In this issue
Time-Saving Tips from the Experts
Ah, fall. The leaves are changing, the temperatures are dropping…and your life is more hectic than ever. Wish you could add more hours to the day? You can—with a few smart time-saving strategies. Here, the pros share their expert advice for streamlining your schedule and making the most of every moment.
1. Track your time. “Keep a journal of how you spend every minute for at least one day,” says Executive Coach Kathryn McKinnon, author of Triple Your Time Today (2011). Although this exercise takes a little effort, you’ll gain perspective on how you truly spend your time. “It can help you pinpoint distractions and where you should be concentrating your efforts.”
2. Make a plan. In the evening, go over your schedule for the next day. “That way, you won’t be surprised in the morning,” says McKinnon. She recommends setting three goals and blocking out time to accomplish them.
3. Tackle tough tasks. Instead of putting off that big project, plan on jumping on it when you know that you’re the most productive. Are you a morning person? Set aside a few hours in the a.m. to write up that big presentation when you’re at your sharpest.
4. Turn off distractions. To help you concentrate at the project at hand, turn off your e-mail alerts and put your phone on silent. “This will help block out distractions and keep you on track,” suggests McKinnon. It’ll also increase your productivity: Studies show that people take longer when they switch between tasks than if they just did them one at a time.
5. Bundle errands. Instead of making separate trips, set aside all of your errands for one afternoon—and then run them all at once, suggests Shari McGuire, author of Take Back Your Time (2011). The same applies to finances and appointments.
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Forget debaucherous antics and endless cocktails: These days, parties are taking a turn for the healthier. Many people are booking their celebrations at Pilates studios. “It’s a great way to have fun while breaking a sweat,” says Gabrielle Cahoon, owner of Studio 48 Pilates and a STOTT PILATES® instructor and trainer in Whitefish, Montana. Consider these unconventional spins on revelry.
Bachelorette parties and bridal showers: “I got the idea from my own wedding,” says Cahoon. “My bridal party did a class, and it was the perfect icebreaker for all of my out-of-town guests to meet.” At her studio, brides wear a festive veil during their choice of a mat, barre or jumpboard class.
Pilates samplers: For private studio parties, Amy Dixon, owner of Inner Strength Pilates in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, offers a circuit class with three or four instructors. “Each group of four spends about 15 minutes rotating through our Reformers, Cadillacs, CoreAligns, Chairs and Barrels. This allows the guests to try all the equipment and various exercises for the first hour.” That’s followed by refreshments, which are provided by the host or studio. “We’ve hosted holiday, bridal, birthday and office parties, as well as girl get-togethers.”
Birthday celebrations: Cahoon decorates the studio with balloons and offers party favors, such as almonds and a discount coupon for a class, while party-throwers at Dixon’s studio can request a massage therapist for mini-massages. “Whatever the event, these parties are an excellent way to have new people come in and try out the studio,” says Cahoon. “And it’s a healthy way to bond and celebrate!”
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& A with Rael Isacowitz
Q. I spend all day sitting in an office cubicle. Are there any discreet stretches that I can do at my desk to relieve stress and prevent injury?
A: I applaud you for asking this question. Few things impact our bodies and lives more than sitting at a desk—usually in front of a computer—for hours on end. It changes body alignment and posture: Muscles, such as the back extensors, become deconditioned, and the hip flexors and chest muscles in particular tighten. In fact, I would venture to say that it has become the number-one nemesis of the modern lifestyle.
This is the reason why I believe strongly in the evolution of the Pilates method. We live in a completely different world than Joseph Pilates did. For this reason, some of the repertoire needs to be modified—not discarded, not changed completely, but the focus redirected to achieve specific goals.
That said, here are 10 moves to lessen the negative repercussions of sitting:
1. Stand up every 20 minutes (more frequently if possible). This activates the back extensors and stretches the hip flexors and the chest flexors. It’s also an opportunity to stretch your abdominals, align your body with gravity (particularly the head), release tension from your neck and shoulders, and allow your inner organs to function without restriction.
2. Grasp your hands together behind your back, with your arms straight, if possible. This stretches your chest, particularly the pectorals and the anterior deltoids. While in this position, extend your upper back and look up toward the ceiling. This engages the muscles of the mid- and upper back and stretches the chest muscles further.
3. Clasp your hands together above your head with your arms straight and reach your arms back (but avoid thrusting your ribs forward). This stretches the shoulder region and engages the mid- and upper-back extensors.
4. Sitting upright, allow your head to gently reach to the side with the ear toward your shoulder. Keep your shoulders relaxed as you gently put your hand on the crown of your head for an additional stretch. Complete on each side, and then allow your head to face down to stretch the back of your neck.
5. Roll your shoulders forward in a circular motion and then back. Do them individually at first, then simultaneously. Pause with your shoulders reaching back, stretching the front of your chest.
6. With your pelvis anchored and weight evenly distributed on your sitz bones, rotate your trunk to one side, back to the center, and then to the other side. Increase the range of motion with each repetition.
7. While seated and facing your desk, lift one knee to hip height and then extend your lower leg from your knee. Flex and point your foot. Do the same on your other leg. Continue, alternating legs.
8. Standing or seated, reach one leg back. Slowly bend your back leg and then straighten it to stretch both the one-joint and two-joint hip flexors. Repeat several times.
9. Place a tennis ball between your chair and back, and move it around to different positions. This provides a pleasurable massage and keeps your pelvic lumbar region moving.
10. Consider alternating between sitting in an office chair and on a large ball. While sitting on the ball, move your pelvis from side to side, back and forth, and in a circular motion.
Rael Isacowitz, MA, has been practicing Pilates for more than 30 years and is recognized internationally as an expert in the field. In 1989, Rael founded BASI Pilates®, a comprehensive Pilates education organization represented throughout the world. For more information, visit www.basipilates.com.
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Close Up: Side Leg Kicks
By Andrea Speir; photography by Rod Foster
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In our Sept/Oct issue, Andrea Speir, a Pilates instructor and co-founder of The Pilates Fix, shares the one tool you need to tone up this fall: the Magic Circle. This device may look simple, but its built-in resistance offers multitasking benefits. Case in point: The following bonus move strengthens your rear and hip flexors, challenges the abdominals and improves overall coordination.
Setup:Lie on your side along the back edge of the mat, shoulders and hips aligned with the edge and head resting in the palm of your hand. Bend your knees and stack them with your knees directly across from the hip, bent in a 90-degree angle. Place the Circle around the outer edges of your legs, above your knee. Bring your free hand to act as a pillar in front of your abdominals.
1. Drawing both shoulders down your back, deepen your abdominals and lift your top leg, creating tension in the Circle by pushing up with your top leg and stabilizing down with yourbottom leg.
2. Maintaining this tension, flex both feet actively and pulse your top leg up 10 times.
3. Extend your top leg straight in front of you, making sure that your leg is evenly placed in the center of the Circle’s pad.
4. Flex your top foot, actively reaching out through your heel and away from your hip. Pulse your leg up and down 10 times, aiming up slightly from your heel to engage your gluteus medius and ease tension in your hip flexor and front of your body.
5. Bend your top leg and lower down. Switch sides and repeat on other side.
Tips: Always keep your foot flexed so that the gluteus medius stays engaged. A slight tilt up from your heel will also increase the effort.
Certified through Power Pilates, Andrea Speir is the co-founder of the company The Pilates Fix and her new DVD, Trim Tighten and Tone (The Pilates Fix) was released this summer. Her best-selling Perfect Pilates Body DVD (Appcession) hit shelves in 2012, with a mobile app for iTunes and Google Play that hit the top 100 Fitness App’s list on iTunes within months of its release. For more information, visit www.andreaspeirpilates.com..
When it comes to eating produce, we're falling short as a nation. Only 26 percent of Americans eat a measly three servings of vegetables a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But there's an easy way to sneak more nutrition into your day: Swap staples, such as rice, potatoes and pasta, for a vegetable alternative. Not only will this move ramp up your fiber and vitamin intake, but you'll also slash major calories. So what are you waiting for? To get started, try one of these three mouthwatering recipes.
Yellow Cauliflower "Rice"
(Makes 4 servings)
2-3 saffron threads
2 tablespoons cooking oil or ghee (clarified butter), divided
2 large cauliflower heads, cut into large pieces
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon fine salt, plus more as needed
1 small white onion, finely diced
½ teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
1. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick silicone mat.
2. Break the saffron threads into small pieces and place them in a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of oil or ghee and set aside in a warm place, such as next to an oven, for 10 minutes.
3. Add the cauliflower, turmeric and ¼ teaspoon salt. Blend well, coating the cauliflower thoroughly.
4. Spread the cauliflower onto the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown and it's tender when pierced with a fork.
5. Place the onions, fish sauce (optional) and remaining 1 tablespoon oil or ghee in a small skillet and cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent and start to brown, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Let the cauliflower cool for a few minutes. Place it in a food processor to process into rice-size pieces, or chop finely by hand.
7. Combine the cauliflower "rice" with the onions and blend well. Add salt to taste.
Excerpted from Cooking for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, Courtesy of Ulysses Press/Erica Kerwien.
Spaghetti Squash and Spicy Meatballs
(Makes 4 servings)
1 medium spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds), halved crosswise
For the meatballs:
½ pound lean ground turkey
½ pound lean ground beef
¼ cup finely minced fresh spinach
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
½ teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
For the tomato sauce:
1 cup diced yellow onion (about ½ onion)
2 tablespoons peeled and finely minced garlic (about 4 large cloves)
4 cups diced vine-ripened tomatoes (about 3 large tomatoes)
1 cup water, plus more as needed
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup minced fresh basil, densely packed, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh oregano, densely packed
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh marjoram, densely packed
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, densely packed
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Carefully place the halved squash into the pot, using a sturdy pair of tongs, and boil for 20-25 minutes, or until tender.
2. Let the squash cool for at least 10 minutes. Using a large spoon, scoop out the pulp and seeds; discard. Separate the spaghetti squash strands with a fork, scraping with the grain of the noodles. Then use the same large spoon to remove the strands. Divide the "spaghetti" strands into four bowls.
3. Meanwhile, place all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and thoroughly mix together. Using a cookie dough scoop (or small ice cream scoop), form bite-size meatballs.
4. Place the meatballs into a large ovenproof skillet, cooking them in multiple batches until cooked. (No extra oil is needed.) Place the meatballs into the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
5. Transfer the skillet from oven to stovetop. Sear the meatballs for 5 minutes, browning them on all sides. Remove from the heat, drain the fat from the pan and let cool for several minutes. Using a slotted spoon, divide the meatballs among each bowl of squash; set aside.
6. Make the tomato sauce: In a medium pot over high heat, combine the onions, garlic, tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. (Add more water as needed.) Mix in the herbs and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
7. Remove the sauce from the heat and pour over the meatballs and squash. Garnish with additional basil, if desired; serve hot.
Excerpted from Paleo Fitness by Darryl Edwards, Courtesy of Ulysses Press/Corey Irwin
Garlic Mashed "Potatoes"
(Makes 4 servings)
1 large cauliflower head
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cooking oil or melted ghee (clarified butter)
1-2 cups warm water or dairy-free milk
1. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Cut the cauliflower into bite-size pieces; place in a large bowl. Add the garlic, salt and ghee or oil and stir to fully coat the cauliflower.
2. Place the cauliflower on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is browning around the edges.
3. Let the cauliflower cool for a few minutes. Transfer it to a blender or food processor. Slowly blend in the water or milk until the mashed cauliflower mixture reaches your preferred consistency. Serve warm.
Excerpted from Cooking for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, Courtesy of Ulysses Press/Erica Kerwien
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