March MATness – Single Leg Kick and Double Leg Kick

Single Leg Kick

  1. Lie on your stomach with your upper body propped up on your elbows
  2. Actively pull your abdominals in, anchor your pubic bone into the mat and squeeze your thighs together
  3. Squeeze your glutes and try to lift your legs a few inches away from the mat
  4. Keeping the legs lifted and thighs tightly squeezing together kick your right heel in towards your glutes, actively press the leg away and switch sides. Repeat 6x on each side

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Double Leg Kick

  1. Lie on your stomach with the head resting on the right cheek, hands interlaced behind the back as far as you can reach with the elbows reaching towards the mat and the legs actively squeezing together
  2. Squeeze your glutes and lift the legs a few inches away from the mat – keep them actively squeezing as if they were one leg
  3. Inhale as you kick both the legs in towards the seat 3x
  4. Actively press the legs away from the body as you extend your arms down the back of the thighs lifting the chest
  5. Exhale as you rest to the mat turning the head to the left cheek. Repeat 3 sets

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March MATness – Swan

Strengthening the posterior side of the body is an important component to your  “full” body health. When working in extension it is important to keep the spine supported by pulling the abs in and up. Also, focus on creating length between the vertebrae. For the swan, create a 4 way stretch within your own body. Imagine someone is pulling you from the top of your head, from your toes and from both sides of your arms. The full swan can take some practice, be patient and diligent with your practice!

Swan – Prep

  1. Lie on your stomach, forehead resting on the mat, arms outstretched to the side, legs actively lengthening together behind you
  2. Inhale and actively lift the arms off the mat – reaching to opposite sides of the room
  3. Continue stretching the arms as you lift the head and legs creating as much opposition in the body as possible
  4. Exhale as you rest down to the mat. Repeat 3-5x

Swan

  1. Lie on your stomach, forehead resting on the mat, arms outstretched to the side, legs actively lengthening together behind you
  2. Inhale and actively lift the arms off the mat – reaching to opposite sides of the room
  3. Continue stretching the arms as you lift the head and legs creating as much opposition in the body as possible
  4. Bend the arms and press your palms into the mat under your shoulders
  5. As you actively press your palms into the mat lift the chest and press the legs into the mat behind you creating a stretch from the pubic bone up to the chest
  6. Exhale with control as you quickly release the palms and reach the arms back to the sides rocking forward as the legs lift. Repeat 3-6x

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March MATness – Saw

The movement in  “Saw” comes from the rotation of the spine not the hips and pelvis. Think of it as a “wringing” out of the abs. Also, try to create and maintain as much length from fingertip to fingertip. The deeper the work you can create in your own body the more you will get out of every movement! 

Saw

  1. Sit on your mat with a tall stack spine, legs extended wider than hip width, feet flexed at the ankle joint and arms extended out to the side
  2. Inhale as you squeeze your glutes, pull your abdominals in and up and twist right as far as possible – remember the twist comes from the rotation of the spine!
  3. Exhale as you round over the left leg reaching your left arm towards the outside of the right leg. Right arm is reaching and lifting back behind you as far as possible
  4. Inhale as you stack your spine back to your starting position and repeat twisting left.
  5. Repeat 3x to each side

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March MATness – Corkscrew

Corkscrew

  1. Lie on your back with your legs full extended and engaged. Arms actively pressing into the mat by your side.
  2. Squeezing the legs together tightly, pull your ribcage and abs into the mat, lift both the legs away from the mat up to a 90 degree angle
  3. Inhale, begin to circle the legs to the right, down around to the left and exhale back to center.
  4. Each time you return back to center curl the tailbone away from the mat lifting the hips
  5. As you circle the legs and lift the hips, keep deepening the work in the abs and continue pressing the arms into the mat
  6. Reverse the circle. Repeat 3 sets to each side

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March MATness – Open Leg Rocker

Open leg rocker is another great rolling exercise similar to “rolling like a ball” but with straight legs. Try to focus on finding the stability aspect of this exercise first before you add in the movement. Be careful as you are rolling not to place the weight onto your head and neck and don’t let momentum control the movement.

Open Leg Rocker

  1. From the spine stretch forward position, begin to round back onto the mat
  2. As you are rolling back, lift the legs away from the mat using your abs
  3. Grab onto your legs as close to the ankles as possible
  4. Your goal as you move through this exercise is to keep your legs and arms completely straight
  5. Inhale and deeply draw the abdominal wall in creating a deep scoop in the lower abs and lift the chest
  6. Exhale roll back maintaining your position and your connection
  7. Inhale rolling back up with control. Repeat 3-6x

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March MATness – Spine Stretch Forward

Spine stretch forward is an amazing exercise when executed correctly. A great tool for the spine stretch forward is to sit up against a wall. The wall will give your tactile feedback for where you are moving. Also, if you are really tight and feel all the work in your hip flexors you can sit on a block or roll up your mat and sit on the mat. Remember think FULL BODY!

Spine Stretch Forward 

  1. Sit on your mat with a tall stack spine, legs extended hip width, feet flexed at the ankle joint and arms extended at chest height
  2. Inhale as you squeeze your glutes and pull your abdominals in
  3. Imagine you are lifting your torso away from your hips
  4. Maintaining your core connection and as much height as you can, exhale and begin to round forward creating a “c” curve with your spine
  5. Create as much oppositional movement within your own body as possible (abs and lower back pulling one way, as the arms, crown of the head and legs reach the other way)
  6. Inhale and stack the spine back to your starting position. Repeat 3-5x

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March MATness – Single Leg Stretch and Double Leg Stretch

Today we are going to add the single leg stretch and double leg stretch to the mat repertoire that you have hopefully been practicing at home! These are the first two in what we call the “series of 5”

Single Leg Stretch

1. Lie on your back with your legs full extended and engaged. Arms actively pressing into the mat by your side.
2. Squeezing the legs together tightly, pull your ribcage and abs into the mat and lift both the legs a few inches away from the mat
3. Bring the weight of the head forward by curling the upper body and gaze past your toes
4. Bring your right knee into your chest, grab onto your shins and pull the knee into the chest
5. As you are pulling the right knee into the chest, the left leg is actively reaching away from the body
6. Maintaining a strong center switch legs
7. Repeat on each side 5-10x

Double Leg Stretch

1. Lie on your back with your legs full extended and engaged. Arms actively pressing into the mat by your side.
2. Squeezing the legs together tightly, pull your ribcage and abs into the mat and lift both the legs a few inches away from the mat
3. Inhale as you bring the weight of the head forward by curling the upper body and gaze past your toes
4. Arms stretched long, Squeeze the palms in tightly on the side of the thighs and hold for 3 counts
5. Deeply bend the knees into your chest and give them a big hug as you exhale
6. Inhale extend the legs back out and squeeze the arms in tight to the side of the thighs. Repeat 5-10x

The double leg stretch can also be done with the arms extended behind you as the legs are stretching away from your center. Think of the body as being stretched into two directions with a strong center. Visit marchmatness.com for video clips of all the exercises!

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March MATness – Single Leg Circles

Single Leg Circles

Single leg circles are a great example of the idea of “full body” movement. By the end of this exercise you should feel like every muscle in your body was worked! For those of you who have a lot of range of motion in your hips you might need to focus more on stabilization and anchoring your hips into the mat. On the other hand, those of us with tight hips should allow your body the freedom of movement and allowing your hips to move as long as you are maintaining your core connection!

1. Lie on you back with your legs full extended and engaged. Arms actively pressing into the mat by your side.
2. Bring your right leg up to the ceiling as straight as you can while pulling your abs and ribcage into the mat
3. Take your leg across the body toward your left leg, down toward the left ankle, around and back to your starting position (drawing a circle in the air)
4. Maintain control from your core, arms and leg that is anchored into the mat as you circle. Repeat 5x on each side

You can also visit http://marchmatness.com/category/video/ to view a video clip of the single leg circles.
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PREVENT THE PUDGE CHALLENGE

Commandment #10: YOU NEED AT LEAST 8 HOURS OF UNINTERRUPTED SLEEP PER NIGHT

Most people know that adequate sleep is necessary for optimal health however; most do not realize that inadequate sleep can cause weight gain. Research shows that the number of hours an individual sleeps influences their risk of obesity. Sleep deprivation can be a vicious cycle – eventually it will sabotage your waistline and your health!

Studies have shown that sleep deprivation is linked to obesity. Sleep deprivation can influence two appetite hormones – leptin and ghrelin.
1. Leptin, is a hormone that is produced in the fat cells. Its main function is to signal the brain to reduce appetite and burn more calories.
2. Ghrelin, is a hormone released by the stomach that increases hunger, slows metabolism and decreases the body’s ability to burn fat.

Sleep deprivation can be a vicious cycle with your health and your waistline. It starts off with making poor dietary choices when you are low in energy, like going for some sort of comfort food (like cookies, sweets, or potato chips, etc.) just to try to stay awake. Those that are sleep deprived eat more possibly due to the decreased levels of leptin. The brain responds thinking it’s a sign of starvation and the body slows down its metabolism (burning fewer calories) as a result makes it easier to pack on the pounds or difficult to lose weight.

Obesity Can Also CAUSE Lack of Sleep
There is another connection between obesity and sleep deprivation – obstructive sleep apnea, or sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition where an individual’s airway becomes obstructed, often by a large amount of fat tissue in the neck. The result is a cutoff in airflow, causing one to wake up numerous times throughout the night. Obesity is thus a major contributing factor for sleep apnea, and is often listed as one of its main causes.
For those that are not getting sound quality sleep per night, start by getting a good’s night rest with a few tips from the Cleveland Clinic’s Sleep Disorder Center.
• Establish a routine with going to bed and waking up around the same time – even on the weekends.
• Make sleep a priority
• Exercise is great to add to your daily routine. Exercise can help boost your energy but be sure to exercise earlier in the day or 4 hour before you go to bed so you are not too stimulated.
• Avoid alcohol and caffeine as it can interfere with sleep. Especially with alcohol, make you feel sluggish the next day.
• Keep the bedroom free from distractions, such as watching TV, cell phone, lap top, home work, emailing, etc.
• Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing trouble with sleep apnea, insomnia or other sleep disorders. If untreated overtime can affect your overall health.

Resources:
How to Get A Better Nights Rest

Sleep Disorder Center

Recipe: Citrus Salmon with Cannelli Beans

Servings: 1/Serving Size: 1
Weight Watcher pts; 7/Pts plus: 8

Calories: 345/protein: 27 g/ carbs: 24 g/ fiber: 7 gImage

Ingredients:

3-4 ounces broiled Wild caught Atlantic salmon 1/2 c cannellini beans – boiled & drained (canned, rinse well) 1/4 c chopped Italian parsley 1 tsp olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tsp orange zest (preferably organic)
1 Tbsp green onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
Salt and black pepper to taste

 

Method:
In a small bowl combine, beans, parsley, olive oil, 1 Tbsp orange juice, green onions; mix well. Transfer to serving plate.
Top the broiled salmon on bean/parsley salad. Top salmon with garlic, orange zest and remaining orange juice. Add salt and pepper to taste if you like, serve with orange wedges for more flavor.

Nutritional Analysis: 345 calories/protein: 27 g/ carbs: 24 g/ fiber: 7 g/ sugars: 5 g/ total fat: 15 g/ saturated fat: 3 g/ monounsaturated fat: 7 g/ polyunsaturated fat: 4 g/cholesterol: 53 mg/ sodium: 295 mg
% Daily Values based on a 2,000 calorie diet for adults: vitamin k: 348%/ vitamin C: 75%/selenium: 56%/B12: 40%/ folate: 40%/ B3: 39%/ phosphorus: 38%/ B6: 35%/ B1: 27%/ B1: 32%/ manganese: 27%/ magnesium: 21% /iron: 19%/pantothenic acid: 16%/ copper: 16% B2: 12%/ calcium: 11%/zinc: 9%/ chromium: 2%

PREVENT THE PUDGE CHALLENGE

Commandment #9: YOU NEED TO ALLOW YOURSELF A TREAT


Deciding how often to indulge in your favorite treats can be a difficult choice. Do you indulge in a treat every day or just on the weekends? If you are too strict with your eating plan, it can backfire, resulting in binge eating or worse yet uncontrollable binge eating. A single binge is not the end of the world, as long as you get back on track with your diet. But regular binges could definitely interfere with your progress and damage what you are trying to accomplish – balancing a healthy eating lifestyle.

When it comes to allowing yourself to indulge in your favorite foods, you always hear the phrase, ‘moderation is key”. What does that even mean? For the foodie, it may mean eating a few bites of fries every day or eating pizza once a week. For the extreme health nut, it might mean eating pizza everything three months with light cheese and no pepperoni! Most nutritionists agree it’s about finding that balance of eating healthy and allowing some indulgences.

Research has suggested that indulging in your favorite foods during a “diet” can have some benefits. For instance, it can help eliminate binge eating because you are not adhering to a strict unrealistic diet plan. In addition, research has found that it can help speed up your metabolism. If you tend to eat the same clean eating healthy foods over and over without over indulging, your body gets kind of lazy metabolizing the same foods. Your body starts to recognize the same foods you are eating and this decreases the amount of work needed to metabolize it. Getting a tasty treat in once or twice a week during your diet may actually be helpful in allowing you to reach your long term weight goals.

This holiday season, allow yourself a treat that that you truly enjoy and love and forgoe the others. If you don’t have a weak spot for cake, don’t eat it. Just because the people around you are eating it doesn’t mean you have to as well. If your weakness is pizza, have a slice just keep in mind to skip something else to make room for that pizza slice. It’s all about finding balance in exercise and eating a variety of nutritious foods.

** Recipe ***

ONE POT TOMATO BASIL PASTA

Ingredients:
1 (16 ounce) box linguine (such as Barilla linguine)
1 (ounces) can diced tomatoes with liquid
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
2 ¼ c broth (I used low sodium)
2 ¼ c. water
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch (about 10 to 12 leaves) basil, diced
optional: Parmesan cheese for garnish
Optional: add your choice of protein: shrimp, fish, meat balls, chicken, etc.

Directions:
1. In a large stock pan or 3 quart sautee pan, place un-cooked pasta, tomatoes, onion, and garlic in a large stock pot. Pour in broth and water. Drizzle top with oil.

2. On medium heat, cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and keep covered and cook for about 8 to10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so with tongs or large fork. Cook until almost all liquid has evaporated – I left about an inch of liquid in the bottom of the pot – but you can reduce as desired.

3.Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add basil leaves and stir pasta several times to distribute the liquid in the bottom of the pot evenly throughout the pasta as you are serving.

4. Serve garnished with Parmesan cheese. Top with your choice of protein.