Category Archives: Health & Wellness

 

Yes you do.

Core strength comes from proper posture as the body moves.  Like so many things, it’s not so much what you do, but how you are doing whatever it is that you do.

We walk around all day long, and every time our spines are upright, we have the opportunity to engage the core muscles. With a little bit of anatomy instruction, a strong stable torso is just a focused concentration of holding the body into an intelligent and happy-fied place!

Anatomy helps tremendously. The most popularly-known among the core muscles are the rectus abdominus, which are considered the 6-pack muscles. These lovely washboard aesthetics may look nice, but they do not imply core strength. What?! Sorry!

Core strength primarily comes from the transverse abdominus, which is a wall of muscle that spans the abdomen from the bottom of the torso all the way to the base of the ribcage, spanning in width from side body to side body, protecting the vital organs and empowering digestion.

This muscular wall works with the hip flexors and back muscles to hold up the space between the hips and the ribs. And it is one of the most vulnerable in the body for the spine, as only the core muscles are in place to hold up the lumbar region of the spine; no other skeletal support is offered.

So what is the #1 reason Americans visit general practitioners? Low back pain. And the number one reason? Weak core muscles.

Physical therapists suggest strengthening these muscles through various ways, such as leg lifts, gentle lower back extension exercises, yoga, and pilates for sure, but this area of the body can be worked as much as possible — the abdominal muscles can never get too much exercise.

So right now, check in and take a look at your pelvis. Are you drawing your abdomen in or sticking it out? Or was the belly just relaxed? Sitting upright, which is an activity we do quite often, is most efficiently performed with the abdominal wall drawing in as the back muscles balance the back of the spine, holding it up like a wooden spoon in the middle of a pot of soup.

Now, draw in your abdomen, sit up a little higher over your tailbone, and let your tailbone get longer by pulling it down and then readjusting to lift back off of it. You should feel as though you are in a neutral position with your pelvis; that is, you should feel as though your pelvis is neither tilting forward or back within the hip girdle.

This requires your mindful, happy-fied engagement of your low back and abdominal wall.

Now, relax and feel the breath comfortably moving up into the ribs rather than down in the belly. Feel the strength of this, and notice how simply breathing and sitting can help you engage your core if you allow for it. There is no need for 8-minute abs when you can engage your core any time you are feelin’ the happy vibe!

You can do this lengthening of the tailbone and engaging the core just sitting, or standing, walking, running, jumping, jogging, working at a computer, watching television — whatever you are doing — assuming you are upright, you can work to strengthen your core muscles. So what exactly isn’t a core exercise? Nada!

And it sure is a big part of happyfication. The lighter and stronger you are in the middle, the happier you are all over.

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Most of us spend our days walking around in our heads. Right now, as you’re reading this piece, you’re likely wholly unaware of your body. You might have some vague, back-of-your-mind sense of your hands on your electronic device or the stiffness in your legs, but for the most part your mind is separated entirely from your body.

Living your life with a weak mind-body connection is a recipe for missing out. There is a richness to living with awareness that is difficult to articulate, but marvelous to experience. When we are fully present in our bodies, with our minds fully engaged and in sync, the world opens up, with stress and strife melting away into the distance. When people talk about being happy, about feeling fulfilled, they are most often talking about times when they lived in a state of full mind-body integration.

Pilates offers a system of not just physical exercises, but mental ones as well that push forward the connection between the physical self and the mental self. Here’s how:

The breath

Mindfulness starts with breath. Breath control is seen in mind-body exercises in all forms and across disciplines. What’s wonderful about the breath, and what’s so important about it, is that it’s both a voluntary and an involuntary muscle movement. When you’re not thinking about it, this necessary bodily function happens on its own. When you are thinking about it, you have the ability to control the rate and depth of it.

The flow of air in and out of the lungs has a powerful effect in a wide variety of other bodily functions, from blood pressure to digestion. Breathing with intention is something that not everyone does on their own, but it’s a central pillar to Pilates instruction. By learning to manipulate the breath, those who practice Pilates can learn to take control of their physical bodies through mental discipline. With each and every exercise on both mat and machine, Pilates is designed to be integrated with precise breath control.

Breathing with intention takes a great deal of practice to master; it’s not something you just learn to control in a day. However, it’s also something literally everyone can do, no matter what other limitations they might face.

Controlled movement

So often, we move around without even thinking about it. We instinctively open doors, drive cars and type on keyboards. Though these movements are often precise in nature by demand, they are rarely executed with any intention. Learning to control movements with more intention is a central pillar in Pilates. Each movement in Pilates is intended to be not only correct, but carried out with control.

Again, this is something that’s developed through practice, and that kind of repetitive practice is wonderfully experienced through Pilates. The more controlled and precise those bodily movements are, the more integrated the mind and the body become. Pilates exercises are slow, with significant attention to detail, versus other similar forms of exercise.

Isolation of movement and mind

Just as we tend to walk around with our minds and bodies separated, so too do we tend to walk around with a sense that our bodies are just one blob of motion that’s moving around without much consciousness. We aren’t engaged with our bodies. Pilates focuses on is teaching us to isolate parts of our bodies, pulling them apart and sensing exactly what’s going on.

Pulling that awareness down to just one small section of the body is an important step in learning how to integrate the body and the mind. Trying to be aware of every sensation and motion within the entire body at once is a tall order, and one that can prove to be a challenge that’s just too much. By bringing the focus down to a small sliver of the body, we’re able to increase the connection between the physical and mental selves. Pilates walks practitioners through the process of isolating one precise part of the body, allowing the mind to experience the connection, even if only for a moment. That isolation comes in many forms in Pilates – from articulating the spine during a head roll to the unique movement of lateral breathing.

Mental and physical focus

Learning how to focus is a skill that can be taught, and Pilates offers a solid teaching tool. More than turning on a laser light, learning to focus is about letting go of all of the things that are weighing down and distracting the mind. That letting go and keeping the mind in one place is important to the mind-body connection as well – allowing the body and mind to align for the same purpose instead of going off in divergent directions.

Pilates pulls focus right down to the forefront through physical activity. This method of learning focus through movement is extraordinarily helpful for many people who have struggled with focus and connection in the past. That’s because the body isn’t offering the kinds of distraction that it normally does. Rather than focusing on something external, Pilates lets practitioners work with the body so that it’s not a distraction but a gateway into better focus.

It’s important to understand that, unless you’re enlightened, you’re not going to live in a perfectly aware state. That’s a great goal perhaps, a distant ideal, but it’s not where even the best of us are. Living with a strong mind-body connection means that you have the ability to pull yourself into that state of awareness when you want to, and that above all you are able to create within yourself a consistent state of at least partial integration.

It’s this level of awareness that Pilates brings to people who practice it. That strong sense of empowerment through integration, the control and the focus as the mind and the body come together through the breath, all work together to build the mind body connection.

Practicing the mind-body connection

Do you think you can bring your focus to that intense mind-body connection for five minutes or less, every day for 100 days? Then download our app and try our 100s to Happiness challenge – and let us know how you feel!

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The way that you start the day is the biggest indicator as to how your day will progress. Starting your morning with focused meditation can set your intention for the rest of the day, preparing your mind to be open, curious, peaceful and relaxed—regardless of what the next 24 hours throw at you.

Mornings are crazy times for most of us. We’ve generally gotten less sleep than we should have, have more things to do than we have time to get done, are running from project to project at an insane pace and have an overall sense of panic and a lack of control. Mindful meditation in the morning promotes a sense of calm, increasing your ability to remain focused throughout the chaos. It’s like a big box of Wheaties for your brain, giving your mind the energy to find happiness and success!

Incorporating morning mindfulness

Won’t adding something else to your already packed morning routine just make things worse? Not at all. Mindfulness is all about bringing yourself into the moment. You’re not adding anything else to your morning; you’re really just changing the way that you approach it.

Including simple mindfulness practices into your morning routine is a wonderful way to expand and uplift your ability to navigate the day. Here are seven quick morning meditations that will bring you happiness even through the hustle and bustle.

All of these meditations take one minute or less. The point here isn’t to sit in a lotus position for hours on end, but rather to pull the practice into the things that you’re already doing. Adapt these as you see fit, as most easily translate into your lifestyle. Mindfulness is a deeply personal practice, one that you need to make your own in order for it to be successful.

When waking

First off, a calming alarm like a chiming bell is a far better way to start your day than a harsh buzz. It will ease you into your day much more smoothly. It’s much easier to transition to a mindful state when you wake peacefully.

Before you even get out of bed, open your eyes wide and look straight up towards the ceiling. Lay your hands at your sides, palms facing up. Breathe in deeply through the nose and out of the mouth, allowing the oxygen to wake up your brain. Do this for three to five cycles, then close your eyes and check in with your body starting at your feet, releasing any tension that you might feel and letting go of any stress that you have for the coming day.

This is your time for you – nothing else matters. Take a few more deep breaths before getting up and moving on with your morning, taking that calm with you.

During your shower

A morning shower is a powerful place to harness the mind. Pull yourself into the moment as you feel the water cascade across you. Allow yourself to become lost in the pitter patter of the drops as they strike your body and the hard surface of the shower. Pull your shoulders down away from your ears and breathe into your muscles as the water washes away tension. Breathe in again through your nose and out of your mouth, savoring the sweetness of the smells and textures of something so simple as a shower.

While brushing your teeth

What do you usually think about when you’re brushing your teeth? Most people fret about the things that are going to happen in the coming day, making lists and ignoring the world that they’re living in. Teeth brushing is an incredibly kinetic experience, which makes it a great way to pull the mind into the body.

Take a few moments when you’re brushing your teeth to feel the brush, to check in with the way your body is moving and feeling. Think about the weight of your body on your feet, the cool edge of the counter, the bristle of the brush against your gums and cheeks. Simply pulling yourself into the moment during this simple task will help you to be less stressed and happier.

While making breakfast

Though the morning meal can be a stressful one, there is still room to be mindful. Prepare breakfast without racing through the thoughts of the day. In mindfulness, simple tasks become powerful ways to connect. Focus on the food that you’re preparing, being thankful for its nourishment and the energy that it will give you for your day. Think about how this food will power you and the people that you’re preparing it for towards happiness and productivity. Then as you eat, think again about how this meal is so important and how it will afford you the fuel that you need to feel energetic and fulfilled.

Drinking morning coffee

Many people use their morning cup of coffee or tea as a meditative tool without realizing it. Consciously take your time with that cup, allowing it to clear your thoughts and free up your mind. That warm feeling that you sense going down into the center of your chest as you drink? Pull it in even further and feel it manifest as happiness that starts right at your heart. Each sip becomes nourishing to both your body and to your mind, loosening stress and increasing awareness.

As you walk out the door

Don’t just run out the door, even if you’re running late. Stop as you get to the threshold and take several deep, cleansing breaths. Whatever the weather is outside, experience it for just a moment before you hop into the car or run for the bus. Take this time to transition yourself from home to the world outside of your home, bringing your awareness to the environment around you. Clear your mind and focus on your breath. Leave home with the intention of being happy and fulfilled by whatever is coming, knowing that you will be able to take care of any problem.

When you get to your destination

As you get where you’re going, again recognize that transition. Take a few moments to release any stress that might have come from the ride over, to let go of any hang-ups that you might have about this day and to instead go into the day with a positive and happy outlook.

Incorporating mindfulness into your everyday life is something that happens everywhere you go, with every step that you take. This is a practice, like Pilates, that you take with you every single day and that affects your wider life. I’d love to be part of your mornings for the next 100 days, helping you take just 5 to 10 minutes to start your day with gentle Pilates, mindful meditations, and inspiring quotes. Make your mornings your own by using these easy meditations for happiness and trying my 100 Day Challenge.

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While there are certainly aspects of life that are difficult and cause us to struggle, there is truly so much pleasure to be had that it just takes unlocking the door to open the floodgates. Give in to silliness. Give in to wackiness. Give in to hope. Give in to being happy. You are in control of your happiness, in control of how you navigate this world and the attitude that you bring to it. In so many ways, happiness is a choice, a conscious one that we have to make every single day. What’s lacking in life isn’t the number of things that could make us happy, it’s knowing how to see them—and then choosing to see them!

Happiness is a conscious choice

Happiness is also contagious. When one person takes up the mantle of being happy, that joy spreads from person to person. It only takes a little effort to be kind to someone, to do something that you didn’t have to do in order to make their day brighter. It only takes a small spark to brighten a day. What’s more, that happiness builds on itself within you. When you create that spark in the life of someone you know, you’ll find that your own fire is a little brighter.

But just in case you need a reminder today, here are one hundred little things in life that bring joy and happiness. This list is a great starting point, but it’s up to you to use it as a jumping off place to find your own mindfulness and happiness.

100 everyday things that make us happy

  1. Singing – the song doesn’t matter at all.
  2. A good hair day.
  3. Snagging a great parking space.
  4. Catching every green light.
  5. A great song on the radio.
  6. Rolling in the grass.
  7. A smile from a stranger.
  8. Popping bubble wrap.
  9. Waking up just before the alarm clock goes off.
  10. A clean kitchen.
  11. Freshly vacuumed carpets.
  12. The silence after the vacuum is turned off.
  13. Riding with the windows down.
  14. Clean sheets.
  15. Unsubscribing from a junk email list.
  16. Getting mail that is not a bill.
  17. Finding surprise money in your pocket you’d forgotten about.
  18. A purring cat in your lap.
  19. A dog who greets you at the door after a long day.
  20. A great movie trailer.
  21. A bubble bath.
  22. Dancing when no one is watching.
  23. Washing your face with a warm washcloth.
  24. Looking for shapes in the clouds.
  25. An elevator that arrives immediately after you press the button.
  26. Arriving just in time for your bus/subway car/plane
  27. Looping your favorite song.
  28. Remembering a happy time in childhood.
  29. Beating a level in a video game.
  30. A hug.
  31. Warm clothes out of the dryer.
  32. A perfectly popped bag of popcorn.
  33. Baby animal videos.
  34. Stepping outside to find that the weather is just right.
  35. Wrapping a present.
  36. Fireflies
  37. Gazing up at the stars.
  38. Hearing birds singing as you open the window.
  39. Running through a sprinkler.
  40. Getting retweeted.
  41. Your team scoring a point.
  42. Your favorite meme.
  43. Someone liking your post.
  44. A sticky note in the middle of a computer screen.
  45. A phone that’s charged 100%.
  46. Catching your phone just before it falls into the sink.
  47. A new episode of your favorite show.
  48. No one in the checkout line.
  49. The perfect sandwich.
  50. How crunchy foods feel in your mouth.
  51. The first bite of an apple.
  52. Peeling and orange in one piece.
  53. The smell of good cooking.
  54. Running your hand along a wall.
  55. Stepping over the cracks in the sidewalk.
  56. Jumping rope.
  57. Dangling bare feet into water.
  58. Skipping down the street.
  59. Finding a great deal.
  60. Coupons.
  61. Picking up a penny.
  62. Tossing a penny into a fountain.
  63. Babies giggling.
  64. Kittens.
  65. Puppies.
  66. New clothes.
  67. Fuzzy socks.
  68. Freshly brushed hair.
  69. The smell of coffee.
  70. Holding a warm mug.
  71. A full moon in a clear sky.
  72. A flower in bloom.
  73. Sunlight through a window.
  74. Finishing the 100.
  75. Constructive rest.
  76. Twists.
  77. Shoulder massages.
  78. Foot massages.
  79. Watching a ceiling fan.
  80. Afternoon naps.
  81. Sleeping late.
  82. A productive morning.
  83. Singing happy birthday to someone.
  84. Donating to charity, even just a dollar.
  85. Giving blood.
  86. Helping someone who needs you.
  87. Being needed.
  88. Someone saying “thank you”.
  89. Saying “you’re welcome”
  90. Holding the door for someone who needs it.
  91. Bagging your own groceries.
  92. Leaving a great tip.
  93. Getting a great tip.
  94. Being early for an appointment.
  95. A childhood cartoon.
  96. Having just enough milk for that last bowl of cereal.
  97. Eating an ice cream cone.
  98. Candles.
  99. Straightening a picture.
  100. Getting to the end of a list.

There are so many little things in life to make us happy! We don’t have to wait around for the major events in order to find joy in life. Look around you every single day and you’ll see so many potential ways for you to find happiness.

Take a moment for yourself today with a quiet moment for wellness and reflection – try it for the next 100 Days and see how it changes your life!

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Workouts can become moving mediation.

Movement and mind are one and the same. You don’t have to stop what you’re doing in order to grow mindfulness in your life and exercise routine – building a mindfulness practice into your workout is one of the best ways to get more out of both your physical body and your mind.

Here are five ways to incorporate mindfulness into your workouts.

Focus on breath

Taking control of the breath is a key to taking control of the mind. Pilates offers very specific instruction on breathing during movements, helping to pull the body and mind together, but not all workout systems do. At first, it’s not important to try to control the breath, only to observe your patterns of breathing and to be aware of the breath as it comes in and out of your body. No matter what exercise you’re doing, focusing on the breath is a great way stay in the moment.

There are other benefits as well. Focusing on breath helps you to get more out of your workout by sending more oxygen to the muscles and to the brain. During a workout you need that boost even more than when you’re just going about your everyday life. There’s a reason that breath control is a central point for so many exercise systems – it works!

Try breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, and exhale during the work of the exercise. You’ll find that the more that you’re able to align your breath with your movement, the more you’ll be able to take control of your workouts and the easier it will be to let go of distractions so that your movements and your thinking can become one and the same.

Use mantras

A mantra is just a word or phrase that you repeat over and over again during meditation. It doesn’t have to be extraordinary or spiritual, but the effect of using a mantra is powerful. Mantras can help you to feel stronger and less like you want to give up. They can be incredibly empowering, propelling you forward when you don’t want to keep going. They focus the mind on the moment, pulling attention away from wandering thoughts and back to the reality of the here and now.

Here are some examples of mantras that you can say to yourself, either out loud or internally. And of course it’s great to come up with your own – use what works, because there are no rules!

  • One movement at a time.
  • My body is getting stronger.
  • I am strong. I am powerful.
  • My mind believes it, my body can achieve it.
  • Just do it.
  • I’m doing this for me.

 

Whatever kind of repeated word or phrase you find to be useful is what you should be using. It could be something as simple as repeating the word “focus” again and again, or something as complex as a quote from a favorite fitness hero. Whatever it is, incorporating a repeated word or phrase into your exercise is powerful.

Visualize

Using the mind to the fullest extent often means thinking in new and innovative ways. While it’s true that our stated goal here is to use mindfulness to pull the body and mind together, sometimes the best way to do that is to disengage from the world around us. For instance you might visualize yourself speeding down a wooded path during a workout on a stationary bike, or running on the beach as you power down the treadmill.

Pulling your mind out of your current surroundings is a great way to help your body and mind to become in tune with one another. People who visualize during workouts often find that they can actually sense their bodies more effectively and that their form actually improves as they let go of distraction.

Be aware of your self-talk

You’re saying things to yourself, whether you realize it not. There is constantly a voice in the back of your mind that is offering a commentary on what’s going on inside you and around you. What is it saying? Is it encouraging you to move forward or is it holding you back? These are some significant questions to think about because negative self-talk can have a tremendously stifling effect on your ability to move forward and can even be the catalyst that pushes you back.

Once you’re aware of your self-talk, you’ll then be able to mold it into positive self-talk that will take you to the next level. Changing your inner dialogue can really help you to reach your goals. This is one area where tapping into the power of a mantra can help you to change the way you talk to yourself during a workout.

Focus on one thing

In order to bring mindfulness to your workout, focus on just one thing at a time. It truly doesn’t matter what you concentrate on – that part is entirely up to you and your coaches or mentors.

This might start with something as simple and straightforward as counting your steps or counting your breaths. You might focus on one spot straight in front of you or think hard about releasing tense muscles. You can even focus on the burn that you’re feeling, which can surprisingly actually make the sensation feel better! That’s because as you pull your attention to it, you learn to feel stronger and less afraid of the discomfort.

By pulling your attention directly to one specific thing, you’ll let go of distractions and keep yourself in the moment.

Whether you add in one or all of these mindfulness techniques into your workout, you’ll notice the results. Working out shouldn’t be a chore – it’s something that should make our bodies and minds feel invigorated, even as exercise challenges us. When you bring your body and mind together, movement can push them both to improve.

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Pilates improves your mind and body, helping you gain more focus and a stronger, leaner physique. However, you may struggle with motivation to perform the exercises or suffer with joint pain and muscle spasms during or after the workout. Though most Pilates exercises are quite gentle, they can also be challenging for those who are new to the program.

Even with a healthy diet, you may not get enough nutrients to help your body recover during a workout. In fact, you may not even have the drive to start a workout in the first place. By introducing certain vitamins and supplements to your diet, you may see improvements in your energy, focus and strength while doing Pilates.

Why take vitamins and supplements during Pilates?

Pilates teaches you how to move efficiently as you train different muscle groups at once. No matter how beneficial Pilates may seem, it’s hard to gain positive results if you lack the energy or deal with joint pain during the exercises. If you have anxiety, depression or fatigue, you may skip Pilates altogether and miss out on all the benefits that come with it.

Supplementing your diet with essential vitamins and nutrients can help you overcome joint pain, combat muscle aches, relieve anxiety and gain more energy. You’ll feel more focused during the workout and have the energy to complete all the exercises.

Some people may need a multivitamin if they can’t meet their recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals from their diets. Others may only need one or two vitamins to help boost their energy or repair muscle damage.

What to look for when shopping

Before you buy your first supplement, you should first:

  • Understand what you lack from your diet. Are you getting enough protein? Do you eat enough fruits and vegetables with your meals?
  • Read the labels carefully. Check out the percentages of each supplement, and see if it meets or exceeds the recommended daily allowance.
  • Check out supplement reviews & rankings online. Compare different brands, and read various reviews from those who have bought them. What works for some may not necessarily work for you.
  • Visit a few supplement blogs for additional information. Some bloggers may give tips and tricks to maximize a supplement’s effectiveness and help you gain more insight into vitamins as a whole.

 

L-theanine

L-theanine, a nonessential amino acid, forms the building block for proteins. Found in black and green tea, this amino acid has a similar chemical structure to glutamate, a naturally occurring amino acid in your brain. A study conducted in 2013 found that L-theanine reduced anxiety in graduate students as they were assigned stressful work. People also use this amino acid for treating their anxiety and improving their focus.

Since Pilates requires focus and concentration to perform the movements, L-theanine may help to clear your mind during the exercises. With less anxiety, you commit to the slow yet challenging routine and leave your worry behind. With greater focus, you learn how to control the movements and your breathing, which can help reduce your stress when it’s done properly.

Omega-3/Fish Oil

Omega-3 fatty acids may provide numerous health benefits, according to the Mayo Clinic. Fish oil contains two essential omega-3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. Studies have shown that these acids may promote greater heart health, reduce depression and help with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Fish oil also contains vitamin D, an essential nutrient for maintaining healthy bones and protecting against cancer and diabetes.

Your heart rate and blood flow increase as you exercise. Fish oil supplements can help reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes and prevent an abnormal heartbeat. The vitamin D in the fish oil will help strengthen your bones as they support your body weight during the exercises. Since fish oil helps with depression, it may improve your mood, refresh your mind and help you reap the benefits of each movement in the routine.

Joint & bone support vitamins

Joint and bone support vitamins contain many different substances to help build and repair your joints, bones and cartilage. These supplements may contain up to five or six different vitamins and compounds for targeting different areas of your body.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are two common ingredients found in these supplements, both occurring naturally in healthy cartilage. When taken together, they may help relieve pain, improve joint mobility and slow the progress of osteoarthritis damage. These support vitamins may also contain calcium and vitamin D, a powerful combination of essential nutrients. While calcium aids in bone health, growth and repair, vitamin D maintains bone structure and helps reduce the loss of calcium in your body.

Pilates not only improves muscle elasticity but also joint mobility. The more you bend and stretch, the more force you exert on your joints. You need optimum joint mobility to perform Pilates moves efficiently. Taking these supplements may help relieve pain in your joints during a session, allowing you to perform the exercises to your fullest extent.

Vitamin C

Ascorbic acid, better known as vitamin C, is a water-soluble antioxidant. Because your body doesn’t make or store this vitamin, you have to get it from certain foods such as fruits and vegetables. It helps your body grow and repair tissue, including collagen for making tendons, ligaments and cartilage. Vitamin C not only aids in healing wounds but also boosting the immune system. Though vitamin C deficiency is rare in North America, some people may not get enough from their diets alone.

Pilates conditions your entire body, including your joints. It balances your strength and flexibility, making you more agile and less prone to injury. Taking vitamin C while doing Pilates may help you recover from the workouts more quickly. Since it repairs muscle tissue, you’ll experience less downtime between workouts. Vitamin C also aids in collagen growth, so your tendons and ligaments will benefit from this supplement as you stretch and flex your way to better health.

Protein bars or powders

Protein not only helps to build strong bones, muscles and cartilage but also enzymes, blood and hormones. It’s a vital building block for healthy skin, hair and nails. This nutrient is abundant in red meat, poultry and fish, including nuts, beans, peas and rice. It provides many benefits such as preserving and building muscle, reducing hunger, improving the immune system and coping with stress. Protein is such an important part of the human body that you would not exist without it.

During Pilates exercises, you’re developing a stronger core and back, gaining lean muscle and improving your flexibility. Each hold or repetitive movement creates small micro tears in your muscles. Consuming protein bars or powders before or after your workout sends the protein to each muscle, helping to rebuild it and make it stronger than before. With stronger muscles, you can perform the exercises even better and progress further in your workout. This is a solid list of the 10 best protein powders to consider.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is found in meat, fish and dairy products and used to treat fatigue, memory loss and depression. It’s an important vitamin for your metabolism and the proper development of your blood cells, brain and nerves. Adults require at least 2.4 micrograms daily; however, they may not get enough from food alone. Some doctors administer vitamin B12 shots to their patients to help them overcome fatigue and other symptoms of B12 deficiency.

You need enough energy and drive to start and perform your Pilates exercises. Taking vitamin B12 supplements before a workout may give you a boost and help you see the entire session through to the end. Vitamin B12 combats depression and gets you up and going again. Because Pilates helps to reduce stress, combining vitamin B12 with your workouts could do wonders for your mind and overall health.

Magnesium

Magnesium does so much for your mind and body, from regulating your blood pressure to building strong bones. It keeps your heart rhythm steady and calms your nerves. This mineral also helps with digestion, relieves muscle aches and increases your energy levels. Unfortunately, magnesium deficiencies are common in the U.S. and may lead to inflammation, heart disease and diabetes.

Wrapping Up

Pilates is a mind-body workout. Not only does it improve your muscle strength and flexibility but also your concentration and spinal alignment. An anxious, nervous mind will only hinder your progress. If you’re not getting enough magnesium in your diet, it could lead to inflammation and cause more pain and discomfort during your workout. Magnesium relieves spasms and pain caused by overexerting your muscles and keeps you calm and focused while performing the exercises. It’s an important supplement for improving your Pilates exercises and life outside of the gym.

Now that you’ve powered up with all your supplements, try downloading the 100 day Pilates challenge! At the end of 100 days, we hope you’ll feel happier, focused, stronger, and more centered.

 

About Rick Grimes

 

Rick Grimes is a former pro soccer player who now focuses his efforts on helping people better themselves. You can check him out on Google+ to find more of his articles on health, fitness, supplements, nutrition and more.
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Though it’s a widespread belief that mindful mediation is a thing in which people sit down cross-legged and stay still and silent for hours on end, in but the truth is that mediation is so much more than that. Mindful meditation is about being here and present in this moment, without thinking about what’s coming next or what’s come before. Particularly today with the swirl of electronics and the sway of mounds of tasks to occupy our minds, it’s a monumental challenge for us to feel as though we’re right here and now. Our bodies our in one place and our minds completely another.

10 Benefits of pairing mindfulness with fitness

 

Adding mindful meditation to the workout has a wide variety of benefits, allowing for improvements in physical, mental and emotional health.

Stress reduction

 

It’s well-documented that just one month of practicing mindfulness brings down stress levels dramatically, both in the sense that people feel less stressed and in the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) that can be found in their bodies. Working out is already a powerful way to reduce stress, but adding in mindfulness offers a perfect pairing, increasing the results.

Clearer thinking

 

Mindfulness leads to more focus and clearer thinking. Working out sends much needed blood flow to the brain, washing it in oxygen and mind building nutrients. Adding mindfulness into the mix increases verbal reasoning skills, working memory and concentration.

Knowledge of self

 

Who are you? What do you want out of life? It’s easy to just plug in and keep going, without realizing whether or not this is the kind of path that you should be on, the one that really makes you happy. Practicing mindfulness gives the mind the chance to slow down and get thinking about what’s really important instead of being constantly focused on task lists. There’s a chance to realize flaws within yourself as well as opportunities. That clarity is far more valuable than many of us can imagine without it.

Better form

 

Attaining great form is an important part of any workout routine. It prevents injury and leads to results. However attaining great form doesn’t happen when you’re constantly thinking about something else. In order to improve form and perfect technique, presence is a must. Adding mindfulness to the regimen helps to keep the focus where it should be – on the body.

Improved awareness

 

Somewhere along the line it became cool to hate being active. The couch potato culture that’s been snowballing for decades is something that everyone has to wrestle with, and that causes many people to actually fear activity. Mindfulness shows us that there really isn’t anything to fear – being present in your body and in this moment is not only perfectly alright, it’s actually pretty amazing! Instead of trying to escape the occasional discomfort of exercise, mindfulness helps us learn to enjoy our bodies even as we push them to change and improve.

Easier weight loss

 

Regularly practicing meditation is linked to improved outcomes for people who are trying to lose weight. That’s right, sitting still and clearing your mind can help you to reach those weight loss goals. Why? For all of the reasons that we’ve listed here that mindfulness is great for you! Bodily awareness, improved focus and attention, better understanding of self, etc. These reasons and others that we perhaps can’t even put our finger on are all contributing factors for hitting those goals when it comes to bodily changes.

Fewer sick days

 

Nothing challenges the great groove of a workout routine like getting sick. Mindfulness meditation is directly linked to lower incidences of illness, and for those that do get sick the duration is shortened. Now that doesn’t mean that if you meditate that you’re never going to get a cold, but a regular practice will make you less likely to catch that virus that’s running rampant through the gym.

A better night’s sleep

 

Getting a solid amount of sleep is an integral part of staying healthy and supporting those workouts. When the mind regulates itself more effectively, it’s less likely to be out of control at bedtime when the brain needs to be taking a break. As working out regularly has a similar effect, when the two are put together it’s a perfect recipe for getting the right kind of sleep in order to stay healthy.

Self improvement

 

Meditation and mindfulness actually make us better people. Though it may seem a little outlandish, it’s actually true that practicing the art of mindfulness increases empathy, in those who practice. What does that have to do with working out? Success in life isn’t just about the self, and in order to get the most out of your workouts you’ve got to be able to connect with others. People who really become passionate about health and fitness aren’t just concerned for themselves, but for the people around them who deserve to be happy and healthy. Mindfulness helps to take the workout mindset out to the wider world, inflaming your own passion for getting fit.  

Long lasting effects of mindful meditation

 

One of the truly amazing aspects of meditation and mindfulness practices are that they have these incredible effects that stick with you, they are there for long after the meditation session is over. Once that meditation session is over, the brain continues to have improved emotional regulation and attention span. We can really see here how much meditation is like working out – the results are something that we can count on. Working out and mindfulness are two parts of your health and fitness life that you want to stick with you for today and for the years to come.

While Pilates and mindfulness go hand in hand, thanks to the body-mind connection that is a focus of Pilates, mindfulness is something that can be incorporated into any workout system. Adding a mindfulness practice into your workout routine helps to created a well-rounded experience, one that promotes health and wellness in holistic way.

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The hardest thing in life is to begin. So often we can clearly see the image of what we need to do in order to move forward in life, be it by improving our health or letting go of emotional baggage. Seeing what’s wrong is most definitely not the problem.

The stumbling block is in the doing – in the making it happen.

Why 100?

This is a number that seems outrageous to say the least. How can you possibly get a list of 100 things to take control of your health with? Isn’t that far too many? Could you ever even hope to accomplish this much? Aren’t you just going to set yourself up for failure with this ridiculous goal?

Actually 100 is a perfect number simply because it does seem to be so daunting and impossible. Life is daunting and seemingly impossible! When you create a list of 100 and then start accomplishing what’s on it, you magically find that you’re able to do all kinds of things that you never imagined were possible!

Anyone who is familiar with Pilates knows that there is a central exercise called “the 100”.  To do this central exercise, you basically lie flat on your back on the mat, then roll your shoulders and head up off the floor, lift your legs into the air, then straighten you arms and pump them up and down by your sides one hundred times. At first it’s grueling. Just as in this list idea, the idea of doing 100 seems to be completely outrageous. Just as in the list of 100, the 100 in Pilates is the warm-up for the workout that’s to come.

However that’s one of the truly amazing things about Pilates – it teaches us that we have a control over our bodies that is far more than we ever thought to be possible. By starting out here, with this incredible number, you’re already jumping in and overcoming this huge hurdle before you even begin, which makes the whole process even more easy and intuitive.

How to get started

“Were man to devote as much time and energy to himself as he has devoted to that which man has produced, what astounding and unbelievable progress would be made; a progress eclipsing all he has so far successfully accomplished…” – Joseph Pilates

Sit down, grab a pen and paper (or type it up if you’d prefer) and get ready to move forward. The first step in any journey is the most powerful – absolutely. Realize that you need to take time to devote to improving yourself, and that this is time that’s well spent and incredibly important for you to be the most that you can be. Too often we spend all of our time focused on getting everything done for everyone else, neglecting the importance of taking care of ourselves.

Create your list around a theme, somewhere that you want to focus in order to take control and improve your life. Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling.

  • 100 health improvements
  • 100 wellness goals
  • 100 ways to improve yourself
  • 100 ways to get more out of your Pilates routine
  • 100 ways to increase your family’s health
  • 100 ways to let go
  • 100 things that aren’t working in your life
  • 100 things you love about yourself

 

Think of your list as a bit of a “brain dump” – you’re getting it all out and down on paper to allow you to get started.  Here are the basic tips for how to get that list of 100 going.

Think of your list as a bit of a “brain dump” – you’re getting it all out and down on paper to allow you to get started.  Here are the basic tips for how to get that list of 100 going.

  • Create a Framework

Number from 1-100 first, then add in entries for each number.

  • Go for speed

This whole process should be done at one sitting, in one single go. It shouldn’t take you more than an hour. Actually, it will probably take you considerably less time than that!

  • Write in shorthand

Don’t worry yourself with complete sentences, just get it down as quickly as you possibly can. You don’t even have to use complete words as long as you can decipher it later. You can even draw pictures or mention resources.

  • Ignore the numbers

Once you’ve numbered your paper, just completely forget about which number you’re on and blow through that list. Get in a mode of generating the ideas and just go forward. The more you get into a flow and work without losing time to check where you are, the easier the whole process will be. You’ll actually likely find that you could easily get even past 100 if you just let it flow.   

  • Repetition is fine

It does not matter if you repeat some entries – it’s almost impossible not to. You can go back and see which ideas popped up more than once and you’ll know that those are more important or those that you’re putting too much emphasis on.

  • Don’t judge

It’s important that you don’t evaluate things as you go down the list – just go! You’ll be able to weed it out later.

Customizing your list and using it

You taking the time to take control of your health isn’t being selfish – it’s the best way that you can care for the people that you love, because it ensures that you can offer them the best you that’s possible.

To get started, just create the space to fill up with your goals. When you open up that space, it will naturally start to grow. With this list you’ll be able to start moving forward to the changes that you want to make in life.

To use the list, take the 100 things that you’ve put on it and separate them out into categories, then get into your mind when and how to tackle them. When you come back to evaluate them, you might find that some were not terribly useful and that others are for far off in the distance.

100 is a number that can lead you to fulfillment and empowerment. It’s a number that can help you to take yourself to the next level and to accomplish things that you never thought were even remotely possible. 100 is a path to happiness.

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Getting more out of your life by taking control of the health of your mind and body is within your reach. 100’s to Happiness is here to help you with options that fit your level, your lifestyle and your goals with virtual classes. Virtual classes are a core part of what we’re all about, and with good reason. Flexible and accommodating, challenging and exciting, virtual classes are an interface that work for almost everyone. This is a technology that truly enriches your Pilates practice, helping you to make the most of your hard work.  

There are so many marvelous reasons to subscribe to the on the Go Virtual Classes offered by 100s to Happiness, but here are the top five:

1 – Challenge yourself by going beyond 100

Completing 100 challenges is a solid way to kickstart a change in your lifestyle, but they aren’t the end. In order to keep growing you’ve got to keep going.

The virtual classes offered through 100s to Happiness give you the next step in the process, extending your practice from the mastery of a single exercise to a complete routine. Part of the beauty of Pilates is that it’s a system that’s extensive and varied. Thanks to its long history and rich diversity, you can keep developing your practice with new exercises, variations on current moves, form improvements and dynamic combinations of movement.  

2 – Access them anywhere

Virtual classes can be accessed anywhere – from your phone or on the web. That’s important because it means that you’re not limited in where you’re able to get your workout done! We live in a super busy world, one in which it’s not always possible to get to the gym. With virtual classes that you can access anywhere, you can get your fitness routine in everywhere.

In fact, the workouts included in the virtual classes are specifically designed to be done with minimal or no equipment! You can literally sneak one in anywhere that you’ve got just a bit of space just by pulling up the app on your phone and joining in with the video exercises.

3 – It’s cheaper than the gym

At just $4.99 per month, the On the Go subscription is a steal! Your gym membership is probably at least double that, plus there’s the additional cost of getting yourself there. The On the Go subscription allows you to get fit while minding your budget.

4 – Access to Pilates experts

No matter where you live, no matter what kind of Pilates resources are in your area, you can have access to experts in Pilates through these virtual classes. Whether you’re wanting to refine your techniques or to learn the right way from the start of your Pilates journey, you’ll be able to get access to the expertise that you need to do it all right.

There is no substitute for experience, which is something the creators of 100s to Happiness virtual classes have in spades. The instructors that you see in virtual classes and workshops through our online subscription are PMA certified and masters of this craft.

5 – A healthier you!

Your body matters and so does your mind. Pilates helps you to enrich and support them both, empowering you to improve your overall health. There are so many health benefits for people who practice this amazing form of exercise.

Just in case you needed a reminder, here’s a quick refresher on the benefits that you get with Pilates:

  • Increased muscle tone
  • Core strengthening
  • Improved flexibility
  • Enhanced muscular control
  • Spine stabilization
  • Improved posture
  • Better balance and coordination
  • Injury prevention
  • Increased lung capacity through breath control
  • Stress reduction

 

By expanding your practice with virtual classes, you’ll see your health grow through Pilates by leaps and bounds. You’re taking control of your body, becoming more in tune with who you are and giving you a better understanding of your body and mind. You can do it and virtual Pilates classes will make it easier.

Whether you’ve already joined the 100s to Happiness community or are brand new, you’ll find that signing up for virtual classes is easy! Just login (or quickly create a login) through our website or by downloading the free app on iOS or Android devices. Once you’re registered, you’ll be able to access a free virtual classes so that you can try before you buy. From there you’ll be able to enter your payment information and take your Pilates practice to the next level!

 

 

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