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Posts Tagged ‘physical activity’

What is a Calorie and Why Should You Care?

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Calorie is a household word, it’s heard around the office, at the gym, but if I ask the question, “exactly what does a calorie do” people have a hard time answering. In fact, most answer, “the thing in food that makes me fat.” Seems to me calories have gotten a bad reputation; are considered to be the enemy. Or it may be like many things in life…too much of a good thing can be bad. So here’s the question. How much do you really know about calories? (Yes, go ahead, take the quiz) Because, actually, calories can be your friend.

Funny…with all the talk about calories, few people truly understand what a calorie is and why it is so important to their bodies. Calories aren’t bad for you. Your body needs calories for energy. But eating too many calories — and not burning enough of them off through activity — can lead to weight gain.

By definition a calorie is a unit of measurement; the energy it takes to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius. When you read that a food contains 100 calories, it’s a way of describing how much energy your body could get from eating or drinking that food.

Calories are energy that fuel our bodies; much like gasoline fuels our cars. Without sufficient calories our heart would not beat, our lungs would not function, and our brain would not work. Note: I am certainly not claiming that if you eat more calories you brain will work better.

On average, most adults need at least 1000 to 1400 calories to have enough energy to fuel their key organs. This minimum number of calories is called your resting metabolic rate (RMR) and it varies quite a bit depending on age, sex, weight, and muscle mass. In order to have enough energy to live your day and be active you need more energy than what’s required from your resting metabolic rate (RMR). About 400 to 600 additional calories per day is recommended. This is the energy needed to move versus just lying or sitting still all day.

It’s really quite simple math to understand why you gain or lose weight. If you exceed the number of calories your body requires each day you will eventually gain weight. For example, if your body needs 2000 calories a day to maintain its current weight and every day you consume 2500, in one week you would gain 1 lb. And by the way, one day of overindulging does not cause instant weight gain.

To lose weight you need to burn more calories than you consume. Example: If you eat 2000 calories a day, and are maintaining your weight, you would need to burn 250 calories (30 minutes high impact aerobics for a 150 lb. person) per day to lose a 1/2 lb. in one week. If, in addition, you decreased your caloric intake by 250 calories a day, you could then lose 1 lb. per week. But one note of caution…you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

Research backs up the The Simple Secret Of Weight Loss: Eat Less, Move More

Yes, you should care. My advice: Know the content and calories of what you’re eating. Get up and get moving. Make sure your physical activity is enjoyable and you will stick with it!

Looking for a way to get active? Check out the many adult dance & fitness classes offered at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School.

Like it or not, we’re getting older…fact!

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

Did you know we lose 50% of our muscle from ages 50-90? FACT.

Did you know that our balance begins to decline in our mid-forties? FACT.

Did you know that approximately one in three older adults falls each year? FACT.

Did you know that the annual cost for fall-related injuries is expected to reach $44 billion by the year 2020? We’ll know in 202 if that’s a FACT.

Did you know that a recent study showed that muscle strengthening and balance retraining can reduce falls and injuries by up to 50%? FACT.

I just finished teaching another 6-week Better Balance & Movement Workshop and the class is always one of the highlights of my week. Not only do I meet the most interesting people of all ages (30 to 88), I know that because I am teaching the class there will be at least 45 minutes in each week that I am intentional about working on my own balance exercises. Because I do know the facts, I want to do all I can to not become a statistic. Whatever I can do now, and continue to do for the rest of my life to maintain good balance and prevent potential falls, I want to do. And the human balance system is quite fascinating. It really is quite simple to keep the brain and muscles connected. We just have to be intentional about it.

Let’s face it. We’re all getting older. Aging begins when we’re born. There’s not some ‘top of the hill’ we reach and then we’re ‘over’. No! Whatever our age, we are getting older. So let’s make the most of it, plan for it, and celebrate it!

I want to be as active as I can for as long as I can, and I am surrounded by people every day who embrace the same desire and commitment to lifelong health and wellbeing. In fact, I just discovered that we have people representing every decade of life this side of 100 taking classes at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School. Wow! Age 3 to 93! People finding ways to get active and keep moving.

But my favorite is the class I teach; Better Balance & Movement. Why? Because each week I spend 45 minutes with adults of all ages and physical ability levels who desire to stay active as long as possible. They want to maintain a level of physical fitness throughout life. They hope to maintain or improve their balance. And so we gather each week and ask the question, “Can you stand on one leg for 15 seconds with your eyes closed without holding on?” No! FACT.

Grab a Workout Buddy

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Unless you are a highly motivated self-starter and aren’t prone to giving up when it comes to working out, your chances of sticking to a long-term fitness plan without a friend are significantly lower than they are with a friend. So grab your friend and buddy up for fitness!

With a friend, the time goes by faster, you won’t be as tempted to cancel a workout or cheat, and you have someone to celebrate with when it comes to your progress and successes!

I recently read a great article on one of my favorite fitness websites called Get Motivated: The Workout You Won’t Cancel. It makes sense! The buddy system has proven itself in just about all areas of life.

At the Butler Community School one of the things I love is the sense of community. If people don’t come to take a class or workout with a friend when they first come to the BCS, it’s not long before there is a sense of camaraderie. Everyone’s in it together. I see it in drop-in classes, during the workshops, and in the Pilates Center. It happens! It’s accountability and encouragement at its best.

Here’s my challenge. Bring a friend, strike up a new friendship with someone in a class, or get a group together. Prove me right! i’m convinced you’ll stick with it! Try working out with people you enjoy being with, in a class that you enjoy.  Meet new people! Give it enough time to test it. If it helps, if you experience the benefits of the buddy system, I want to hear your story! If it does nothing for you let me know that too…but I will want to know why!

So grab your workout buddy and get started today!

Make Your World a Playground

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

I am not Jillian Michaels. Jillian Michaels is one of the most recognizable faces in fitness today, and has inspired thousands and thousands of people to change their habits and adopt healthier, happier, and fitter lifestyles.

While I am not Jillian Michaels, am not recognized by millions, and don’t quite have her body, I do share a similar passion to see people change their habits and adopt healthier, happier, and fitter lifestyles. That’s why I love my job!

 

Today I was thinking about those three words; health, happy, fit. Which is more important? What should we strive for first in order to have it all? What comes first, the chicken or the egg? If I am healthy I am going to be a lot happier than if I’m not healthy. But does being healthy automatically create happiness? And if I’m healthy does that make me fit? No. If I am fit does that make me healthy? Not necessarily. If I’m happy can I conclude that I must also be healthy and fit? Of course not! Yes, there are facts I know. Exercise is good for me physically. Exercise is good for my stress level. Exercise is good for my brain. But will I exercise if I the exercise is not enjoyed; does not make me happy?

 

I can toss this around in my head for a long time and never come up with a good answer. There is always another question, another thought. And to take this thought to another level, don’t forget that health can be physical, mental, emotional, and so on. Fitness can also apply to many areas. So the conclusion is that we cannot separate health, happiness, and fitness. There must always be a sort of pact between the three. And for me and you, we should strive to find ways for these words to intersect in our lives.

Children have it figured out. Play! They want to go out and play. When children play, they are manifesting intrinsic motivation in its purest form. They are happy in play. And as they play they are active. If they stay active in play they tend to be healthier and fit, both in mind and body.

This week I leave you with this one thought: “Do you, and how can you get to the playground?”

 

If you are not sure where your playground is; if you’re not sure how to begin looking for something that brings both play and movement into your life, where the focus is on the enjoyment of your movement and not just the the exercise part, email me and let’s talk! There may be something fun for you at the Butler Community School!

Hello Glutes, Welcome to Today!

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

I am loving the blogs written by Schools Program Coordinator Jodi Schwaben. Here’s her latest in the Pilates journey…

 

Hello glutes, welcome to today! That’s what Ballet Austin Pilates Instructor Alex Miller said before announcing another set of leg lifts, but for me it was more like Hello glutes, quads, hamstrings and all of you other leg muscles I didn’t realize existed until just now.

Yesterday was my final Pilates session for this series of blog posts, and I must admit I’m feeling pretty good (aside from the sore thighs and abs). I’ve been doing Pilates once a week for three weeks now, and I’m noticing a difference in my stamina, posture, flexibility and overall body awareness.

Here are my suggestions for other beginners:

Take a private lesson. Before you attend a group session, it would be wise to first take a private lesson with one of Ballet Austin’s instructors. This is a perfect opportunity to familiarize yourself with the reformer and become accustom to the adjustments and movements that occur in every class.

Be prepared for corrections. The Pilates instructors want you to get a good workout and they also want to avoid injury, so they will correct your position if it is wrong. This is not to frustrate you or make you feel uncomfortable. To reiterate my first suggestion, a private session will get a lot of these corrections out of the way in a more comfortable setting.

Dress appropriately. At some point in your session, you will be lying down on the apparatus with your legs extended, so loose shorts are not suggested. Fitted clothing are best for a couple of reasons, first, you don’t want to worry about anything showing, second, your instructor will be able to see your body alignment more clearly. For women, I suggest a fitted t-shirt or tank top with leggings, bicycle shorts or yoga pants. For men, I would suggest a t-shirt with bicycle shorts, running pants or gym shorts with bicycle shorts underneath. You will be barefoot.

Communicate with your instructor. Before or at the beginning of your session, let your instructor know if you have any injuries or limitations, and he or she will make the proper adjustments for you. While in session, if anything hurts or feels wrong, tell your instructor immediately.

During yesterday’s appointment I was able to do some of the Pilates moves that I couldn’t complete only two weeks ago. I think it may be due to more than just my improved stamina; I think the encouragement from my instructors helps a lot. Alex and Vlada are not shy to shout out a personalized “great job” or “beautiful” as you go through the motions, and the small class size allows the instructors to give individualized attention to each student. I will definitely be back.

-Jodi

I Take Pilates with Robots

Friday, December 14th, 2012

…Or maybe Energizer Bunnies. My class is full of women and men of all ages and body types and they do.not.stop. I asked one woman how she was able to keep up without her abs bursting into flames, and she explained that she’d been taking Pilates here at Ballet Austin for a while. As the class continued, I realized I too felt more confident in my movements and the transitions became easy (well, easier), which got me thinking about my normal excuses and how Pilates seems to be the exception to my many rules.

No Energy
I’m having one of those just on my first cup of coffee, don’t talk to me type of day. I’m not sure if it’s the gloomy weather or all the calories I burned Christmas shopping at the Domain this weekend, but I just didn’t want to get out of bed. So of course, the last thing I wanted to do was shimmy into a pair of yoga pants and hit the Pilates studio. Honestly, my desires were to stay in my baggy sweatpants and hit the couch for an all-day marathon of Friends reruns. However, after an hour of Pilates, I have a burst of energy, especially on the days when we do Pilates Cardio. I can also tell a difference in my metabolism throughout the day.

Joint Issues
I was born with dislocated hips, so I’ve always had lower back and hip pain. This is my #1 excuse. High-impact classes tend to hurt my hip flexors and mat classes are uncomfortable for my lower back. However, as today’s Pilates Instructor Alex explained, if it hurts or just doesn’t feel right, let your instructor know and modifications can be made. I’ve learned in my appointments that if I am restricted from a move, it doesn’t mean I can’t still target that specific muscle group. The Certified Pilates Instructors are able to make the proper adjustments or teach a completely different move to still get the same results without the pain – well, not completely pain-free (remember the abs bursting into flames comment?)

I Cheat
I’m not trying to brag, but I’m an awesome cheater. Years of evil gym teachers made me a fantastic exercise cheater.  I can cheat, cheat, cheat without the instructor ever knowing; I can do the same move as you and feel nothing just by turning my arm a little bit. One problem, if the instructor standing over you can’t tell you’re cheating, the reformer sure can. I cannot cheat on the Pilates Reformer. If you don’t do the movement, it won’t move. It’s that simple. It’s impossible to leave a Pilates Apparatus class feeling like you didn’t get a great workout. The machine adds just enough resistance and forces you to do it right.

That sums up appointment # two in this four part series, and so far I’m sticking to my original statement: Pilates may be the workout for the girl who doesn’t work out.

Jodi

Could this be the exercise class for the girl who doesn’t exercise?

Friday, December 7th, 2012

I am turning over the BEACTIVE! blog to Schools Program Coordinator Jodi Schwaben for a few weeks. Enjoy!

I was never the most coordinated person. Alright, I’ll just say it – I was a nerd. In high school, I chose to exercise my mind over exercising my body. Now, closing in on the big 3-0, I’m noticing my metabolism slowing and my body starting to slouch. To combat this I’ve increased my activity level, which includes sticking in a pair of headphones and walking on a treadmill until I’m bored. I prefer individual activities, ones where I can do things at my own pace and without comparing myself to the athletes around me.

So when my director asked me to take a Ballet Austin Group Pilates class on the reformer, I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit. Luckily, I had a week to mentally prepare for the impending hour of torture.

At my appointment time, I checked out my classmates – one, a Ballet Austin employee who could basically be a Prima Ballerina as fit as she is – I instantly felt nervous and out of place. Everyone knew what to do; they went right to work stretching on the Pilates apparatus. I felt foolish, fumbling with my equipment, but no one seemed to notice; all of the students stared ahead, focusing on their own movements. What a relief!

The class did not stop after that, shifting between core, to legs, to arms, to legs, to core – I never felt bored. Then we switched to cardio. How does one do cardio on a Pilates reformer? In the most fun and entertaining way possible! We attached springboards to our reformers and jumped, while lying down – kicking our legs out to the sides, then up and down. SO MUCH FUN! I looked at the clock after 10 minutes of class and realized I didn’t look at it again until it was time to go.

Still, I may be a Private Pilates kinda gal, but one thing I loved about my group class was the camaraderie; I struggled, it was a tough class, but I had women struggling right along with me. I felt comforted the minute a classmate grunted out “This really hurts.” Oh great! It wasn’t just me!

This is absolutely a class that you feel during and after, but I’ll be back – Not just because my boss is making me – but also because it’s a ton of fun.

Follow my progress the next four weeks as I continue to try out Ballet Austin Pilates apparatus classes!

What are you waiting for?

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Somewhere along the way, it was decided that the New Year is a good time to start a fitness plan. That’s great, but to cringe and quote an old cliché, “Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”

Seriously! Do you want to start a new exercise program? Then start! Not “I should start” but “I will start”. We have it in our heads that if we wait until the first of something it will somehow be easier for us to accomplish the task. “I can start that on Monday” or “let’s wait until the first of the month”. And the big one now is “what is your New Year’s resolution going to be?” But what’s wrong with Tuesday…or Thursday…or December? If today is Thursday, don’t wait until next Monday because you think it’s better to start at the beginning of the week. Resolve today and start today. To quote NIKE, “Just Do It!”

I’m not always the best at taking my own advice. I try to stay up on significant trends in fitness. What’s new, what will provide the best overall workout, what will keep people engaged long enough to see results, and so on. I’m fairly knowledgeable about a variety of exercise programs, but other than a couple of private Pilates sessions and some Pilates mat classes, I can’t say that I know as much as I’d like about the Pilates method. I have been saying for months that I will start working out in the Pilates Center. I have not yet started.

Last week I was speaking to Vlada about plans to get the word out about our Pilates Center and the benefits of Pilates. I explained to Vlada that I had asked Jodi, one of my staff, to begin taking Pilates weekly to gain experience and knowledge to better communicate with potential clients. Vlada looked at me and said, “what about you?” Of course my answer to her was, “That would be great; maybe in January.” Her reply, “How about Thursdays at noon? You and Jodi are booked beginning December 6”. Vlada would not accept anything short of “Just do it! And do it now”. So I am.

I’m excited. Jodi and I will begin this challenge together. We are not waiting until January. We have fought and won the battle of good intentions.

Check back to the blog each week as Jodi will be blogging the pains, the gains, the challenges and benefits of Pilates.

What are you waiting for?

Is Your Kid on the Couch?

Monday, November 12th, 2012

When kids are active, they feel better, are more productive in school, make better choces, get a better night’s sleep, and like any adult, are more pleasant to be around! Exercise is such a mood booster!

But today there are more challenges than ever when it comes to kids getting enough physical activity. Technology, gadgets that mean we rarely have to get out of a chair, kids having cell phones at a younger age, busyness, overcommitment and stress at school and other other activities, all lead to children today being on track to be the unhealthiest generation of adults ever. In fact, some studies say that by 2048 100% of Americans will be considered obese. That’s staggering! And that’s our kids.

Why am I writing this blog? Because we all know this, and yet the problem grows. So today I join the conversation to make sure that if there is someone out there who has not heard that our kids are stuck on the couch more than any other generation, I will reach that person. And each of us can begin to make small changes in our own lives so that we are modeling healthy behavior to the next generation.

Over the next couple of months I will be blogging often about getting our kids active. I am committed. I will share articles and ideas as I come across them. Today I begin by sharing tips to get your couch kid to exercise.

Watch for new programming for kids coming to Ballet Austin. We are committed to getting kids active!

A Letter from a Workout Dropout

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

I received this letter last week from a Butler Community School client. She asked to remain anonymous but agreed her letter could be shared. Check out what she has to say:

Dear Vicki,

I am a workout dropout. I have started a new exercise regimen at least 50 times in my life. I am only 31. You do the math. My question for you is this, “where does motivation come from and how do you keep it?”

I stood outside Ballet Austin a few months ago and watched an exercise class going on through the large window to the downtown world on 3rd St.  The people inside looked like ordinary people; both men and women of various ages and sizes. I was intrigued. I decided to be brave and venture inside to check it out. I learned it was a Ballet Fit class. I heard the music of the Beetles and Adele playing, and the encouraging words of the instructor. People who looked like me working out at a ballet barre, great music, smiles, even laughter. I could do that! I had been looking (once again) for a workout that I would stick with. I know exercise is beneficial and that I should do it, but with all the activities that fill my daily life – work, family, and hanging out with friends – there is little time left for exercise. (At least that is my excuse) Honestly, I guess I choose to go home and chill rather than work out. I don’t always make it a priority.

But I made the commitment to take a Ballet Fit class and loved it. I couldn’t walk the next day; could hardly get out of bed to be honest. The funny thing is that the body ache is actually what made me want to go back. I bought the $99 Introductory 1 month of unlimited classes. Because I paid for it I went as often as I could during that month; you know, get the most for my money. Then the month ended. In my head I knew that I just had to purchase more classes to continue, but I didn’t.  I loved the class and how my body felt. I thought about continuing, but I did not.  I was annoyed with myself, because once again I became a workout dropout. What can I do to get my motivation back and keep it?

Thanks,

A Frustrated Workout Dropout

 

Dear Workout Dropout

You are not alone in your frustration. And while most people feel great after working out, and know the facts about why they should exercise, it is often not enough to motivate most individuals to keep it up. In fact, research shows that 50% of people who start an exercise program will drop out within the first 6 months.

Motivation is a funny thing. I am not sure where it comes from. Does motivation come from within a person or from external influences? Probably a combination of both. I actually don’t think your problem lies in the area of motivation. The very fact that you have re-started your exercise regimen over 50 times means you have a pretty good dose of motivation. Good for you! You could have given up, but you started again. Here’s what I think. Stop thinking of it as 50 times you have dropped out or quit. Turn that around. Shift your thinking from couch potato dropout mentality to fitness savvy mentality. Think about all the new ways and places you have discovered to work out and the people you have met along the way. By nature, humans need change, variety, and a sense of enjoyment or fun to stay motivated. The reality is that very few people find one way to work out and stick with it the rest of their life. It’s sort of like food. When I discover a new food that I love, I am hooked. I will eat that food every day if it’s available. But eventually I am stuck in a food rut. The orignal love has worn off. I need a change. Nothing wrong with that. I am on to the next favorite food.

Change your perspective and think about all the possibilities there are for you to pursue when it comes to working out. Maybe you haven’t even scratched the surface.

So ask yourself, “what’s next?” Listen to your inner voice when choosing the workout that suits you. If a hip hop class satisfies a passion for dance and you get a workout, then dance! If hiking fulfills your love for the outdoors, then hike! If it’s the music and encouragement of a Ballet Fit class that keeps you going, then head to the barre.

What will your next workout be?

Let me know

Vicki

 
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