One of the most important Pilates principles that (hopefully) guides us as we master our mind/body connection is imagination.
We’ve got to have an imagination to reap the rewards of Pilates and to rear a healthy, well-nourished body. Test: Do you eat the same bowl of oatmeal every morning? Do you do the same 45-minute Pilates workout three times a week? Do you always work out on the mat? Have you never tried working on the Cadillac or the Reformer?
Just as our bodies adjust to an exercise routine (which in turn becomes cozy and no longer challenging), our palates adjust to an unimaginative diet. Your diet may look balanced, but if your repetitious food choices do not challenge your imagination and senses, they may stop nourishing you as well—and even encourage the development of allergies. Indeed, the most allergenic foods in America are not parsnips (which few of us eat, nutritious as they are) or Tempeh (a high-protein, fat- and cholesterol-free meat substitute), but wheat, dairy and corn, three foods Americans eat with far too much regularity. Food allergies resulting from being in a “food rut” can also lead to excess weight.
Conversely, imagining our bodies moving in different ways is the first step toward actually moving in those ways. Imagining our bodies in Jackknife or Boomerang sets the stage for actually performing those exercises one day. As author and Pilates instructor Brooke Siler observes, “We can literally spur on bodies to action through an undercurrent of creative thought.”
Ditto with our diets. When your roll off your mat or hop off that apparatus after an imaginative practice, challenge your senses and honor your metabolism by ordering something new and different when you dine out. When you go grocery shopping, buy something you’ve never eaten or cooked before, something with a new taste, aroma and texture, then find a new recipe and prepare it. Or grow your own windowsill herbs and see how fresh herbs can reinvent (and add antioxidant power to) your favorite dishes.
You may or may not enjoy doing challenging exercises like Jackknife and Boomerang, but at least you’ve used your imagination and stretched your mind.
Liven up your imagination with your next salad. Why toss the same old romaine or mesclun lettuce if you can imaginatively (and deliciously) roast and shred some Brussels sprouts? If you’ve never liked them before, the following recipe may change your mind.
CITRUS BRUSSELS SPROUT SALAD
Brussel sprouts help protect the body against cancer, and provide ample amounts of vitamins K, C, A and folate.
1 tablespoon mayonnaise (low-fat or dairy free)
½ teaspoon spicy mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/8 cup olive oil
¾ pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and shredded
1 small tart apple, cored, diced and shredded
1 shallot (or 3 green onions), chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
¼ cup micro greens, watercress or fresh mint
1. Make the dressing: Whisk together mayo, mustard, lemon juice and zest. Add the oil.
2. Combine Brussels sprouts, apple, shallot or green onion. Toss with dressing.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least 1 hour to soften sprouts and blend the flavors.
4. Serve over greens, mint or watercress. Enjoy!