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!!!

New Year’s Letter To My Future Self

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Hello Beauties!

Happy New Year!!!

I wanted to share one of my favorite New Years traditions. Each year on New Year's Day, I write myself a letter that I will open on the last day of that following year.  I congratulate my future self for overcoming specific fears, or achieving career and personal goals, or for having bucket-list experiences. It is a way that I like to manifest my goals and desires for the upcoming year. A longtime client and great friend shared this exercise with me 6 years ago, and I thought that it was such a beautiful idea. I have continued the exercise each year since.

On New Years Eve, I open my letter from the previous year and see which goals I have achieved, as well as which goals I am still in the process of achieving. It is also interesting to see if there were goals that I have outgrown or no longer need. It is so exciting to open the letter and to see how I have grown or changed over the last year.

Every year, there are goals that I haven't yet accomplished...that's okay!!! It is just further motivation to prioritize those goals for the upcoming year.

Give it a try! 🙂 Set your conscious intention for the upcoming year.  Important note...tuck your letter away in a location where you will be able to find a year from now! I have had to hunt for mine in years past, and now hide it from myself in the bottom of my jewelry box. 😉

 

2016 Journal

 

I hope that you all had a great holiday season, and I wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2016!

xo Lara

Staying on Track During The Holidays

Hello Lovelies!

Ok, this is a super popular blog topic, but I had to throw in my two cents. I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve read and they all say the same thing. Eat a snack before you go to your holiday parties so that you don’t arrive ravenous. Drink a glass of water between cocktails. Don’t get me wrong, these are great ideas and completely applicable, but lets address a few more.

We have all been to a holiday party and have overindulged. The next morning can be a struggle. After a night out, I am not motivated to get up, get in my morning workout and meditation when all I want to do is get an extra hour of sleep. Here are a couple of tricks and tips to combat that…

1) Drink a tall glass of water before bed.
2) When the alarm goes off in the morning. Don’t fight your bodies need to wake up slowly! Budget the time to set your snooze (Just once!) and lie in bed setting your mindset and plan for the day. Envision your glowing skin after your workout. Envision yourself relaxed and at ease during your drive to work because you’ve completed your meditation and time to center yourself.
3) Only ask yourself for a 10-minute workout. You may decide that you’d like to keep going at the end of 10 minutes, but you set yourself up for failure if you tell yourself that you have to workout for a full hour. It feels daunting, like staring up at a tall hill at the beginning of your workout. Once you get going though, I bet you’ll find that you want to continue to push a little harder. 🙂
4) Get up and drink another tall glass of water…not coffee. Water. Hydrate your skin and gently get your system going. I love to squeeze a little lemon in the glass as well. This is a great trick for starting your day in an alkaline state.
5) Don’t skimp on your meditation. Try the same technique that you used with your workout. Only ask yourself for a 5-minute breathing session. You may feel centered after 5 minutes, or you may want to continue and complete 10-20 minutes.

Have a wonderful holiday season! Enjoy your friends and family, treat your body with kindness, and remind yourself that you can create stillness in the midst of holiday chaos. 🙂
Til next time!

xo Lara

Baby it's cold outside

How Many Workouts Per Week?

TORCH Pilates Workout

Hello Beauties!

This is actually a bit of a tough topic because the definition of a ‘workout’ is completely subjective. A Pilates class could be an intense workout for one person, or complete relaxation for another. Also, what are the goals of your workout? Are you trying to lose weight, or are you trying to gain muscle mass?

If you are trying to lose weight, it is a little tricky because high-intensity workouts may trigger you to feel more hungry…that is a totally separate can of worms that we can examine at another time. If you are trying to build muscle mass, it is a good idea to alternate your workout days. For example, Monday is legs day, so Tuesday should be arms/abs. No need to double your leg days back-to-back. This gives your muscles a chance to heal all of the little micro tears that you create during your workout. Again…another can of worms that we will explore at another time.

I will say that it is crucial to take off one day per week. Your body needs a day to recoup regardless of how intense your workout is. Also, if feel that you are a bit under the weather, listen to your body! Cultivate your intuition and connection to your body. That will be your most important resource.

I have always been a big fan of Pilates as a workout (obviously), but over the past few years I have felt the need to kick up the intensity which is how the TORCH Pilates workout was born. I do this workout 6 days/week and have felt a massive difference in my muscle tone and definition since making that commitment to myself. This workout can be done in as little as 10 mins, or can be repeated for up to an hour. TORCH combines High Intensity Intervals along with classic Pilates movement, and other targeted muscle work for a full-body burn that will keep your metabolism pumping for hours. OK–Shameless plug complete! 🙂 🙂 🙂

I’d love to hear about your preferred workouts as well! Share below!

Until next time,

xo Lara

Halloween Health Hacks

candyHello Beauties!

It’s Halloween…the time for lots and lots of treats! It can be super tough to stay on track with such delicious treats. How to keep your cool with all of those delicious temptations around? Here are a couple of my favorite hacks!

1st, Caramel apples are a staple on Halloween. Here is a simple hack to cut down those calories…Start with a Granny Smith apple, which has a great tart flavor. Slice the apple into 8 pieces. Then, melt 3 caramels in the microwave and dip the apple slices in the melted caramels. The caramel is just an accent, and the apples are packed with healthy fiber. Yummy!

2nd, Popcorn Balls are super popular on Halloween. What is my healthy hack for this? Pop your own popcorn in an air popper (You can find these on Amazon). Then you can control that you add to it. Most often, popcorn balls contain high fructose corn syrup. Not healthy at all, but we do need a sticky binding agent of some sort. I recommend warmed honey. Just pop the jar of honey in the microwave for a few seconds, then mix the honey into the air-popped popcorn. I like to add a bit of sea salt for a sweet and salty twist. You could also add a bit of cinnamon, or cardamom for. Delicious!

3rd, how do you just avoid the candy in general? Keep a plate of healthy fruits and nuts out on the table instead. If you are craving the sugar, try to have a few nuts and drink a glass of water to fill you up! If you are still craving the sugar after that, have a candy! After the water and protein/fat from the nuts have hit your stomach, you will be far more likely to have one candy rather than many candies. 🙂

Happy Halloween!!!

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

flower

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

Be Kind To Yourself

Be Kind To Yourself

When is the last time that you looked in the mirror and gave yourself a compliment? When was the last time that you looked in the mirror and said something critical about yourself? I bet that for many of you, it is much easier to think about the critical moment...even if you didn’t didn’t place any weight on that self-comment at the time. Why is that? I will be with myself for every second of every day for the rest of my life. Shouldn’t I be kind to myself? Would I ever want to hang out with a friend who told me that I look ugly, or that butt looks saggy and fat today? NOPE! So why on earth would I ever say that to myself? And yet, we all do it sometimes multiple times a day. Crazy!

I propose a challenge...the 5-day, 5 compliment challenge. First thing in the morning for the next 5 days, look yourself in the mirror and give yourself 5 compliments. Try to have 5 new compliments for yourself each day. They can be physical compliments, but please don’t neglect your inner beauty as well (FAR more important)! Do speak outloud to yourself while looking in the mirror. I promise that it makes a difference. The effect just isn’t the same if you just think to yourself. If you want to take it a step further, write them down and read them to yourself later in the day. Reinforce those thoughts. Don’t hold back or justify your statements. Live out loud! As women, we are taught to compliment others and to remain humble ourselves. I completely agree that being humble is incredibly important and an important quality in all the people that I surround myself with. However, in my opinion, this is about bravery! The antithesis of bravery is not humility, it’s timidness. Live boldly with respect for yourself and others. 🙂

Be bold! Post your self compliments below...yay bravery!