For The Love Of Teasers!

Teaser is one of my all-time favorite exercises! It is a fantastic way to strengthen and tone all layers of the abdominal wall as well as the pelvic floor and back.

Pilates Teaser Love!

Pictured above is Teaser 1, a classic Pilates exercise. Start lying on your back with your legs in tabletop and your arms extended towards the ceiling. Take an inhale to prepare. On your exhale, nod your chin and curl your head, neck and shoulders up off the mat. Continue reaching your fingers forward as you curl up one vertebrae at a time until your are seated on your sacrum with your legs extended. Think of slightly tucking your tailbone under to round your low back (lumbar spine). At the same time, you will lift your heart up slightly extending through your mid-upper back (thoracic spine). Curl back down to your starting position articulating through your spine and feeling one vertebrae at a time touch the mat, like you are laying a string of pearls down on the ground. Love it!
If this is a bit much, or you are new to Pilates. You can practice working up to the full exercise by starting in a seated position with your feet planted on the ground, scooping your tailbone under to round your lower back, lift your heart extending through your mid-upper back. Hold on behind your knees and slowly lift one leg and then the other up into a table top position, being careful not to change the shape of your spine. Let go of your legs and extend your arms and legs on a 45 degree angle just like in the picture above. Stay and balance in this position, drawing the belly button back to the spine and narrowing the waist. Try to hold for 30 seconds and then release your feet back down to the ground. Repeat until you feel that you are ready for the full teaser.
I’d love to hear how this goes at home! Post your comments below!
xo Lara

My Top Healthy Skin Tips

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These are my top 5 tips for healthy, glowing skin!

  1. We’ve heard it over and over, but it’s my top tip because it’s true. Drink more water! Ideally, you should be drinking 1/2 of your body weight, measured in lbs, in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, you would drink 75 oz of water in a day. It is important to drink water throughout the day, not all in one sitting. I would also go one step further and say that if you are working out and sweating a lot, add an extra glass of water after your workout.
  2. Skip the toner! When toners were created, the goal was to balance the pH of your skin. I completely understand this. However, the problem with most toners is that they dry you out! We want to have a natural glow and encourage our skin to produce enough oil to be hydrated without overproducing and giving us oily skin and clogged pores. If you are using products that over-dry your skin, your body’s natural response is to create more oil, or sebum, to hydrate itself. If you aren’t over drying your skin, your body will adjust and reduce it’s oil production to balance the skin.
  3. Have a quick shower after your workout. If you allow all of the salt and bacteria to sit on your skin after your workout, the pores become clogged, causing the dreaded acne and back-ne (not a word, but you know what I’m talking about. 😉
  4. The other tip that we’ve heard 1,000,000 times…sunscreen! In your 20s, it may not seem that important, but soon you will start to notice little sunspots and freckles on your skin if you don’t remember to screen up daily. Often facial moisturizers include a sunscreen, but I would go one step further and layer on a separate sunscreen that is at least SPF 30. My #1 fav product is made by colorscience. It is a mineral based sunscreen with zero additives. It is a powder sunscreen (crazy, right?) containing only 2 minerals to block those sun rays (both UVA and UVB), titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. I keep these little tubes in the car, in my purse, and in the studio so I can always reapply. Plus, it freshens your makeup! Double bonus. 🙂 Check it out at www.colorscience.comcolorscience
  5. Eat nutrient dense foods! You will always notice a difference in your skin tone after even a day of eating heavy, fatty foods. Your skin just doesn’t glow like you know it can and should! After a night with a couple extra cocktails, your skin is screaming for a little hydration and nutrition. Eating healthy, nutrient dense foods is great for your body, your mind, your hair, and your skin. Plus you feel more energized and prepared to take on the world! If I feel like I have had a week of lazy diet choices, I love to kick start the system with LOTS of greens, fruits, and raw veggies. I’m loving sugar snap peas, watermelon, and peaches right now. Yum!!!

Benefits of Foam Rolling

Hello beauty!

Today, I want to talk about foam rolling! This is a pretty hot topic in the fitness realm right now. What are the benefits of regular myofascial release…and what exactly is myofascial release? I will also break down a couple of my favorite foam roller exercises.

The goal of myofascial release work is to break up the adhesions in our connective tissue, allowing our muscles to lengthen further, increasing range of motion. Our connective tissue, commonly called fascia is integrated throughout the body. There is connective tissue in between every muscle cell in our body. If you were able to look at the body without any muscles, bones, organs, or blood vessels, we would look like a large spider web. This is connective tissue, also known as fascia. Crazy, right?! Imagine an orange with each little compartment containing a little bit of orange juice. Connective tissue is kind of like that, surrounding each muscle cell.

There are also thicker bands of connective tissue throughout the body. A great example of this is the IT (iliotibial band). This band of connective tissue is connected to the TFL (tensor fascia latae) which is a small muscle on the outside of your upper leg. It is responsible for abduction (levering the leg away from the bodies’ mid-line) as well as stabilizing the knee. It then attaches just below the knee on the tibia.

To release the IT band, you could lie on your side with your left elbow planted on the ground. Place the roller under your left side just below the hip. You can plant your right foot down on the ground in front of your left leg if you are just beginning to foam roll. As you are able to adjust to the sensation of myofascial release, you can stack your legs on top of one another. I’ve pasted both options below. You will then roll the roller down towards the knee and back up to the hip. As an extra challenge, if you find a couple of points along the IT band that feel like knots, you can pause and bend your left knee at those points. This will encourage that portion of the IT band to lengthen further.

 Iliotibial band roll-out Iliotibial band Roll-out stacked legs

Another release technique that I love is for the intercostal muscles. These are little muscles that run in between each of our ribs, connecting them together. I like to roll out the intercostals by lying on my left side with the roller underneath the middle of my rib cage and a little pillow between my head and my arm. I will then find a space between the ribs and start to roll my torso forward and backwards allowing the roller to press into the intercostal. If this is tender or ‘tight’ feeling, I will pause and think of using my breath to expand the left lung, allowing the intercostal to lengthen under the roller. I will repeat this a few more times, scooting the roller up one rib each time until the roller is almost in the underarm. Before I move to the other side, I like to sit up and take a few breaths. If I took my time on the first side, I am able to feel like my left lung is able to expand more than the right as the ribs are more mobile and able to move when air fills the left lung. How cool is that???

 Intercostal roll-out Intercostal rolling forward

There are many other forms of myofascial release work in the body. These are just my top two faves. Please comment below if you would like to learn about some other techniques! Thanks, beauties!

xo Lara

Love Letter To a Green Smoothie

This is a love letter to green smoothies. 🙂 I got married in July of this year and received the greatest gift....a vitamix blender! I have used it literally every day since. I know that the vitamix can be a hefty investment. There are other blenders that still do a pretty good job that don't carry the price tag that the vitamix does. I haven't used it, but I have heard that the Ninja Professional is a good alternative. I used to use a Cuisinart blender and it did the job as well. 🙂

Each morning, I make a green shake with a base of dark leafy greens.  I usually use kale because I like the flavor and it is easy to find organic kale in most grocery stores. Organic swiss chard, rainbow chard, or spinach are great alternatives. Then I will add any assortment of fruit that I have around the house. Today, I used banana, orange, frozen organic pineapple, and frozen organic mango. I like to add about a 1/2 cup of full-fat greek yogurt for protein. As a side-note, I don't believe in using any product that is labeled as reduced fat, or fat free. Just think of what they have to replace the fat with. Usually a concoction of chemicals. Double gross! Also, the fat and protein help keep me full throughout the morning. After I throw in all of the fruit and greens, I add about 2 cups of water and blend it until it is smooth! So easy, so quick, and packed with nutrition. I am always running out the door in the morning, so I will throw it into a large glass jar and drink the shake throughout the morning until lunch time. 

This is one of the easiest ways to eat extra greens. I am a huge fan of a chopped kale salad, but let's talk about how time consuming that is to eat! I know that we all live busy lifestyles. Like many of you, I am often eating lunch on the go and simply don't have time to chew a big salad! 😉 Drinking your vitamins sounds like a great alternative to me!

Speaking of vitamins, kale is full of essential vitamins A, C and K as well as minerals like copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. All things that we need in our daily diet. Pineapple contains dietary fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6 and copper, vitamin C and manganese, plus it's delicious and adds a tropical twist to my morning. Mango contains vitamin c and folate. In addition to potassium, bananas are also a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, and fiber. All great things! I believe so strongly that the most direct path to good health is to take care of our bodies from the inside out. Put good foods in the body---body feels better. 🙂 Plus, it is less expensive, and far tastier to eat your vitamins instead of needing to add a supplement to fill in nutritional gaps. 

I am always looking for new variations on the green shake. Share your recipes below, and eat up, Buttercup!

xo Lara