Brain Breaks for Productivity

 

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The first time I learned to “meditate” I didn’t even know the word meditation. I was nine years old bouncing around, refusing to sit in my chair and do my homework. My father set a timer for 10 minutes and told me to take a brain break. I was to do anything but homework for the next ten minutes, but when the timer went off I had to sit and get back to my homework for another 20 minutes. This for me meant jumping, dancing, singing, climbing on furniture. My little brain breaks of body movement allowed me to release tension resulting in more focused productivity.

Meditation (or brain breaks as I like to say) is a way to quiet all the programs running in our minds, and allow ourselves to be fully aware in the present moment without worrying about the past or future. Creativity, stress relief  and productivity are all benefits of taking the time to meditate.

You don’t have to commit yourself to an hour of yoga a day to reap the benefits of meditation. Even starting with 2 minute breaks a couple of times a day can be beneficial.

Breath Meditation

Check in with yourself through out the day and notice if you are holding your breath or clenching your jaw. Set a timer for 2 minutes and listen to the natural flow of your breath without forcing it. Try moving with your breath.  For example, lift your arms as you feel the natural flow of your inhalation and start to lower as you exhale. Let your body follow your breath.

http://www.energyarts.com/qigong-breathing

Sound Meditation

Spend some time exploring different genres of music:classical, rock, jazz, opera, pop. Notice which songs invigorate you, relax you, make you smile. When you are feeling sluggish, try taking a “music break” and play a song that invigorates you. If you are feeling anxious try playing a song that relaxes you. 

Sleep Meditation

Waking up feeling refreshed will have an impact on our entire day. Having good sleep hygiene will help us get a good nights sleep.

http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/overcoming/tips

Travel, stress and long work hours can also have an effect on our sleep. The ultimate nap is a sleep meditation using theta brain waves to allow us to go into a deep sleep and come out in 10, 20, or 30 minutes.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dpopular&field-keywords=ultimate+nap

 

Movement Meditation

Body movement such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong, martial arts and yoga can be a great way to move the body allowing the mind to relax.  If you don’t have time to do a 60 minute video, why not make it a goal to do 10 minutes of the video a day and complete it by the end of the week?

Qi Gong Video

 

Guided Meditation

Guided meditations are oral narratives from an instructor with a focused intention encouraging visualization.  The link below offers some short guided meditations. Itunes and Amazon also offer many goal specific guided meditations to release stress, and achieve goals.

http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22

Try a few different types of meditations mentioned above and notice how your body and mind respond. Start with a 2 minute breath check in, a guided meditation while commuting or a 10 minute movement meditation. Your body and brain will thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

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2016 diet tip: think MORE not LESS

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photo by http://www.facebook.com/Melissafaccini

As we start off 2016  we hear about new years resolutions, holiday weight gain and what is the best program to follow. My answer is the same any time of the year I am asked : what is the best program to get results?

The best program is balanced, realistic, consistent and one that you can follow for the rest of your life.

We are immersed in a culture of labeling food good and bad followed by extreme, unrealistic diet programs to follow such as: No carbs. Juice detox cleanses. Cutting out major food groups. All of these programs set us up for failure and lead to more binge eating and yo-yo dieting because they are so hard to maintain and make us feel deprived.

Here are some DO MORE tips that will SPARK your body to feel better and help create consistent, healthy lifestyle habits.

do more: Form-FOCUS-Frequency 

If you can’t add more workout days-make it a goal to add more frequency to your workouts as your form of each exercise improves. For example,  if you are doing 3 sets of 12 reps in 15 minutes, see if you can do 3 sets of 20 reps or 4 sets of 12. Get the most out of your workouts and really focus 110% with the time you are dedicating to yourself.

do more: SHARING at meals

When eating out, why not share a meal? Order more veggies such as a salad before the meal or a side of steamed veggies.

do more: WALKING

If you don’t have a fit bit, many phones have health  apps that track the amount of walking you do in a day. Add  more steps to your day!

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203037

do more: Buddy Workouts

Plan more fun active activities with friends or make new friends with a sports league! Register for a 5k,  go ice skating, walk to a restaurant and cab home, take a dance class! Movement is more fun with friends!

do more: EATING!

Eat more: green veggies and antioxidant foods.

http://www.medicaldaily.com/healing-foods-your-health-10-best-antioxidant-rich-foods-add-your-diet-285370

Try a couple do more tips, make up your own and see how your body responds. Balance and consistency will get results!

Happy 2016!

 

 

SPARK your Metabolism 2016!

Christina and I designed this six week workout program keeping in mind that time and results are very important. Each week we change the genre of exercise to SPARK the metabolism while building on exercises with proper form, and efficiency. We encourage participants to listen to their bodies making the exercises their own and allow increased body awareness to carry over into daily life with consistency.

WEEK ONE

Alignment and Strength 

Alignment exercises such as the one below allow us to assess our body positioning after long hours sitting, standing, traveling, working out or playing sports. It is important to know how our bodies are feeling before we build strength by lifting weights or body weight bearing exercises.

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WEEK TWO

Balance Strength Stability

Strength is not just about lifting heavy weights. Exercises that include balance and resistance will challenge our muscles resulting in TRANSFORMATION!

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WEEK THREE

Lengthen and Sculpt

We want our muscles to be strong and healthy. Body sculpting exercises that include lengthening and stretching give desired aesthetic results and also feel really good!

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WEEK FOUR

Total Body Shred

Once we have built a healthy foundation of strength, alignment, and lengthening it is time to push our bodies with dynamic total body movements!

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WEEK FIVE

BALANCE-STRENGTH-STABILTY

Building each week with consistency, allow your body to be challenged by holding balance poses longer. Notice how your body feels before and after exercise.

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WEEK SIX

LENGTHEN AND SCULPT

Lengthening allows our bodies to recover from strength exercises quicker. The more we add movement into out daily lifestyle the better we feel the more energy we have.

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How to get a Dancer Body

Dance technique  and barre inspired workout classes have become very popular- and understandably so as dancers are known for lean muscles and strength.  There is however one very important ingredient in achieving the ultimate dancer physique….

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the ingredient is…

DANCING!

Workout toning classes inspired  by dance technique cover a very small element of dancing. If you wish to achieve a dancer body by attending such a class you will also have to add: low fat dieting, lots of cardio, stretching and massage to relieve tight muscles from repetitively  working the same “vanity” muscles over and over again.

Professional dancers practice and practice routines sometimes over 20 hours a week contorting the body in different positions so the body is strong, flexible, fluid, balanced and aligned becoming a fine tuned tool to express a choreographed, expression-ate art form-similar to how a guitar creates music and paintbrushes create paintings.

Dance practice is over and over and over again until muscle memory is created and the dance becomes as second nature as breathing. Dance is an art form and technique- exercise is only one element involved which allows the body to become a tool to create the visual art.

That being said, if we are to follow dance inspired workouts they must-must-must include a well rounded repertoire of balance, range of motion,cardio conditioning and of course PASSION and LOVE for movement and dance! We can’t just do a million thigh pulses- we actually have to move across the floor and DANCE!

I say this not to discourage dance inspired workouts, of course I am biased and believe dancing is the best workout for life.  The secret though is to focus on actually dancing not HOW the body will look.  I have many dancer friends in many shapes and sizes and the best dancers practice with  discipline, love and passion respecting their body as a tool of expression.

Here are some  Chicago area dance studios offering great cardio dance and  conditioning classes!

 

Latin Rhythms

Summer Slim Down

http://www.latinrhythmsdance.com/

Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center

Adult ballet and Trampoline

http://cmdcschool.com/dance/adult-ballet-and-trampoline/

Ruth Page

Afro Cuban, Be Moved, Adult Hip-Hop

http://www.ruthpage.org/adult-dance-fitness

Hubbard Street 

Be Moved, Club Cardio, Pialtes

http://www.hubbardstreetdance.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=60&Itemid=116