Spring is here and like most I am more than happy to say goodbye to a really rude winter. It definitely stayed beyond its welcome. As I pack up my parka and pull out the flip-flops I’ve started examining the condition of my hibernating body. I took a leave of absence from CrossFit and confined my running to a HIIT workout once a week on the treadmill. The bulk of my exercise the last few months came from a combination of yoga and Pilates.
While I’ve maintained a steady yoga practice for over a year now, Pilates is a new venture for me. I’ve always incorporated Pilates exercises when working with my clients. Exercises like the hundred, and the double leg stretch were fixtures in core work. However, until this year, I had not had any experience on a reformer. My client turned workout partner, Jan, has wanted to take a stab at reformer Pilates for a while but I was less than enthused. My (limited) thinking: I would be trading my intense WODS for a bunch of stretching. (I know… I should be ashamed to tell you that. right?) After a few lengthy discussions with Emily (my instructor) I agreed to give it a month. But just a month.
I am pretty sure Emily saw my attitude in the beginning as challenge. Not sure if her plan was to win me over or teach me a lesson but she succeeded in doing both. It took a solid month for me to ‘get it’ because uhhh… it is HARD. There were many times that I considered that the waiver I signed was not just a formality.
So what about my results?
It’s been right at 2 months and I have noticed three major improvements:
1) I am better at yoga.
Many Pilates moves are similar to yoga. The difference is that there is very little instruction in yoga. The instructor leads you from one pose to another with guidance but the focus is on listening to your body on any given day. There is no wrong or right way in yoga. There definitely is in Pilates. When I do something wrong, Emily not only tells me, she will come over and physically shift my body until I am in the correct position. I have never had this level of attention to detail when exercising. Read that again and remember that I am a trained professional! Now when I go to yoga, I move more effortlessly from one pose to the next without worrying that I am not getting the most out of my practice physically. I am genuinely out of my head and listening to body completely.
2)My running has improved.
I recently started running 10 miles a week again. I ran my first in a year race yesterday: The Atlanta Women’s 5k. I feel like my stride is more consistent. Even though my endurance has suffered from a lack of cardio, my core strength has improved tremendously. Emily told me this is common with the runners she works with.
3)My muscles are more defined.
Particularly my obliques; a tough area to strengthen. My shoulders are also looking good; the highly coveted ‘teardrop’ is breaking through…yessssss!!! Just in time for tank tops. Happiness.
On to the carrot juice. I was talking this morning to Jamie when I came across a sale at Publix on Bolt House Farms juices (BOGO). While I don’t typically buy it, She suggested I grab some carrot juice to mix with cocoa. Although it sounded disgusting (she promised it taste like chocolate milk), I decided to give it a shot. I am not a huge carrot fan but I was dragging today and needed an energy boost. A cup of carrot juice gives you more than one-fourth of your daily requirement for vitamin C. It also gives you half the vitamin E you need daily, 2,256 micrograms of vitamin A (more than three times your recommended daily intake for that important antioxidant). It also packs a powerful punch of those crucial B vitamins (39 percent of your recommended daily intake for vitamin B-6, 20 percent for thiamine and 12 percent for riboflavin), and vitamin K (good for proper blood clotting).
Minerals are also plentiful in carrot juice. Each cup of carrot juice contains about one-seventh of the potassium and phosphorus you should get daily, benefiting your nervous system and bone health. It also has one-tenth of your recommended daily intake for magnesium, a mineral that plays a role in muscle contraction, and 6 percent of the bone-strengthening calcium you need each day.
As for cocoa studies indicate that it provides it own lists of benefits. However, let’s not kid ourselves here. Chocolate just makes things taste better. Period. 🙂
Here is how I made it:
8 ounces of carrot juice (I lazily used Bolt House Farms but juicing organic carrots would be worlds better all the way around)
1 heaping tablespoon of unsweetened organic, fair trade cocoa. (Made by Lake Champlain; I can only find it consistently on Amazon)
Mixed in my blender bottle.
Total yumminess. Surprised? Me too.
Jamie told me she was inspired to make this after having it at Arden’s Garden, a local juice bar here in Atlanta. Guess what? They ship! In the future, I will probably juice a bunch of carrots at a time and have it on hand for a few days. But it’s good to know they have it in case I get lazy again. Which is likely. 🙂