Health Secrets Revealed- 4 Reasons why you should add ALOE to your daily routine!

Aloe, my young discovery

This green catus-y looking plant can easily be overlooked by many, but inside those sharp thick leaves lies a very soothing magical natural medicine. I still remember my first encounter with this strange plant. I grew up with one in my parents front yard and always stayed away in fear that I would be stabbed by one of its prickly leaves. I was about 9 years old when I had a major fall while rollerblading. I came inside with blood dripping down my shins (I still have scars on my knees from that eventful day) crying for my mom. She cleaned up my knees and went outside to chop off one of the leaves. She brought me over to the sharp plant and showed me this sticky gel that was inside. She squeezed the gel onto the cuts and there was this instant sense of relief.

Photo Cred-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloe

Photo Cred-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloe

From then on I new this strange plant was something I would always want near by. Soon I learned it could also be used for those painful summer sunburns and often feel much better than many of the standard aloes we could find at Target.

My second run in with this crazy plant

In college, I ended up with shingles 4 times in 2 years. The “fix” for Shingles was usually steroids and pain killers. Well after getting this terrible illness 4 times in a row the pain pills had destroyed my stomach. I had stomach pains all the time and terrible acid reflux. Any time I had a glass of wine or a cup of coffee I knew trouble would come soon after.

After a few years of dealing with this uncomfortable lifestyle I finally started to do some research and came across the solution! Aloe! The plant that once healed my burns and scraps could also heal the insides of my tummy? What?!

After trying various brands and combinations I have found this one to be most effective. This Lily of the Dessert Stomach Formula not only provides tummy relief from the aloe itself but also from the other magic ingredients!

You can pick this up from most health food stores as well as my favorite website: http://www.vitacost.com/lily-of-the-desert-aloe-herbal-stomach-formula

Why should you start drinking aloe?

  1. Balances stomach acid- so many of the foods we enjoy are very high in acidic content
  2. Aid in digestion
  3. Helps to promote regular bowel cycle
  4. Helps to heal the tummy and digestive track

Health Secrets Revealed~ 10 Reasons why you should use Apple Cider Vinegar

I have to be honest…

a few years ago when I thought of apple cider vinegar I thought, “marinade or salad dressing component”.

How I discovered the magic…

Like many great things I discovered the amazing-ness of apple cider vinegar out of sheer desperation. A few years ago, I had come down with this terrible sinus infection. I tried every natural remedy I knew but I just couldn’t get rid of the darn thing. I ended up scheduling an appt with the doc. At the appt he confirmed, sinus infection and sent me on my way with three prescriptions… one for a nasal spray, one for a day pill, and one for a night pill. I thought… really? 3? 3 prescriptions? 3 different chemical compounds in my body!? Plus I had just spent $30 on my co-pay and what would most likely be another $60-$90 at the pharmacy… all that could amount to $90-$120 day… a really nice outfit!

So instead of the pharmacy I went to google and began my research. I read several different natural remedies and reviews and found my healthy combination. Next I headed over to Whole Foods (not where I buy my regular vitamins because of their high prices but desperate times do call for prompt action), and picked up a few different supplies (apple cider vinegar being one) all for less than $30. Within a few days I was feeling like myself again! Plus no crappy terrible side effects, something I would have suffered with the prescriptions!

What is this stuff used for…

A boyfriend repellent…haha. Ya this is true. The smell of this stuff is quite strong and can be rough, Anthony almost runs out the door whenever I put it in hot water ;). This is the only real drawback of the magic apple cider vinegar (ACV), a side effect you can get used to.

  1. Sore Throat Cure– in a mug of warm water mix 1 tbsp honey, 2 tbsp ACV, and a couple dashes of cayenne pepper
  2. Digestive Balance– dilute 1 tbsp ACV in water or tea and enjoy pre-grub
  3. Clear Skin– pour a little diluted ACV on a wash cloth, rub on your clean face… this helps to neutralize your skin’s pH
  4. Toe fungus?– kill the fungus by applying some ACV to a cotton swab and directly on fungus
  5. Energy Boost– skip the 5 hour energy and add a shot of ACV to your afternoon water
  6. Remove the White Flakes– spray 50/50 mix of ACV and water into your hair then rinse… bye bye dandruff
  7. Itchy Red Skin– whether you are having a reaction to something or spent to much time in the sun toss a 1-2 cups in the tub and soak
  8. Aftershave– get rid of the aftershave burn with a mix of 50/50 ACV and water
  9. Sugar reducer– ACV has been shown to reduce glucose levels in diabetics; of course ask your doc
  10. Ear Pain– drop a capfull of ACV in the ear canal, lay on side for 20mins then flip, do other side

Where to find ACV..,

Apple Cider Vinegar is available and most health food stores and many grocery stores… I think even Target may carry it!

I usually order ACV here:

http://www.vitacost.com/bragg-organic-raw-apple-cider-vinegar-32-fl-oz-3

Bragg’s has become my favorite brand, esp when taken orally.Bragg-Apple-Cider-Vinegar-Organic-Raw-074305001321

Want to learn more about ACV? Check out these awesome sources:

 

 

Christy’s PowerPilates- The Spine Stretch

What does the Spine Stretch do?

The Spine Stretch focuses on articulation and spinal flexion, while offering a hamstring string stretch and pelvic stabilization. This exercise goes hand and hand with our posture theme for the month!

What muscles does the Spine Stretch focus on?

  • CORE
  • Hip Flexor
  • Spinal Erectors (helps spine stay up straight)

How to show your spine some love…

Seated high on SITS bones, legs extended and slightly wider than hips, feet flexed, arms extended forward at shoulder height and width. Inhale grow long through the spine, lifting ribs away from hips.

Spine Stretch

Exhale scoop abs and spine into a ”C” shape while maintaining upright pelvis, stretching forward as if lifting up and over a beach ball, tuck the chin to chest, hold. Inhale began to roll the spine up each vertebra at a time as if roll up a wall behind you.

Note:If you have tight hamstrings, keep a slight bend in the knees

Spine Stretch

Hints to keep in mind…

-Keep pulling the shoulders down away from your ears as you round the spine forward

-Fight to keep the pelvis from rolling back onto the tailbone, pelvis stays upright as the spine moves

-Keep the ribs closed, don’t let them splay open as you inhale away from the lower body

-Once in forward stretch, create opposition of abs and arms reaching away from each other

-As you roll up to seated position make sure you are initiating from your CORE and not lifting your head to come up. Your head should be the last part up

-Roll up as you sit tall, not back

-The focus is not how close you can get to the toes but more about keeping the pelvis upright

Christy’s PowerPilates- Pilates Principle #3 Alignment

What is alignment?

Alignment has everything to do with posture. Due to modern day living, most peoples’ spines are not in an ”ideal postural alignment”. Jobs these days require a great deal of sitting starring at computers and long driving commutes, only to come home to sit some more. Whether it be watching T. V, playing video games eating dinner or spending more time on the computer. Our bodies were not designed for this type of abuse.

How is your life affecting your alignment?

Improper alignment doesn’t just apply to jobs but modern day technology as well. Next time you are at the computer or on your phone, take note of how your spine is positioned. Is it rounded? Is your neck shearing forward or rounding down? Are your shoulders rounding in towards each other? Are you favoring one side of the body versus the other? All these factors cause a great deal of pain. When our spine isn’t aligned it causes stress not only on the muscles and joints but the organs as well. Think about it. If your spine is rounding forward, your upper body is collapsed on to your lower body. This causes low back pain, crushing of the organs making digestion complicated.

What is the proper alignment?

When you are sitting, think of elongating the spine , lifting the chest up and pulling the belly button up and in towards the spine. Aligning your spine and using your CORE allows the shoulders to relax and the head and neck to move more freely. It also relieves the stress of the hips, legs and feet. This is all due to taking that pressure out of the lower back and making the CORE and spine a solid unit.

 

seated posture

What are the benefits of good alignment?

  • Improves muscle function
  • Increases range of motion
  • Improves circulation
  • Offers a trimmer appearance
  • Takes pressure off compressed organs
  • Helps the body to move efficientlyPilates Posture

How to stand in proper alignment?

  • Stand up straight feet hip width apart
  • Distribute weight evenly
  • Pull CORE up and in/pelvic floor lifted
  • Drop tailbone down to the ground
  • Close ribs as if wearing a corset
  • Lift chest up
  • Shoulders pulling down and back towards each other
  • Head and neck long/tuck chin as if holding a peachstanding posture

Christy’s PowerPilates- The History of Pilates

”I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises, they’d be happier. ”

– Joseph Pilates, in 1965, age 86

Joseph Pilates

 

History of Pilates

The Making of a Movement Genius-

Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1883. His father was a gymnast, his mother a naturopath. She believed in stimulating the body to heal itself without drugs or surgery. His parents’ professions greatly influenced his ideas on therapeutic exercise.

Growing up Joe suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. He dedicated his life to improving his health. He exercised outside in his shorts and cured his rickets, which is caused by a vitamin D deficiency, and focused on breathing techniques to help his asthma.

At 14 he was fit enough to pose for anatomical charts. He studied bodybuilding, yoga, and gymnastics. You can recognize the influence of these activities in Pilates.

In 1912 Joe moved to England as a professional boxer and circus performer. In WW1 British authorities contained him along with German citizens, in a British Enemy Citizens camp. Joe insisted everyone in his cell block participate in daily exercise routines which he devised to help maintain their physical and mental well being.

The Birth of Pilates-

A few years later he was transferred to another camp where he became a hospital orderly to many bedridden patients. Joe removed the bed springs and connected them to the headboard and footboards of the iron bed frames, turning them into equipment that could create resistance to the exercises. These beds would eventually be known as the Reformer and Cadillac.

After the war he returned back to Germany and collaborated with dance and physical exercise experts.

He eventually left Germany and came to California. On route he met his wife Clara, she was a nurse.

Pilates

The Movement that Would Be Embraced by Many-

Together, they opened a studio in New York and taught their students well into the 1960’s.

Pilates originally was called ”contrology”. Encouraging the mind to control the muscles. It focused on core postural muscles, awareness of breath and alignment of the spine, as well as strengthening deep torso and abdominal muscles. His studio was surrounded by a number of dance studios which led to his ”discovery”. Many athletes, dancers and famous New Yorkers relied on Pilates for the strength and grace it developed as well as for its rehabilitation effects.

Joe passed away in 1967 at the age of 83. He maintained his fit physique throughout his life. He smoked cigars, liked to party and wore his exercise briefs wherever he wanted. Until exercise science caught up with the Pilates Method in the 1980’s it was mainly dancers and athletes who utilized the technique. It’s widely recognized for its health benefits and mental discipline.

 Pilates is great for all types of people, no matter their shape, size, gender or age. 

Health Secrets Revealed~ 10 Reasons to add Lemon Water to UR AMs!

Starting my day with warm lemon water is one of my top beauty and health secrets!

Lemon Water

And yes on vacations I actually bring lemons with me so I don’t miss a day! I must admit I feel completely off when I skip my morning ritual.

What’s all they hype with this fancy water? Is it something you should consider adding into your morning routine? You be the judge!

Here’s 10 REASONS why~

  1. Balances your body’s pH
  2. Rich in Vitamin C- immune booster
  3. Aids in digestion
  4. Flushes toxins- natural detox
  5. Great source of potassium
  6. Promotes beautiful skin
  7. Reduces inflammation
  8. Pectin Fiber in lemons= natural antibacterial
  9. Relieves indigestion and excess gas= de-bloat
  10. Breaks down mucus= helpful for allergy season or flu season!

What to do?

First thing in the AM! Before breakfast 😉

  1. Warm 1 c of water in the microwave (1 minute) or 1 c of water in a tea kettle.
  2. Squeeze juice of 1/2 large lemon or juice of 1 small lemon.
  3. Drink up!

Check out these great sources for more healthy lemon facts~

 

Christy’s PowerPilates- Pilates Principle #2 BREATHING

Pilates is focused around moving with the breath.

Thus, making it easier to move with a natural rhythm, allowing the mind and body to fully connect to each other. Using an exhale breath on the trickiest part of the exercise gives the CORE the power it needs to execute the movement. All Pilates moves start with the breath and move through the CORE, then finally focusing on the muscles at hand. Pilates movements follow a code. Inhale on rotation and extension, exhale on flexion. Moving the spine with the breath ensures the inner workings of the body are receiving a full workout as well.

How to breath
Pilates style

Inhale:
Place your hands on your rib cage, inhale the ribs into your hands, allowing them to open away from the spine. This ensures the breath is coming from the ribs and not the belly.Breathing

Exhale:
Began to exhale the breath as if you were to fog a mirror in front of you. This is known as the ”Haaaa” breath. Keeping your hands on your rib cage, you want to fully exhale the breath until you’ve exhausted every bit of stale air remaining in the lungs. Doing so allows fresh air to rush in and occupy the lungs. Joseph Pilates called this the ”internal shower”. Practicing the ” Haaa” breath on the exhale automatically forces the CORE to contract, pulling the navel to the spine and closing the upper ribs together. Once the CORE is in this position inhale through the nose expanding through the ribs once again, this time keeping the CORE engaged.

 

Christy’s PowerCore Pilates- Pilates Principle #1 THE CORE

The CORE is made up of the transverse abdominus, pelvic floor, diaphragm and the multifidus muscles. There are 4 layers which make up the abdominal wall:

  • Transverse-Deepest layer, shrinks diameter of waist
  • Internal Obliques-used for side bending and rotation (muscles face up)
  • External Obliques-used for side bending and rotation (muscles face down)
  • Rectus Abdominus-6 pack muscles

All of these muscles, as well as the pelvic floor, diaphragm and multifidus create a ‘cage’ of strength. When the CORE is weak, stabilization is impaired which causes loss of balance, achy back, and poor posture.

When working on abdominal exercises you consistently want to think about pulling the navel to the spine and pulling the abs up and in. Doing so will prevent a lower ‘pooch’ of the abdominal from happening. When doing exercises lying on your back, work from neutral spine. Think of pressing your tailbone into the floor, as well as the back of your bra strap (think of your stomach as a clock, the bra strap being 12:00 and the tailbone being 6:00), keep the ribs closed together as if wearing a corset, and let the lower back keep it’s natural curve. This will take practice but doing ab work this way not only strengthens the CORE but the back as well. If one imprints the spine the work stays in the abs but never challenges the back. Lower back problems come from weak abs!

In Pilates strength is built from the inside out, every movement begins through the CORE and flows outward through the limbs. Challenging your muscles this way builds your back, abdominals, and pelvic floor to act as stabilizers for the rest of your body. Once the CORE is built up all other work will become more efficient, not only in Pilates movements but in everyday living.