Self Love & Self Acceptance Through Body Positivity

As someone who has struggled with body image issues for decades, it has been hard to come to a place where I not only accept my body, but I have learned to love my body.  I have let go of the days of skipping meals, doing grueling workouts and hating what I saw in the mirror for true love and acceptance of my body, as it is right now.

Learning to accept my body as it is has also shifted the way I think about my business and how I can be of service to others. Being in recovery for disordered eating for over decade now, I’ve always thought about how I can use my experiences to help others. I think now, through the coaching services that I offer, I am able to do that. At least, I hope that I can do that.

There is still not a lot of exposure for men with eating disorders or that are in recovery for disordered eating. There is still not a lot of exposure for men in the Body Positive Movement (although I think that is changing). It is my hope that I can be a face and a voice for men dealing with body image issues.

In this video, I share what the Body Positive Movement means to me. How it is helping me to love and accept myself a bit more, and how it is inspiring my business as a Yoga and Pilates teacher and a Wellness Coach.

Flab to Fab: What To Eat To Lose Weight

If you are like most people, including me, you have made losing weight a goal for 2018. You may have heard the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen not the gym”, which means that nutrition is an important factor in losing weight. In fact, 75-80% of your body composition is from what you eat.

But where to start? Knowing what foods to avoid and what to eat to nourish your body can be overwhelming with all the new diet fads and trends that we are bombarded with at the start of the year. Seriously, how many times have you seen Marie Osmond on TV this week alone?

In this video, I offer some simple tips to get started on a clean eating nutrition plan. Clean eating is one of the easiest things you can do. Its a not a trendy diet, instead it teachers you a more sustainable way of eating to help you lose weight and keep it off.

Don’t forget to like, comment, share and subscribe for more in my Flab to Fab Weight Loss Journey video series.

Boston Voyager Magazine – Inspiring Story

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I was super excited when I was approached by Boston Voyager magazine to be featured in their section of “Inspiring Stories” in the Boston and surrounding areas. I think we all have unique life experiences that we should share, and I was more than happy to do so for Boston Voyager.

In the article, I share how and why I became a Yoga and Pilates teacher. In my years of teaching in the Boston and Central MA areas I have met some wonderful people that I have been able to share my love and passion for Yoga and Pilates with. It is my hope that I have been able to touch lives in a positive way through my teaching. That is why I do what I do.

You can read the article here, on the Boston Voyager website.

Book Review: “Stretching Anatomy”

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Reviewed by: Christopher Roberts
Title : Stretching Anatomy
Author: Arnold G. Nelson and Jouko Kokkonen
Publisher: Human Kinetics
Year: 2014
Format: Paperback
Pages: 215
Availability: Barnes and Nobles, Most Booksellers and Amazon


Description and Review: 
“Stretching Anatomy: Your illustrated guide to improving flexibility and muscular strength” by Arnold G. Nelson and Jouko Kokkonen is a great book with full color illustrations that show the muscles in action as well as how the muscle emphasis can change with different variations on the stretching exercises.

Each exercise details how to execute the stretch, the primary and secondary muscles activated to help you increase flexibility, reduce soreness and tension and increase your athletic performance.

The book first details the difference between static, dynamic and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching. The exercises are then broken up in to chapters based on which area of the body is the focus for the stretching exercises. The first seven chapters focus on major joint areas of the body, starting with the neck and ending with the feet.

The sections are further broken down into Beginner/Intermediate/Advance levels as for who should do the stretches and when. Once you are more comfortable with the Beginner exercises you can graduate up to the next level of exercises. The last few chapters focus on dynamic stretching routines for athletic performance and some sport specific stretches (i.e. tennis, soccer, etc).

Chapters are as follows:

  1. Neck
  2. Shoulders, Back and Chest
  3. Arms, Wrists and Hands
  4. Lower Trunk
  5. Hips
  6. Knees and Thighs
  7. Feet and Calves
  8. Dynamic Stretches
  9. Customizing Your Stretching Program

Most of the stretches in the book are ones that we have seen in most gyms and studios before. I didn’t see any that were completely new to me, so I didn’t have any aha moments.

However, what I did like about the book was the detailed instructions on how to execute the exercises that were accompanied by very detailed anatomy pictures that clearly show the primary muscles that the exercise stretches as well as the secondary muscles that are used to support the stretch. Each exercise also includes a “Notes” section that gives some idea of who could benefit from the stretch which is handy in helping to put together a stretching program for your clients. It gives you more tools in your tool box to better serve you clients needs.

I also found the sport specific stretching programs at the end of the book to be very helpful. If you have a client who is say a gymnast, it gives you a few exercises in that would benefit them in helping to increase their flexibility better targeted to the sport that the perform and practice.

Overall, I think it’s a great book and a super easy read. It is definitely a book that Ill refer back to again and again when looking to target some tight areas for my clients.

Pilates vs. Yoga

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When I meet people and tell them I teach Yoga and Pilates, the number one question I get is always “Isn’t Pilates just stretching like Yoga?” That would be a big “NO!” If you have ever taken both a Yoga and Pilates mat class you might notice some similarities. In fact Joseph Pilates, the creator of Pilates, was inspired by Yoga and practiced Yoga himself.

But the two are very different in many ways. It really is like apple to oranges.

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The Origin –

Yoga is thousands of years old and was created in India. Yoga was initially created as a spiritual practice, it’s only now in the modern, Western world that is become more about the physical fitness practice of yoga; with the focus being more on the postures and the physical practice.

Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates in the 20th century as a form of strengthening and rehabilitation. It is first and foremost a physical fitness practice. Pilates focuses on a practice that brings together the mind and the body. Yoga adds in the element of spirituality and  focuses on unifying the body, mind and spirit.

The Benefits –

Both practices offer many great benefits including strength, flexibility, stress relief and awareness of the body and breath. Pilates focuses more on building strength, particularly in the core area.

Yoga benefits include relaxation, focus on breathing, and the addition of meditation.

Pilates benefits also include the guiding Principals: control, centering, concentration, precision, breath, and flow. Pilates also puts a great focus on building better posture and muscular balance.

A Typical Class – 

This is really where the two begin to differ. Yoga now has many different styles, so how the class is structured is based on the style of the teacher. Classes will focus on a flowing series of yoga poses, sometimes the poses may be held for a few breaths. Often the moment is coordinated with the breath, particularly in the Vinyasa style of Yoga.

Most classes will begin with some mediation and maybe even chanting. Pretty much every Yoga class will end in Savasana, a final resting pose. Yoga combines standing postures, seated postures, supine and prone postures.

In Pilates you can take mat or equipment classes. Mat Pilates classes most often feature the traditional order of exercises that Joseph Pilates created. When taking a Mat class with a traditional teacher, you can expect the same order of exercises and a structured class. This helps the student to learn the order and focus on working on proper alignment and progressing the exercises. The focus of the class is a great all over body workout, but mainly the work is on building a stronger core or Powerhouse.

In a Pilates class you will move the whole time. The Pilates exercises are not static, meaning you don’t hold poses like you would in Yoga. You are meant to keep the body moving both during the exercises as well as from one exercise to the next. Most of the Pilates exercises are done on a mat, in a supine (on the back) position.

So Which One is Right For You?

So which one is right for you? It really depends on your goal for starting your practice. As you can see there are some overlapping qualities of both. Give both a try and see which one you connect with the most. I highly recommend a practice that includes both and no I’m not talking about Yogalates or PiYo (which are neither Yoga or Pilates), but add both to your fitness routine. I recommend to my students 1 – 2 classes a week of both.

Some people will connect with one over the other. Maybe you want a kick ass workout that focuses on strength. Then Pilates might be for you. Maybe you need a calming class with time to just sit and silence and learn to breath again. Then Yoga is for you. Give each a try and see which one you resonate with the most. Yoga isn’t for everyone and Pilates isn’t for everyone. You’ll only know once you’ve tried both.

As one of my friends said “I’m more interested in learning Pilates, because Yoga doesn’t appeal to me. I have no desire to stand around like a tree” Personally, I love standing around like a tree.

8 Tips to Get Up Early and Workout

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Good morning Peeps! Isn’t it a beautiful day? The sun is shining, the air is cool, and the birds are chirping. It is a great day to be alive and up early, no? I have to admit that I’m such a morning person. Every morning when I wake up I feel ready to embrace the day. I wake up feeling energized and focused. You can usually find me running around the house singing, dancing, cleaning and just getting ready to take on the day. But lets be honest, that’s usually after a cup of coffee.

But you, like most of the people in this world, may struggle to roll out of bed every morning. Maybe you hit the snooze button a few times? Hope that the dog doesn’t have to go out RIGHT now? You may lie in bed and think “Just a few more minutes please!” Sound familiar?

Then when you finally roll out of bed, you walk like one of the Walking Dead to the coffee pot and click it on. You sit on the couch or in your  favorite comfy chair and sip your morning brew while strolling through Facebook. You shake your head at your friend Susie who checked into the gym at 6AM. Maybe you think “How does she get up early and go to the gym?”

Then you head into work, the whole day thinking “Maybe Ill squeeze in a workout after work today”. But then what happens? You’re too tired after work to make it to the gym. You return home and flop into your comfy chair again. Another day you skipped the gym. Damn Susie! What is her secret?

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Susie’s secret is simple: it’s all in preparation. What if I told you there are some great ways that you too could be like Susie? With a few simple steps you could be up and out the door, ready to greet the day and get in a good workout all before you head into work. And it begins the night before.

  1. Lay out your workout clothes – Before bed, lay out everything you’ll need for your morning workout, run, etc. Lay out your favorite workout outfit, including socks and sneakers. This will keep you from hunting in the dark for what you need in the morning while everyone else in the house is still asleep.
  2. Pack your gym bag – The night before put everything you need for the gym into your gym bag: armband, water bottle, iPod and headphones, etc. Place the bag by the front door so you can just grab it as you run out the door. No need to be running around in the morning trying to pull everything you need together.
  3. Make Coffee – Yep, make coffee before bed. Well at least get it ready. Make sure the coffee pot is filled with water, coffee etc. Even better if your coffee maker has a timer set that to start brewing before you wake up. Waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee is enough to get you energized in the morning.
  4. Make sleep a ritual – Go to bed at the same time every night and avoid caffeine in the afternoon/evening so you can hop into bed and fall asleep easily. Before bed, write out a To-Do list for the next day. This allows you to get things out of your head and onto paper. Most people find sleep alludes them because they can’t turn their brains off. Spritz your room, sheets, pillows, etc with a calming essential oil like Lavender that helps induce calm and sleep. Maybe even have a white noise machine or fan going during the night.
  5. Move your alarm clock – Get a good alarm clock, preferably one separate from your phone. Set the alarm to get up at the same time EVERYDAY, even if you are not going to work out that day. Get used to getting up at the same time everyday, it will help to get rid of that early morning brain fog and get you ready to take on the day. Place your alarm clock across the room or even in a different room (but so you can still hear it). Then you can’t hit snooze, you’ll have to get up to turn it off. Once you are out of bed, its often hard to climb back in and fall back asleep. I know someone who has a alarm clock that has wheels. When it goes off it starts moving around the room, rolling under the bed or tables, so you HAVE to get up and find it to turn it off. Genius!
  6. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – No, your morning brew is not what I’m talking about here. As soon as you rise, down a glass of warm water and lemon. The benefits of this practice include: flushing out toxins, energizes you, freshens your breath and fires up your metabolism.
  7. Make it a date – Schedule your workouts like you would any other important appointment (dentist or doctor appointment). This let’s your brain know that this is important and you have to get up and do it. Better yet, invite a friend along to your workout. It’s hard to sleep in and skip a workout when you know someone is counting on you to be there. Accountability buddies (accountablibuddy?) are such a great way to keep you motivated not only to get up and workout but to help you have a great workout. Pick someone who has the same goals as you, someone you can count out and someone who will push and motivate you.
  8. Prepay – This is probably my best tip and one I personally use all the time. If you are taking fitness classes that you pay separately for (yoga, spin, pilates, etc) then prepay for the class. No one likes losing money. It will be easy to get out of bed knowing you already paid that class fee. Otherwise, you might as well just open the window and throw the money out.

I hope these tips help you to become a person who wakes early and attacks your day with enthusiasm. Set yourself up for success with these tips to become a morning person and get that workout in before the rest of your day even begins. Then all your friends will be shaking their heads and wonder how you got up and checked in at the gym at 6AM. Yep, you are now THAT person! Own it!

 

 

Client Spotlight: Marianne

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If you follow this blog or follow me on any social media platform, you may have seen the quote above. It truly is my mission to share the message that both Yoga and Pilates are indeed for everybody, regardless of your age, body type, fitness level, and any injuries or medical conditions you may have.

I’m very passionate about what I do, so I am always talking to people about the benefits of Yoga and Pilates (as well as good nutrition and meditation). I’ve heard every excuse in the book too…”I’m not thin enough”, “I’m not flexible enough”, “I have _____ problem with _____”.  First, I kindly call BS to all of these excuses. Then I educate them on how they can make a Yoga or Pilates practice accessible to themselves, and how I can help.

If you are working with a certified and trained teacher, there are modifications and other ways we can help you to find an accessible and fulfilling practice. In fact I’ve worked with MANY different injuries and conditions, but I find a way to make the client feel safe and still get a good workout in. In this day and age, there are very few “PERFECT” bodies. We are all “broken” in some way. I’ve personally found my Yoga and Pilates practices to be very healing not just physicalyl but also mentally and emotionally.

All this had me thinking. I can preach the benefits of a regular practice, and give you an insight into my own practice, but does that help you? Hmmmm maybe, maybe not. A few weeks I had a small epiphany though. I can share some of my clients with you! What are they struggling with in terms of their bodies? What brought them to try Yoga or Pilates? What benefits have they seen from their practice? So without further ado…meet Marianne.

Marianne is one of my regular clients and also probably my biggest cheerleader! Marianne is an enthusiastic Proofreader for BJ’s Wholesale Club by day and a professional illustrator by night. She spent two years at Tufts University, another two at UMass Amherst and three years at the University of Michigan grad school of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning. Trained as a classical violinist, she moved on to perform in a bluegrass band and eventually wound up on stage singing, acting and dancing in Gilbert and Sullivan and Broadway musicals. She has illustrated three books and has been drawing since the age of four. You can visit her Facebook page, Marianne Orlando Illustrations: https://www.facebook.com/moillustrations/

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What brought you to try a Yoga or Pilates class?

I happen to have an artificial hip, and I’d always wanted to try yoga, but was afraid my range of motion would be too limited for the poses. Turns out I was wrong. I went to an orthopedic specialist to find out if it’d be OK to do yoga, and she said, “That’s about the best thing you could do for yourself.” That was good news because I like to be active. Back in the day, I had a boss who encouraged me to take up running, and I used to run 3 miles a day on my (extended) lunch hour. So originally, I went to yoga because my boss went and I figured it would be a good use of my lunch hour. So I have to thank her for that tip.

After I’d been doing yoga for 3 years with great benefits, I decided to add Pilates. I’ve been doing that for a year now and I can see real improvement.

What are some of the benefits you’ve found from your Yoga and Pilates practice?

Well, I sleep a lot better for one thing. I don’t get as stressed as I used to at other jobs. Can’t say I have any backaches, and I used to have a really bad back. I’ve also become more flexible (After all, I am 62 and I can lean over and touch my hands flat on the floor before me, and that’s a great benefit), and with the Pilates I’ve gained a lot of strength in my core. I also find my ability to focus on my work during the day is greatly enhanced. Yoga sweeps away any tension you might have had during the morning, and when you get back to your desk, it’s with a fresh, new outlook. As a side benefit, it’s much easier to manage my weight because I’m more aware of my body and what kind of foods I put into it. So I would say yoga has made me more focused and relaxed, and Pilates has made me stronger. And both yoga and Pilates help me with my balance.

How would you describe Pilates and Yoga to a friend or coworker who wasn’t familiar with them?

Yoga is a series of poses that are held for different lengths of time that make you more limber and flexible than when you started. You do the poses slowly and you can feel your joints and muscles loosening up. There is a pose called “Child’s Pose” that is kind of uncomfortable when you first do it, but by the time a couple of poses and a few minutes go by, you do it again and you can really relax into it. That’s a great feeling. And the music is soothing and contemplative – the entire experience is a nice break from the day that clears your head.

Pilates is more fast-paced than yoga: You’re doing quick, athletic routines that work from the abdominal muscles or “core”.  The exercises are also harder to do. But the time goes by much quicker than in yoga. You even do pushups – LOL.

What do you like most about Pilates and Yoga?   

I like getting a break from work for an hour as opposed to eating lunch at my desk with no break.* I especially like the bounce I have in my step afterwards, carrying my yoga mat under my arm while I’m walking back to my desk after class. It makes me happy and I feel like I’ve really accomplished something.

The best part about yoga *and* Pilates is that with Chris as the teacher you don’t have to do the poses or exercises perfectly or be a size 2. He will tailor the exercises to what you can physically do, which is especially helpful when you have an artificial hip or any other kind of limitation.

Last, but not least, I treasure the friendships I’ve made with my fellow students and my teacher Christopher R. Students come and go, but I’ve always enjoyed their company. Waiting for yoga to begin we often talk about movies to see, the latest video on Facebook, good books to read. But when it’s time for class to start, Chris is all business. And people who take yoga tend to be upbeat and positive, which puts a great spin on my day.

*Marianne is one of the students who comes to classes at one of my corporate clients. I go in three times a week to teach Yoga and Pilates during the lunch hour.