Tag Archives: weight loss

Barcelona Pilates Classes: Under the sun with sand in between your toes

Healthy Beach Barcelona 1

www.chrishuntwellness.com

Barcelona has everything. Sun, sea, beaches, restaurants, shopping, mountains, culture, architecture to name just few. And now it has professional fitness classes as well.

I have created in Barcelona, as a subsidiary of my business Barcelona Bienestar, a new venture called Healthy Beach Barcelona. People say that life is a beach, so why not make it a healthy beach?!?!

Healthy Beach Barcelona offers Pilates but much more. To maximise health and wellness, our bodies need much more than Pilates. So with Healthy Beach Barcelona you can get everything you need to be a God or Goddess. We offer functional and cardio training sessions on the beach and on the terrace in small groups or on a one-to-one basis. We also many other services including massage, meditation, NLP, life coaching, nutrition advice and beauty treatments including gel nails and eye-lash extensions. We offer everything you need to help you become the best you can be.

If you live in Barcelona then you can join us every day. If you coming on vacation then join us during your stay. Or even better, come to Barcelona on a Barcelona Bienestar Retreat and let us organise everything for you.

Life is a beach. Come to Barcelona and let us help you to be a healthy beach.

Find out more by clicking on Barcelona Bienestar or click on Healthy Beach Barcelona.

Chris is an international Pilates presenter and educator based in Barcelona, Spain. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength.  He also organises Pilates Carnival and Fitness Carnival, conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. For more information about Pilates with Chris in Barcelona, please click on Barcelona Bienestar. To learn more about Chris, please read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway?

 

Pilates, baby tossing and butt training? Alessandra Ambrosio has some explaining to do

article-2640140-1E3B2F7000000578-46_634x641

www.chrishuntwellness.com

There is something likeable about Alessandra Ambrosio. She is Brazilian, a 33 year-old model and a Victoria’s Secret Angel. But that is not why I like her, honestly.

I like her because she is open and honest, and she loves Pilates. The picture above is of her during a workout last week in a Santa Monica gym. She is also honest about her training and lifestyle. She recently said that she never exercised until after her daughter was born. She said: ‘When I started with Victoria’s Secret at 21, I never worked out. Then when I got pregnant with my daughter, I gained about 60 pounds and had to walk the Victoria’s Secret show three months later. That was the first time I had to really fight to get my body back into shape.’

I am very happy to let celebrities help me to promote Pilates, health and fitness. But I have to say that sometimes their lack of knowledge about training astounds me, and the things they say certainly do not help the public to understand what is important. Clearly sometimes money does not buy good advice.

Alessandra says that she doesn’t “do much” for her arms as she doesn’t think people notice them as much as the rest of her body. ‘When you’re in a bikini, your abs are the most important. I like doing bridges, and I’ll also finish a workout with 100 bicycle crunches. I’ll do three sets of 25 “Superman’s” to tone my back. I don’t really do much for my arms; throwing my kids in the air helps already. Plus, as a Brazilian, I know the last thing a man is going to look at – even after your feet – is your arms! I Spin on Monday, go to Pilates on Wednesday and yoga on Sunday. You have all these other things to put in front of [workouts] that you say are more important, but they’re not. Your health is most important.’

Where to start with these comments…. First let’s start with the positive. Regular Pilates and yoga is of course great, as is a varied fitness regime that includes cardio as well. Also “your health is most important” is clearly a good message to be getting out there.

But in my opinion as a Pilates teacher, a holistic exercise regime is vital, so neglecting any body part is flawed and an inadequate approach to health (throwing children in the air is not a recognisable training method and is probably dangerous and maybe illegal? I am sure that one day someone will try to launch it as a mother and toddler fitness concept…)

The part of this interview that I find most disturbing is the concept of training the part of your body that you think people look at most. Whilst I am sure (and I really hope I am right) that she was saying this with her tongue firmly in her cheek, the idea of training your abs and butt only because that is what men look at is not on any level a good message.

I think I should let Alessandra have the final say on this post: ‘Having a perfect body isn’t everything. I want my daughter to be nice, have a good education and be disciplined. That’s what makes people like her. A perfect butt doesn’t make an amazing person. It’s about feeling confident.’

“A perfect butt does not make an amazing person”. Inspiring words indeed. 😉

Chris is an international Pilates presenter and educator. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength.  He also organises Pilates Carnival and Fitness Carnival, conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. Read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway? for more.

 

Vanessa Hudgens: Does Pilates create a flat stomach?

Chris Hunt Wellness

www.chrishuntwellness.com

Pilates brings many benefits, most people know that. In my experience most people come to Pilates because they have an existing issue with their body that they want to rehabilitate from, they want to improve performance and quality of life (especially in a sporting sense), or because they want to change their body shape.

Pilates can achieve all these things. But I think it is always vital that clients understand exactly what Pilates is and exactly how it achieves what it does.

I am often asked the question, “will Pilates give me a flat stomach?” To help answer this question, I will use the example of Vanessa Hudgens, as she is a Pilates fan and is regularly complemented for her great figure. She was pictured this week leaving a Pilates studio in LA.

First of all, if you are not familiar with Vanessa, she is a 25-year-old American actress and singer. She rose to prominence playing Gabriella Montez in the High School Musical series and has also appeared in various films and television series for the Disney Channel.

So, back to the question, will Pilates give you a flat stomach? The simple answer is it will help for sure if it is done properly, as the abdominal muscles are trained as part of the holistic exercise system. But, and it is a big but, exercise alone is not enough. I like the saying that flat abs (or even a six-pack) is creates 20% in the gym and 80% in the kitchen. It’s an obvious fact that we all have a six-pack, of course some are genetically blessed with a head-start, but we all have one! The problem is some people’s six-packs are a little shy, they like to hide behind a layer of fat! This is why diet is vital.

I think it is important not to simply equate a stronger core with a flatter stomach. For most people, flatter abs means weight loss as well as exercise. I do not think that Pilates teachers should advertise Pilates simply to get flat abs, as this demeans the whole system. It makes me very angry when I see headlines like “5 Pilates exercises to get a six-pack”. What we should be saying is that Pilates is a holistic system that will make your body stronger, more flexible and healthier. A nice side-effect of this is often a slimmer more toned body and in turn a flatter stomach, something that is also helped by the improvement in posture that Pilates will bring. If most people simply learn and are able to stand up straight in a neutral position, then hey presto their stomach will often flatten.

Also, Pilates is about how to use your body and body awareness. This is what I really stress through NLP and mindfulness when I am teaching my system, Pilates EVO. Pilates can give you swagger!

Something that many gym goers are unaware of is that the abs should also be flexible. It’s a dangerous myth that to be strong and look good muscles should be tight. Nonsense. Every muscle needs flexibility. If we have no flexibility and balance in our bodies then eventually our bodies will break-down, often not in the area of the inflexibility.

As always, if you want more advice on anything Pilates, or about how exercise and diet can help change your figure, then please drop me a line via my website, Facebook or the form below.

 

Hot Pilates & yoga: Just a lot of hot air?

www.chrishuntwellness.com Sweaty Girl

www.chrishuntwellness.com

Unlike some Pilates presenters, I am not against all new adaptations of our beloved Pilates system per se. The world is always changing, and to stay still is never such a good idea.  If I can see that a new idea brings something new and beneficial without compromising on the principles and qualities that we all know and love, then I am open to try it.

That brings me to the subject of the “hot exercise” craze. We have all heard of Hot Yoga, and many of us have had the pleasure of using a studio after a hot yoga session and having to open windows to disperse the heat and the smell. Pilates seems to be following with hot classes springing up, but is there any proven benefit in exercising in high temperatures that make the body sweat? We have moved on from running in bin bags, but is hot exercise just the same but trendy because they do it in Hollywood?

Having looked at recent research, I have to say that it does not look good for exercising in heat.  Some experts say that it only serves to raise heart rate and blood pressure which for some people will be a lethal cocktail. A study in 2013 conducted by the University of Wisconsin concluded that the effort required to do a Bikram-style yoga class was all but identical to that required to do a normal yoga class (the exercise intensity was on average around 56 to 57% of maximal heart rate, which would classify both as “light exercise not dissimilar to a light walk). Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise said that the benefits of heat are largely perceptual. “People think that the degree of sweat is the quality of the workout, but that is not the reality. It does not correlate to burning calories”.

So as Pete Bee makes the point in her Times article earlier this year, if it does not burn more calories then what exactly does it do? There is some anecdotal evidence that saunas have health and stress-relief benefits and can help in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (click to read my article about Pilates and RA). But the importance of sweating can be overplayed. After all it is the body’s heat control mechanism, a vital means of keeping the body cool. It’s the evaporation of sweat that actually cools the body, and as we will all know from our gym experience, no two people sweat the same, but this is not an indication of their fitness or health. There is also no evidence that sweat purifies the body. Sweat comprises mainly water with some electrolytes. It’s the liver and kidneys that filter out the toxins, not the sweat glands. Research by the University of California found sweating eliminates less than 1% of toxic metals expelled by the body, so clearly sweating is by no means the most important.  It’s safe to conclude that sweat is just that, sweat, and nothing else.

From the traditional side of the argument, I know many yoga masters who have a great dislike of hot yoga. They say it drains your adrenals and kidneys. This is one of three subtle energies called ‘Ojas’. In Chinese medicine it is called your ‘Jing’ energy. You are born with this energy, and when you burn it up it is very difficult to get it back. When you drain it you get more paranoia, impaired energy level and quality. Actual Yoga is said to build this energy very slowly over years and years.

They also argue that doing asanas in extreme heat mean that muscles, which would in normal temperatures protect the joint from overextending, become atrophied. The extreme heat makes the muscles flaccid and limp, and then the movement of the exercises hyperextend the joint beyond its normal range of motion. This stretches the tendons and ligaments, instead of lengthening the muscle. This creates instability and weakness in the joint. As a result the muscles have to over overcompensate to do the job that the tendons and ligaments would normally do. The body becomes bendy, but not truly open and flexible and strong. It is good to practice in a warm room, a reasonable temperature of up to about 30 degrees, but to practice yoga is temperatures up to 40 degrees they argue is harmful, and absurd.

When doing Yoga asanas the breath is essentially the thread that ties all the elements together. In the ancient text, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, it is said, ‘the mind is the king of the body, and the breath is the king of the mind.’ So the breath is the master that controls everything – the body and the mind. This works as the nerves that run through the central nervous system are connected to the top of the nose, this point in Yoga is known as ‘trikut́i’. When you learn through your regular practice how to control the breath through the nose, the vital air will stimulate the nervous system so that it slows the rhythmic pulsation of the nerves and then the mind and the body will be at peace and calm. However, if you are doing postures in 40 degrees heat, then the density and atmosphere of the environment will make the breathing techniques used in Yoga asanas impossible. It is argued that the heated, humid and smelly atmosphere is a terrible environment to be in period, let alone do Yoga asanas in.

So which side of the argument are you on? Do you have personal experience of hot Pilates or yoga? Are hot classes just another way to get people into studios? Does it really matter as long as people are exercising? I’d love to hear your opinions.

In my Pilates EVO teacher training I tell my students that they must never switch off from their intuition and be influenced by marketing ploys. I tell them to listen to their body. Your nervous system and your body are telling you all you need to know if you just take the time to listen. You’ll feel the truth there.

www.facebook.com/chrishuntofficial.com

How are those New Year’s Resolutions going? Not good? OK, let’s talk…

www.chrishuntwellness.com

www.chrishuntwellness.com

On January 1st, millions of people began the annual ritual of New Year’s Resolutions. Memberships at health clubs and diet programs soar, whilst sales of chocolate and alcohol decline. People take a long, hard look at their spending habits as they sort through the January bills.

Now we a few weeks into the New Year and despite all this good intention, most people will fail at their resolutions. Come February, most New Year’s resolutions will be a dim memory. How can such apparently strong determination fizzle out so quickly? What can we do to increase the likelihood that our desire for change will translate into permanent positive change?

Let’s first examine the psychology of the New Year’s Resolution. During the month of December people tend to overindulge in eating, drinking, spending money and neglecting exercise. Rather than moderate these behaviours, we promise ourselves that after the holiday season is over, we will definitely take control. In the meantime, we give ourselves permission to overindulge without guilt. Our resolve is at its peak when we feel full, drunk, or broke. It’s easy to think about going on a diet as we groan from a bloating holiday meal. It’s no problem to plan to quit smoking when we’ve just had a cigarette and replenished our nicotine level. At this point we feel confident about our New Year’s resolutions because we have not yet confronted any prolonged physical deprivation or discomfort.

Chocolate_4

In early January, we are often so sick of rich food and drinks, and feeling so sluggish from lack of vigorous physical activity that it’s not difficult to abstain from overindulgence. In fact, some people look forward to more structure and discipline in their lives. However, a few weeks into the new discipline, our appetites have returned, and we start to feel deprived. It is at this point that we are most at risk for reverting back to old behaviours.

Soon we start rationalizing that this is not a good time of year, what with cold weather and our numerous obligations. When spring comes, we’ll really get into shape. Thus, we make another promise to ourselves, and, now free of guilt, put off habit change for another few months. Chances are that when spring arrives, we will have another temporary surge of motivation, only to abandon it within a few weeks.

time_to_exercise

So why do people abandon their resolutions? One reason is that we become discouraged when results don’t come quickly enough, or when we find that we are not necessarily happier because of them. Behavioural change requires sustained effort and commitment. It is also typically accompanied by physical discomfort. For example, reducing food, alcohol or nicotine intake from a level to which you have become accustomed, results in cravings. Forcing yourself to get off your cosy chair to exercise is often difficult when you’re tired. And of course, it’s easy to procrastinate until tomorrow, so that you can rationalise not disciplining yourself today.

Therefore, if you are going to try to keep your New Year’s resolutions this year, be sure you are ready for the challenge. Here are some tips to maximize your success:

1. Examine your motivation for change
Are you just feeling full and bloated at this moment? Do you have a hangover from last night? Did your last cigarette give you have a hacking cough? Or is there a more enduring reason for your desire to change? If you can’t think of a better reason than the fact that you’re uncomfortable at this moment, then you’re better off not making promises to yourself that you probably won’t keep. However, if you are realistic and accept the responsibility of discipline required for change, your motivation will be sustained long after the discomfort from over-indulgence has passed.

2. Set realistic goals
Habits and behaviours that are changed gradually have a greater chance of success.

3. Focus on the behavioural change more than on the goal
For example, if you decide to control your eating, your goal for the day is not to lose a specific number of pounds, but to stick to your program. Such focus on your behaviour will help you feel in control of your life. You will gain satisfaction from making sensible choices several times throughout the day.

4. Learn to redefine physical sensations of discomfort
Whenever we restrict ourselves, we have both physical and mental reactions. For example, a smoker feels bodily sensations when his nicotine level drops. However, he has a choice as to how he interprets these symptoms. He can define them as extremely unpleasant, or alternatively he can interpret them as his body cleansing itself of the drug.

5. Make tasks non-negotiable
People who are most successful at implementing such changes are those who make their tasks non-negotiable. For example, if you debate with yourself at 5:30 a.m. whether you feel like getting up to exercise, you will probably opt for staying in bed for another half hour. But if getting up for exercise is no more negotiable than getting up for work, then you’ll do it regardless of how you feel about it. The same goes for organising your closet or taking charge of your finances. One can almost always find an excuse not to do these things. However, if you make a non-negotiable decision that’s based on a sound logical reason rather than on how you feel at the moment, you will be successful.

6. Allow for imperfection.
No one is exactly on target all the time. In fact you should expect to falter every now and then. If you give in to temptation, do not use this as an excuse to abandon the whole program. Learn from your mistake and move on.

7. Do it now.
If you’re waiting for a more convenient time to begin behavioural change, it won’t happen. It’s almost never convenient to change ingrained habits. Now is just as convenient as any time.

So I could say good luck, but we all know that it has very little to do with luck. It has everything to do with commitment and planning.
www.facebook.com/chrishuntofficial

How to gain muscle and then keep it!

Image

www.chrishuntwellness.com

For many men and women, the toning, creation and retention of muscle mass is a mythical journey shrouded in gossip and hear-say. It is a complex issue dependant on many factors that vary person to person, but let’s try to simply some things.

So many myths… 

I am often asked by worried people, especially ladies, that they will quickly gain muscle size and look unfeminine. It takes time for a muscle to grow in size and strength. It also takes the right combination of muscle stress, recovery time, nutrition, hormones, and genetics. It typically takes people dedicated to muscle growth a lot of time and effort to reach their goals, so relax, you are not going to sprout bulging muscles over-night, although you might notice some quick improvement in strength in the beginning.

Image

Another common comment is that muscle weighs more that fat. This one is true, so if you add muscle and lose fat, you can add weight, but the muscle will take up less space than the same amount of fat so you’ll look better. Muscle also speeds up your metabolism so you burn more calories day and night trying to maintain that muscle mass. With this is mind, it is clear that no weight loss plan is complete without strength training as well.

When it comes to the number of repetitions, there are some things to consider. Using lighter loads does not necessarily mean longer and leaner muscles. You can lift a weight 40 times without feeling tired, but you’re not challenging the muscle enough to develop good muscle tone or get significantly stronger. Doing high numbers of reps doesn’t get your heart rate up either, so you’re certainly not burning much if any fat. If you use a weight that will cause muscle fatigue after no more than 15 repetitions, this can get the best results in endurance, muscle tone and strength. Also it’s important to mix up your workout by using a variety of weights (from 50% to 90% of maximum capacity) and repetitions (between 5 to 20 per set). Doing higher reps with lower loads helps build endurance; lower reps with higher loads helps build strength. Variety is, as always, the spice of life.

Image

Some athletes I work with are initially worried that if they grow muscle mass then they will lose their speed. It’s obvious that for some sports too much mass is not required, but weight training, especially at a high intensity or with explosive movements, can actually help sports such as running and cycling by building strong, powerful muscles that can rapidly react when called upon to accelerate. Also, a well-rounded weight training plan can also reduce injuries by balancing key muscle groups and reinforcing vulnerable joints.

One thing that my Pilates clients learn is that doing exercise slowly makes a big difference. It’s not always necessary to load on more and more weight to get stronger. By slowing down the speed while lifting and lowering weights stresses the muscle and forces it to get stronger.

Here is the mother of all myths when it comes to muscles. How many times have I been asked if by stopping weight training, will my muscles will turn to fat? This question does have a simple answer. No! Muscle and fat are two distinct types of tissue, so it’s physiologically impossible for one to “turn into” the other. Muscle will lose tone, however, if it’s not used, which may result in a flabby appearance where you used to be solid, and if you don’t adjust your diet and workout after you quit training, some of that food you’re eating could turn to fat.

Old age comes to us all

Getting older doesn’t mean giving up muscle strength. Not only can adults fight the battle of strength and muscle loss that comes with age, but the Golden Years can be a time to get stronger, says recent research from the USA.

ImageResistance exercise is a great way to increase lean muscle tissue and strength capacity so that people can function more readily in daily life, Through resistance training, adults can improve their ability to do anything that requires manipulating their own body mass through a full range of motions.

Normally, adults who are sedentary beyond age 50 can expect muscle loss of up to 0.4 pounds a year. That only worsens as people age. But even earlier in adulthood; the 30s, 40s and 50s, you can begin to see declines if you do not engage in any strengthening activities.

Recent analyses of current research show that the most important factor in somebody’s function is their strength capacity. No matter what age you are, you can experience significant strength improvement with progressive resistance exercise. This means that the amount of weight used, and the frequency and duration of training sessions is altered over time to accommodate improvements.

Evidence shows that after an average of 18-20 weeks of progressive resistance training, an adult can add 2.42 pounds of lean muscle to their body mass and increases their overall strength by 25-30%.

Recommendations for those over 50

Anyone over age 50 should strongly consider participating in resistance exercise. A good way for to start, especially for people who are relatively sedentary, and after getting permission from their doctor to do so, is to use their body mass as a load for exercises. Such exercises you can do include exercises that progress through a full range of motion, such as Pilates and Yoga.

Transition to the gym

After getting accustomed to these activities, you can move on to more advanced resistance training in a gym, with the help of a fitness professional. You should feel comfortable asking a trainer whether they have experience working with aging adults. I suggest that you participate in strengthening exercise two days per week as the minimum.

Don’t forget to progress

Image

As resistance training progresses and weights and machines are introduced, you should keep in mind the need for increased resistance and intensity of your training to continue building muscle mass and strength. A good fitness professional can help plan an appropriate training regimen, and make adjustments based on how you respond as you progress. Progressive resistance training should be encouraged among healthy older adults to help minimize the loss of muscle mass and strength as they age.

So there you have it, a quick and simple guide that I hope will help and encourage you to reach greater heights this year than ever before. Good luck. Let me know if you need any help.

www.facebook.com/chrishuntofficial

 

Weight loss the basics: Calories, exercise and Pilates

Image

www.chrishuntwellness.com

Weight loss for most people is not easy. There is a reason why people weigh the amount they do, and that reason is usually years and years of consistent over-eating and not enough exercise. Those are not easy habits to change at all, let alone over-night. This is one of the reasons that most diets fail within the first few weeks.

So start simple. In this article I want to give you some simple concepts and explain why I believe that Pilates is the perfect place to start and incorporate into your weight loss program.

The clients of Pilates teachers notice that their clothes start to fit differently. I am often told that trousers feel a little looser around the waist and thighs, and arms feel more toned. But I am often why is it, if this is the case that overall weight can remain at a similar level?

If you want to lose weight, we need to consider some basics. We can (and  I will in my next blog) talk about fasting, the 5:2 diet, the 4:3 diet, but nothing changes the following basic facts.

How To Lose Weight
The principle of weight loss is a complex issue involving many factors, but to help simplify matters, for the purposes of this article we will think that you need to burn more calories than you consume. Your caloric intake needs to be less than your calories exerted. This idea helps many people to begin to understand what they need to do to lose weight. But the key is of course, how do you achieve this? 5:2? 4:3? Maybe. But let’s talk about exercise. Good, old fashioned exercise (in a later blog I will talk about High Intensity Interval Training, but for now let’s keep it nice and basic). So why exercise? It’s possible to consume less calories than you are exerting without exercise, but it’s quite difficult, and exercising gives many benefits.

Image

Why Exercise?
Exercise is divided into two different groups: aerobic and anaerobic exercise. You need to understand the difference before we move on.

Aerobic exercise is moderate exercise performed for a long duration of time. 

Anaerobic exercise is used to build power and/or muscle mass. These muscles generally have a greater performance under a short duration/high intensity situation.

Aerobic and Anaerobic exercise have numerous benefits, besides helping to burn of those calories to increase weight loss or weight maintenance. These other benefits include strengthening the respiratory and heart muscles,  toning muscles in the body, improving your overall circulation, reducing your blood pressure, and boosting your immune system. Some say aerobic exercise is better for weight loss than anaerobic and vice versa. But the key is to make your caloric intake less than you caloric output. How you achieve that is up to you.

Calories Burned: Pilates vs. Other Exercises

I’ve listed below some popular activities and how many calories they burn during one hour of exercise. These figures are based on someone weighing around 145 pounds.

  • Badminton 288
  • Bicycling : outdoor 512, indoor 448
  • Dancing : general 288, aerobic 416
  • Gardening 256
  • Golfing 288
  • Jogging (5 mph) 512
  • Rope Jumping 640
  • Running (8 mph) 864
  • Skiing: cross-country 512, downhill 384
  • Stair Climbing 576
  • Swimming 384
  • Tennis 448
  • Walking: 2 mph 160, 3.5 mph 243

Studies suggest that a 145 lb person doing Pilates for one hour would burn the following calories:

  • Beginner level Pilates 241 calories
  • Intermediate level Pilates 338
  • Advanced level Pilates 421

Image

Pilates and Exercise: The Answer

Someone doing a regular form of exercise like jogging (512 calories burned) would still need to watch what they eat because a Big Mac with cheese is 740 calories! This applies to all activities, including Pilates. When Pilates is compared to the general exercise list, the calories burned are in-between both extremes. It is possible to lose weight while using Pilates as a source of exercise, but you have to watch how many calories you ingest.

To put it bluntly, if you are only doing an hour of Pilates exercise each day and no other exercise and you wanted to lose weight, you would really need to seriously count your calories. Remember, calories exerted needs to be greater that calories ingested for weight loss. Not many people eat less than 338 calories a day, which is the amount of calories you will burn in an intermediate level mat workout! So you get my point? Doing Pilates alone is not a viable option. But the beauty of Pilates is that it gives you a foundation from which to go forth and exercise more. And this is crucial for many people, from those exercising for the first time to elite athletes who want to stay on the top of their profession.

Image

Pilates and Extraordinary Effects on the Body
Pilates does change the shape of your body and your clothes will fit differently. Pilates can tighten your waistline, even if you do not lose so much weight, and it builds muscle without bulk and improves posture, making you seem taller and slimmer. It tones all of your muscles because each Pilates exercise session is a full body workout. All of these benefits perfectly compliment a program that considers calorie intake and exercise.

So the key is that if it is paired with the right program, Pilates will help you to lose weight whilst also keeping your body strong, flexible and toned. There are other benefits too;

  • Creating lean muscle mass, as Pilates does, is one of the best ways to increase your calorie-burning potential.
  • One of the best ways to look and feel thinner is to have beautiful posture.
  • Pilates creates a leaner look by emphasizing both length and good alignment.
  • Pilates promotes deep and efficient respiration, which is essential for calorie burning and tissue regeneration.
  • Engaging in an exercise program, like Pilates, promotes self-esteem and heightened lifestyle consciousness. Both are associated with weight loss.

So my advice (completely unbiased coming from a Pilates educator of course…) is that everyone should incorporate Pilates into their weight loss regime.  It makes sense doesn’t it?

https://www.facebook.com/chrishuntofficial

Another year, another new diet? How to suceed this time around

www.chrishuntwellness.com

Image

Last year, Jo Swinson, a UK business minister, urged magazine editors to end “reckless” promotion of “irresponsible, short-term solutions” to weight loss, and reduce the pressure to conform to “impossible” stereotypes that damage women and men by lowering self-esteem while promoting depression and eating disorders. It was a too late to stop the post-Christmas editions of magazines with cover lines such as “Festive Flab fighter! Lose 7lb in 7 days” and “Flat tum tricks! Try our 3-day diet plan.”

Last week, the World Health Organisation said that it was considering halving the amount of sugar that it recommends people should have in their diet, reducing down to 5% the number of total calories. Let me explain how these two issues are related.

New Evidence
A book released last year tried to explain the truth about diets. Robert Lustig, a American academic who has spent 16 years treating obese children, believes Swinson is right: most diets, even combined with exercise, do not last long. Almost any change of lifestyle works for the first three to six months, he says, but then the weight comes rolling back on leaving the dieter often at a loss to understand why the fat is returning. In fact, says Lustig in his book, Fat Chance, which draws on more than 300 scientific papers, today’s children in the developed world are likely to be the first to die younger than their parents because they are being slowly poisoned by a colossal dietary error a generation ago.

It’s a big claim, based on a simple premise: when the Americans were hunting for the cause of rising rates of heart disease in the 1960s and the 1970s, there were two candidates. One was sugar and the other was dietary fat such as cholesterol. The Americans decided fat was the enemy and by the 1980s a low-fat diet was being recommended in a message that spread worldwide. As the £1.2 trillion industry removed fat from processed products, it raised sugar levels to keep them palatable.

“The goal was to alter our diet for the better,” says Lustig. “Instead, we’ve laid waste to every nutritional hypothesis, lost the public’s trust and killed countless millions.” The fundamental change in our diet that resulted helps to explain why nearly 4,000 American teenagers are now diagnosed annually with type-2 diabetes — once so rare in the young that it was known as “adult” diabetes — and why more than 40% of US death certificates list diabetes, up from 13% two decades ago. The UK, says Lustig, is “right behind”.

A sugary surfeit
Even giving young children organic juice instead of the whole fruit can set them on a path of sugar addiction that leads to diabetes, heart disease, cancer and possibly dementia, he warns. Why? The answer is food is processed differently when it arrives in a sugary surfeit. Fructose, a component of sugar, gets metabolised into fat, including a dangerous form of liver fat. It also activates a liver enzyme, setting off a chain reaction that makes the pancreas release more insulin, the hormone that tells the body to store energy as fat.

The majority of humans, regardless of weight, release twice as much insulin as they did 30 years ago. This extra insulin is believed to block a signal from another hormone, leptin, that tells the brain when you can stop eating. Without this signal, the brain boosts your appetite even if you are full and sends you to the sofa to conserve energy. Something similar happens in a diet of the kind that involves skipping meals.

Your leptin concentrations drop faster than your fat stores. You have not lost any weight yet. But your fat cells tell your brain you are starving, your sympathetic nervous system goes into energy-conservation mode and the vagus nerve, which connects the brain with the abdomen, goes into overdrive, boosting your appetite and ordering the release of insulin to tell your body to store some fat.

Our Second Brain
This raises another important topic, that of our “second brain”. As well as the one in your head, our bodies contain a separate nervous system that comprises an  estimated 500 million neurons. Embedded in the wall of the gut, the enteric nervous system (ENS) not only controls digestion, it also plays an important role in our  physical and mental well-being. It can work both independently of and in conjunction with the brain in your head, and your ENS helps you sense environmental threats and then influences your response. Your ENS oversees your digestion, and it alerts the brain if it finds dangerous invaders such as bacteria and viruses.

The “feel good” molecule
Our second brain produces a wide range of hormones and around 40 neurotransmitters. This is important as also transmitting signals in your ENS is serotonin, the “feel good” molecule that prevents depression and regulates sleep, body  temperature and crucially appetite. Research has shown that nerve signals sent from the gut to the brain do affect our mood. These signals may also explain why fatty foods make us feel good, as when ingested, fatty acids are detected by cell receptors in the gut which send nerve signals to the brain. Why is all this important? Simply because a lot of information about our environment comes from out gut. You are what you eat?

Lustig challenges assumptions by dieticians and doctors that to lose weight we must eat less or exercise more; that a   calorie is a calorie, wherever it comes from; and that to shed the pounds we need fewer calories. Not true, he says. The type of food we eat is crucial. Successful diets do exist and have two things in common: they are low in sugar and high in fibre.

Flawed Diets
Even some popular diets work, although they are flawed. The Atkins diet, a low-carbohydrate regime in which you keep the burger but ditch the bun, is effective for weight loss and improved metabolic health. But it can result in inadequate micronutrients and compromised bone health. The Ornish diet, a low-fat, no-fun diet has been proven not only to promote weight loss but to reverse heart disease. The Mediterranean diet — olive oil, legumes (beans, lentils and peas), fruits, vegetables, unrefined grains, dairy products and eggs, fish and wine in moderation — is excellent, as is the South Beach diet, which keeps insulin low, has plenty of fibre, and avoids added sugar.

But the number of people who can stick to any diet is exceedingly small. So the key is to follow some other simple principles, chief among them shopping on the periphery of the supermarket, where the “real food” is kept, not on the shelves.  Real food does not have, or need, a label showing nutritional values. The more labels you read, the more rubbish is in your trolley. Real food takes time to cook but eating it will raise your levels of micronutrients and reduce your fructose. “If you eat real food, your weight will take care of itself, just as it did for the 50,000 years since irrigation and the taming of fire,” says Lustig. “We have no choice but to try to recreate the kind of food supply our grandparents had, before the food processors tainted it.” To make sure, take all your recipes and cut the amount of sugar by a third. And do not forget to exercise.

Traffic light food guide
Lustig uses traffic lights to divide food into three types, a system that might help you with your food choices: greens are “real” foods you can eat as often as you like; yellows are “minimally processed” and can be consumed three to five times a week; and highly processed reds are to be avoided or are for rare occasions.

Green foods include high-fibre cereals such as porridge and shredded wheat. Eggs, milk, grass-fed beef, wild fish, lamb, turkey and free-range chicken can also be eaten without restraint, as can wild or brown rice, whole-grain bread, and home-made salad dressing. Nuts and seeds, fruit and vegetables, plain yoghurt, beans, butter, cheddar cheese — you don’t have to think, just put them in your trolley. Overall, the green foods are high in fibre and low in sugar and “bad” omega-6 and trans fats. They also include tea, coffee and red wine in moderation.

Yellow foods include whole-grain pasta, pitta bread, baked beans, dried fruit and processed meats such as bacon, salami and hamburgers.

The red list has the surprises. Some foods we think of as healthy — bagels, baked potatoes, basmati rice, couscous, fruit juice, rice cakes — are in the danger zone with white bread, pizza and doughnuts.

Don’t compromise your long-term health by believing the fads and trying too hard to lose weight too quickly. By nourishing your body you nourish your second brain, which can all help you feel and look much better, and with an appropriate exercise regime, help you lose weight in a controlled and sustainable way. And after all, that’s what most of us want isn’t it?

www.facebook.com/chrishuntofficial