her own.

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The fun doesn’t stop after Friday night! Join Kelsey on July 8th at Sweetgrass Food Co. for Kegels & Kale at 10am, where food planning will be the topic of the day. This event is free for members and $20 for non-members. Sign up here.

In the mood to give back? Dress for Success is looking for volunteers for their summer clothing sale from Thursday, July 13-Saturday July 15. Please contact Dress for Success directly for more information.

Pilates Anti-Aging Benefits

Pilates Anti-Aging Benefits

Keep waking up in the morning, and one thing’s for sure: you’ll age. We know you’re thinking, “Thanks, Captain Obvious,” but the years fly by without warning. If we’re not diligent in establishing routines to keep us fabulous and fit, the aging process will sneak up on us.

Aging itself is not a disease. The ailments of aging often involve pain, stiffness, and loss of body awareness and control. Disease and discomfort, which are common in the geriatric community, are part of the vicious cycle of pain, which decrease the desire to include physical activity into your day. Everyone’s looking for the fountain of youth, and since that fountain might lie in a cocktail instead of one single faucet, Pilates is a tailor-made solution to combating the woes of the golden years.

Pilates reduces inflammation.

Studies show that mat Pilates aids in reducing CRP, a protein in the blood that increases with inflammation. Compared to resistance training, Pilates was more effective in reducing inflammation. While Pilates doesn’t cause a drastic decrease in the protein, it does increase the protein’s tendency to drop off. Therefore, when paired with healthy diet choices and other consistent forms of movement, Pilates serves as a secret weapon against inflammation, the main culprit of aging.

Pilates keeps you on your feet.

Whether you prefer the mat or reformer, Pilates is unmatched when it comes to methods of increasing balance. The fear of falling is a valid concern, as broken bones and bed rest follow such injuries, making it significantly more difficult to establish and maintain a regimen of movement. One marked result of a regular Pilates practice is improved balance. The heart of Pilates is core strength, and a strong core means more grace, agility, and the ability to stay on your feet when missteps try to knock you down, literally.

Pilates loosens you up.

Remember those arthritis commercials featuring ladies and gentlemen who were just trying to find a solution for the pain and stiffness in their bodies? You don’t have to qualify to audition for those commercials. Pilates is well known for its ability to add suppleness to your frame. Where there is flexibility, you won’t find stiffness or slow-to-heal injuries. The body will respond better to changes in your physical environment, and you’ll find that the ease of movement seemingly adds years to your life.

Paired with other healthy lifestyle choices, Pilates serves as a real game-changer for the more seasoned community. So sign up for a class, and pair the wisdom of this season of life to the fitness of before.

Staying Well in the Summer

Staying Well in the Summer

I Haven’t Been Sick in Almost Three Years

That’s what he announced, as he ate his bowl of green stuff and sipped his tea. The girl, surrounded by dirty tissues, gave him a watery-eyed glare—made of one part annoyance and one part curiosity—and visualized a life free from cold and flu seasons. Imagine what that would be like. You could win perfect attendance at work for never using sick days. You could sip chai in the fall instead of cough syrup. Even beyond that, those nagging illnesses or constant belly bloat could be history. For real.

A healthy immune system battles anything awry in the body, and it’s designed to win. Our gut, which houses 70% of our immune system, serves as home for little bacteria that regulate its function and fight infections. Diets lacking in appropriate nutrition damage the balance of the gut flora, inviting all kinds of sicknesses and ailments to set up shop in our bodies. This doesn’t just include colds and flu, but asthma, autoimmune disorders, and some cancers. Even people with pretty decent eating habits are often lacking the necessary good bacteria for the immune system to do its thing at full capacity. If you’ve had enough of spending your resources on sicknesses, and you’re ready to get your tummy flora back in tip-top shape, it’s time to recruit some high-quality soldiers for your gut’s probiotic army.

MegaSporeBiotic is a spore formula probiotic, designed to survive the acids of the gastric system. It colonizes well in the system and supports the growth of good bacteria already growing in the intestines, making it significantly beneficial to gut health. Spore formula probiotics, and the people who use them, boast improvements of a plethora of sicknesses, including:

Asthma and allergies

Urinary tract infections

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Colds, flu, and other infections

Side effects of antibiotics

Bacterial overgrowth/candida

Pain from Rheumatoid arthritis

Additionally, MegaSporeBiotic is reported to help lower the risk of heart disease and cholesterol, and it improves digestion through correct absorption of nutrients. This brand of probiotic is special, in that it is the first commercial probiotic of its kind to produce such a large amount of carotenoid antioxidants throughout the intestinal tract, where it can be absorbed and get to work.

If you’re ready to get to the root of your health problems, consider giving MegaSporeBiotic probiotics a shot. Call, email, or see us at the front desk of the studio for more information. 

Pilates FORE Golfers

Pilates FORE Golfers

Pilates FORE Golfers

Golf season is in full swing, and when it comes to flexing your skills on the green, you don’t want to be out of bounds. To give you the edge, read on to see how Pilates can keep you in the zone on the apron.

The main elements of the golf swing are the set-up, the backswing, the downswing, and the follow-through. Each element possesses intricacies that could be the difference between your name on the leader board and being the last pick for the next fundraising scramble. Let’s go through each element and why Pilates is the ideal way for you to develop your skills.

The set-up

This is another name for the stance, or the way you set your body and club in alignment with the ball. This part of the swing requires a great deal of static balance. Pilates stabilizes the muscles around the joints and increases the muscle strength in your trunk. These improvements have a direct effect on your balance, which is key for the setup and subsequent quick-burst movements of the swing. Since golf is about precision, any drop-off in balance could ruin the whole movement, adding more strokes to your scorecard than necessary.

The backswing & downswing

These are the circular movements of the golf swing, and they require a great amount of core strength and body awareness. Pilates is king when it comes to improving trunk strength and control, as it strengthens and stabilizes the small, deep muscles of the back and core. These muscle groups stabilize the position of your spine, which will engage in a great amount of twisting and turning during the back and downswings. Additionally, Pilates classes will take your body awareness to a whole new level, given that you must engage your mental faculties when performing the movements. Body awareness is knowing what your body is doing and listening to it in order to control and adjust what happens next. Having the ability to make quick adjustments during sports is a skill that will give you a leg up on the competition. When your body awareness is on point, you don’t have to surrender to whatever happens next—you determine what happens next, even in a split second.

The follow-through

The follow-through utilizes the same skills as the backswing and downswing—balance and body awareness. Additionally, being that this is the back end of the movement, it’s easy to slack off on the technicalities of your form. This is where mindfulness comes in. Pilates increases the level of mindfulness within you, forcing you into presence and feeling what your mind and body are doing in each moment. And since golf is one of the few sports with an environment geared towards mindfulness (consider the silent audience), the skill of presence crosses over here from Pilates, beautifully.

Convinced yet? Sign up for a private lesson today, and you’ll be playing lights out in no time.

Stop the Desk Slump- How Pilates Can Help

Stop the Desk Slump- How Pilates Can Help

From Desk to Mat: How Pilates Can Heal Your Postural Woes

Thirteen.

That’s the average number of hours Americans sit each day. Many of those hours are spent at a desk, in front of a computer, practicing bad posture. Since this is everyday life, it’s easy to overlook the damage that something seemingly as trivial as the way we sit at a desk might cause, but the truth of the matter is this single practice might be causing more health issues than you realize.

Desk jobs can cause kyphotic spine, or forward movement of the head, forcing your back and neck to work considerably harder to keep your body upright. This movement increases the probability of injury, creating the potential for disc injuries and pinched nerves. Have you ever wondered how someone could throw their back out or pull a muscle doing something as simple as reaching for their purse or keys? Well, this is how.

Consequences of Poor Posture

·      Poor posture does more than make you look sloppy in candid photos. If you feel like you’re consistently low on energy, or your breathing isn’t quite right, your posture might be to blame.

·      When our positioning is consistently off, we might be exacerbating health issues, such as digestive problems, poor circulation, headaches, and chronic fatigue.

·      If we don’t protect our spine and muscles, they can’t work correctly. Throwing these structures out of wack can cause them to arbitrarily collapse.

What You Can Do About It

·      If your spine suffers from the desk job blues, Pilates can help you sing a different tune. Its balancing movements and focus on the core strengthen the muscles that support the spine, helping you regain that beautiful curvature your backbone so craves.

·      Additionally, Pilates improves strength and mobility, enabling you to hold seated and standing positions for longer periods of time without breaking down your posture.

·      Your flexibility will improve, along with your body awareness. You’ll more easily notice when you’re not sitting pretty at your desk, and you’ll be more mindful to fix it.

·      You’ll likely suffer from few to no injuries, aches, and pains.

Many times, people don’t know they feel bad until they start feeling better. A regular Pilates practice has the potential to help correct and proactively combat any damage that regular, long days at the office have the power to inflict on your spine. Getting your posture in check with Pilates could eliminate the need for medicinal treatments for your ailments, by getting to the root of the problem. If long hours at the office are breaking you down, Pilates could be the answer to help get you back in line.

Nutrition Coaching now at Emerald City Pilates!

Nutrition Coaching now at Emerald City Pilates!

DRUMROLL, PLEASE!

We are excited—no, GIDDY—to introduce our latest team member and what she brings to the health and fitness table. Please welcome Kelsey Jewell to the ECP family, your new go-to gal for all things nutrition!

Kelsey, a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, holds a nutrition degree from Bastyr University. While she does not diagnose or treat disease, she does help bring balance to the body by recommending nutritious foods that promote optimal wellness. Her expertise will help you manifest the healthiest version of yourself.

Kelsey will lead our monthly nutrition meeting, “Kegels & Kale,” provide individual nutrition coaching, and offer three unique programs designed to get your nutrition on point.

RESTORE

If you suffer from severe health issues, such as autoimmune disorders, mental health conditions, disruptions in your digestive system (dysbiosis), or other illnesses that require extensive detoxification, this six-month program is for you. It includes an evaluation of your health history and current habits, a comprehensive analysis of your tailored nutritional needs, and follow-up recommendations for movement. This option allows us to walk you through the process of restoration for an extended period of time, equipping you to convert the program to a lifestyle.

REVISE

Have you lost track of your fitness goals? Do you need to correct nagging health issues, such as acne, recurring headaches, or food sensitivities? Then you’re a perfect candidate for this three-month plan! Together, we’ll discuss your goals, review your health history and current dietary habits, and customize a meal plan for you. You will also receive a life transition guide, recipes, supplemental protocol, and recommendations for lifestyle and movement.

REFRESH

If you’re looking to make small, effective changes by utilizing a whole-foods, nutrient-dense diet to help increase energy, then this monthly, hour-long consultation is the first step in discovering the status of your foundational health. We will assess your current dietary intake and extensively review your health history, in order to outline a game plan to help address your health concerns. We will educate you on the right dietary choices to fuel your own busy lifestyle, provide you with reliable diet-related resources, give you a chance to ask whatever questions you have, and discuss next steps.

Which of our new offerings would best suit you? Shoot us an email if you’re ready to get started with Kelsey today, and stay on the lookout for more details about the new RESTORE/REVISE/REFRESH programs.

Mat vs. Reformer Pilates- Which one is right for you?

Mat vs. Reformer Pilates- Which one is right for you?

As if its ability to strengthen the core and increase mindfulness weren’t enough to keep us singing its praises, another sprinkle to add to the topping of Pilates deliciousness is the fact that there’s more than one type to choose from.

You’ve probably heard of mat Pilates, and you’ve likely heard of the reformer, but how do you know which method is best for you? Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences between the two to help determine which option is more suitable to your goals and lifestyle.

How are they the same?

In the 1920s, Joseph Pilates created a new exercise program to provide functional rehabilitation for war veterans. People found Pilates to be low-impact and highly effective, which is why it’s still widely practiced today. The program is built around strengthening and initiating movements from the core, or the “powerhouse,” as Mr. Pilates called it, and the rest of the body will follow suit. Because of the foundation of the program, you can expect to gain strength, a strong core, flexibility, body awareness, and mindfulness from Pilates, no matter which option you choose to jump into.

If both options will benefit me in this way, why make a choice?

The Mat

Mat Pilates is the foundation of the program’s concepts. Designed to improve strength, flexibility, and posture, a highlight of this low-impact method is that it requires your full attention for accurate body control. In mat Pilates, you use your own weight for resistance, so there’s nothing else to support you, which is important in the development of core strength and body awareness. Mat work can do wonders for your core and posture, as long as you are sure to execute the movements with correct form.

The Reformer

The Reformer is a specialized apparatus designed to take you through a variety of movements with additional resistance. This machine supports the body, helping to perfect your form during the exercises. The springs in the apparatus make it possible to significantly increase resistance, more intensely taxing the muscles and more rapidly building strength and coordination. The cables on the reformer force your body to get full range of motion during workouts, increasing your flexibility and joint health. Plus, the machine just looks super cool, so there’s that.

So how do I choose?

Well, which one is calling your name? If you’re stuck in the middle, one aspect to consider is that you can do mat Pilates just about anywhere, but to do work on the reformer, you need to be around the machine. That may not always be possible, so having mat knowledge is beneficial. Also, you’d need a trainer to teach you how to use the reformer, so consider if you have the resources to hire someone to show you the ins and outs. On the other hand, if you’d like more resistance and variety, the reformer is the way to go. There really is no wrong or right, so think about which option tickles your fancy. But don’t think too long—the benefits are waiting for you!

Do You Mind?

Do You Mind?

Do You Mind?

The breakneck pace of the average American’s professional and personal life is doing potentially irreparable damage to every facet of our health. Most of our days are filled with things we must do, things we should do, and things we’ll never have the time to accomplish (and subsequently end up feeling bad about). The tasks we get around to, we usually perform on autopilot. Our lifestyle has taken the life out of living, but fortunately, there’s a fix for that. It’s called mindfulness.

Mindfulness has become a buzzword in recent years, and is defined as, “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” Ideally, with practice, we can infuse mindfulness into every activity of our day—in our eating, in our conversations, and fitness practices.

Pilates has six core principles, each of which helps us understand the spirit behind the practice. Let’s take a look at them together and explore how mindfulness is inherent to this activity.

Concentration

Pilates is not a passive activity designed to take your mind somewhere else. In order to learn and execute the core-strengthening movements involved, you must turn your full attention to what your body is doing. It’s a wonderful way to strengthen the mind-body connection.

Centering

Centering is getting your emotions in check. It is concerning yourself only with the present moment and releasing any negative thoughts, which is precisely the headspace you want to be in during your practice.

Control

While many fitness programs emphasize strength, numbers, or speed, Pilates is all about control. Your mind must be fully engaged in the movement of the moment, if your goal is to see your efforts reap the most benefits.

Precision

Correct form and movement in your practice is essential to progress and growth. In order to perform the exercises with precision, you must concentrate on how each part of your body feels when you’re doing them right, so you can correct yourself when your form is incorrect. Precision requires focus.

Breathing

In Pilates, your breathing is just as important as your movements. In fact, one way that you can invite mindfulness into your everyday life is to acknowledge your breathing, trading shallow ones for deep ones.

Flow

Flow is the beauty of Pilates. Participating in each movement’s leading to the next, whether painful or peaceful, helps us employ the same technique in life.

Pilates is the ideal way to implement mindfulness into your hectic world. Make practicing a priority, and watch how awareness begins to trickle into every area of your life

Foods that Flatten

Foods that Flatten

Spring never changes its arrival date, but somehow, this pesky season has a way of sneaking up on us every year. If winter zipped past before you could mumble through the chorus of “Auld Lang Syne,” fear not. While we don’t have a secret concoction or a magic pill to help you reach your health goals, we do have a collection of foods, provided by Mother Nature herself, to help you make moves in the kitchen and whittle your waistline.

It’s time to focus on foods in their purest possible forms, specifically NSVs (non-starchy veggies) such as leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, and tomatoes. To satisfy your sweet tooth, opt for apples, berries, citrus fruits, or pineapples (or the fruit of the goddesses, if that’s what you want to call it) in lieu of rich, sugary desserts. And when it comes to protein? For meat eaters, baked or pan-seared chicken breasts are excellent options, salmon and tuna are great fish options, and for the vegetarians, you can’t go wrong with eggs. Vegans, we haven’t forgotten about you! Choose nuts, nut butters, and tempeh.

Another time-tested strategy for eliminating excess fat around the midsection is to consume adequate amounts of water. If you’re dehydrated, you’ll likely see higher numbers on the scale than you would if you were well-hydrated. That’s because when your body feels like it’s lacking a vital resource, it will hold on to the little bit it has available. Increase your water intake for a week and measure the progress with before and after pictures. Be careful though—there is a such thing as drinking too much water. You don’t want to flush out the sodium your body needs to operate optimally. A good rule of thumb is to take your weight in pounds and divide it by two. The quotient from those two numbers is the number of ounces of water you be drinking each day. So, if you weight 150 pounds, you should be drinking 75 ounces of water in a 24-hour period.  

Of course, you must eat these super-foods as part of a healthy diet, not as an add-on to an unhealthy one. Apples won’t make much of a difference if most of your other calories come from oversized burritos, fries, and soft drinks. Be intentional about eating well 80% of the time to see your efforts in the kitchen and the gym pay off in a big way.

You didn’t think we’d leave you with all this information but no application, did you? Try this simple pineapple recipe, guilt free.

Pineapple Carrot Smoothie

  • ¾ cup chopped pineapple
  • ¾ cup chopped carrot (make it small)
  • 1 chopped banana
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 ½ cups papaya juice or almond milk

Blend ingredients to desired smoothness and enjoy!

Do you have a favorite tummy-flattening recipe? Share it in the comments!

Pilates & Plates: Why You Need to Add the Practice to Your Weight-Training Program

Pilates & Plates: Why You Need to Add the Practice to Your Weight-Training Program

Get comfy. It’s story time.

One day, a fit and muscular girl walked into Pilates class. Confident as she grabbed a mat and ball and announced that this was her first experience of the kind, she placed her mat on the floor and waited for the rest of the class to arrive. Looking around as her classmates for the day entered the studio, she decided that this hour would be a piece of cake—she was waaaaay fitter than these other people—and she smiled with self-satisfaction.

About 30 seconds into arm holds (and three minutes into class, period), she began to frantically search the room for someone—anyone—whose shoulders seemed like they might burst into flames before hers. From there, the class only grew more difficult, and she spent several counts panting and wondering why she stepped into this torture chamber to begin with. Pride wasn’t enough to sustain her. She left class humbled and achy, but signed up for more.  

New Girl’s heavy weight training didn’t translate to the Pilates mat, which is why she needed both.

When it comes to Pilates and weight training, it doesn’t have to be either/or—it can be both/and. Participating in a variety of exercises, especially those that seem so different from one another, only serves to make you an all-around fit specimen of a human.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the ways that Pilates compliments your efforts in your weight-lifting sessions.

·      Weight training focuses on big muscle groups that make you stronger and more powerful, while Pilates focuses on the little muscles that are often forgotten. When the little muscles are also strong, they serve as better support for the big muscles, and they also make the big muscles look better.

·      Pilates helps to improve flexibility, an aspect of weight training that is often overlooked. Nagging aches and injuries are a sign that your body isn’t getting the stretch it needs to sustain your weighted resistance training, and sooner or later, you could pay for the neglect with a pull, a tear, or a pain that keeps you out of the gym for weeks. With Pilates, flexibility is the workout, so if you add this gem to your regimen, you’ll be sure to elevate your elasticity game.

·      Pilates is one of the most effective practices to improve core strength, which is of utmost importance in weightlifting. Every lift requires an active core to hold weights in place and keep your body under control while you lift. With a strong core, your body works less, your form improves, and you reduce your predisposition to injury. 

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and try a Pilates sesh or two, and see if there are any gaps in your fitness regimen. If you’re already a regular, invite a friend who spends most of their time pushing weights. You can guarantee they won’t leave without a challenge.

Pilates for Runners

Pilates for Runners

With spring and summer comes the uptick in outdoor running in the Seattle area. It’s a good time to remind runners how much pilates can benefit them and improve their running practice. Here are some ways regular pilates sessions can round out your fitness routine:

·      Increased core strength. Having a strong core helps you maintain proper form, and helps you move efficiently. Many exercises commonly used to strengthen core muscles only work the surface core muscles. Pilates trains you to engage and strengthen the deep core muscles.  Strengthening these deep muscles provides greater stability of your core for longer periods of time. This means being able to run longer with better form, alignment, and balance, all of which lower your risk of injury.

·      Improved balance. Pilates emphasizes balance to continuously challenge your core and form. Balance decreases with age, and most people find that a regular pilates practice improves their balance. As any runner knows, balance is crucial when running down hills or stepping on a rock.

·      Postural corrections. Correcting postural imbalances will help give you better running form. Pilates teaches you proper posture and helps identify any weaknesses that deter you from proper form. Students learn which muscles to fire and strengthen to hold balanced posture.

·      Side to side and rotational movements. Running occurs with forward motion, enhancing and tightening the muscles that propel you forward. For the strongest form, with less injury or chronic pain from repeated running, moving well from side to side and rotationally is necessary. Pilates works the body and spine through all planes of movement in a balanced way.

·      Breath control. Breathing is the first principle of pilates, and each exercise has specific breath patterns designed to teach students how to maximize the breath. You will focus on breathing deeply and fully into the lower lobes of the lungs. Pilates teaches you how to engage the diaphragm and how to use the breath to bring awareness to the core and movement. 

Recent studies have showed that runners have a greater life expectancy (average of 3 years longer), and that running as little as five minutes a day prolongs life spans. Whether you are starting to add running into your routine, or training for competitive races, pilates is an excellent way to improve and balance out your fitness routine.

To learn more about Stephanie and schedule an appointment with her, check out her bio page

Learn More About Your Core- The Psoas

Learn More About Your Core- The Psoas

According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 80% of all Americans will have low back pain at least once in their lives.  If you’re trying to cure your low back pain, be sure to investigate all possible underlying causes.

Many times, low back pain is called by muscular imbalance. Muscular imbalance comes in many forms. A weak muscle can cause the surrounding muscles to overwork.  On the flip side, short/tense muscles can be an equally problematic source of pain.  When it comes to trunk stability, the Iliopsoas (commonly known as the psoas – pronounced soh-uh s) can be a major player in spine mobility/stability and overall health.

Dysfunctions of the psoas can effect the position of the spine and pelvis and lead to increased stress on the low back.  The psoas serves to stabilize your trunk and pelvic region. It is included in the hip flexor muscle group (think running, walking, biking, squats). Due to its length and support role in the body, dysfunction of the psoas can cause a variety of problems including low back pain.

The psoas is the only muscle in the body to stretch across your pelvis, connecting your spine to your lower body.     Deep stabilizers of the body must achieve the same delicate balance as the Seattle symphony at Benaroya Hall. A loud and off key Tuba (psoas) could ruin the performance… Any of these common symptoms may indicate your Psoas is throwing off your physical performance.

  • Excessive low back curve                      

  • Tight hip flexors

  • Trouble rounding your low back when stretching forward

  • Sitting for long periods of time without getting up

  • Repetitive hip flexion (running, walking, biking, squats)

Due to the attachments of the psoas, a short/tight psoas can force the natural curve of the low back to grow bigger and the pelvis to tilt forward. Not only does this posture push the bones of the spine closer together leading to pain (Ouch!) but it can also weaken glutes and abs, and shorten your hip flexors.   Sitting at a desk all day can mean practicing this posture for hours at a time, creating poor muscle patterns and postural issues. We would recommend getting up and moving around between long stints of seated work.  Most experts recommend moving or stretching at least every 30 minutes.   

It is equally important to combat these imbalances by targeting specific muscle groups during your normal workout routine. The key is to quiet down the overactive muscles and wake up the ones that have trouble helping out.

Here are a few muscles to focus your workout outside of work to balance the musculature of the lumbar back and pelvis:

Strengthen:

  • Transversus Abdominus

  • Pelvic Floor

  • Multifidi

  • Abs

  • Glutes      

Lengthen/Stretch:

  • Hip Flexors

  • Quads

  • Low back

If you want to know which Pilates exercises target these muscle groups, connect with one of our instructors for more information!

Are You Ready for Duets?

Are You Ready for Duets?

Are you thinking that you should make the move from private sessions (1:1) to duet sessions (2 students:1 instructor)?  Private sessions, or one-on-one sessions, are great as you are just starting to get to know your body and becoming familiar with Pilates exercises and terminology. But depending on your budget and goals, making the jump from privates to duets could be a good option depending on how you answer these three questions: 

  • Do you know your body well?  Pilates is all about exercising with proper form so if it’s hard for you to tell what your body is doing, the likelihood of being able to self-correct without hands-on cueing by your instructor can be difficult.  Also having a decent understanding of basic anatomy and movement terms will take you far as duets tend to be faster-paced. 
  • Do you have an injury?   Pilates has a deeply rehabilitative aspect and it can be great for helping people with chronic and acute injuries. If you have a specific injury bringing you to Pilates, duets may not be the best option since you’ll be sharing your instructor’s attention with someone else. Not to mention, the added benefit of having a private Pilates session tailored 100% to your body’s needs when you have any type of injury can do wonders!
  • Do you have someone you want to work out with?  Half of the battle with duet sessions is finding someone to work out with.  If you have a friend, family-member or work colleague that you know you will be a good partner for you, duet Pilates can be an excellent option. It’s a great way to have fun and get in shape together while saving some cash.  If you don’t know anyone you could pair up with, check with your instructor as there may be another client at the studio that they could pair you up with. We’ve had lots of success with this at Emerald City Pilates so let your instructor know if you’re interested in being matched up. 

There are many factors not covered in this blog that can be helpful in making the decision between private and duet Pilates but in my experience, the three questions above are key points to consider when exploring this option for yourself. 

Pilates for Swimmers

Pilates for Swimmers

Summer is just around the corner and for many of you that means time for summer sports like running, swimming and hiking.  I started doing Pilates to help me with chronic shoulder and low back injuries associated with racing triathlon. Pilates helped me to train for all three sports -  swimming, biking and running - but today I want to talk more specifically about Pilates for swimmers since Pilates literally saved my shoulders. 

Professional swimmers like Olympic Gold Medalists Natalie Coughlin and Miss Franklin are just a few of the high level swimmers who rely on Pilates to help them perform in the pool. The core strength, body awareness and control, and precise movements of Pilates are exactly what help them to adjust their bodies in the water and get them to the wall faster. But if you’re like me, you’re not out there to win Olympics medals, but instead to enjoy yourself. 

The biggest issue I had as a swimmer was my shoulders. I always had some type of a problem whether it was a painful impingement or a super tight chest. As much as I loved swimming, it gave me postural problems. I can remember practices where I just kicked with a kick board because my shoulders were too injured to work. It was a huge drag! 

Pilates was great for me because it worked so specifically on strengthening my rotator cuff muscles, those tiny shoulder core muscles that keep the ball of my upper arm bone perfectly centered on the tiny socket of my shoulder blade. It also helped to increase the strength of my shoulder blade stabilizers and movers so that those muscles were working correctly. When those muscles weren’t working correclty, it would eventually turn into an injury of some sort. 

And the best part is, with the tiny core muscles and stabilizers of my rotator cuff and shoulder blade working correctly, that meant my larger, more powerful muscles like my lats could work harder and more efficiently to help me create more force in the water. With my tighter, stronger abdominal core I was also able to keep a better body position in the water which decreased the drag off my body and the load on my shoulders and made me faster! 

STOTT Pilates does an excellent job of training instructors so they can teach you how to use your shoulders properly, just as I did. I recently found this amazing video which showcases specifically how Pilates can help with swimming specifically— especially if butterfly is your thing. Make sure you check it out because it’s really cool!

Pilates is something I would recommend for any athlete at any level. We know that many professional athletes like Lebron James and Kobe Bryant love it, but it is as useful and helpful to all the weekend warriors out there (like myself).    If a chronic injury is keeping you from doing a summer sport you love, make sure you schedule an appointment to come and see us. All Emerald City Pilates instructors are STOTT trained and we can help you get back out there doing what you love in a body that feels like a well trained machine.   

Kegels & Kale-Recap

Kegels & Kale-Recap

Thanks to all our members who made it to our monthly nutrition meeting, Kegels & Kale. 

We had a great discussion led by Kelsey Jewell, our nutrition expert, about calorie counting and weight loss.  The big take-away was:   Make sure you are eating enough high quality, nutrient dense foods to support your body’s caloric needs and stay away from fake foods and under-eating, as both can cause serious problems and keep those pounds from melting off!

Kelsey will be offering one on one nutrition coaching at the studio starting in May. Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and promote your overall health.  

Make sure you stay tuned as we will be offering a KILLER deal to work with her and welcome her to the team—just in time to help you look good and feel great for our gorgeous pacific northwest summers!

Pilates & Yoga

Pilates & Yoga

Do you think that Pilates and Yoga are the same?    

It’s not uncommon for Pilates and Yoga to get grouped together. They share many positive benefits such as increased balance, flexibility and core strength while also helping to improve your ability to control your wandering, monkey mind. But what makes Pilates and Yoga different and how can you help determine if group yoga classes or private Pilates session are the right fit for your body and your goals?

Here are the 3 ways that Pilates is different than yoga: 

  1. Emphasis on the core muscles - yes, you hear this word used in Yoga but can your yoga instructor tell you exactly what your core muscles are and how they work? Most likely, they can’t. Pilates instructors know exactly what your core muscles are, how they work, and how you can best get them to work correctly. Pilates' number one goal is proper form and using your body perfectly where in yoga, it's more about achieving a pose.   To learn more about the abdominal core muscles read our previous blog post Learn More About Your Core!
  2. Equipment- Pilates incorporates a ton of equipment into the workout, both small and large apparatus. This equipment helps to better recruit your core muscles in the way they were designed to function through proprioception. Proprioception improves the communication between your body and your brain which produces efficient, easy movement patterns—the stuff that keeps your body moving happily and with ease for the long run. The resistance from the springs in the large equipment also does an awesome job toning the larger, superficial muscles that you want to work so you look lean and feel great. 
  3. Pilates instructors are trained by physical therapists to work with specific injuries so whether it’s your rotator cuff, a bulging disk or a joint replacement, your Pilates instructor can help you cross the bridge from PT to real life because it's based off of modern exercise science and the latest information about biomechanics. This is especially true of Pilates Instructors trained in STOTT Pilates, which we are at Emerald City Pilates.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some yoga, especially aerial yoga (go try this today if you can), but when I’m in a yoga class, I am so grateful that I have been practicing Pilates and have in-depth knowledge about how my body works and a strong, well-functioning core. This knowledge and strength allows me to make smart decisions about how to move through the poses, so I can back off on something that might hurt me or go for it on those poses I can excel at. It’s hugely beneficial to know what’s best for your body, and Pilates gives you that education.