Happy New Year, Happy Goals!


Happy New Year everyone! Here we are just a few weeks since the end of the 2017 Holiday Season. I hope you are all enjoying the sense of inspiration and refreshment this time of the year can bring. Many of us use this time of year to reset nutrition, fitness, career, relationship, or self-care goals. Some people are great with all or nothing, cold-turkey type of goals, but most of us are not. Many find providing structure to their goals makes them more attainable. Remember smart goals are:

  • S – Specific (What exactly will you accomplish?)
  • M – Measurable (Is it quantifiable?)
  • A – Achievable (Is this a realistic goal? Do you have the resources to achieve it?)
  • R – Relevant (Why is this goal significant?)
  • T – Time Specific (When will this goal be achieved?)


A really common and worth-while goal is reducing sugar intake. For those of you working towards this goal, can you interface this goal with the SMART framework? Also, for those of you who are not cold-turkey types, here is a healthy recipe for 1 ingredient banana ice cream!  Enjoy!

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Another Benefit of Mini-Workouts


Exercising can be really intimidating, especially for populations that have poor health habits, lack of exercise aside. However more research is showing that even a little exercise can improve health outcomes for these populations. One such population are smokers. A study that followed nearly half a million Taiwainese smokers over 12 years found that smokers who exercised for just 15 minutes per day were 55% more successful at quitting smoking and 44% less likely to relapse. Just 15 minutes!!

Other similar studies have found:

  • Smokers who are exercises 30-minutes per day increased their life expectancy by 3.7 years
  • Ex-smokers who exercised 30-minutes per day increased their life expectancy by 5.6 years and reduced their risk of death by 43%

Read more details here

30 minutes sessions at Bodytonic range from $40-45 per session.

Vintage Mat Class


Here is a look at an original Pilates Mat Class taught by the one and only Joseph Pilates. This video and is both interesting and funn(y) to watch. Both beginning and advanced Pilates students will recognize some of the exercises taught in this video. The well seasoned Pilates practitioner will notice some modern kinesiology and biomechanics inspired adaptions absent from this video. For example, JP provides a cardio warm up in which he bounces on the balls of his feet while in plantar flexion. Nope. Don’t do it. 🙂

One Approach to Build a Habit and Why Exercise Should Never be Self Torture


“If you hate the monotony of running on the treadmill, but drag yourself to the cardio room daily, believing self-torture will eventually become a habit—that’s not heroic; it’s bad design.” (MacLallen, 2017)

So many people initiate health goals by putting themselves on severe diets or exercise regimens believing that in order to see change in their bodies and health they MUST SUFFER. The truth is this approach often leads to failure and long term healthy habits are built gradually. It’s difficult to draw a margin between the good and bad ones. Along with a slow and steady approach one should seek habits that bring themselves pleasure. If you don’t like running, as is my case, explore different cardiovascular activities that you enjoy until you find one that is enjoyable. For me this is anything dance related and cardio kickboxing classes. Also, build your exercise routine gradually. Maybe start with blocking out 2 days of exercise per week for 1 month, then add one extra day per month over the next few months; this will give yourself time to adjust physically and mentally.

A Stanford psychologist and researchers has developed a helpful 3-step method to establish habits:

Fogg Method

  1. What is your desired outcome?
  2. Identify some easily achievable “tiny habits”.
  3. Identify and implement trigger for “tiny habit”.

Read more about Fogg and his approach here.

Why do you exercise?


Why do you exercise? Among some of the most common reasons are weight loss, stress reduction, and increased social connectedness. These are certainly excellent reason to exercise, however this New York Times article highlights some exciting reasons found in the most current research. A few of the exercise benefits listed are:

  • Significantly reduced risk of premature death
  • Reduced medical care expenses related to heart disease
  • Reduced cancer risk
  • Increased neurogenesis

These are just some of the benefits discussed, if you want to read more, check out the article yourself!

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Hitting the Wall and How to Push Through


screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-7-49-05-am“There’s good evidence that saying motivational things to yourself can benefit your running, cycling or swimming performance,” McCormick said. “Planning what to do if you encounter various problems can also be very valuable.”

At times all of us find ourselves hitting the wall while exercising. It feels like you just can’t go on, you just can’t focus, or you can’t stop thinking about what’s for dinner.

This NYT article, while directed towards distance athletes, provides some good tips on pushing through the wall that can be applied to any form of exercise. Do note that optimal long-term performance requires self awareness which involves interfacing these visualization techniques with listening to and honoring your body’s limits. Finding this line is no easy task, but is very rewarding in the long run as it allows you to push yourself towards your goals without increasing risk of injury.


Pre Exercise Rituals


What do you do to prepare for your workouts? Do you fuel up on a certain type of snack, listen to energizing music, or hydrate with water or an electrolyte drink. Along with having regularly scheduled work outs, also having pre exercise rituals helps to increase exercise adherence. For ballet dancer’s preparing point shoes can be a big part of their pre dance ritual. Check out this video of PNB’s Kaori Nakamura working on her point shoes.

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The Stomach Series


The Stomach Series is one of my favorite Pilates exercises. It is dynamic, fun, invigorating, and easily modified to suit different strength levels. The exercise involves practicing 5 or more abdominal exercises consecutively. While this exercise does wonders for strengthening all of your abdominal muscles it is also practiced in a very safe position for the vertebral column.

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Advanced Short Spine Variation


This video is of an advanced variation of a crowd favorite Pilates exercise, Short Spine. I think Pilates practitioners love this exercise because it allows for a deep stretch and elongation of the back muscles. Like many classic Pilates exercises, the movement in this exercise involves vertebral column loading while in flexion. It should be noted that loading in flexion IS NOT the safest position for your spine. Therefore, exercises that involve loading in flexion should not be performed by everyone, and when performed they should be practiced sparingly, cautiously, and with focus. Furthermore, exercises in vertebral column flexion should be balanced with those performed in extension. During your next workout, note how many exercises involve vertebral column loading.

P.S – Please forgive my fly-aways and early 2000s workout attire. This video was made in 2014 and was originally produced for my eyes only so that I could check out my own form from various angles.

The Keys to Health – Diet, Exercise, and Altruism?


altruism“When Canadian tenth-graders in a recent study began volunteering at an after-school program for children, the high schoolers lost weight and had improved cholesterol profiles compared to their non-volunteering peers. (Even in Canada, teenagers have cholesterol problems.) In the journal JAMA Pediatrics, the researchers concluded, “Adolescents who volunteer to help others also benefit themselves, suggesting a novel way to improve health.”

In another randomized controlled trial at Washington University in St. Louis, older adults who began tutoring children through a program called Experience Corps demonstrated improvements in stamina, memory, and flexibility, as well as levels of depression. When I spoke with Kim last year, he attributed at least part of those gains to the effects of a sense of purpose in life.” (Hamblin, 2015)

Read more here.

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