Teaching Moments

Good morning, readers!

I’m really excited that I have some teaching experience under my belt now. What’s even greater is that I’m starting to pinpoint the things I need to focus on to make myself a better instructor.

My mom is a yoga instructor, so when I have teaching concerns I usually shoot her a text first and foremost. Sometimes bouncing ideas and frustrations off another instructor is the best thing, and I am so lucky to have an instructor like my mom that I can talk to so frequently.

As stated, I’m getting to a point where I can identify areas that need attention. My biggest struggle right now is to gage the fitness level of my students. Mostly teaching one-on ones,  I have the task of identifying this myself without the support of a studio/gym and their class-level indicators. The benefit of  labeling class level benefits the instructor as much as the student. Instructors can create a flow that accommodates a specific level of fitness without having to offer multiple variations for every single movement sequence. A Pilates Mat 2 Flow for example, is frequently accompanied by a description of exactly what the ‘2’ means. What level of fitness is required? How much experience is needed? Or even, a minimum number of beginner classes must have been taken at the studio prior to advancing to intermediate and advanced classes. Again, not only good for clients, but remarkably helpful for instructors.

This information alleviates much of the responsibility the instructor has for gaging the overall fitness level and then adjusting correspondingly adjusting the flow on the spot.

There are many reasons for these requirements and descriptions, liability, injury, class flow, etc…I’m learning more and more reasons to focus of fitness level during my own classes.

Why is this a struggle for me?

I am often worried that my students/clients are not getting a good enough workout. Why? In the past when I have taken classes, I get frustrated if they are not challenging; I want to get my money’s worth! I never want any client of mine to feel as though a workout with me isn’t doing the trick. So with this as a huge factor in mind, I have been planning my classes with movements that weren’t necessarily hard for me, but were challenging enough that I figured someone with slightly less experience than I would still be getting a great workout. Wrong.

I keep forgetting that I have been doing Pilates for years. My body is used to these types of exercises and I have built a huge amount of core strength. A client who is just as physically fit as I, but not as familiar with Pilates, may not have as much core strength or their body is not accustomed to pilates. Just like I am in great physical condition but I couldn’t run a half marathon; my body has not been trained for it. My clients are in great condition, so I assume they are capable of these intermediate movements! I am forgetting that the body adjusts to certain types of movements and new ones can be extremely challenging, regardless of fitness level!

I am so happy I discovered this as something to think about and work on for my future classes. It is so much better in my opinion to start easy and build up rather than maintaining one, slightly more advanced level. I never want my clients to feel bad because an exercise is too challenging and I have to offer a more forgiving one. Rather, I would have my clients feel empowered and strong  because the exercise I offer is not challenging enough and I have to step it up for them!

 

#goals #fitspiration #instructor 🙂

 

❤ Cammy

Seasonal To-Do List #1! And a little Barre..

Well hello there, readers!

It’s getting mighty festive out there, guys. Like Christmas tree festive. We seem to have skipped a few holidays this year. Not me though! Coming to terms with the imminent cold that approacheth ominously, I have decided to make the best of it this year. What does that mean? Well I have a modestly-huge list of seasonal activities keep me distracted from the barren trees and howling winds this year.

#1: Paint a Pumpkin!

painted pumpkins

I don’t think I have ever gone a year without carving a pumpkin, but this year I really did not have it in me for an involved cleaning-of-the-pumpkin-guts project. I do usually roast all the seeds, which are tasty…sacrifices.

Second on the agenda, get into my Barre training!

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No, not that kind…I’ve definitely mastered that kind of bar.

As I work diligently become a Certified Pilates Instructor, I am hoping to test out for Barre simultaneously.

Barre is AWESOME. It’s a little more of a sweat-fest than basic mat Pilates, but it incorporates many of the same movement principles that one would encounter in a mat class. Think mat pilates, standing, with a beat.

Another great aspect of barre is that you don’t really need a barre to do it. Most YouTube channels featuring barre instructors use a chair. I don’t even use a chair, I literally just use the foot board of our bed. Anything approximately waist height that can support a moderate amount of weight does the trick just fine!

More on the Barre-thang to come!

But first, tell me…do you Barre or do you bar? Perhaps you Barre at the Bar? Interesting. 

❤ Cammy

Morning ‘Top 10’ List

Good Morning, readers!

 

Happy Friday!

Really quick, if you don’t understand my featured image, you need to go watch High Fidelity. Now. Before you read this. If you don’t, a star cast featuring a troubled John Cusack and the always humorous, semi-insensitive Jack Black, spend their days in a record store asking one another what their top 5 whatever’s are (example: top 5 songs about death), all completely based around John’s top 5 breakups. 

The weather has been playing tricks on us here in New England. It’s late October, the leaves have seriously started falling, the college students have busted out their yoga pants and football hoodies, but it is still like 75 degrees outside. I spy people with light jackets, boots, scarves, not the shorts that would be appropriate for the warm sunny afternoons we have been having. Even though it’s warm for the season, us New Englanders know it’s just a fluke. We know what’s coming. And yeah, it still goes down to 45 at night so there’s that..

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Fall is amazing, just like spring, and they both seem to last for about 37 seconds. This year our weather is something like; it’s warm, it’s warm, it’s warm, snow. So much for hoodie/scarf/boot season. But that’s fine, I loathe being cold. So this weather we’re having is actually totally awesome because I can rock my leg warmers when I’m doing my Pilates and Barre workouts and I’m still warm. 

I do kind of remember a lot of years in the past being like this. You know, the stage where you aren’t ready to unpack the winter clothes so the bin is just half-open in the closet so you can pull an item from it every few days.

So anyways, on to the meat and potatoes…

I love lists, who doesn’t. There is something so satisfying about making a to-do list and then crossing off each item. Of course I have days where I feel lazy and unproductive no matter how many items I cross off but those are few and far between. It’s always good to have a list to remind yourself of your accomplishments :). This post will not include that kind of list, however. This is just a random list…about me!

I’m not so delusional to think that everyone reading this is doing so because they are really interested in details about me, but perhaps you will be inspired to make your own list and think about what types of things YOU really like! what a great way to get to know yourself a little better :).

  1. My favorite breakfast: Banana Oatmeal with a ton of cinnamon.

I’m not kidding. I would pass up [gluten-free] Eggs Benedict any day for a hot bowl of oatmeal with a juicy banana sliced in. It totally fills the cracks of my soul.

2. Healthy food I crave the most: Microwaved Sweet Potato.

Again, not kidding. I don’t like baking them  because they get too mushy. I’m a simple person, guys.

3. Favorite unhealthy craving: Nachos. With chicken and extra jalapeños.

Nuf’ said.

4. Favorite article of clothing: Socks

Aha a bullet point that’s not about food! I actually ask for socks for Christmas. If you’re in my family you usually get at least one pair from me every year. They’re actually awesome gifts, so comfy and just awesome. I also hate my feet so I like hiding them. Socks are one of those items that are annoyingly expensive. Like $3 more than just a casual ‘whatever’ purchase, for a nice pair at least. So yeah. Socks.

    5. Favorite Cooking show: Giada at Home

Back to food, I didn’t last long. Whatever, it’s a cultural obsession! I’m just a product of my environment…I love this show. I’m watching it right now. It’s not pretentious (in my opinion) she is awesome and real, and totally stunning. Her recipes are not overwhelming and you don’t need a spice imported from Spain.

    6. Favorite Leg Exercise: Squats.

To elaborate, Squats in turned out 2nd position. They feel amazing and are such a great warm-up exercise. Standing exercises are the best warm-ups in my opinion because you can trick yourself into working out. I.e. I’m just casually standing around, Whoops! there’s a squat, and another one…ok I’m ready to work out now 🙂

    7. Favorite ab exercise: Roll up.

A Pilates favorite of mine; start laying on your back, legs long, slowly reach your arms up and allow your head, neck and shoulders to follow, peeling your vertebra up like a band-aid and stretch over your toes. It feels AH-mazing.

    8. Favorite arm exercise: …..

I couldn’t just exclude this one because of my mild OCD, but I wanted to. I need to work on my arm strength. Everything hurts. But improving!

    9. Favorite Season: All of them except Winter.

I just do not like being cold. In this order, Summer, Fall, Spring, Winter. Spring redeems itself because summer comes after, but it’s just kind of chilly and soggy. Fall is beautiful because I am a Holiday nut. I’ve already started Christmas shopping. Summer really has to take the cake, though.

   10. Favorite thing to cook: Anything that goes in the oven.

A few reasons for this. I’m way better at baking. I can sauté, and boil things, simmer, reduce…use the crock pot…but there’s something so comforting about mixing something up and sticking it in the oven. I feel productive just by having it in there and then the house smells amazing, which is further proof of my productivity. HAH.

 

Ok, 10 seems like a good place to stop. Maybe next time I’ll do one on my top 10 pet peeves, might be difficult because I develop a new one every day.

What is your ‘top 10’ list?

❤ Cammy

 

The First Freeze

Good morning!

Our first deep freeze here in New England and I’m diving headfirst into my seasonal commitment of feeling sorry for myself. It’s cold. I emerged unhappily this morning slightly after my usual time, taking a few moments longer in the warmth while mentally  entering first denial, quickly followed by anger, and finally bleak acceptance. Downstairs, I stared in desperate melancholy at the frost lined windows, draped in every fluffy garment I could locate on the bedroom floor.

Yes, melancholy. 

Fortunately I am a strong, motivated individual who will not be deterred from my morning routine by something as trivial as the cold! …After I spend 20 minutes getting over myself.

After this 20-minute interlude of chugging coffee and flopping on the couch, listening to the TV inform me that it’s cold outside, I remember that humans actually cannot hibernate.  As much as I would like to spend the next 6 months in my bathrobe in front of the fire place within arms reach of the fridge, this is not super practical. So it’s back upstairs I will be dragging myself,  trading in my bathrobe for a fluffy hat and the couch for my pilates mat.

Teaching a High school Football Team and the importance of Stretching

Good morning everyone!

 

No, I am not a High school Football coach. Football does not fall in my areas of expertise, far from it. What I do is teach them a weekly Pilates class that focuses on stretching, relaxation, and building core strength. Hooray! These things I know about!

  1. The general importance of stretching

Relief of joint pain, increased strength and flexibility, improved joint and muscle health.

Many, I don’t know why I feel like putting men at the top of this list, have an innate dislike for stretching. A group of 40 athletic 18-year-old young men who spend their free time attacking each other for a ball are the leaders of this anti-stretching coalition. I get it, stretching hurts and is kind of boring. I personally love stretching now, it just takes a few minutes to get into it and I feel amazing after. Attempting to explain to this particular group of individuals that stretching is important because one day they may experience joint pain is almost a joke and very nearly an impossible task. I remember how invincible I felt at 18, and I didn’t have 39 like-minded compadres reminding me of the flood of testosterone coursing through my body at any given moment. Sigh. It was time to lay down the law! You know, you’re stretching whether you like it or not so lay down on the mat and save your screams of pain and mirth for after the class….or else. I can be very fear invoking 🙂

Anyways. I believe I wrote a little something on my stretching goals and the importance of it. I am not particularly flexible. Or perhaps I am, I am just surrounded by pictures on the web of people twisting their bodies around into an impossible pretzel so my scale is skewed.

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To recap, stretching:

  1. Actually helps build strength,
  2. Reduces bulky muscles and lactic acid build up,
  3. Can help decrease/prevent post-workout soreness (obviously) and,
  4. Increases flexibility.

To add-on, stretching;

  1. Keeps joints healthy
  2. Keeps muscles healthy
  3. Lengthens muscles
  4. Guards against injury

 

2. Warming up vs. stretching

When I first started working out for real a while back, almost 10 years ago, for some reason the information was present that stretching before and after a workout was key. This is not the case. While stretching is important, stretching before the muscle groups are activated can actually cause damage. This may be a bad example, but if you have ever run a tight metal cap under warm water you will notice that it expands, loosens and becomes compliant. This is the same as muscles. If you stretch muscles that are not warmed up (now I’m thinking of a stale rubber band that snaps when you pull it too far, ouch) you can pull them and cause injury. This is where a warmup comes into play. Using a dynamic warm up to begin your workout heats up the muscles and gets them ready for what’s coming. Warm ups also help me mentally prepare for a workout. If I just dive right in to a workout there is a lot of mental groaning, and it’s hard to get into it. By doing some light easy exercises to warm up and get in workout-mode, I sail through my workouts easily.

It is important to pick warm up exercises that focus on the muscle groups the workout is geared towards. I.e. if you are doing a leg workout, choose warm up exercises that heat up the quads and hamstrings. You can also combine stretching with your warmup exercises to introduce mobility to your quiet joints and muscles, as long as you do not overextend anything before the muscles are warm. Stretching alone for a few minutes daily is a great way to keep your muscles conditioned I try to stretch every day in the morning for 5-10 minutes, after coffee. Obviously.

 

And that pretty much wraps it up!

Happy stretching 🙂

❤ Cammy

 

How to push past a weight loss plateau

Good morning all!

 

I got little carried away yesterday with my discussion on the benefits of diet vs. exercise for weight loss, and found myself heading down a different road: What happens when your progress grinds to a frustrating halt? What do we do to spark our metabolism into a calorie-burning mega-machine, without limiting intake to an unbearable level? Let’s discuss…

The plateau

Ahh the dreaded plateau. Perhaps you remember my discussion from yesterday about the dieters greatest fear and enemy. Perhaps not. Allow me to refresh your memory. 

The weight loss plateau occurs after a calorie deficit is maintained for an extended period of time. the metabolism adapts to this deficit, and actually slows down, a little thing called ‘starvation mode.’ We start requiring fewer calories to maintain the same weight. Weight loss tapers off.

In order for us to move past this phase of the weight loss-cycle, there are two things we can do. Eat even less. Yes, when the body plateaus, as I mentioned above, it has adjusted to the new amount of energy you are providing. By the way, this is a good thing, our bodies are smart, they want to survive. When there is limited food available the body automatically slows down its metabolism to adjust for the lower calorie allotment. Kind of annoying if weight loss, not survival, is your goal. So we can eat even less, which in my opinion is just absolute torture, to again begin the cycle of caloric deficit compatible with the slower speed of your metabolism. OR (dun dun dun) we increase strength training!!

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Women, or so I have heard, have innate misgivings with strength training for the fear of developing enormous The-Rock-style muscles (maybe you have noticed, but I’m not really afraid of generalizations, I think we’ve established that there are always exceptions to any rule…except maybe in math). Two responses to this;

  1. Strength training and weight training are two different things.
  2. Women actually can’t develop these kinds of muscles, it just doesn’t happen.

Strength training includes exercises, like Pilates, that use the bodies own weight to increase muscle strength and development. Weight training is using weights to build strength. So both of these are great. Why? When you hit a plateau you must increase the percentage of muscle vs. body fat because muscle burns more calories than fat. This way, you can eat the same amount of food and use more energy. You are basically tricking your own metabolism into speeding back up. Muscle also weighs more than fat, so while you may lose inches, the scale may not change. This is possible another reason that some are tentative about strength training. 

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On the topic of ideal workouts for weight loss, I want to offer my opinion on the benefits of cardio vs. strength training. We have established that strength training builds muscle. We have also established that muscle burns more calories than fat.

Strength training = good.

Cardio is amazing for high cholesterol, diabetes, improved blood circulation, basically just a whole arsenal of health-related problems. Cardio does not build nearly as much muscle as strength training, unless you add resistance (i.e. running on an incline), but then it turns into strength training, so I stand by what I said. What cardio does is burn calories, however we discussed the comparison of calories burned through exercise vs. diet (an apple per mile). You would have to run a LOT of miles to burn off anything significant in terms of your weight loss goals. As one of my long-time inspirations, Cassey Ho says, “Don’t be a cardio bunny.” Strength training will take you further in your weight loss goals.

Now here is the one issue; when I personally do any type of strength training I get hungry. Not hungry, starving. In order for added strength training to push you past your plateau you must maintain the same caloric intake. It is hard not to eat more when you start focusing on strength training, yes muscles burn more calories but if you are taking in more calories guess what? Nothing changes, Surprise!

 

Have you every been afraid of strength training; afraid you’ll end up with tree trunks for legs?

❤ Cammy

DIETS, FOODS, NUMBERS PT. III: The 80/20 Rule

The final post in my little diet project, (If you have not followed they are, The 3,500 Theory, Low Carb Diets, and The Paleo Diet) is focused on the 80/20 rule. Following in the ever-present societal trend of constantly discussing weight loss, this post will focus on a topic that I was uneducated on until very recently: Is diet or exercise more important for weight loss? This post is a big one for me when it comes to educating myself about health, fitness and living a balanced life. It also ties back very neatly to The 3,500 Rule.

So what is the 80/20 Rule? 

Expert dietitians, nutritionists and fitness professionals have derived this approximate number from the 3,500 rule. It is also known as the 75%/25% rule, 70/30, 60/40…as usual no one can agree. Generally speaking, however, the higher number is the percent of energy expenditure and weight loss gains derived from diet alone. The smaller percentage represents any results achieved through exercise.

So to answer the question raised above; Is diet or exercise more important for weight loss? Trusting the professionals, it would appear that diet is more relevant in reaching weight loss goals. In the short-term. 

 

  1. The 75% 

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Each mile you run is equal to about 100 calories burned. This is equal to a medium apple, a small handful of crackers, a couple of table spoons of humus. In my experience it is far easier to not eat an apple than it is to run a mile, that’s just me. However the body calculates these things the same way, energy expenditure is energy expenditure and a deficit is a deficit by what ever means.

The numbers for the rule are derived from the percentage of calories in a pound that are burned through diet vs. exercise in any given week. In order to follow along we must accept that these numbers are accurate to a degree. For example if we create a deficit through just exercise of  125 kcal per day, (lets factor in that we are skipping a day or two as most people burn more than this in a workout session and do not work out for 7 straight days) we create a deficit this 875 calories burned for the week through exercise. This is only 25% of the 3,500 calories in a pound. However, in the same week if we cut out 375 calories per day from our diets, this equals the remaining 75% of calories left in the pound at the end of a week. I know that sounds like a lot, but many people who are starting out on the weight loss journey are not aware of the caloric content of the foods they are eating. 375 calories might just be cutting out a bag of chips and a soda every day. 

2. The 25% 

So can weight loss be achieved by only limiting our diets? Yes absolutely, I think that goes without saying. You will definitely drop a few pounds. What will also happen is that after a month or two your metabolism will adjust to the new amount of energy it is receiving and you will plateau (the inevitable stage one reaches after a certain amount of time maintaining a calorie deficit), and your weight loss will come to a halt. What will also happen is that you will most likely become sad and dejected because you are no longer dropping pounds at the rate you started with and will slightly give up, eating a cupcake here and there. Because the body is in semi-starvation mode after being deprived for however long, it will hold on to this new influx of calories for dear life and you will gain back what you lost and more.

So what do we do to move past this dreaded plateau? This is where fitness comes in to play, and why fitness and not diet alone is a huge factor in any diet/weight loss regimen. Exercise builds muscle (and burns calories), and this is what we must focus on for any weight loss plan. Calories burned through cardio are an added bonus, as trivial and they are (unless you happen to be a marathon runner). Muscle development is the key because muscles burn more calories than fat. Once you hit a plateau you can maintain the same amount of calories you have been eating if the next step is increasing muscle. This way, the energy the body needs for maintenance will increase because of the added muscle requirements for more calories.

Exercise is always important. 

I found myself going off on a tangent about types of exercise to increase weight loss and beat a plateau, so we’re going to save that segment for tomorrow.

But tell me, what has your experience been with this rule? Did you always think that you were burning more calories through exercise? Did you think you could just eat whatever and burn it off later, like me?

 

❤ Cammy

Featured image source

 

 

Adventure to the Dominican Republic

My excuse for the recent hiatus from my blogging endeavor? Ugh, don’t be so hasty! It was just one Dominican minute!

As a little birthday treat, we went on a surprise trip to the DR for a week. Having never been outside of the country since the age of six, I must say it was quite an experience. Having never been to a tropical island, let’s just say I get why it’s a thing.

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We hung out with parrots, swam with dolphins, and ate lots of Dominican food

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Now on to the meat and potatoes of the post…

I think most people have a certain ‘whatever’ attitude when it comes to diet and exercise while traveling. There is an accepted amount of indulgence when you go on vacation, that is for sure. I have definitely held this mentality more so in the past. Forgoing exercise was huge when I went on vacation as well as enjoying all the tantalizing foods thad were to be tried, drinks to be had, etcetera.

For some people I’m sure this works just fine. However, I have learned that if I really just give in and lay on a beach for a week drinking margaritas and eating fried plantains, it actually kind of ruins the vacation for me. Why? Because I just feel like crap.

I’m kind of an active person (go figure) and I also pay attention to maintaining a healthy diet. When I ignore all of this my system just literally collapses in on itself. So we made use of the gym, I did some pilates, there was some running on the beach (I did not partake in this…) and we just walked everywhere. That being said, eating at a restaurant three times a day for six days is an indulgence in itself and my stomach can’t really handle that much restaurant food.

There was also a never ending shower of champagne wherever we went, so that has me a little tired also.

So did I completely give in to my inner desire to be a lazy beach bum? No, I would have felt absolutely terrible by the second day. Was I boring and didn’t allow myself to enjoy vacation? No! Will it take me a few days to recover….definitely :).

 

Coming home is always nice, although I will miss this view.

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How to you deal with your health on vacation? Do you hit the gym and pass on desert a couple of times? Or are your vacations an indulge-fest?

❤ Cammy

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