Lose 5 Pounds in 5 Seconds!

August 14, 2009

By Jennifer Farthing and Tracy Campoli

“Sit up straight!” Do you remember that constant reminder that you got every time you were caught slouching as a teen? It turns out your mother was right; improved posture impacts the way you walk through the world, both the way others see you and the way you feel about yourself. Consistent Pilates training (as you all know) gives fantastic core strength and supports the development of a balanced body, but get this: When your posture is in alignment, you really can look up to five pounds slimmer. In just seconds, you can look and feel your best. Here’s how:

TIP-TO-TOE POSTURE CHECK

This is a simple and easy scan that you can do literally anywhere. This quick visualization practice has the added benefit of helping you let go of stress as you realign your body, and who doesn’t need that? Let’s mix it up and start from the top:

HEAD: Imagine balloons attached to the tips of your ears, assisting you as you lift and balance your head equally around the neck.

NECK: Visualize tiny air pockets making room and creating extra length between each of the bones of your spine helping you to greet the world at your full height.

COLLAR BONES: Shrug your shoulders and come to rest with the collar bones wide open. Imagine writing your full name across those collarbones. Be sure everyone can read who you are from across the room.

CHEST: Now that you’ve announced yourself, shine that proud chest and open heart for the world to see. Take a deep inhale and exhale.

(You’re nearly halfway there: Don’t sink or cave in to your ribs!)

SHOULDER BLADES: Feel the shoulders gently gliding and sliding down your back, toward your pelvis and away from the ears.

SPINE: As you breathe evenly and deeply, lengthen the spine and imagine creating more of those extra cushions of space between each of the vertebra.

RIB CAGE: Feel the ribs separate from the pelvis creating space at your sides and torso. Absorb that great feeling of length.

ABS: Lengthen up and in. The only time those abdominals should be fully released is when you are sleeping, so take care not to lead with your belly.

GLUTES: Release your booty into the lower body. There’s no need for squeezing or tucking here. Tensing means contracting, the opposite of length.

LEGS: Imagine you can peel away the layers of skin and muscle to reveal your bones. See them stack in an organized and solid manner. Feel your sitz bones (at the bottom of your pelvis) lengthening down to the heels. Create a grounding sense of weight in the legs, and feel those heavy bones making a firm foundation for you to walk through the world.

FEET: Spread the bones of your toes and feel the feet like roots of a tree going down to the earth. Become aware of each toe, the ball of the feet, and the heels firmly and evenly on the ground.

Finally, from that deep, grounded feeling, draw an imaginary line from the base of your spine to the top of your head. You are simultaneously grounded and lengthened. Feel those oppositional forces, and just like that, a willowy, winnowy, winsome you!

For a quick(er) posture check: in your car, on the bus, at your desk, focus on the top half of the scan, down to your seat, and notice how much taller you’ll be sitting in no time! Think posture scan as you greet each day for a taller, slimmer more confident you!


Working Your Backbone

August 14, 2009

After reading my first blog, a student wrote me—and gave me the hugest compliment. She said that I had worked so hard to be a good person and that I only deserved the best. I can honestly say that Pilates has helped me along my path to becoming the type of woman that I admire. Every time I take a mat class or a get on a Reformer and connect with my deeper internal core, I feel like I’m somehow strengthening more than just my physical self. I find that through my practice, I have become more in touch with all aspects of myself.

backbone

I take a private with one of the best teachers I know—a friend who I met in acting class years ago. Carey has a second sense about her, and she really knows how to push my buttons and make me dig deeper to really access places that are stuck or even a little dead. She’s helping me wake up my lower-back region, which gives me the backbone to be able to speak the truth and be honest in my relationships. In the past, I’ve often let myself morph into my significant other. I’d become more like the man I was dating and lose sight of my individuality and eventually, I’d start to feel depressed. Thanks to Pilates and my work with Carey, I now have that strong backbone and I’m able to remain true to myself while still growing and developing alongside another person. That person, of course, is Tim and he’s so open and ready to discuss things—and he truly allows me to be myself.

Here’s an exercise that I do with Carey to get in touch with those deep lower-back muscles: Sit tall with your legs extended out in front of you and really try to access your pelvic floor muscles. Imagine closing an elevator door at your pelvic floor and then let it rise up each floor as you hollow out your low belly and keep growing taller out of your lower back. Slowly lift your arms up until they are reaching the ceiling, alongside your ears, and then turn your palms toward each other. Do the very best you can to soften your chest, and keep drawing your front ribs back in space to gain strength in your back body. (I’ll write more about this in my next blog and how softening my heart region in Pilates has helped me in so many ways as well.) Turn to your right as far as you can and then pulse back 10 times, making tiny twists. Turn forward and repeat on your left side.

This exercise had a profound effect on how I carry myself and it has also slimmed the back region of my waist. Not only do I have a backbone and more confidence, I now have a sexy back, too.