Pilates Breakdown: Applying Alignment in the Kitchen

Does your back ever ache after spending hours in the kitchen? I know mine does especially after doing the dishes. Yikes! The holidays are coming up and sometimes that means spending more time in the kitchen. It had me thinking — There has to be better ways for us to move in the kitchen! After all, I know of many people who spend much of their time in the kitchen, so I wanted to make sure I had all of my loved one’s back (pun intended) with this breakdown.

By Megan Goddard, Pilates Instructor

OVERVIEW

Lifting from the back with a round spine isn’t always the best idea. Doing so can lead to over stretched ligaments. It can also cause the muscles involved to lose control over the spine. With a round spine, comes a lot of compression in front of the vertebrae which can lead to disc bulges and muscle strain overtime.

Osteoporosis is a common condition where the bone becomes weak and brittle. As we age, we lose bone density, but the good news is that we have the ability to prevent fractures! When we learn how to move with our bones in proper alignment, the rest of the body will thank us. The Pilates method gently pulls on the bones so osteoblasts can go inside to build stronger bones. I’ve gathered tips from the National Osteoporosis Foundation to bring you a mini series of how we move better in the kitchen for prevention!

BAKING AND ROASTING

Naturally when we bend down to take our food in and out of the oven, we tend to round our back. Sometimes our legs are straight and without realizing it, some may stand with locked knees.

Demonstrating how we tend to bend over. Ouch!

Doing so can cause an achy back and overstretched tissues. There are round back variations in Pilates, but one without intention can cause wear and tear to the vertebral column overtime. Side note: Someone with Osteoporosis should never work in a round spine! Instead, try working in the kitchen with a flat back. A flat back has a three point focus on the spine — head, mid back, and sacrum. The goal is to get all three points lined up.

This is more gentle on the vertebral column.

Try This:

  1. Start by rolling your shoulders down and back. You can hold this position better by pinching in between the shoulder blades.
  2. Keep the elbows close by your sides.
  3. Bend your knees.
  4. Hinge forward from the hips with a flat back and pull the belly button towards the spine. Squeeze the core to stabilize!
  5. Get as close as you can to the oven (without getting burnt of course!)
  6. Extend your arms forward to place your goodies in the oven.

* When returning back to pull the goodies out of the oven, get close to your dish pan first and then pull it towards you. Try not to hold your breath and take an exhale as you lift. Don’t forget about your long spine! 🙂

HAND WASHING DISHES

Another time we’re found rounding the spine is when we’re hand washing dishes. Naturally, we want to look down and over into the sink to see what we’re doing; however, doing so puts strain on the neck because the head is being pulled forward while putting pressure on the spine yet again.

Try This:

Now maybe you have a bigger kitchen than my little bungalow, so you can get even closer to do this over the sink better. Many sinks have cabinets below, so just open one door. You’ll want to stand tall and rest one foot down inside. Once you’re halfway through the dishes, switch the feet and shift your weight to the other side.

Be prepared for a bicep and shoulder workout! Dishes always require a little more upper body strength and holding them higher will help keep your head up so you aren’t straining your neck. I call this a 2-for-1 Pilates special!

SITTING AT THE TABLE

Sometimes we have more time to kill while we’re waiting for our food to be ready. Grab a book! Exercise the mind. The brain is certainly an important muscle. Here’s what we tend to do:

Ugh, I know. The book was just getting good! Have you ever seen Joseph Pilates do Contrology at 60 years old?!

Instead, try this:

Better! In a perfect world, my head would be pulled back and over the shoulders more. However, I’m trying to keep it a little more realistic.

I hope you found my kitchen posture series helpful! Now, I don’t expect you to have proper posture in the kitchen all of the time unless of course you have been advised by a professional. Let’s be real, many of us wouldn’t think to practice good posture in the kitchen! This blog post is simply intended to bring awareness and to help those who may be wondering why they are experiencing back pain. To learn more this week, find me on Instagram.

Happy cooking foodies!

A Real Lesson Learned in Wellness

My mindset used to be narrow in many ways as a young adult especially around the time when it came to making my own food choices. As many know via Instagram, my relationship with food hasn’t always been the healthiest starting at the age of 18. This was around the time I begin to explore the health and wellness industry. I was going to school for nutrition and during that time I started to search for the “perfect” diet which took me too far into restriction. I’ve experienced the nasty cycle of bingeing and purging while being trapped in the depths of body image negativity.

HOLD UP…

Did I just come off too strong? Welcome. This isn’t anything new as sharing parts of my story has helped others and even myself over the past few years. I’m just a real human being who shows up online with an intention. I’m open to questions, so say hello!

Learning about health and wellness can be fun and exciting! However, what happens when we take it too far? What happens when passion becomes obsession and the next thing you know, all of your meals are being modified whether it’s at home or while ordering out? Now, I’m not here to hate whatsoever, but rather I’m trying to express a different opinion in the scrolling world of health and wellness. Let’s be honest, not all of the real wellness stuff is making it to the scroll.

Nutrition can be confusing because it is a very controversial topic as new research continues to pop up. For those with chronic illness and disease who cannot eat specific foods, I respect and support the decisions you need to make because I also believe in fueling ourselves for longevity. Most of all, I believe that we are all entitled to making our own choices and while food has a powerful impact in health, it doesn’t make up our entire wellbeing.

Let me cut to the point, when there’s a full-time focus on your diet, it’s too much. When your diet stops you from living and going about your daily life, it’s too much. When it becomes a distraction, it’s too much. When it makes you feel bad about yourself, it’s too much. When you feel like you’re resisting from just wanting to be you, it’s too much. Most of all, when you start hiding from friends and loved ones, it’s too much. 

A constant search for wellness will not lead you to wellness. We’re human. We need breaks. Balance is hard to maintain, but we especially need that too.

What we need most to survive is real food. I’ve mentioned so much of this time after time again, so take it as a serious reminder for those currently struggling: Basic wholesome foods is enough. It’s one base to health. How we choose to consume and form relationships with food is also another base of health.

I like to think back and act in simpler times. You know, the older eras I can only dream of before the noise came along with diet culture. No weighing or measuring of food. No food rules. Just intuitive eating. Actually sitting there with your food and enjoying it. Sometimes I’ll even eat in silence. Is that strange to admit? These days, I also thoroughly enjoy helping myself to seconds without question and I don’t feel ashamed for what I order while out with my friends.

I’m aware that we live in the millennium, so many of us don’t always have time to slow down before rushing out of the door! What I understand more than anything else is that not everyone can afford what’s being displayed in wellness. I gave up many “trendy” products late last year as I transitioned into a new path of my career. With that being said, I made sacrifices to readjust my focus. During that time, I was reminded that they are not a necessity to my health because look at me. I’m alive and well! Some days, groceries weren’t affordable and I just had to eat to survive. No fancy 10 ingredient meals. Some days were 2 ingredient meals. Although this was a temporary state, it brought me to many realizations.

To take this further more, many things I have seen over the years has put off the wrong idea of wellness. Privilege plays a huge role and I’m certainly guilty for the things I’ve done in the past too. It almost has an adverse effect on people’s health because it makes wellness look unattainable. It seems impossible for those just trying to make a living. It also has many people questioning what’s going onto their plate these days.

And if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that it makes people feel bad because they don’t have access. Reflecting back, I feel like an ass for partaking in so much nonsense, but I can only blame myself. I was also finishing up a very long healing journey and felt a lot of confusion. However, this isn’t a sob story. It’s just my truth.

Earlier this year, I began to question the person I really want to be. I realized how exclusive I was being with all of the products I have shared in the past leading to many reasons why I backed away. My mind got sucked into the wellness blogger world and things began shifting in a way I thought they had to be in order to keep going. To continue to be a role model in the health industry, I thought I needed to uphold a specific image. An image that didn’t exactly feel true to me, but made me feel like I could possibly be accepted into the scene.

I also have to say that much of this came from a place of creativity and genuinely wanting to help others, but damn! When all of my plates began to look like an Instagram post and more importantly, when I wasn’t enjoying it anymore, I really began to question my health. Does this really make me happy? Or was I just trying to please others? I also started to question who I was trying to impress.

I still enjoy learning about health and wellness! I still love scrolling and feeling inspired by delicious dishes made by chefs! You’ll still catch me drinking a green juice because I actually love the taste, but maybe not 7 days a week. You’ll still catch me enjoying tacos and chocolatey baked goods. I enjoy all kinds of foods in moderation!

What you won’t catch me doing is sharing every single meal I’m eating because sharing every detail of my day does not bring me pleasure and I don’t believe it’s good for the health of those who come into this space either. I used to feel a pressure that I needed to constantly prove myself all hours of the day in order to be seen and heard. I’ve finally accepted that I don’t have do that and I actually get to show up in this space however I choose. 

I’m in a happier place since stepping away from creating all of the food content that I was. I’ve also decided that foodie things will still pop up here and there because food is a fun way to connect with others! I find cooking meditative again now that’s it’s not an obsession because there’s a major difference in obsession and passion. They don’t always work well together, so if there’s anything you’re going to take away from here today, carefully evaluate your defining line of wellness.

Love, Megan

Pilates Breakdown: The Roll Up

If you have taken any of my Pilates classes or even my Barre classes, you probably have done some sort of variation of the Roll Up. It’s certainly one of my favorite exercises for many reasons!

PURPOSE

The Roll Up is an awesome way to warm up the spine and abdominals. It teaches us about our own bodies by helping us learn about core connection and spinal articulation. This exercise helps increase strength in the abdominals and find balanced strength in the core. It also helps increase flexibility in the hamstrings if you opt for the straight leg variation. We will be lengthening and strengthening the whole way through because that is what Pilates is about!

STEPS

  1. Find a flat surface and lie down supine (on your back) like a good morning stretch. Take a big inhale through the nose to prepare and lock your heels down. *My feet are propped up to fit myself in the picture, but it also added a nice challenge for those who have been doing this for while!
  2. Bring arms (shoulder width) straight forward so that your wrists are stacked over the shoulders.
  3. Ok the juicy stuff! Begin to exhale through your mouth as you tuck your chin toward your chest. Activate the glutes by squeezing your seat together. Activate the core by tucking the pelvis under. Slowly start to “roll up” by peeling the spine off the mat vertebrae by vertebrae without using momentum. Begin scooping the abdominals by pulling the belly button in towards your spine. As you roll up, you want to create an opposition in your torso by reaching the fingertips forward as the rib cage tries to stay behind. Continue to find the height and length in your Roll Up by lifting your torso higher as your round your back!
  4. As you finish your exhale, continue to roll forward and bring your nose down toward your knees. You should feel a nice hamstring stretch at the same time.

Reverse the motion by rolling down and repeat!

MODIFICATIONS

    If you have tight hamstrings, you can execute this exercise with bent knees.
    If your core is feeling too shaky to sit all the way up, begin by sitting on top of your sit bones. Then, roll down only halfway instead.
    Props are great not only for extra challenges, but for modifications as well. If you have a small stability ball at home, you can prop it behind your lower back for extra support.

Happy rolling! I love hearing from you. Please let me know if you found this post helpful by leaving a comment below or on Instagram. Thank you!

Love, Megan

Tapping into your Inner Child for Sanity

By definition, “The inner child is a person’s supposed original or true self.”

Before I started the inner work, not only did I need an attitude adjustment, but I continued to learn that I needed to do more than that. I realized I was letting go of many of my own joys as I was entering adulthood. Naturally, I felt lost in who I was. When I started to make the swaps, I began to ask myself, “Who am I exactly and what do I enjoy doing?”

In that moment, I found that I didn’t know who I truly was until I gave myself permission to slip back into childhood play. This was during a time when I sobered up to try and find my reality. It was tough! I’ve lost some friends while also having a very hard time make new friends along the way.

However, letting go of drinking at the time was necessary because it really forced me into finding my joys again. It initiated my journey to self love. It made me recognize who my true friends were and now, I have gratefully attracted more amazing people into my life.

In the process of it all, I began to have flashbacks of the activities I used to love as a kid, so I went with the flow of my flashbacks everyday. Eventually, I began tapping into my creative side and I found the courage to start Omegan-3 on Instagram.

Some of my other joys unrelated to work include:

    Dancing my heart out.
    Throwing myself into nature.
    Swimming in bodies of water.
    Riding my bike.
    Playing in the sun.
    Getting barefoot in the sand and grass.
    Exploring my favorite music.
    Moving my body in ways that feel good.

These are just some of my examples, but the list goes on. What might work for me, might not work for you, so I encourage you to explore yourself! It’s so simple that it’s almost unbelievable. I can’t make this stuff up.

As we grow up, sometimes we lose sight of our personal interests which stems from our inner child. It completes who we are as individuals. It keeps us sane. Finding our own joys outside of our programmed schedule is super important in reconnecting to who we are. If any of this relates, don’t slip away baby! The world needs more of your charisma.

Love, Megan

Healthy Eating on a Budget: Grocery Outlet

Let’s talk about the “expensive cost” of eating healthy and the beauty of bargain shopping. I don’t have just one store I buy all of my groceries from because there’s places I know I can get cheaper deals on. I have a lot of love for my health food stores, but when I find some of my favorite health brands or staple foods at other stores for half the price (sometimes more), well hello! The store you shop at doesn’t always matter when it’s comes to eating healthy especially when they carry some of the same products.

That’s why Grocery Outlet is where it’s at! Their NOSH (natural, organic, specialty, healthy) aisle blows my mind every single time with some of the high quality products and brands they carry.

⚠️FAIR WARNING: Always check the expiration dates. The reason why some of these products are so cheap is because they’re getting close to their sell by dates. Some grocery stores even have so much overstock that they aren’t able to keep these foods on their shelves for much longer. Thus, food will also get passed down to the Grocery Outlet, for example, before officially being tossed.

Also, a sell by date doesn’t always mean your food is bad. In fact, while volunteering at Feeding America, I saw mass piles of packaged foods with expired sell by dates in the warehouse. I even saw some odd shaped produce we probably wouldn’t reach for first in grocery stores, but the food was still perfectly fine to eat. Some grocery stores donate their “expired food” to Feeding America so that the volunteers of this amazing nonprofit organization can put together food packages for people/families dealing with hunger as a step closer to solving this epidemic our country faces (Let alone, the rest of the world).

Now I’m getting off topic, but my point is that you can find so many healthy options at stores that you might not think of first. Also, if you’re saving money while doing it, well you just proved my other point and that is eating healthy on a budget can be accomplished.

Let’s take a moment to admire these prices so you can see what I am really talking about!

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PRO TIP: Items are constantly being changed in the store. If you see something you like, I suggest you buy it or even stock up on it! There’s a possibility the store may not carry it the following week. For example: Chosen Foods avocado oil and for a third of the price. Oh HEY!

These bags are huge! Plus, organic frozen veggies are always nice to have stocked up in the freezer.

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California sprouts for $1.99!

And well, I’ll just leave this here for you to sit on. Do I really need to post any more price comparison pictures?

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To find a Grocery Outlet Bargain Market near you, go to the store locator on their website: www.groceryoulet.com.

Happy healthy bargain shopping!