Friday, January 28, 2011

Meat ≠ Iron

I grew up in a meat eating home. In fact my parents still do not fully understand what being a Vegetarian, let alone Vegan, entails. They have made comments such as "how about some turkey? that's white meat" and "why can't you have soup that has chicken stock?"

I first became a non red meat eater in college, because I found that I always felt tired after eating it and that it took my body a long time to digest. Shortly after I eliminated poultry. I had never really enjoyed pork, so that was already out of my diet. I focused on eating a primarily Vegetarian diet with some rare moments of indulging in fish. At this point I was still consuming cheese (I LOVE cheese) and eggs on rare occasions. I was never a milk drinker, even as a child, and as I have aged I have become more and more lactose intolerant. During my early years as a Vegetarian, I can't say that I always made the healthiest choices or had a balanced diet. Now, being a Vegetarian and even a Vegan is very accessible with so many choices and substitutions available.

Anemia (iron deficiency) is genetically in my history. As a child and adolescence, even when eating meat, I was continually diagnosed with anemia. Both my mother and Nana have been diagnosed with anemia throughout their lives. I recently had a full blood panel done and was amazed when my doctor said that I was not anemic. "What? Are you sure?" I asked her. Having been anemic all my life and like most people associating iron with meat I assumed I would always be anemic. I do not take any multi-vitamins right now or iron supplements, so the iron I am receiving is coming through my plant based diet. Lots of spinach, kale, and lots of varieties of beans that I consume on an almost daily basis.

One of my clients who herself has switched to a primarily Vegan diet for herself and a mostly Vegetarian diet for her young children recently had one of her children's iron levels checked at her pediatricians. Her iron levels came in at 13.4 with a range of 7-10 being normal. He stated to her that "he wished all of his patients ate like her, that he would see them less and they would live longer". It was great to hear of a pediatrician supporting a plant based diet for children as long as it was "balanced".

It was such a welcome surprise to know that I could not only get enough iron, but reverse my anemia, from a balanced plant based diet. Proof that iron does not equal meat.

I personally am also a little concerned (especially as a middle aged woman) about my hormone levels, due to the amount of soy products I consume and the effect that soy can have on estrogen levels. I advise vegetarian females to have your hormone levels checked and regulate the amount of your soy product intake.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Introducing piLALAtes Book Group

Announcing piLALAtes Book Group!!

This group will read books based on health, diet, exercise, and emotional well being. The book to be read will be determined by myself and the group. You will be given at least a week to purchase, borrow, or download the designated book. We will read the book simulataneously and discuss on a designated basis the assigned chapters. Anyone can comment or pose questions to the group. I am looking forward to this being an inspirational, thought provoking group that will explore many different topics of health.

I think the easiest and most real time way to participate in the discussions will be through twitter. If you are not a member already of twitter it is free and very easy to use. On twitter we can set a thread #piLALAtesreaders. This thread gets listed in the tweet and all users posting to this thread can all see each other's comments and questions. It is in real time so will be like we are all sitting in the same room discussing.

So..... Our first book to read together and discuss is (drum roll please)......

The China Study by Thomas M. Campbell II
Click here to purchase or download to kindle.

If you have already read this book please feel free to re-read with us and/or join in for discussions as we go. Our first twitter group discussion on this book will take place Tuesday, February 1st at 8pm CT (6pm PT and 9pm ET). Please have read through at least Part I.

Mark your calendars, start turning the pages, and sign in to Twitter on Feb 1st. Looking forward to some great reading and interesting discussions.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tracy Anderson the Black Swan of Fitness

I usually don't blog about negative things, however I am very enraged lately and need to get this off my chest. Tracy Anderson recently has been heavily publicized and over exposed as a "fitness guru". This really angers me. 

She has been quoted as "putting Jennifer Aniston on a baby food diet", claims she can "make any woman look like a model", compares herself to Joseph Pilates, and has been reported to hire trainers based on their cuteness and appearance, not their credentials and certifications. 

Speaking of credentials and certifications, Tracy Anderson herself has no credentials or certifications listed anywhere that I could find. Including her own bio on her website, where she states that she "studied and researched muscle structure and specific workout techniques" (never mentions where or from who), "developed a computer software program for training to guide her and allow her to keep balance between weight loss and a healthy body" (can't find said computer software anywhere), and "designed a Hybrid Body Reformer" (copied Joseph Pilates' Reformer and made additions and adjustments). The one thing that is referenced over and over is that she is a "former dancer". Again never stating where she studied or with what company or show. The fact that her credentials and where and with whom she studied are never referenced or mentioned, really concerns me. And probably has lead to the numerous allegations I found regarding being injured from Tracy Anderson's Method.

She is also quoted as getting women to their "teeniest, tiny point" and "perfection". As a fitness professional these are very serious words to be using and do not promote a healthy body in my mind. She further promotes this image in all of her photos where she is shot in the skimpiest, lingerie looking workout clothes, looking herself emaciatingly thin. She claims that she can "make any woman look like a model" and references her clients as credentials. When you are starting with healthy, physically fit women who already look like models (i.e. Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Shakira, Madonna, Gwenyth Paltrow) how can you really take credit for your work and method? It's not as if she is a Bob Harper or Jillian Michaels taking the obese population and turning them into fit, healthy individuals. Personally I'd like to see her on The Biggest Loser and put her money where her mouth is. That probably won't happen as it doesn't seem that she even has the resume and credentials to even get hired for a position such as a trainer.

I can't help but think of Natalie Portman's character in the Black Swan. The break in the psyche that occurs from a constant pursuit of perfection, under eating, eating disorders and self loathing. Tracy Anderson seems to be promoting this idea to women as fitness and I take personal offense. This is not what I promote or want to promote to anyone as healthy or fitness. I really wish that the media would stop advertising and promoting Tracy Anderson and her "accomplishments". She is not a healthy role model of fitness for women and is doing our community a huge disservice.

Whew! Got that off my chest. Now I really don't want to see or hear anymore about her in the fitness industry.

Monday, January 3, 2011

What Yoga and Pilates is and is not.

Many of you have asked me to try to articulate how I describe the differences between Yoga and Pilates. While I could write a book on the subject, I will try to present the major differences (as I see them) as concisely as possible.

First let me say that I practice and enjoy both Pilates and Yoga. I find them as movement forms to have many similarities that lend well to one another. The following thoughts are my thoughts and are not meant to demean or belittle either Yoga or Pilates, but to try to put into words a clearer idea of what these both are and are not.

Yoga is a philosophy and Pilates is an exercise regimen

First, we must look at the intentions of both practices. Yoga is a philosophy that has existed for many thousands of years. There is a religious text called Bhagavad Gita that many of the asanas (postures) are representative of. The intention of the asanas is to create openess in the body to be able to sit in stillness for meditation and the attainment of kundalini or enlightenment. Only with the introduction of Yoga to the western world was it ever thought of as a fitness or exercise regime. Pilates has no spiritual or philosophical text or connection. It is an exercise regimen intended to create Uniform Body Development. The goal of Pilates is movement in the most precise, efficient, and effortless way.

Yoga works from the outside-in and Pilates from the inside-out

In yoga the series of movements start broad with sun salutions. They continue to be expansive and standing until about half way through practice, depending on style of yoga (i.e. Hatha, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Anusara, etc.) Then they move towards seated, prone, and supine work and finish supine with savasana (or rest pose). The external, expansion movement opens the body up for stillness and internal reflection. Pilates begins supine with small muscle engagement, connecting to mind body awareness and control. It moves from the center outward, starting with small movements and then gradually expanding to full body movements. The more expansive movements come at the end of the series leading to control of full range of motion, stability, and strength of movement.

Similar shapes

Both Yoga and Pilates shapes of movement are based off of things seen in Nature. Many of the movements mock animals like Cat, Swan, Snake, or Cobra. Many represent plants like Tree or Lotus. Many of the shapes are represented in both Yoga and Pilates. For example in Yoga Boat Pose is very similar to Pilates' Teaser; Pilates' Swan and Yoga's Cobra are similar, and many shapes make an appearance in both styles of movement.

Focus on Breath

Breath is a focus of both forms. The movements and the breath are coordinated. In most Yoga the breath is a heated cycle of breath (inhale through the nose, exhale through the nose), while in Pilates the breath is a cleansing style (inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth). See previous blog Breathe.

Like I said I could write a book. But let's start with these. Let me know your thoughts on the differences and similarities between the two in the comment section below. Or if you have a specific question about either forms feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer as clearly as possible. 

Hope this helps and sheds some light on the subject.