Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fakin' B.L.T.

My Fakin' Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich. One of my favortie lunch time meals.


  • Whole Wheat Pita, Flat Out Wrap, or bread of your choice
  • 2-3 pieces of Fakin' Bacon
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • sliced tomato
  • Veganaise
  • salt/ pepper to taste
In a lighly oiled skillet cook 2-3 pieces of Fakin' Bacon. Turn halfway through to ensure thorough cooking. Spread Veganaise onto Pita, Wrap, or bread. Layer spinach, tomato, avocado, cooked Fakin' Bacon and salt/pepper to taste.

Enjoy! All the taste of a real BLT with no animal products, less fat and over 8g of Protein.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Podcast IV - On the Ball

On The Ball

The resistance ball is a fabulous piece of apparatus that is fairly affordable and doesn't take up a lot of space. Adding a resistance ball to your Pilates exercises will add a sense of balance and instability to kick up the intensity of your Matwork.  It can also be used to mimic many of the exercises on the Reformer, Cadillac, or chair.

When picking a resistance ball, the size of the ball will be dependent on your height and leg length. The best way to know is to sit on the ball like sitting in a chair. Your knees should line up with your hips with your feet placed firmly on the floor. If the angle is greater the ball is too big, and smaller the ball is too big. I am 5'2" and use a 55cm ball. Also be sure to fill the ball to firmness.

Here are a few of my favorites on the Resistance ball to add to your workout. For more workouts like these be sure to visit and subscribe to piLALAtes YouTube channel.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Teaser: The Holy Grail of Pilates

Teaser is defined as:
"an advertising or promotional device intended to arouse interest or curiosity especially in something to follow."
"a puzzling problem." 
Pilates' Teaser is just that. Both "intended to arouse curiosity", "I want to be able to do that". "Look at how beautiful, graceful and strong the body looks in this position" and "a puzzling problem", "That is harder than it looks" and "How is the body capable of that?".

The Teaser is as synonymous to Pilates as Hundreds. Yet Teaser is truly an Intermediate/Advanced exercise that is meant to connect the previous teachings into utilizing your skills all in one exercise. Easier said than done. Teaser combines the knowledge of rolling and unrolling the spine, pelvic stabilization, core connection, supporting the leverage of long extensions of both arms and legs, breath, and control.  One could (and many do) rely on pure momentum to throw themselves up into this beautiful shape. However, Teaser like most of the Pilates repertoire, is about the journey and not the destination. Many times when teaching this exercise I will slow down the movement to take the momentum idea out. I also like having my clients close their eyes and visualize in their head the movement rather than focus on the external image. In class situations, especially, Teaser can become one of those competitive moments for a student. Closing your eyes takes the compete out of the exercise. 

Teaser is like finding the holy grail in Pilates, "available to all, but only fully realized by those who prepare themselves". Only when you let go of the preconceived ideas and focus on building the foundation do you realize that is right there within your reach. And one day you find yourself in Teaser with grace, ease, and strength from all the hard work you have done before.  Until then it is arousing your curiosity and puzzling you just as it is named to do.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Get out of town!

Living in the city has it's advantages. Everything is right at your demand and the energy is always moving. Sometimes, taking a drive and getting out the city for a day or two and into nature is actually what the body, mind, and soul need.

Nestled about 100 miles from downtown Chicago, Starved Rock State Park does exactly that. Starved Rock State Park located in Utica, IL is an easy escape by car off of Interstate 80.  I packed up my dog, some hiking gear, and snacks and plugged the Ipod into the car stereo to escape the windy city for the day. Just getting out of the traffic and stop-n-go of the city was relaxing.  I jammed out to my Ipod singing at the top of my lungs, something I rarely do in the city for fear of someone I know seeing me.  My Golden Retriever, Logan, enjoyed hanging his head out the window taking in the fresh smells of the Illinois Farmlands.

Arriving into Utica Illinois is a cute little town with some local restaurants, shops, trading posts, and lodgings. Following the well marked signs through town about 1-2 miles into Starved Rock National State Park to the Visitor Center. Parking is FREE and there is plenty of it, unlike downtown Chicago.  Logan and I mounted our packs for the day, stopped at the Visitor Center to grab a map of the trails, and headed out to surround ourselves with Nature.

Historically, Starved Rock had been inhabited by humans as early as 8000 B.C., with many different Native Americans settling between 1500-1700's. Both explorers Louis Jolliet and Father Jacques Marquette, are said to have come through on their way up the Illinois River. Starved Rock derives it's name from a "Native American legend of injustice and retribution", where a chief stood his ground on the bluff and ended up dying of starvation.

Starved Rock sits on a total of 2,816 acres of land. It has 13 miles of hiking trails that wind through natural bluffs and canyons and follow along the Illinois River. Hiking is available year round and the back drop changes with each season. At the "early end of spring, when the end of winter thaw is occurring and the rains are frequent, sparkling waterfalls are found at the heads of all 18 canyons, and vertical walls of moss-covered stone create a setting of natural geographic beauty uncommon in Illinois" (Starved Rock State Park Visitor's Guide).  They have a full lodge, family cabins, camping, horseback riding, and fishing/boating available as well. More information on these activities and lodging can be found at www.starvedrockstateparkorg.

The trails that leave from the Visitor/Lodge area are a little crowded and touristy. For a more rugged and less touristy hike park at the other end near the Council Overhang or Hennepin Canyon and hiking towards the Visitor/Lodge area.  The views are much more spectacular and the terrain is a little more athletic.

About two miles up the road is Matthieson State Park. This dell area has an upper area hiking trail that is a 3 mile loop with wood like views. The lower level is through the dells walking through the rocks and canyons. A little more rugged and wet, but Logan was in heaven tromping along and wading through the water.  Well worth a stop if you have the time.  There is also a horseback riding trail as well.

Logan and I hiked for 3 hours that day and according to my heart rate monitor I burned close to 1000 calories.  More importantly was the breath of fresh air, vacation like-mode, and cleansing of my spirit that happened less than 2 hours outside of Chicago.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fall into slumber and health.

As we head into Fall changes in the weather, schedule, and daylight hours can wreck havoc on your body. Things like lack of sleep and allergies can put your body under the weather rather quickly. Here are a few tips to avoid the downfall of Fall.
"The man who uses intelligence with respect to his diet, his sleeping habits, and who exercises properly, is beyond any question of doubt taking the very best preventative medicine provided so freely and abundantly by nature."- Joseph H. Pilates (Return to Life through Contrology)
He goes on to outline several tips on sleep habits.

  1. Restful sleep is impossible without the fullest and complete relaxation of all our muscles.
  2. A quiet, cool, well-ventilated room is best.
  3. Do not use a soft mattress. Firm but not soft is a good rule to follow.
  4. Use the lightest possible bed coverings consistent with warmth.
  5. Do not use large bulky pillows (or as some do, two stacked pillows). Better still, use none at all.
  6. Nervousness is usually aggravated by a lack of proper exercise, especially in the case of one with a trouble mind. The best way to alleviate this condition is exercise. So if your sleep is disturbed, rise immediately and perform your exercises. Particularly beneficial in this regard are the spinal rolling and unrolling massage exercises which relax the nerves and induce sound, restful sleep. *Roll up, Rolling like a ball, Spine stretch, Roll over and Bridge would be acceptable "Spinal rolling" exercises that should not awaken the nervous system to much to return to sleep.
Joseph also had some early ideas on nasal/throat washing to avoid disease.
"...cup some water in the hollow of one hand and while holding one nostril closed, with the other hand snuff this water up in the other free nostril, then expel it through the mouth by pressing both nostrils slightly, and repeat for the other nostril. In this way, the water is permitted to enter the throat and ejected through the mouth, the throat and mouth are cleansed and kept in a healthy condition and gradually immunized against disease.  These simple suggestions. if properly followed, would prevent the great majority of all of our nose, mouth and ear ailments"
Personally I would suggest doing this a little different. 

  • For nasal allergies I highly recommend the Neti Pot. A little warm salt water goes a long way. In the midst of a cold, the Neti Pot can relieve the sinus pressure and clear out the bacterial junk. On a daily basis, with allergies, the Neti Pot can prevent allergy flare ups from happening as regularly.
  • For a throat filled with mucus or just to clear out bacteria, try gargeling with warm salt water. Allow it to hit the back of the throat for a few rounds, expel, and repeat. For a dry scratchy throat try warm water with a litte honey added to coat your throat.

Another great daily tip to add in to avoid the cold is Emergen-C. Add it to a glass of water in the morning and up your resistance to the bacteria that is lurking around. Lots of different flavors to chose from. It will give you an added boost of energy and up your immunity to those nasty viruses.
Hope these tips help you and your family Fall into slumber and health with ease.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Unplugged and Rejuvenated

This weekend I treated myself to a four day mini-break. All summer I had been scheduling around my clients vacations, schedules, and their children's obligations and realized that I neglected myself. So I decided to take a 4 day camping trip on my own with my 4 year old Golden Logan.

I was a little nervous camping by myself, but I am an independent, self sufficient woman and figured that if I can make it in a city on my own, I definitely can make it in the woods on my own. I had such a great sense of accomplishment as I arrived at my campsite and pitched my tent all by myself. Arranged my housing for the next couple of days setting up my chair, sleeping bed, cooking area, firewood, and sleeping bag. Then sat down to take it all in. I am so used to being in a scheduling crunch and then zoning out using technology like the computer or television. Here I could just sit in silence (or the sounds of nature) and do nothing. It was absolutely amazing!!

The first night as I sat by my campfire with Logan, I almost completely forgot to look upwards. Being in the city, I never see a sky full of stars, so I have gotten quite used to not even looking. As I laid down on the blanket and caught a glimpse of the sky I was surprised to see the black sky so full of bright, twinkling stars. It was gorgeous.  That day being exactly one month since losing my beloved 13 1/2 year old Golden Madison, as I looked up I wondered if her soul was up there in the stars looking down and shining her love down on Logan and I. I laid there for many hours just gazing upwards and taking in the serenity of the sounds, smells, and sights of nature. I was in a state of serenity that I so often lose in the hectic city life. I was completely unplugged and able to sit still in peace.  A natural, unforced meditative state that I can only describe as bliss.  Solitude.

Each morning I would awake to make breakfast for Logan and I. Then I would sit under the rising sun and read. Around 11am I would prepare myself for a 3-5 hour hike for the day. Arrive back at my campsite around 4pm and relax at the site until sunset when I eagerly lit my campfire, prepared dinner, and sat under my lovely sky of light and love. It was exactly what I needed. My four day trip reset me to come back to the city and be invigorated to get back to life. I am already looking ahead on my schedule to make a fall trip before it gets too cold, as I thoroughly enjoyed myself and know that it was exactly what I needed. We all need to unplug ourselves from society every now and then and rejuvenate our souls with nature and solitude.  It's a mental and spiritual cleanse for the body, mind, and soul.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chocolate dipped Strawberry Smoothie

A decadent, yet healthy smoothie. Like having Strawberries dipped in Chocolate. Creamy, Delicious and under 200 calories.


  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1 tblspoon Nutella
  • 1/2 cup of almond milk
  • 1/2-3/4 cup crushed ice


Clean and cut strawberries and place into blender with Nutella, ice, and Almond milk. Blend. Pour and Enjoy!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Small Changes

Resolutions can be a great way to set a goal for yourself, however more times than not we fail our resolutions. The Dictionary defines a resolution as the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.  Why not take baby steps towards a bigger goal with small changes?  For me I am not good with change. I find drastic changes uncomfortable and I end up failing because I am unable to sit with the abrupt uncomfortableness. However, I notice that if I ease myself into the change my rate of success is much higher. 

Last year I made a New Year's resolution to eat more of a Vegan lifestyle.  At first I cleared out all my cupboards and refrigerator of any non-Vegan items and replaced them.  I was going to go completely Vegan from being mostly Vegetarian (I did eat fish on occasion).  My intentions were good, however it was too big of a change for me to make all at once. I now follow a Vegan diet 3-5 days/week.  I allow myself to indulge when I am outside of my home at a friends house or restaurant, as I find it  too hard to explain and substitute. I am already a picky eater to begin with and I don't want to insult a friend or server. By making the change smaller it made me feel more comfortable and allowed me to actually fulfill my resolution.

Same is true with the "Losing weight" resolution so many people make each year.  Everyone starts off rearing to go in January and by February is already off the wagon.  Make small movements towards your goal and you may find that you have more stamina to go all the way. For example, if you lead a predominately sedentary life and decide that you are going to go to the gym everyday, the odds are you are going to fail.  Why not start small? Schedule yourself in for 3 workouts for the week. Try to vary what you are doing and find something that you enjoy doing.  Make it fun, something you look forward to, a workout date with a friend, and most importantly put it on your calendar like you would any other important appointment.

It's okay to know what your "end goal" is but be sure to honor and appreciate the small steps that you have accomplished along the way. You'll be more apt to stay on target and achieve your ultimate resolution. Even a small change (no matter how small) deserves recognition.  You may even be surprised when you reach your resolution how much easier it was to get there. Small change adds up to BIG results.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Favorite Vegan Nachos

Going Vegan doesn't mean you have to give up all your favorite snacks.  I love Mexican food just as much as the next person. And thankfully I have a great recipe to share with you so that you don't have to go without. Super quick and easy. I even bet you could serve these to non-vegan friends and they won't taste the difference.


Place 1/2 of tortilla chips on plates. Cover with layers of Daiya Cheese, Light Life Smart Ground, Black Beans, sliced Black Olives, chopped green onions, and *JalapeƱos. Repeat the entire layering process. Microwave on high for 1:30-2 minutes or until cheese is melted and meat is heated through.  Top with guacomole and/or Tofutti sour cream and serve.

This is one of my favorite meals and I am sure much healthier for you than the real thing. Enjoy!!