Blog

Pilates in the Sun and Sand! Triple Your Benefits.

08/13/2018

As Coach Mark Sisson teaches us, follow the wisdom of the Primal Blueprint Laws: Spend Time in Nature and Get Adequate Sunlight. Feet in the sand, and cool ocean breezes amidst the warmth of radiant summer sun. Sounds delightful, right? And science documents how this is essential to optimal health. Barefoot time in the sand not only enhances the health of the immune system and gut microbiome, but also connects one to the Earth’s electrical field (“Earthing” or “Grounding”), reducing inflammation throughout the body. Negative ions generated when air molecules are split by solar radiation, wind or water energize the body at a cellular level. Isn’t it invigorating to go for a walk in the wind, the rain, or by the ocean? Negative ions are at work, revitalizing your brain and body with restorative energy.
Our bodies rely on sunlight to convert cholesterol into Vitamin D, an essential hormone that regulates cell growth, calcium metabolism, immune, cardiac and neurological function. Vitamin D is a key regulator of gene expression, and plays a pivotal role in preventing cancer. The best way to optimize Vitamin D levels in the body is with a 10-20 minute sunbathing session mid day, with attention to never burn.

Ability to make Vitamin D varies with latitude, angle of the sun, skin pigmentation, area of exposure, and reflective surfaces. It is important to protect overexposed areas of the body such as the hands, shoulders and face with a zinc based non toxic cream that blocks UVA rays, and/or clothing. Aim for a tan, not a burn!

It is fascinating to note that for every skin cancer diagnosis due to overexposure to sunlight, there are 55 diagnoses due to insufficient sunlight. Be smart. Enjoy the sun and time outdoors. Use your brain, play, and enjoy the gift of powerful, beautiful movement!

Best to all,

Jennifer

Primal Blueprint Law; Lift Heavy Things

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08/06/2018

Great to see you, Coach Sisson! Thanks for dropping by the pilates studio today at Malibu Fitness.   Here, Mark demonstrates how to Lift Heavy Things in a new dimension with the pilates trapeze. Excellent form and core power! From this reverse plank, pull ups are performed with attention to stabilization of the core, and shoulder and hip joints. Lift heavy things 2-3 times a week as part of an intelligent movement program. Start with your own body weight and the Primal Essential Movements: planks, squats, push ups and pull ups, scaled to your personal ability. And most of all, have fun feeling your power!!

The Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid

The Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid points to Vitality! Nourishing ourselves with nutrient dense foods, consisting of primarily vegetables by volume, but meat/fish/fowl/eggs and healthy fats by caloric density, and topped off by sensible indulgences (💖dark chocolate!) provides the foundation for all systems to rise to the highest potential.  Just say NO to sugar, grains, and chemically refined veggie oils and feel your energy, mood, performance, immune function and clarity elevate!

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The Primal Blueprint Fitness Pyramid

08/06/2018

Are you seeking vitality, lean body composition, longevity, great energy and disease prevention?? Here is the answer from the fitness perspective, Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint Fitness Pyramid. With just the right balance of intelligent movement, nourishing whole food, quality rest and positive mindset, we can reprogram our gene expression towards thriving health.  As a Primal Health Coach, I guide people to understand the science behind optimal health, and empower them to achieve their personal goals to living with vitality.

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Here’s to enjoying radiant health!

Jennifer

 

Learning From Injuries: How to Quickly Turn Frustration into Empowerment

07/16/2018

One’s identity as an athlete can be shattered when injury prevents optimal performance.  As a professional dancer and lifelong athlete, I have pushed my body to extremes time and again.  I have sustained injuries in almost every part of my body and I am very familiar with the frustration, stress and anger that can ensue.

 

Early in my career, I realized the power of mindset to shift away from anger/frustration at myself, my body, and my environment, towards seeing obstacles as a way to grow stronger, more resilient, and adaptable.  This has been transformational not only to my performance, but also to my life experience.   I hope that by writing this, I can inspire others to discover this power in themselves.

 

Guided by the brilliant work of some of my favorite authors, Chungliang Al Huang and Jerry Lynch, I learned pivotal ideas about turning injury and setbacks into opportunities to excel, simply by shifting my mindset. Their book, Thinking Body Dancing Mind, TaoSports for Extraordinary Performance in Athletics, Business and Life, moved me deeply. The following passage inspired me to shift the way I approached injuries and to rebalance my life, towards healthier, more effective training;

 

“In your state of relaxation, imagine your pain.  This suffering has come your way to enable you to bring about positive change in your sport and training program. This injury is a challenge, a blessing in disguise.  With this new way of viewing the injury, you are ready to hear what meaning it has in your life. Do not ask, ‘Why does it hurt so much? Why did it happen to me?’ Rather ask, ‘What is this pain telling me? Why is it here at this time?’….Your injury is nature’s way of reminding you that you deserve a rest.  …Focus on your life, and put your sport in perspective with everything else…Permit your body to relax and rest and follow its natural healing process.  See yourself healing and whole, and carry this image with you, brining it up at least five times a day.”

 

By visualizing an injury as a messenger, I learned to ask what lesson it had for me.  What can I learn from this?  How can I use this to my advantage and begin to train more effectively?  Am I overtraining?  Not sleeping optimally?  Not investing enough time in recovery?  Can I be more strategic in my training? Smarter about what I am doing? Is my ego taking priority over intelligent training, rest, recovery, nourishment, hydration and stress response?  Is this an opportunity to rest and develop other parts of my life that I have sacrificed for my sport such as relationships, play, spending time in nature, studies, travel, or rest?

 

Following this inner dialogue, I learned to thank this messenger, befriending it, and thereby turning around a cascade of stress hormones into a more calm, introspective, healing state.   I would bid the messenger farewell, appreciate the lesson, and commit to proactive steps to growing stronger physically and mentally.  I learned to shift my mindset; Injury was not happening to me, rather I was creating an imbalance and my body’s alarm signals were going off.  By owning this, I held the power to turn it around, to create a more optimal life, and heal to be stronger than ever.

 

When facing injury, it is essential to seek the help of professionals (doctors, physical therapists, pilates teachers, health coaches, biomechanists and others) who can explain the science of healing, and who instill hope.  The scientific power of hope is undeniable.  Part of this includes recalling times when you have previously healed from injuries.  And studying the stories of other professionals who have healed from an injury you may currently be facing.  Know that it can be done, it has been done, and it will be done if you set your mind to it and invest in the correct information and strategy.  Essential to the process is committing to the fundamentals of health: nourishing anti-inflammatory food, intelligent movement, quality rest and positive mindset.  This allows the body to build its internal healing machinery and surge forward with power.

 

Every time we shift from a threat response to a positive challenge response, we create new circuits in our nervous system and a new balance of neurotransmitters.  We can learn to change our own brain with constructive thought patterns. See my previous blog entry on rewiring the brain with the science of positivity for more strategies.

 

Some of my other favorite books on creating a champion mindset include;

Spirit of the Dancing Warrior, by Lynch and Al Huang

The Way of the Champion, by Lynch

Body Mind Mastery, by Dan Millman

Working Out, Working Within, by Lynch and Al Huang

Everyday Enlightenment, by Dan Millman

 

As an athlete, one’s identity can be shattered by an injury.  Yet with a shift in mindset, we can use injury as an opportunity to grow stronger mentally and physically, to expand our identity, to be more resilient, adaptable, and to diversify our lives.  All of which lead to ultimately enhancing peak performance.  And to living more meaningful, empowering, fulfilling lives.

Create Solutions. Turn injuries into opportunities.  And set your mind and body to optimal living.

Best to all,

Jennifer

Welcome Back Coach Sisson!

07/09/2018

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Look who is back in town!  Welome back, Coach Sisson!  We were so happy to have you back at Malibu Fitness last month.  You are ever an exemplar of radiant health and fitness.  Thank you for all you do to inspire, to share your knowledge, and to guide others to reclaim their optimal health and vitality through Primal Health principles.  I am so happy to be on your team as a Primal Health Coach, and sharing the information forward.

Be a strong, healthy, happy, smart human being serving one’s community to the highest capacity.

Find us on instagram @empowerpilatesmalibu @marksisson @primalhealthcoach

Live Awesome!

Here’s to vitality.

Best to all,

Jennifer

Here it is. The Ultimate Anti-aging Technique; Sprinting!

Usain Bolt of Jamaica competes in the Men's 100 meter semifinal on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on Aug.14, 2016.Are you seeking to enhance your youthfulness, vitality, strength, and lean physique?  Would you like to feel more energetic, vibrant and powerful?  Sprinting is the answer.  You’ve probably heard about the benefits of Human Growth Hormone (HGH), testosterone, and insulin sensitivity on many aspects of health.  And how increasing our mitochondrial density and function is like unleashing the fountain of youth. Great news– one doesn’t need to get a prescription for them! Sprinting is a fantastic way to naturally boost one’s key longevity hormones, increase mitochondrial activity, elevate GH and testosterone, activate fat burning genes, enhance insulin sensitivity and glucose regulation, prevent chronic disease and cognitive decline.  Does this sound too good to be true?  It’s not.  Read on and enjoy the empowerment.

 

Sprinting involves an all out explosive burst of effort for a brief period of time.  Humans are built to perform at full intensity in short bursts. For our ancestors, sprinting meant escape from dangerous predators and thus, the ability to survive and propagate.  By sprinting, we stress our bodies and give a message to our genes that we must up-regulate our function and structure.   This message activates an entire cascade of gene transcription and the creation of chemicals and responses in our mitochodria (the energy “powerhouses” of the cell) which elevate our performance physically and cognitively.  If we follow this with recovery time, we allow our bodies to  build the required systems to thrive, and essentially reverse the aging process.  Biological aging can decrease while chronological aging continues.  Pretty cool.

 

Recovery time is key.   Skip it and enter the dangerously familiar chronic stress, fight or flight, “adrenal overload” (or more accurately described as HPA axis dysregulation) picture we know to accelerate aging and chronic disease. It’s not pretty.  Enjoy the rest!  It will make you more powerful and youthful.

 

Sprinting can be modified for all levels, but it is important to first establish a steady aerobic baseline.  This entails moving frequently at a slow pace, at a maximum aerobic heart rate of  (180-age) beats per minute for several hours per week.  This creates a safe steady state of health from which to begin taking on the stress of sprinting.

 

A strong focus on form and technique is essential for safety. Keeping the intervals brief and intense, with appropriate rest periods between sprints, and recovery time afterward, will ensure positive results.   Seeking something with low impact? Try laps in the pool, sprinting on a stationary bike, going full throttle on a rowing machine, or even running uphill in the sand. One might even start with consecutive sit to stand squats from a chair to minimize stress on the joints. Create a safe environment for your personal state of health.  A strategic warm up is critical, focusing on excellent technique, elevated circulation and nervous system activation.

 

Sprint only when fully rested and energized.  Feeling sick, overworked, or under-slept?  Skip the sprints and go for a long, gentle walk.   This will maximize the positive hormonal effect of sprints without overstressing the body.

 

The key to sprinting is generating maximum explosive efforts in a short duration of time.  Sprints may range from 8-30 seconds (beyond 30 seconds explosiveness declines and the workout becomes interval training).  One might try burst of 8-15 seconds for running, uphill sand sprints, or 20-30 seconds for stationary biking or rowing.    After a few minutes of warming up, try sprinting for 4-6 rounds, with ample time between each round to return heart rate and breathing to normal. That’s it.  No more.   The idea is FULL OUT effort, followed by FULL recovery.  These extremes stimulate the body to grow stronger and more resilient.  The entire workout might take 20 minutes or less, depending on how much recovery time is needed between sprint bursts. How great is that?  An intense, well performed workout in 20 mins or less!

 

When running sprints, focus on these key elements of form;

A tall spine, pilates posture with a balanced center of gravity,  feet striking directly under the hips, scapula retracted, ribs and hips square, elbows bent at 90 degrees and swinging freely at the sides of the body.

To enhance the explosiveness of each stride, think of running on hot lava.

Maintain a “strong foot” (dorsiflexion), and high knees, and think of pedaling a

bicycle (legs directly underneath the body) rather than long strides.

Aim for a mid foot strike.

Some great warm up drills are outlined in this video and include:

1. hopping; high knee, high toe

2. high knee running (dorsiflex)

3. high heel to hips running (high toe/dorsiflex)

4. bicycle in air

5. hamstring kick outs; knee to chest and extend in front (hamstring length and strength)

 

Enjoy the rush of some all out sprints!  Do it once every 7-10 days.  Not more.  Aim for maximal explosiveness in each stride (running/biking) or stroke (swimming).  Keep it short and intense.

 

Sprinting becomes fun, exhilarating, and energizing.  It is fast and powerful work.  Enjoy the rush of longevity hormones, mood enhancement, elevated GH and testosterone and subsequent improvements in cardiovascular function, musculoskeletal health, cognition, bone density, sexual function, skin tone, and vitality.  A sparkle in the eyes!

 

By observing the effects of sprinting, we become aware of the incredible intelligence of the body.  Following intense stress, the body responds by up-regulating itself in the recovery period.  Indeed, the body recognizes that it must get stronger in order to survive intense circumstances.  It therefore turns on genes for enhanced cardiovascular function, respiration, musculoskeletal structure, nervous system activation, hormonal balance and more. The entire system rises to higher levels of physical and cognitive performance.  When we understand and respect the science of this masterfully orchestrated system of the body, how it responds to the information we give it, we harness incredible power to rise to our highest potential, thereby preventing disease and decline, and feeling radiantly alive. We thrive and enjoy the thrill of being in the driver’s seat of our own health and vitality.  Go out there, go for a sprint, and make it happen!

 

Create solutions. Be smart.  Be Primal.  And feel radiantly alive!

Best to all,

Jennifer

Important: I am not a doctor or medical professional and the advice in this post is for informational purposes only. If you are pregnant or have a health condition, consult a doctor before adding anything to your health routine.