Fueling Your Pilates Workout: What to Eat Before and After

What to eat before and after your pilates workout

Committing to your workouts is a big step toward putting yourself on a healthy track, whether your goals are to lose weight, get stronger, improve endurance, reduce stress – or a combination of those things. But what you eat before and after you workout can have a huge impact on how effective your workout will be, and how you will feel (and look) long after you’ve showered (or dry-shampoo’d) and continued on with your day.

I always recommend eating a small but nutritious snack or small meal before your Pilates class. While you may not want to eat immediately before, aim to have some food in your system at least an hour before you work out to fuel your body and mind throughout your Pilates class.

Aim to combine a healthy carbohydrate with some protein for optimum fuel.

Some good pre-workout snacks:
-Whole-wheat toast with natural peanut butter (no sugar added) and sliced banana
-Steel cut oatmeal with blueberries and regular or almond milk
-Greek yogurt with sliced fruit or berries and almonds
-Sliced apple with almond butter
-A simple-nutrition bar like Kind bars (look for the ones with the fewest ingredients)
-A piece of fruit (banana, apple, pear) with a handful of nuts

what to eat before pilates
Eat a small but healthy meal or snack to fuel your workout

Post workout, you don’t want to wait too long to refuel and a healthy mix of carbs and protein is key here as well. You may want to eat more of a meal post-Pilates. Also make sure you mix in some healthy fats for energy and metabolic support.

Some great post-workout meal options include:
-Whole-wheat toast with avocado, sea salt & pepper, and an egg
-Brown rice with veggies and lean protein (chicken, fish, etc)
-a salad with olive oil and vinegar/lemon juice, with salmon and quinoa
-Turkey on whole wheat with mustard and your favorite veggies (and yes one slice of cheese is ok)

What to eat before and after your pilates workout
Eat a good mix of healthy carbs, protein and fats.

Also remember to hydrate before, during, and after your workout and throughout the day. Water, water and more water! Not a fan of water on its own? Try slicing up some oranges or strawberries and put it in a pitcher of water for a fresh, spa-like treat that you’ll guzzle down all day.

And of course these tips can be used for any pre and post workout – not just Pilates!

Remember to fuel your body and your body will reward you with more energy for your workouts and throughout the day. And good nutrition can lead to a better mood, glowing skin, and of course, a trim and healthy physique!

 

Pilates and Pregnancy

Pilates in Tampa for Pregnant Women

I have had many clients come to me with the exciting announcement that they are expecting…and then the question, “can I keep doing Pilates through my pregnancy?” The answer: YES! Pilates can be a great way to stay fit and strong throughout pregnancy, and a good Pilates instructor will know how to safely modify exercises and utilize special equipment as your pregnancy progresses.

Pilates in Tampa for Pregnant Women

Worried about losing your pre-pregnancy figure? Practicing Pilates regularly throughout your pregnancy is a great, low-impact way to safely tone and strengthen. You know those women who remain tiny throughout their pregnancy, toned arms, legs and booty and just the sweetest baby bump? Most of them are working for it. And that could totally be you if you commit to Pilates throughout your pregnancy, since Pilates builds long, lean muscle and tightens and tones the small muscles that hold everything else in.

But as you know with Pilates, it’s not just about looking good…it’s about FEELING good. Pilates for PregnancyAnd practicing Pilates throughout your pregnancy can help you feel your best. It’s a natural stress reliever, and because it stretches while it strengthens, Pilates can actually help relieve some of the aches and pains that women experience throughout pregnancy. It also helps to improve posture, circulation, and nervous system function – things that can get a bit out of whack when you’re expecting.

And the REALLY big bonus of Pilates when it comes to pregnancy? Pilates engages the deepest core, muscles, pelvic floor, hips and spine, which means you develop better muscle strength and memory. Translation: women who regularly practice Pilates prior to and throughout their pregnancies get their post-baby bodies back much faster.

There are modifications to many classic Pilates exercises, and it’s important that you practice with a trained professional (like myself) who can guide you through these modifications, especially as you progress throughout the different trimesters and milestones. Professional Pilates studios also will have special modification equipment that will make your workouts safe and effective. And of course you should consult your doctor before doing any workout when pregnant.

Want to Look and Feel Younger? Turn to Pilates!

We all feel the effects of time, and want to slow down those effects as much as possible. And it’s no secret that regular exercise can help you look and feel younger, live longer, and enjoy life longer. Pilates in particular is especially effective as both a preventative and restorative measure when it comes to the effects of aging. My clients of all ages reap these benefits, but I have also had a number of clients over 50 turn to Pilates to help them look and feel better. Here are a couple ways Pilates can help slow the aging process and even reverse some of the effects of aging, that might surprise you:

1. Improved Skin Tone and Elasticity: regular Pilates helps improve circulation and bloodflow. The obvious benefits of improved circulation include better heart health and longevity, and can be a preventative measure for many common heart and circulatory problems that can crop up as we get older.

But better circulation can also improve the look of your skin, which is one of the first places people tend to notice the effects of aging. Better blood flow means more nutrients can travel to your skin cells, improving the skin’s elasticity and lessoning the appearance of wrinkles. Better circulation also can help scars, stretch marks, dark spots and lesions heal faster.

And you know those dark circles we get under our eyes – the ones that seem to get darker as we age? Those can actually be in part a product of poor circulation and lack of oxygen to the blood.

2. Bring back that lovin’ feeling: Yeah, I went there. But it’s true, and sexual health is so important – and also something that can suffer a bit as we age. There are the obvious implications of Pilates on our sex life, like increased stamina and flexibility. The improved circulation I mentioned before also plays a big role in fueling desire, for both men and women. But Pilates also can help fight the causes of sexual dysfunction that can often come with age, which can often be caused by a prolapsed uterus or bladder. Because Pilates focuses on the deep muscles of the abdomen and the pelvic floor, it strengths the muscles that support your internal organs, thus helping prevent sexual dysfunction as you age. Plus, the better you feel about your body, the more confident you are, the more likely you’ll be to want to hop in the sack.

The bottom line: age is really just a number if you’re body and mind are in fantastic shape. And there are few better ways to achieve that than through Pilates!

What to Look For in A Pilates Instructor

Tampa Pilates Instructor Deecembra Diamond

As a Pilates instructor and fitness professional, I like to attend other instructors’ classes from time to time to learn new techniques, try new equipment, and get my own good workout in.  I attended one such class last week, and while I don’t want to call out the specific studio, let’s just say it was a good lesson in how NOT to teach a Pilates class. It also prompted me to want to put together a list of some of the things a good Pilates (and in most cases, any specialty fitness class) instructor will do, so my clients and potential clients and even just the general public can spot the good studios, as well as the not-so-good, a little more easily:

1. A good Pilates instructor wants to know about your body.
The very first thing I will ask a new client is, do you have any injuries, or any problem areas? Pilates can not only be safe for many different fitness levels, but it can actually help you heal or strengthen injured or weak areas IF your Pilates instructor knows what you are working with.

A good Pilates instructor will also ask about your other forms of exercise, how often you exercise…even what you do for work! All of these factors can contribute to how your body will respond to certain Pilates moves, and this knowledge can be used by a good trainer to tailor the best workout to your body.

Tampa Pilates instructor Deecembra Diamond

2.  A good Pilates instructor customizes each workout to each client.
Whether there are 2 people in my Tampa Pilates classes, or 6, I make sure that each person is doing what is right for their body and fitness level. This might mean lighter or heavier springs, movement variations, fewer or more reps, or different exercises altogether. The beauty of Pilates is that it can (and should) be customized to help you get the most out of your body, without causing injury.  What is right for one person might be completely wrong for another (this also goes back to knowing your clients’ histories and bodies).

If your Pilates instructor is not tailoring your workouts to you, speak up. And if you take any fitness class where there are too many people in the class for the instructor to manage, leave.

3. A good Pilates instructor asks about your goals, and helps you reach them. Maybe you want to gain better flexibility; or maybe you’re looking for better lengthened definition in your muscles; or maybe you have always had a “pancake butt” and want to trade it for a cute little round one. Whatever your fitness goals are, a good Pilates trainer should ask you.  And then they should help you work to achieve those goals. But if they never bother to ask, or you don’t speak up and tell them, you probably won’t get the results you want from your workout.

Three Ways Pilates Can Make Your Life Better

We all know Pilates can help you look your best, but the benefits of adding Pilates to your workout routine go beyond being able to fit into your skinny jeans. Here are are few benefits of doing regular Pilates that you may not think of:

1. It’s a natural energy booster.
Before you reach for that third cup of coffee, consider taking a Pilates break to renew your energy. Because Pilates stimulates the spine and muscles and gets your breath and circulation flowing, it can help give you energy both mentally and physically to help get you through your day.

 

2. It’s a natural pain reliever.
Do you suffer from chronic back or neck pain? Because Pilates helps improve posture and addresses muscle imbalances that can cause back pain, it can help lessen and eventually eliminate back pain when practiced regularly. Also because Pilates strengthens your core and teaches greater body awareness, those who practice regularly are less likely to get injured.

3. It can help you sleep.
Pilates can help fight stress, which is a major cause of insomnia. That might seem obvious enough, but there have been several scientific studies that point to the fact that those who practice Pilates regularly get a better night sleep than those who do not. It comes back to body awareness as well: if you’re more in tune with your body, studies suggest, you’re more able to let go of stress that might keep you up and relax into dreamland.

What are some unexpected benefits of Pilates that you’ve experienced?

How to Stick to that New Years Fitness Resolution

So it’s a new year, and you’ve vowed to make fitness a priority. To lose weight, tone up, exercise daily, drop a jeans size, make the ex jealous, have more energy, and shop for smaller bikinis. You will stick with it past February. For real this time!

Sound familiar? Resolutions are easy to make and unfortunately, also easy to break if you don’t set yourself up for success. If you’ve made a fitness resolution this year, good for you! Here are some ways to you can make sure that you keep it up and not only reach your goals, but change your habits so that your resolution becomes your new way of living:

1. Schedule it in.
Has your biggest obstacle (ahem, excuse) for not working out as much as you should always come down to time? I get it, you’re busy. And there is always going to be something you could be doing instead of working out, whether it’s finishing up that project at work, grocery shopping, shuttling kids around, or just sleeping in a little bit longer. That’s why you need to set your workouts in stone. Put them in your schedule at least a week in advance and view that time as non-negotiable. Set the alert on your phone, put it in your planner – whatever you do to schedule the other “non-negotiable” plans in your day (important meetings, pickup times, appointments), do that with your workouts too.

2. Use the buddy system.
Make a pact with a friend to workout together. Schedule (see above) classes, runs, or gym sessions together. Find someone who you want to spend a little extra time with and who shares your goals. This will help make things more enjoyable – you get to see your friend, sister or spouse for a little extra time in the day. And it also gives you (and your buddy) some accountability. You’ll be way less likely to hit the snooze button and miss your morning workout if you have someone meeting you at the gym or picking you up for your Pilates class.

3. Set realistic milestones, and reward yourself for meeting them.
If your goal is to lose 15 lbs, reward yourself when you lose the first 5, and then again at 10. The reward can be anything from a spa day to a new outfit to show off your progress. Figure out what you’ll reward yourself with ahead of time so you know what you’re working toward. Not only do rewards help keep you motivated, but they also help you celebrate your progress which can make the process of achieving your goals fun! If something is fun, you’re way more likely to keep it up.

Do you have any tricks you use to keep yourself motivated? Want to share your 2014 fitness resolutions? We’d love to hear about it!

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Tampa Pilates Instructor Deecembra Diamond