Create a Morning Ritual

The premise behind the daily ritual is to set your intention, goals, and mindset for the day. If you have ever struggled with bouts of depression or feeling uninspired, it can be especially helpful to create a road map or plan for your day to establish forward progress.

Smile at yourself in the mirror for 30 seconds

This is a great way to boost your self esteem.  It can be emotionally uplifting to see a happy you reflected back in the mirror. This works on a number of different levels, but at the core is the ability it gives you to talk directly to the bigger part of yourself, the part that is running in the background and isn’t focused on or stressed by your daily tasks.

Make sure you’re smiling, but it doesn’t have to be a big goofy grin. When you focus on your smile without being critical of any other physical attributes, you’ll be surprised at the positive thoughts this exercise can inspire. Come on, how great does that feel!?!

Meditate for a few minutes

First thing in the morning is a great time to sit and clear your mind for a few minutes. As we’ve discussed in previous newsletters, there is no right or wrong way to meditate, so if you’ve tried specific methods and couldn’t get into it, it could be time to develop your own personal style. Choose a position that you find comfortable, and decide if you’d like music or not. Try different phrases or mantras and see which phrases help to bring you into the present moment. If you find a phrase that resonates with you, stick with it for a few days or weeks. If you need to alter your phrase, do so without judgement.

You don’t need to go into a trance or spend an hour in the lotus position to meditate. You can get the benefits from meditating for just a few minutes. You will start to see a marked improvement in the upward trend your days start to take.

If you are more comfortable with the idea of prayer, substitute time in prayer for this idea of meditation. The goal can be the same, to connect you to the present moment, find gratitude in that moment, and feel peace in not worrying about the future or the past.

Add a gentle stretching routine

You only need to devote a couple of minutes to your stretching routine. This wakes up your nervous system, as well as your musculoskeletal system after a night of sleep. You may find that as you develop this habit, you’ll end up stretching for longer periods of time, and it will naturally expand on its own without the need to force yourself to do it.

Drink a glass of lemon water

Drinking a glass of warm water with lemon first thing in the morning is an excellent way to get your body going.  This will help to get your digestive system ready for the coming meals, alkalize your system, aid in healthy liver function, and improve skin appearance. It is important to note that the citric acid in lemon juice can eat away at the enamel of your teeth. As a fix, you could try drinking your lemon water through a glass straw to bi-pass your teeth. Also, you want the water to be warm, but not hot. Hot water will denature some of the enzymatic properties of the lemon juice.

Journal for 5 minutes

This is one of my favorite ideas. Taking a minute to write down your thoughts in the morning helps to set your intention for the day. You may want to reflect on a dream from the night before if it felt poignant or applicable. Then, set your intention for the day and move forward with today’s goals. This is also a great way to set your weekly or yearly goals and check in with your progress. Starting the day with a clear idea of where you want to go can help to frame your day and prioritize your task list. Intention is the name of the game.

You could also reflect on what you are grateful for today! When you start your day operating from a place of acceptance and gratitude, you set yourself up for a happier, healthier day.

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” -Steve Jobs

Until Next time!
xo Lara

Healthy Travel Tips

Hello All!

I wanted to share some of my favorite tips for maintaining healthy habits while traveling!

First of all, you can find healthy snacks in airports, but they are always overpriced, and often don’t taste as fresh as I would like. I love to pack a bag of mixed nuts and dried fruits to get me through a flight. I usually toss an apple or orange in my carry-on as well. 🙂

Second, drink lots of water! I know that it can be tempting to have a cocktail on the flight, but the air is already so dry on the airplane. Drink water! I always travel with a large water bottle as well.

Third, airplane seat pockets, arm rests, and tray tables are super dirty! I always travel with antibacterial wipes and wipe down my space when I sit down. I may look a little kooky, but that’s better than getting sick! 🙂

Next, throw a theraband in your bag for hotel workouts! A theraband takes very little space in your bag and can be used for lots or arm, booty, and hip exercises. You can also watch TORCH videos on our YouTube page for quick Pilates/HIIT workouts that don’t require any equipment! Perfect for the hotel room!

Bring an eye mask (or large pashmina scarf) and ear plugs so that you can sleep on your flight. I have forgotten my scarf before and super regretted it!

If you are on a long flight, make sure that you stand up and walk around regularly. I will also stretch during the flight. This helps with circulation and prevents blood clots from forming in your legs.

Until next time!

xo Lara

PS: I would love to connect on Instagram! @torchpilates

Immunity Boosting Recipes for Winter

Hello All!

I hope that you are all having a great week! I wanted to share a few new recipes that are great for boosting the immune system. It is that time of year when we need to do all that we can to give our immune systems a little help. 🙂 These are all paleo recipes. I don’t follow a paleo diet (I find that too many rules make me a little crazy), but all of these ingredients sounded delicious and super cozy for cold weather. Enjoy!

First of all, what vitamins and minerals are helpful for immune system support?

Vitamin C: Yellow bell peppers, broccoli, kale, and oranges are all high in vitamin C.
Zinc: Oysters, beef, lamb, pork, and pumpkin seeds are great sources of Zinc.
Vitamin D: Cod liver oil, Fatty fish (trout, salmon, mackerel), mushrooms, pork, eggs
Vitamin A: turkey and beef liver, cod liver oil, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots
Probiotics: I like to eat kimchi or different varieties of sauerkraut for probiotics. You can rotate different kinds for different strains of probiotics for a happy, healthy gut. 🙂
Garlic has also been found to have immune-boosting effects

Here are a few delicious recipes incorporating these ingredients:

I found this recipe on one of our favorite Paleo blogs, paleomg.com. This is a Denver-based blog that is packed full of delicious paleo recipes.

Beef Bulgogi “Rice” Bowls

Prep time: 8 hours (marinating beef)
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 8 hours 30 mins

Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
For the bulgogi

  • ¼ cup coconut aminos
  • 3 tablespoons freshly minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • ½ pear, grated
  • 1 tablespoon coconut vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • pinch of salt
  • 1½ pounds flank or hanger steak, thinly sliced against the grain

For the spicy pickled cucumbers

  • 1 cucumber, sliced very thin with mandolin
  • 2 tablespoons coconut vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili sauce or sriracha
  • pinch of salt

For the rice bowls

  • 1 batch of cauliflower rice
  • 3-4 eggs
  • black sesame seeds, to garnish
  • green onions, sliced, to garnish
  • sriracha mayo: ½ cup paleo mayo + 2 tablespoons chili sauce or sriracha

Instructions

  1. Mix together all ingredients for the bulgogi and place marinade in a shallow dish. Add the thinly sliced beef, cover and place in the fridge overnight or at least for 4 hours.
  2. Remove beef from fridge 30 minutes before cooking. While the beef comes up in temperature, place cucumber along with the rest of the pickle liquid in a jar, shake, then place in the fridge for about 1 hour.
  3. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of ghee or coconut oil then remove then beef from the marinade and cook beef in a single layer, sprinkle with salt and once browned and slightly crispy, cook on other side. About 2 minutes per side. Continue until all beef is cooked.
  4. While beef is cooking, make cauliflower rice.
  5. Lastly, place a small skillet over low heat, add 1 tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil, and crack each egg into the pan. Cook low and slow until white are cooked through but yolks are still runny.
  6. Make each bowl: cauliflower rice, beef bulgogi, egg, pickled cucumbers, sriracha mayo, green onions and sesame seeds.

Short on time? Try this Pan-Fried Salmon with Leek and Mushrooms recipe that I found on blog.paleohacks.com.

Pan-Fried Salmon with Leek & Mushroom

Prep Time:3 minutes
Cook Time:5 minutes
Yield:2

Ingredients:

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pine-nuts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small leek, finely sliced
  • 10 button mushrooms, sliced
  • ground black pepper

Directions:

  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat and add the salmon fillets. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until browned, then turn and cook for a further 1-2 minutes or until cooked to your liking.
  • To make the leek and mushrooms, heat the olive oil in a separate frying pan on low-medium heat. Add the leek and fry until they begin to soften, then add the mushrooms and cook, stirring for 3-4 minutes or until the mushrooms have warmed through. Season with pepper.
  • Place the leek and mushrooms on a plate and top with a salmon fillet, sprinkle with pine-nuts to serve.

I found this delicious recipe at www.thepaleosecret.com. Delicious!

Acorn Squash with Ground Lamb and Kale

Ingredients

  • 2 acorn squash halved and seeds removed (cut ends off both sides so they sit on a flat surface)
  • 1 to 1 ½ lbs of ground lamb
  • 2 bunches of kale (washed, de-stemmed and chopped)
  • 2 large onions (chopped)
  • salt and pepper
  • cumin
  • coriander
  • 4 Tbsp coconut or palm oil for cooking

Preheat oven to 400 deg. Place acorn squash halves upside down in a baking dish and fill dish with a little bit of filtered water. Bake for 40 minutes or until soft and fork goes through easily.

While squash is baking, heat oil in a large skillet and sauté onions. Add kale and cover until it cooks down. Stir frequently. Heat oil in a second skillet and brown the ground lamb. Add salt, pepper, cumin and coriander to lamb while cooking. When kale is cooked down, add ground lamb to mixture with a slotted spoon. Stir and spoon into acorn squash bowls (once the squash halves are cooked). Drizzle with olive oil and serve. If you want extra meat, add a helping of meat mixture to the side of the bowl.

Recipe by Brenda Walding, DPT, FDN

I’m sure that bone broth is a familiar recipe to all, but here is a nice recipe that I found at wellnessmama.com.

Bone Broth

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 8 hours
Total time: 8 hours 10 mins

Author: Wellness Mama
Serves: 16+
Ingredients

  • 2 pounds (or more) of bones from a healthy source
  • 2 chicken feet for extra gelatin (optional)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Optional: 1 bunch of parsley, 1 tablespoon or more of sea salt, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, additional herbs or spices to taste. I also add 2 cloves of garlic for the last 30 minutes of cooking.
  • You’ll also need a large stock pot to cook the broth in and a strainer to remove the pieces when it is done.

Instructions

  1. If you are using raw bones, especially beef bones, it improves flavor to roast them in the oven first. I place them in a roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes at 350.
  2. Then, place the bones in a large stock pot (I use a 5 gallon pot). Pour (filtered) water over the bones and add the vinegar. Let sit for 20-30 minutes in the cool water. The acid helps make the nutrients in the bones more available.
  3. Rough chop and add the vegetables (except the parsley and garlic, if using) to the pot. Add any salt, pepper, spices, or herbs, if using.
  4. Now, bring the broth to a boil. Once it has reached a vigorous boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer until done.
  5. During the first few hours of simmering, you’ll need to remove the impurities that float to the surface. A frothy/foamy layer will form and it can be easily scooped off with a big spoon. Throw this part away. I typically check it every 20 minutes for the first 2 hours to remove this. Grass-fed and healthy animals will produce much less of this than conventional animals.
  6. During the last 30 minutes, add the garlic and parsley, if using.
  7. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Strain using a fine metal strainer to remove all the bits of bone and vegetable. When cool enough, store in a gallon size glass jar in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for later use.

*Fun tip: Use a pressure cooker to make your bone broth! This is a great way to extract the nutrients and minerals including calcium, phosphorous, sodium, magnesium, and other trace minerals. Also if you include the ligaments and cartilage attached to the bones, you can extract  glucosamine and chondroitin which are great for joint support. I know that’s a little gross to think about, but I am all for getting your nutrients from natural food sources if possible.

Also, check out my blog post “Love Letter to a Green Smoothie” for a great immunity boosting breakfast

I hope that you enjoy these immune boosting recipes! Please take into account any specific dietary restrictions that you may have and skip the ingredients that are inflammatory to your system. Enjoy!

xo Lara

Breaking Down The Classics: Knee Folds

Hello All!

I wanted to break down a classic Pilates exercise, knee folds! This is a great exercise to help you establish great form and a super-strong transversus abdominis (the deepest layer of your core that wraps around your torso attaching to your spine). Enjoy!!

Start lying on your back with your legs in a table-top position. Bring your hands to your pelvis and check that your pelvis is square ie: Your hip points and pubic bone are in an even plane. Imagine that you could balance a bowl of water on your pelvis and it wouldn’t spill towards your belly button, or down towards your toes. If your tailbone is tucked under, or your back is flattened into the mat, you are in a posterior tuck. Be cautious of this position if you have a disk herniation–particularly in your lumbar spine. You want to maintain a tunnel under the small of your back. Engage the muscles of your pelvic floor, and draw your navel to your spine to engage your core and maintain stability. Some commonly used images to help with this are “tightening up your corset” or “Zipping up a pair of jeans that are a size too small.” Then you’re ready to start the exercise!

Exhale to prepare. On your inhalation, dip your right toes down towards the ground as though you were dipping your toes in a pool of water. On your exhale, draw the belly button back to your spine, lift through your pelvic floor and draw the leg back into table top. Repeat to the left. 10 reps each side.

Once you are comfortable with single-leg toe dips, you can continue on with double-leg toe dips. The main concern with this version is also pelvic stability. As you increase the lever-load away from the torso, the core (pelvic floor, abdominal, and back muscles) will need to find a deeper engagement to stabilize the pelvis and spine. Also, you should not feel this in your hip flexors. If you do feel your hip flexors kicking, think of a deeper lift through your pelvic floor, and maybe drop your heels down towards your gluts to reduce the lever load of your legs.

Exhale to prepare. On your inhalation, dip both toes down towards the mat again as if you were dipping your toes into a pool of water. Be cautious that you do not arch your back as you lower the legs towards the mat. As you exhale, draw the navel deeper towards the spine and lift through the pelvic floor to lift the legs back up to table top. Repeat the double-leg version up to 10 times as well.

Give this exercise a go at home! Let me know what you think, and if there are any other exercises that you would like to have broken down for proper form. Until next time!

xo Lara

Effects of Chronic Stress on the Body

Hello All!

This week I wanted to discuss chronic stress, and the effect it can have on our bodies. We live in a fast-paced society and our bodies are constantly exposed to outside stressors. How do we learn to control how we process those stressors and reduce the health effects that long-term stress can cause.

First, what happens on a physiological level when we are in a state of chronic stress?
Humans are meant to be great at handling short-term stress, but our systems are not built to handle the chronic stress that we have grown accustomed to in our society. When we are in a state of long-term stress, our autonomic nervous system will go into overdrive. We are meant to use our “fight or flight” response when dealing with an immediate danger that we need to get away from. Constantly living in that “amped” state, as though there is an ever-present danger, can wreak havoc on the body.
The first physiological response is received through our senses and processed in the amygdala. If the amygdala determines a threat, a distress signal is sent to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus signals the adrenal glands to pump out epinephrine. This release of epinephrine causes blood pressure and pulse rate to increase. Epinephrine also triggers the release of glucose and fats that are stored in temporary sites in the body.  In an acute stress situation, the parasympathetic nervous system would then kick in, taking the body into rest and digest mode. During chronic stress, the HPA Axis (Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenal Axis) takes over, allowing the sympathetic nervous system to continue firing. When the brain continues to perceive danger, the hypothalamus will then release Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH) to communicate with the pituitary gland, which releases Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH). ACTH then travels to the adrenal glands and stimulates the release of cortisol. We stay in this pattern until we can relax and allow the parasympathetic nervous system to take over and calm us down.

 

I’m always hearing about the dangers of elevated cortisol levels. Why is this so dangerous?
When released properly in response to acute stress, cortisol is responsible for increasing glucose levels in the blood with the purpose of having energy readily available to fight or flee. This is a healthy physiological response. Problems start to arise however, when we have elevated cortisol levels for too long. A few examples of this are:

  • Impaired cognitive performance
  • Decreased bone density
  • Lowered immunity levels
  • Suppressed thyroid function
  • Blood sugar imbalances
www.sciencenews.org

So, how do I know if I am living in a state of chronic stress?
Here are just a few symptoms that you may have experienced:

  • Chronic allergies
  • Difficulty fighting off infection
  • Trouble waking up in the morning, even after a full night’s sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Craving sugar and salty foods
  • Depression
  • Low sex drive
  • Social isolation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Panic Attacks

How can I reverse chronic stress and reduce cortisol levels?

  • Exercise! When cortisol levels are consistently elevated due to chronic stress, providing an outlet for our “fight or flight” response can be very helpful in reducing the circulating cortisol levels in the bloodstream. Moving for 20-30 minutes each day has been shown to significantly reduce excess cortisol and other stress responses.
  • Eating a diet that doesn’t spike your blood sugar can be very helpful in controlling the release of cortisol. Eat lots of veggies and meats, and skip the caffeine and alcohol–ie The Dr. P diet. 🙂
  • Be social! Spending time with good friends and family that make you feel safe and understood can be calming to the nervous system.
  • Adapt to the stressors that are affecting you. This one is a little tough, but thinking of a bigger picture and realizing the things that you are fortunate for in your own life can be very helpful in finding perspective, and therefore helpful in handling stress more effectively.
  • Meditation. This may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Start with sitting quietly and thinking about your breath. When in doubt, say to yourself “this breath in” with each inhalation, and “this breath out” for each exhale. Set a timer on your phone for 5 minutes. When the alarm goes off, you’re done! Of course you can practice for longer periods of time, and add mantras when you are comfortable, but the last thing that you want to do is create stressful thoughts around your de-stressing exercise. 🙂
  • Laugh! Adding a little levity each day has also been proven to significantly reduce chronic stress.

Ultimately, we can’t eliminate stress from our lives, but we can make conscious efforts to handle the inevitable stress with grace and ease. I wish you a light, and happy week!

Until next time!

xo Lara

What is Pilates?

Hello and welcome!!!

I wanted to take a quick second and share what my definition of Pilates is, as well as share one of my favorite exercises to get you started with a Pilates practice at home!

I like to define Pilates as a series of movement modalities used to create musculoskeletal balance in the body. Whether you are in great shape, or if you struggle with chronic pain, I like to tailor each session to the needs of the individual client. Pilates can be hugely helpful in managing lower back pain, disk herniations, fibromyalgia or scoliosis. It can also be used to safely strengthen and balance the muscles surrounding your joints.

My classes and sessions are choreographed to focus on the individual needs of my clients with a constant eye on safe and proper alignment. My joy is in pushing my clients to expand their own body awareness and individual expectations. My clients run the gamut ranging from age 6-85, from those who are dealing with chronic pain, to those who just want to make sure that their bodies remain strong and agile. Everybody and Every Body are welcome!

For fun, here is an introductory movement that you can try at home to increase pelvic and spine stability: Knee Folds

Start lying on your back with your legs in a table-top position. Bring your hands to your pelvis and check that your pelvis is square ie: Your hip points and pubic bone are in an even plane. Imagine that you could balance a bowl of water on your pelvis and it wouldn’t spill towards your belly button, or down towards your toes. If your tailbone is tucked under, or your back is flattened into the mat, you are in a posterior tuck. Be cautious of this position if you have a disk herniation–particularly in your lumbar spine. You want to maintain a tunnel under the small of your back. Engage the muscles of your pelvic floor, and draw your navel to your spine to engage your core and maintain stability. Some commonly used images to help with this are “tightening up your corset” or “Zipping up a pair of jeans that are a size too small.” Then you’re ready to start the exercise!

Exhale to prepare. On your inhalation, dip your right toes down towards the ground as though you were dipping your toes in a pool of water. On your exhale, draw the belly button back to your spine, lift through your pelvic floor and draw the leg back into table top. Repeat to the left. 10 reps each side.

Once you are comfortable with single-leg toe dips, you can continue on with double-leg toe dips. The main concern with this version is also pelvic stability. As you increase the lever-load away from the torso, the core (pelvic floor, abdominal, and back muscles) will need to find a deeper engagement to stabilize the pelvis and spine.

Exhale to prepare. On your inhalation, dip both toes down towards the mat again as if you were dipping your toes into a pool of water. Be cautious that you do not arch your back as you lower the legs towards the mat. As you exhale, draw the navel deeper towards the spine and lift through the pelvic floor to lift the legs back up to table top. Repeat the double-leg version up to 10 times as well. Enjoy!

Thank you for stopping by! I’d love to hear your feedback about which exercises you may want to see or if there are any specific health-related topics that you’d like for me to cover!

Until next time!
xo Lara

Breaking Down The Hundred!

Hello All!

Happy Hump Day! I wanted to write a quick post and break down one of the most dreaded Pilates exercises (at least in my book)…the hundred!!! I should say that it is also one of my favorite exercises, because it is so stinkin’ effective!

The basic set-up is pretty simple. Start lying on your back with your legs in a table-top position. I like to start with my elbows planted on the ground and fingers pointed towards the ceiling (this is not a classic set-up). See the picture below! 🙂

table-top hundred starting position

Prepare with an inhale. On an exhale, nod your chin and curl your head, neck, and shoulders up off the mat extending the legs on a 45 degree angle. *Note: Classically, your toes would be even with your eyes. I like to lift my toes a little higher because I think that it is easier to maintain a neutral spine/pelvis. You will then pump your arms from the shoulder pressing the hands down towards the mat–100 times!

hundreds

A couple of things to note…If you keep the tips of your scapula (shoulder blades) on the mat when you curl up, you will target the transversus abdominis (TVA), which is the goal of the hundred. The TVA is the deepest layer of the abdominal wall that runs horizontally to the spine. It is responsible for holding in your organs and supporting your spine. If you curl up and lift the tips of the scapula off the mat, you will target your rectus abdominis (RA)–which is not the goal of the exercise! This is the outer-most layer of the abdominal wall and is responsible for spinal flexion. While I love working the RA, functionally-speaking, it doesn’t do much for you! You need to strengthen your TVA to support your spine! This is a super brief explanation of the anatomy involved in the abdominal wall. I will delve into this deeper in another post. 🙂

Give it a go! Let me know if you would like to see any other exercises broken down.

Until next time!
xo Lara

The Effects of Sugar on the Body

Hi All!

I hope that this doesn’t sound too preachy…You know I love a cookie now and again! This is just a little reminder

It can be easy to overindulge during the holiday season. Now that we are all getting back into a regular routine, I wanted to send out a little friendly reminder about the effects of sugar on the body and how detrimental it can be to our overall health. 

Why is sugar so illusive? When we consume sugar, for a short time we feel great! They call it a “sugar high” for a reason! Humans are programmed to enjoy the taste of sugar because it is calorically dense. Before the rise of the grocery store, energy-dense food was harder to come by, so when we found it, we were programmed to celebrate it! We used to need to literally store up our body fat for a long winter. We are now trying to outrun our primitive response to calorically dense foods!

Here is a basic view of what happens in the body when we eat sugar. When sugar-rich foods hit the stomach, they are broken down by acid and enzymes into smaller pieces. The food is then sent on to the small intestine where it is broken down further into glucose and fructose. Glucose is then sent into the blood stream and liver, spiking our blood sugar level. The pancreas is stimulated and produces insulin to ‘file away’ the glucose for later use in the liver, muscle, and fat cells. This lowers the blood sugar levels that were just raised, resulting in a feeling of lethargy, hunger, irritability, headache, fatigue, confusion, difficulty concentrating, and anxiety. No, thank you!!!

Consumption of sugar can lead to weight gain. It also wreaks havoc on our liver, impairs brain function, causes inflammation throughout the body, and confuses our metabolism. Excess sugar intake leaves us susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Our hard-working livers are responsible for many functions in the body, including extracting nutrients from foods, producing bile to help the body break down fat, filtering chemicals and toxins out of the blood, and storing glucose. When we eat sugar on a regular basis, our liver can become overloaded with glucose. When this happens, the liver has to export the glucose by storing it in other parts of the body in the form of fat. Fat can also remain in the liver. Over time, this can develop into non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

What happens to the brain when we consume sugar? When we first consume sugar, the tongue’s taste receptors are stimulated (as they are with any food that we eat) and the signals from the taste buds are sent to the brain lighting up the reward pathways and causing a surge of “happy” hormones like dopamine. We produce dopamine whenever we eat food, but more is released when we consume sugar, which is where the term ‘sugar high’ comes from. Sugar hijackes our our natural reward hormone pathways, so over time we feel that we need more sugar to recreate that hormone surge. This overexposure to sugar reduces our bodies’ ability to produce dopamine and we feel that we need more sugar to achieve that same happy feeling. This is the same reaction that our body has to drugs, and yet sugar seems so innocent! Super scary!!!

Heavy sugar intake causes a resistance to insulin (a hormone that controls blood sugar and regulates function of brain cells). Insulin strengthens the synaptic connection between brain cells. A resistance to insulin can lower levels cognition and brain function. Of course, we also know that type 2 diabetes can develop as our insulin resistance increases.

I need a little reminder now and again that food is fuel. It is so easy to get into the cycle of overindulgence. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you NEED the cookie, and that is A-ok! Just make sure that you don’t punish yourself afterwards. That sets up a negative reward cycle that is so tough to outrun. I like to follow the 90/10 rule. Eat nutrient-rich foods that are fuel for the body 90 percent of the time. For the other 10 percent of the time, allow yourself to have the treats that you love!  It’s all about balance. 🙂

I’d love to hear about how you find balance! Comment with your healthy plans/strategies below. 🙂

Until next time!

xo Lara

Voted Most Moving Instructor by ClassPass!

Hi Guys!

I am so excited to announce that I was voted “Most Moving Instructor of 2015” in Denver! Woo Hoo!!! Thank you ClassPass!

Moving Instructorshttp://blog.classpass.com/2016/01/06/meet-the-most-moving-instructors-of-2015-in-your-city/

I love what I do. I love to motivate women to look and feel their best through fitness and pilates! I can’t wait for 2016 and continuing to spread the message that fitness is about pushing towards our each own personal best. It isn’t about trying to achieve perfection (whatever that is), but it’s about stretching our individual expectations and pushing towards our own personal best. Now that gets me excited…Yay health! Yay fitness! Yay Pilates!

Thank you so much for coming to class! In 2016, I hope to see you in the studio, and online! Expect to see lots of YouTube videos with new Torch workouts as well as Pilates technique videos. 🙂

I wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2016!

xo Lara

Excited Moving Instructor!

 

New Year’s Fitness Resolution Tricks!

Hello Beauties!

Happy New Year!!! I’m sure that many of you are in full swing of your new years resolution. Let’s be frank…it can be tricky to keep up these perfect resolutions as real life starts to get in the way. You know what I’m talking about! Here are a couple of tricks and tips to stay on track! 🙂

1) Aim for a “a little better” instead of “perfect”
It is so easy to fall into the trap of…well if I can’t eat perfectly today, then I’ll just count this as a “cheat” day and start tomorrow. (BTW…I HATE the term cheat day! If you set up your mindset as cheating vs not cheating, you are set up for failure. Rant complete. ;))

2) Eat breakfast with protein
Every nutritionist is going to tell you to eat breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day! It is completely true! If I don’t start the day with a protein rich breakfast, I am inevitably starving by 10:30am and ready to run towards a quick energy lifter which is almost always something carb-heavy because your brain is ready for a serotonin bump which is easily and quickly delivered by taking in carbohydrates or sugars. Eat breakfast! Oatmeal with almond butter, apples, and cinnamon 🙂

3) Exercise whenever and wherever possible!
I completely planned to get up early to get in an extra run this morning…but the snooze button seduced me! We’ve all been there. When you miss your workout, don’t beat yourself up or say that you’ll just get back on track later. Instead, take the stairs a couple of extra times today. Need to use the restroom and you work on the 5th floor? Don’t use the restroom down the hall, go down to the first floor and take the stairs back up! Need to fit in a little ab work? Focus on tightening your abdominals in the car on the way home. At stop lights, put the car in park and use the abdominal muscles to lift your knees. Park in the back of the lot at the grocery store to get in a few extra steps. No excuses. 🙂

Come Get TORCHED!!!