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Holiday season is quickly approaching. That means it’s time to pull out those cocktail dresses and festive tops. This 10-minute workout will help you get those cocktail party arms that you’ve always wanted, while also working your abs, butt, and legs. You only need a mat or towel and 3-5 pound hand weights. If you don’t have hand weights, grab some canned vegetables or bottled water. Go through the series two times, aiming for 3 non-consecutive days, a week.

forearm-corrected

1. Forearm Plank

To do:

a. Start by getting onto your forearms and knees

b. Make a fist with one hand, and clasp the other hand around it

c. Extend your legs back to get yourself into a plank, keep legs together, shoulders over elbows, and heels over toes (as shown in photo)

Hold 30 seconds to 1 minute

Tips:

Press into your forearms to prevent yourself from sinking towards the floor, and simultaneously pull your heart towards the wall in front of you

Work your pubic bone towards your forehead to engage your abs and protect your lower back

Press backs of thighs together, and make sure they don’t sink to the floor

Think of your body being pulled in two directions with your head going one way and your heels the other

Modification:

Do with your knees down

Challenge:

Hover one leg off mat for 15 seconds, then switch to other leg for 15 seconds

bridge-tricep

2. Bridge with tricep extension

To do:

a. Lie on mat, knees bent, legs shoulder-width apart and feet flat

b. With a weight in each hand and palms facing one another, extend your arms to the ceiling

c. Lift hips to create a straight line from knees to chest (as shown in photo)

d. Bend and straighten elbows

Repeat 8-10 times

Tips:

Keep chest open

Imagine holding a little beach ball between the inner thighs to keep energy there

Make sure elbows are reaching up to the ceiling when the arms are bent

Reach the tailbone towards the heels and pubic bone towards the head to keep the core active

Modification:

Keep butt down

Challenge:

After last rep bend elbows to 90 degrees (forearms parallel to ceiling), with butt still lifted, hold for 30 seconds

bicep-corrected

3. Bicep curl

To do:

a. Stand with legs shoulder-width apart, while holding a weight in each hand, arms long by your side, shoulders down and back, and palms facing out (as shown in photo)

b. Bend elbows to bring the weights to your shoulders, then slowly lower to start position

Repeat 8-10 times

Tips:

Keep elbows glued into ribs

Keep shoulders on your back to isolate the biceps

Imagine a corset around your waist to engage the abs

Gaze forward and stand tall

Challenge:

After you complete your reps, hold the forearms parallel to the floor for 10 seconds

tricep-swing

4. Tricep and shoulder swing

To do:

a. Stand with legs together, a weight in each hand, raise arms to shoulder height, palms face one another

b. Bend knees in to a squat, hinge forward, and press arms back so that palms face the ceiling, pulse arms up 3 times (as shown in photo)

c. Return to standing bringing arms to start position

Repeat 8-10 times

Tips:

Keep shoulders down and back

Keep spine long when you hinge forward

Picture a corset around your waist to keep your abs engaged

Make sure palms face up to ceiling when pulsing

Challenge:

As you return to standing bringing your arms to start position, as draw one knee into your chest

lunge-twist

5. Lunge with twist and bicep curl

To do:

a. Stand tall with a weight in each hand, raise arms to shoulder height, palms face one another

b. Lunge forward with right leg, twist torso to the right, bend elbows (as shown in photo without the bent elbows)

c. Extend arms, untwist torso, step back to meet left leg while keeping arms raised

Repeat 8-10 times, switch sides and repeat

Tips:

Keep shoulders down and back

Press through the heel of the forward lunging leg to step back

Twist from ribcage, making sure to keep arms in line with shoulders

Modifications:

Lower arms a little if shoulders are tight

Take out the twist

flye-26. Bent Over Flye

To do:

a. Stand with legs shoulder-width apart and a weight in each hand

b. Bend knees and hinge torso forward from the hips, keeping weight in heels

c. With a slight bend in your arms, lift them up to shoulder height, lower with control (as shown in photo)

Repeat 8-10 times

Tips:

Focus on the back-side of arms and mid-upper back when doing the work

Keep shoulders on back

Picture a corset around your waist to remind you to keep

abs engaged

Make sure you can see your toes and watch that the knees track over second toe

Challenge:

Add an extra set of 10 pulses at the top of the last repetition before you lower arms back down

 

I’m happy to announce that I’ve joined forces with Andrea Speir, a talented and seasoned Pilates instructor, to bring you The Pilates Fix.  We know Pilates can be expensive, so we wanted to make it accessible to everyone. The workouts will be available on our Youtube channel, either with Andrea or myself.

Every week we will bring you classical Pilates workouts with a modern twist. Together we have almost 20 years of teaching experience, have worked in top Los Angeles gyms, and hold 600-hour classical Pilates certifications.  We will give you well rounded workouts and exercise tips to help you feel good and look good.

If you enjoy the workouts, please forward them on to your friends. And let us know what you would like to see on The Pilates Fix in the future.  Enjoy!

 

roasted-arctic-char-fore296

Last week I wanted a change from my chicken filled dinners, so I looked through some magazines I have at home, remembering I had recently seen some yummy meals in one of them, and I came across a few fish recipes that looked simple enough for me.  I like fish, but not fishy fish, and I’m not a fan of cooking it.  Once I poached salmon, and felt like my place smelled like fish for days.  Anyway, beyond the meals looking easy enough they also are supposed to not make your place smell like fish.  So, I ripped a few out, picked one for that night, and went shopping.

Unfortunately by the time I got to Santa Monica Seafood, they were out of char (the fish the recipe called for).  I asked them to give me something closest to it, which ended up being some type of salmon.  I bought it a bit hesitantly as the last time I cooked with salmon was the time my place smelled like fish.  I just decided to suck it up.  I was determined to make myself something that didn’t consist of chicken, quinoa, and veggies.

It ended up being so easy to prepare, and the salmon only took  12 minutes to roast in the oven.  Seeing as how I found it manageable, and very good, I wanted to share the recipe, which I found in Self magazine.  Next time I’ll have to go to the market early enough to get some char, which is eco-friendly, low-mercury, and less fishy than it’s cousin, salmon.  Luckily, my place didn’t smell like fish at all.  And I had leftovers that I ate for lunch the next day.

Roasted Arctic Char, with orange-lentil salad:

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1 tsp finely grated orange zest

5 tsp olive oil, divided (if you don’t know what that means, which I didn’t, you use some in the mixture of lentils, and the rest on the fish when you roast it)

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

3/4 tsp kosher salt, divided

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided

1 package (17 oz) steamed lentils (or 3 cups canned, rinsed and drained)

1/4 cup chopped mint

2 tbsp finely chopped red onion

4 arctic char fillets (5 oz each), skin removed

Orange slices and mint sprigs for garnish

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a bowl, whisk orange juice and zest, 4 tsp oil, vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt, mustard and t/4 tsp pepper.  Gently stir in lentils, chopped mint, and onion.  Arrange fillets on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Brush with remaining 1 tsp oil; season with remaining 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Roast until fish is opaque and just cooked through, 10 minutes.  Spoon lentil salad onto plates; top with fish.  Garnish with orange slices and mint sprigs.

 

watched-pot

Be Patient. This is something that has always been extremely hard for me. I’ve heard it my whole life. I must admit I’m envious of those who have the ability to be patient. At least for me with impatience, comes anxiety. And with anxiety, comes an inability to get things done. It’s not a very attractive characteristic. I have spent so much of my energy wanting more in my career, more clients, more money, more, more, more. In those moments of wanting, I forgot that effort needed to be made, and time needed to pass.

Until I moved to Los Angeles, over 4 years ago, I had bounced around almost every year for 4 years from Connecticut, to Boston, back to Connecticut. I never gave myself the time needed to build my clientele or reputation in one place. Instead of realizing I needed to make a commitment to stay in one place in order to grow, I would doubt my teaching. That’s never a good place to go.

When I finally made the decision to move to LA, it was at the end of 2007, and our economy was on its way down. Once again, I found myself wanting more, more clients, more money, more, more, more. I was frustrated, and at times felt defeated. So last year around this time I decided I needed to focus less on what I didn’t have, and more on what I needed to do to break past the plateau I’d been sitting at.

I’m not sure where I stand on the whole “Secret” stuff, however I do strongly believe in like attracting like. Positive attracting positive. It’s a shift that needs not only be made, but also believed. For changes to happen though, effort does need to be made. I had to start working more, and at times I really didn’t want to work. I started writing for my website, and at first I found it extremely difficult. I put classes into my schedule and waited through months of them not being very full. And I waited my turn to teach for the Equinox Pilates teacher training program.

Here we are, January 2012, a year later, and I’m happy to say I’ve pushed past that plateau. While I believe it’s important to always have something to reach towards, it’s nice to not have to sit with an extreme wanting. Being busier now than I’ve ever been in my 8 plus years of teaching, I’ve come to realize that it’s true, a watched pot never boils. Instead of sitting on the sidelines waiting for things to change, I jumped in and kept myself busy, leaving no time for me to be impatient.  And while I was teaching a full class the other day I realized that the advice, be patient, had finally sank in.

 

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I love January, the beginning of a new year, and a time for reflection. While I’ll forever live in the world of semesters where September is the start of a new year, January is always the time I look at my life, make resolutions, and feel excited about it all. I’ve learned to make my resolutions very specific, and I try to cover different areas of my life like work, health, and relationships. However, even with all my good intentions, I let life get in the way. One day goes by then another, and all of a sudden months have passed without me working towards most of my goals. It happens every year.

In my quest to break this pattern, a friend suggested I check out Livifi, an i-phone app (also available on the web) that helps people set and track goals related to mind, body, and relationships. My curiosity was peaked, first because it sounded exactly like something that could help me, and second because the CEO & Co-founder Lowell Winer, came up with the idea while fighting cancer. I’m always motivated by inspirational stories. With endless questions bouncing around in my head, I decided to call up Lowell and get the 411, not only about the company, but also about his story

In 2006 Lowell was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease, a type of blood cancer. Treatments like chemo, stem cell transplants, radiation, and multiple drug trials failed to show positive results. When told he may have only 2 years to live he made the decision that he wasn’t going to accept the status quo, and wanted to be proactive about how he chose to live, which was as healthy and happy as possible. This path helped him discover yoga, become a vegetarian, start meditating, and stop drinking, and also to eat better, get more sleep, and spend more time with family and friends.

Then in 2010 he began taking a drug that on average was giving people 6-7 months of remission. 18 months later he is still in remission himself, and contributes this greatly to the lifestyle changes he made along the way. While Lowell is slowly recovering from his treatments, he has learned to live with the uncertainty about whether the cancer will return, however he says, “I’m not sure I would change anything—cancer has been my guru.”

On Lowell’s path to become a healthier and happier person it wasn’t enough for him to accept that all he had done was good for him. He wanted to know the how and why. And he wanted other people to as well. What came from all his research was the idea of a science based life coach in your hands, to help you take strides to healthy living. Something to keep you accountable, help to create healthy habits, and improve your health and well-being. In his quest to help himself and other people, Livifi was born.

If you’re an i-phone user you can get the app for $4.99. I recommend checking out the reviews on i-tunes. For such a new company, they’re very impressive. The web version is in beta (for the computer illiterate like me that means it’s new and still in testing, and free for now). The site is easy to use with plenty of instructions. There are 40 plus science-based healthy behaviors to choose from for your body, mind, and relationships. Each behavior has a summary of how to achieve your goal, why it’s important, and references. The goals will default to daily or weekly based on scientific research, however you have the ability to change them depending on your needs.

Remember to set realistic goals for yourself so as not to get too overwhelmed or feel defeated. Livifi has plans to add a social feature down the road because according to Lowell, we are social creatures and enjoy the encouragement and support of others as well as the ability to collaborate with one another. While I don’t have an i-phone yet, I’m excited to use the web version to help me track my goals. This is my first step in breaking my pattern of giving up. I highly recommend getting online to read more about Lowell, the company, and all it has to offer. Make yourself a priority this year.

 

no-television

The other day I drove past a DirectTV van and thought, “I can’t wait to get cable again.” But then something strange happened as I quickly found myself thinking, “or do I?” For this to make any sense, I should give you a little history with my relationship to tv. Forever, I was the one people would ask what shows to watch and when they were on. My sister at one point even nicknamed me, TVguide. I couldn’t really take offense to it since it was true. I knew when everything, or almost everything, was on. When I didn’t have anything to do, or if I wanted to procrastinate, tv was my go to. So it’s been a bit of a surprise to people who know me, and to myself, that I’ve gone without cable for over a year now. While I’d like to say it was a conscious choice to cut cable out of my life, that’s not really how it’s gone down, at least not until recently.

After living in a house with cable (over 500 channels) that the landlord paid for, I moved into an apartment with a stranger. She wasn’t willing to split cable, which was fine, and I knew the day I moved in that I wouldn’t last long there, which, I didn’t. So I found a great apartment to live in alone, but I had to make some sacrifices for a while, cable being one of them. To be fair, it’s not that I don’t watch any shows at all. I do watch a bit on my computer as well as on my television, through Hulu Plus. But it’s not the same experience, and because of that I’ve found that there are many shows I can live without. Shows I now consider fillers.

What I’ve come to realize, is without all those filler shows, I have a lot more time on my hands. And with all that time I’ve become much more productive. In the past year I’ve read “Anna Karenina,” “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest,” “Wuthering Heights,” “The Help,” “The Paris Wife,” and “The Glass Castle”.  All books I would recommend by the way. Along with reading I’ve become more productive than I’ve ever been with work. I’ve been able to put more focus into the Pilates teacher training I’m involved with. And probably most importantly I’ve learned quite a bit about myself. One thing being that when I didn’t want to deal, I used to just plop myself on my couch, grab the remote, turn on cable, and turn off my mind.

While the decision of cutting out cable may not have initially been what I wanted, it turned out to be what I needed. Now when I don’t want to deal, I have to because there is nothing to distract me. I used to find comfort in watching hours of tv, and now I feel like I’m wasting my time. Something inside me has shifted. Will I ever get cable again? Probably, but I have a feeling it will be a while. I’m enjoying this sense of accomplishment too much right now. Never in a million years did I think I would choose to not have cable.

 

what-would-laura-do

“In my world, in my vision, the hero always defeats the villain, the boy always gets the girl, and cancer is no more.” Laura Ziskin (1950-2011).

When I was younger I may have been unsure about many things, but one thing I was sure about was that I wanted to be someone who made a difference, who inspired people, who got things done. I aspired to be someone like Laura Ziskin. She was a woman who exuded inspiration, and a fighter like no one else I have ever known. Even at her sickest I felt like she would be around for a long time. Maybe that was naïve of me, but it’s what I believed. She had endless determination in everything that she did. Laura’s daughter Julia said it best, “Cancer f-d with the wrong woman.” Even though Laura died following a 7-year battle with breast cancer, she has set the groundwork for great things to come.  The cancer community is lucky to have had Laura on their side.

I was fortunate to have met Laura 3 years ago through her husband Alvin, whom I teach Pilates to. And every now and then she would sneak in a lesson. I did not spend a lot of time with Laura, however Alvin was so proud of her, as he should be, and shared stories about her accomplishments. While I was impressed to hear she produced movies like “Spiderman“ all 3 of them, “Pretty Woman”, and “As Good As It Gets,” what stood out most to me was her involvement with Stand Up To Cancer, a non-profit she co-founded. Their goal is to encourage collaboration, not competition, with the best and brightest in the cancer community. As Laura said in a CNN interview last year “the problem with cancer research in this country is that the scientists are siloed, and the system promotes competition, not collaboration…Stand Up To Cancer’s funding model mandates that the scientists collaborate, and compete against the disease instead of each other.”

Through knowing Laura I learned that 1500 people a day die of cancer. And 1 in every 2 men and 1 in every 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer, which means that either you or someone you know will be affected by the disease. Realizing something different needed to be done, Laura drew from her producing experience to help her with the biggest fight of her life. With her ability to bring the right people together, make a plan and see it through, and knowing what needed to be done to raise money, Laura helped organize two major fundraising telecasts for SU2C that aired in 2008 and 2010. The star studded events raised over $180 million combined. And as long as research continues, so must funding. So please visit the Stand Up To Cancer site to learn more about the organization and consider donating if you can. Every little bit helps.

Laura may have left this world too soon, but she has left an imprint that no one can ever erase.  I have only touched on one part of who Laura was as it’s the part that impacted me the most. However if it’s not obvious from how I spoke about her, there is so much more to know. I suggest googling her, and be prepared to be inspired.

I WROTE THIS FOR LAURA, AND I STAND UP TO CANCER.