Guest Post: I AM a Pilates Nerd. (The one who created the brand)

If you would have told me two years ago that I would create a ‘brand’ that would be distributed and wholesaled internationally, get picked up by a major Pilates retailer, and make people smile with knowing enthusiasm, I never would have believed you.

In fact, I would have been really scared to try.

 

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It all started with a logo, a blog idea, and one t-shirt. But even before that, it began with a declaration I read in a blog:

“Once you understand that there are problems just waiting to be solved, once you realize that you have all the tools and all the permission you need, then opportunities to contribute abound. No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself”.     – Seth Godin

Pick yourself.  What?

I’d have to say this idea of picking myself – of creating my own path, changed my thinking and how I see myself in the Pilates world.  Beyond teaching my own students, I hadn’t allowed myself to think I could offer more to the Pilates community.  But if you’ve ever sat down with a copy of Return to Life, you know that Joe Pilates’ discipline was all about pushing yourself.

I’ve been teaching Pilates for 16 years. Some of those years in the trenches were admittedly not my best work. I spent too much time comparing my teaching skills with others and defending my philosophies.

Now I think I wasted so much time not allowing other facets of my creativity come to light.

It turns out it was the shirt, especially the logo, that made an impact on people. What’s surprising is I wasn’t expecting to build a small apparel brand, but that’s what happened. Ultimately, connecting people who feel as passionate about Pilates I do, is the most satisfying part of Pilates Nerd.

While I write this I am knee deep in online orders, preparing another wholesale order, and getting ready for my first big Pilates conference as an exhibitor.  It’s overwhelming not just because of the crazy workload in addition to my teaching, but because there is so much about the apparel business I am still learning!

Believe it or not, I have yet to assert myself and make it widely known that I am, in fact the face behind the brand.

It’s daunting to admit that I created every shirt, every post, and every item.  Mainly because it’s scary to fail, scary to be judged, and scary not to have control. (Insert Contrology joke).

I think we were born to create, to move people and to connect with people. The challenge is finding our niche and following through. Part of the bigger picture is this: we get on the mat and apparatus week after week and you never know what you can do until you try…that’s half the fun of it. So, be patient and move through the fear.

“…Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.”

Thanks Mr. Pilates, that’s a quote to live by – body, mind and spirit – for sure!

image1Raised in upstate NY and now a Southern California local, Karen Ellis is the owner and director of Prana Pilates in Costa Mesa. She began her journey of movement in ballet, earned a BS from Indiana University and received an MFA from the University of California Irvine. After a professional ballet career in Boston concluded with injuries, a passion for healing the body and new career in Pilates was born.

In 2013 Karen created Pilates Nerd®, a company designed to celebrate Pilates through apparel, accessories and shared sentiments.  The simple goal of her idea is to generate enthusiasm for the benefits of Pilates and help connect people.

 

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Surprise, I’m Not Perfect!

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In business like in life, shit happens to remind you that you are human, fallible, and destructible. The roads of failure and success intertwine. So there is bound to be a little collision here and there. Typically, there’s no celebration or party for our faux pas, but there should be. See, without falling there can be no getting up…and it’s the getting up that makes all the difference.

I have been running my own business now for just over 3 years, and have had more slip-ups than an entire summer on a slip-n-slide. I didn’t go to a college, earn a fancy MBA, or start my business with unlimited capital. No ma’am. My journey into entrepreneurial-ship was purely a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants predicament. In my insecurity I did the research, read the books, and joined the business clubs to boost my mastery of business ownership. Being surrounded by fabulous women (some with degrees and success, some without) I quickly learned that no matter how much you hit the books there’s no replacement for being kicked in the ass by your business itself. The first time it happens you feel like the wind has been knocked out of you and that you may just be down for the count, but you get back up and keep on punching.

So if failing is inevitable and mistakes are unpreventable, why don’t we just learn to embrace it? Can you ride the wave of fuck-ups and still bring home a success of a business? When the shit hits the fan and you’re the one that was responsible for throwing it, can you forgive, forget, and move on? Certainly. And the health of your business depends on it.

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  • Reflect, Review, and Redo

In my case, I wasn’t completely aware of my mess up until it was the size of the Sierra Mountain range. By the time I was busted on my goof, it was too late to fix it. While you can’t take back the missteps, you can choose to do better now that you know better. Take the time to reflect on the situation. Can you see what your part in the debacle was? If your mess up included other people take a second to feel what they feel, empathize with how being on the back-end of the blow out must feel. Then, make a plan to do a reboot next time. Learn from your mistakes but never regret. One day you will realize that sometimes the wrong choices bring us to just the right places.

  • Bury the hatchet

In my journey to forgive myself, I have realized the importance of letting myself off the hook. Look, if you’ve done the damage either to yourself and/or to others punching yourself in the gut over it will just well, causes more hurt. Take some time to let bygones be bygones and heal so you can learn and grow. Be careful not to make this one failure bleed into the entirety of your being. Sure, you had a fuck-up on this particular day, in this particular situation, with this particular person. Does it mean you are utterly inept and should just throw in the towel? No way! Step away from the edge and give yourself a big “I’m sorry” hug.

  • Throw a Screw-up Soiree

So once you’ve learned the lesson and then forgave the offender, aka you, it’s time to shake that shit off! Put on some rockin’ tunes and shake your bootie! Treat yourself to a healthy homemade meal. Celebrate that you are SO self-aware, SO sorry that you messed up, and SO sure that you will make mistakes again. The most important difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people never interpret failure as the last word on the subject. Reward yourself for putting it out there and trying. Next time, and there will be a next time, remember a failure is just a try that didn’t work.

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Three Reasons People Are Afraid To Try Pilates — And Why You Shouldn’t Be

I’m not gonna lie. Pilates is hard. I was a professional dancer before I came to Pilates and I still thought it damn hard when I started. Sure, I had the coordination thing down already but I still had to re-learn how to move the Pilates way and that, my friend, was not easy. From a teaching stand-point, I try to convey this struggle to my clients. They will merely roll their eyes in disbelief and say, “Sure, your teaser looks like you have been doing it since you came out of the womb.” Not the case. When I started taking lessons I couldn’t do a roll-up to save my life because my lower back was locked solid from years of butt-clenching at the ballet barre. I find it particularly irritating to dispel all of the Pilates rumors and try to convince men that there really was a man who created the work and it was not a flouncy ballerina in a tutu. So, if you’ve been interested in trying that thing called Pilates this article is for you. Pilates is a challenge, but anything worth having is always worth working for isn’t it?

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  • Reason #1 – Pilates is just for dancers and women

This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the method. To dispel the rumors correctly let me give you a quick history lesson. Joe Pilates was an actual person who was very much a manly man. He was a boxer and a gymnast who smoked cigars and drank beer. There was nothing girly about this German powerhouse. The first studio in the US was opened in NYC, and just happened to be in the same building as two of the biggest dance companies. When dancers heard that Uncle Joe on the 5th floor was helping heal injuries and strengthen weak muscles, they jumped right on that. Dancers became some of his biggest devotees not because the work was dance-like, but instead because they danced better and healed themselves with the work. When your body is your source of income, it is indispensable. In the modern Pilates studio, men may feel intimidated by all the ladies in the house. They shouldn’t. In that very first Pilates studio, business men were sweating it out right next to the dancers under Joe’s watchful eye. Remember, this was the 1920s and most women were home with the babies and didn’t seem concerned with working out. Men dominated the studio and Joe knew just how to work with them since he created the method for himself and well, he is the man.

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  • Reason #2 – I’ll look stupid/awkward/feel embarrassed/or won’t be good at it

Ok, let’s just say that anytime you try to learn a new skill there’s going to be a learning curve. No one jumps on a bike for the first time and pedals away. Sure, some of us pick up certain things faster than others but we’ve all fallen, stumbled, or tripped along the way so you’re not alone. Learning Pilates is no different. It’s something you have NEVER done and it’s NOT like anything else so duh, it’s going to be a challenge. The thing is, it’s not about getting somewhere or reaching some illusive Pilates level. No way, Jose! It’s about the movement, and in that moment, being present with each muscle and sensation. Learning to coordinate those movements together to work your body (the only one you’ll have in this lifetime btw), to its most efficient, healthiest self. Plus, Pilates instructors don’t see all of those so-called missteps. We’re trained to be so focused on what YOU need as the individual and how to give you that. We aren’t really paying attention to nervousness. We just want you to work hard no matter how it looks. So, feel a little awkward. Maybe even be a little embarrassed. But don’t give up because Pilates is one of the BEST things you can do for your self.

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  • Reason #3 – I don’t have the right body type or I’m too old

Joe’s biggest dream was that there would be a Pilates studio on every corner, in every city, all over the world. What he didn’t envision, was that only skinny, anorexic-looking women would be doing his method. Nuh uh. He had fantasies of kids doing Pilates in school, elderly men standing tall for the first time in years, and sedentary office workers getting color in their cheeks from finally getting their blood pumping. Pilates is for everyone and every body. It is safe enough for the 80 year old or the injured; it is challenging enough for those pro-dancers and athletes. In archival documents and interviews Joe Pilates never talks about muscles or bones but rather breath and blood. He wasn’t promising flat abs or a perky ass, but optimal health and space for your organs to do their thing without obstacles. Feeling good was waaaay more important than looking it. So, whether you’re a super model or a just the average Joe — Pilates IS right for you!

In short there is really no good reasons not to be doing Pilates, so get over yourself and get into the studio. I promise you’ll thank me. If you’re in New York, schedule your New Client Special here at FORM Pilates USQ here!

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Guest Post: Burning Out is Not an Option

The bright lights lured me here to make a name for myself. I wanted to make it big and what better place than New York City. I did what most people do when starting a new career; I went the safe route and joined a big health and fitness club.

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While I enjoyed the comforts of working for a company, I have always had the desire to start my own business. With that dream I took the leap and I started my own personal training business. I left the comfort of the big brother and went out on my own. It was cool, it was exhilarating, and it was scary!

It was great at first, the money was piling in, I was my own boss, and I was making a name for myself.  The more money I made the more work I took on and before I knew it I was exhausted. Soon after I started I was completely burnt out. Trying to do so much was killing me, or to be less dramatic it was aging me. I started to look like a vampire with bags under my eyes. I had to fix this. How could I be helping people better their lives while neglecting my own? I was making people happy and healthy but I was looking and feeling like crap!

The solution was to take care of myself first so I can take care of others. What did I do? I didn’t have time to go to the Himalayas and hang with Buddhist monks, however, I made the time to sit quietly, plan, relax, breathe and have fun.

Here is my routine to success (or sanity) 

  • Start the day with YOU

Scarfing down breakfast while responding to emails and rushing out of the house is so unproductive. Instead, wake up a little earlier and give yourself time to jumpstart the day. During this time don’t allow emails, texts, social media, or any other distractions. This time is solely about you and your thoughts.

  • Write it out and give gratitude

While sipping my coffee I write down all my thoughts and worries. This might seem daunting but writing down your worries actually makes them seem more manageable. This process is a great form of release and most times it helps you come up with a solution. After I am done I write a short gratitude entry. This includes everything I am happy or grateful for. Seriously folks, this really changes your attitude. This is so therapeutic and has changed my life forever.  When you try this you will be forever grateful. (see what I did there?)

  • Plan, plan and plan again

Planning everything in a business is a must. After your morning notes take time to look at your schedule for the day. Fail to plan and plan to fail kind of thing. This will help resolve conflicts and organize your day. I do this with my personal life and business since they always overlap. I plan my free time. This might sound silly but if I have learned anything from being a workaholic it is that you have to PLAN TO HAVE FUN.

  • Take the day off

There will be days that your body or mind just needs a break. Listen to your body. You’re a business owner and you will always have work to do, its inevitable. Your task list isn’t going anywhere but there are times when you are running on empty and need to recharge. When I am feeling like I am getting run down I clear my day. I rather sleep and rest a day then be sick for an entire week. Take the time for yourself when you need it.

  • Practice what you preach

We like telling our clients to get their rest, stay hydrated, eat healthy, sleep 8 hours a night, and exercise regularly but it is astonishing how many health practitioners don’t take their own advice. My health and wellness is my priority and it should be yours. My energy and focus have been amazing since I make sure my meals are healthy, my sleep is adequate and I am moving and recovering daily. Practice what you preach.

  • Hard Stop—“Work Hours” 

This is something I have been culminating over the years. I have an end of the workday hard stop. Usually it’s at 7pm and sometimes 9pm if there is a particular time sensitive project I am working on. I stop, put my phone away and just unwind. I have employees, customers, friends, and colleagues that all know that I do not respond to emails or phone calls after 7 pm. Once you set those boundaries your quality of life will improve dramatically. Put your mobile device in the other room, turn off alerts, and unplug from the matrix. Spend time with a loved one, even if that loved one is you. If you respect your time so will everyone else.

These are some of the tools and practices that have given me sanity through the craziest of times. We are entrepreneurs, employers, leaders, and coaches. We need to take action in our own lives so we can lead by example. Learn to take care of your health and well-being so everything else can follow. Give yourself as much as you do to your business and clients.

 

 

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Joe Barbagallo is the owner of Joe Barbagallo Fitness training systems; a New York City based coaching service that focuses on fat loss, performance, and strength. His clients include professional athletes, actors, models, and mixed martial artists. Joe also is the co-owner of the film production company Planet Nerd Rage Productions. He is currently in production working with his comic book idol Larry Hama of GI Joe shooting their latest film “Ghost Source Zero!”

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Guest Post: Beat The Heat With Coconut Water

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The summer heat is kickin’ and so are your legs while trying to stay in beach body shape so you can rock that itsy bitsy bikini. Working out and getting your sweat on during the summer can cause dehydration and overheating. It is super important to make sure your body is hydrated and full of those awesome molecules called electrolytes aka sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and so on. Without getting too scientific, electrolytes are charged particles that help maintain voltage and send electrical impulses between the cells. Think of your body as a battery, your heart, muscles, kidneys and nerves communicate and operate via these electrical impulses. Electrolytes give the charge to keep your battery running. When you exercise and sweat you lose electrolytes, or your charge. Without them you are like a dead battery, 0% on the charge bar.

Coconut water is a great way to stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes. Below are a few facts, so study up and stay hydrated.

It’s Juice! That’s right it’s not water, it’s juice that lives inside a coconut. If you were to go to a beautiful tropical island hack open a coconut with a machete you would find liquid inside, that’s the juice. In the big city we just run to the deli and grab a bottle. Look out for added sugars and from concentrate, keep it real.

More Potassium Than a Banana: One small bottle (about 9.5 fl oz) of coconut water can have up to 600mg of potassium, more than a banana which contains around 400mg. Great if you experience leg cramping before, during, after your workout or to recover from one too many margaritas.

No Dyes or Preservatives: Unlike other sports drinks coconut water does not contain any harmful dyes. You won’t see any color in coconut water unless it’s raw and pink. This is simply anti-oxidants interacting with light. If it’s pink it’s good! Be sure your “go to” brand does not contain preservatives, read the label.

Moisturizes: Dermatologists have found that drinking coconut water will hydrate your skin form the inside out without producing excess oil. For even more moisture use a coconut mask – sit back, relax and hydrate.

Beyond Potassium: The tropical juice also contains sodium, magnesium and calcium to help replenish those depleted electrolytes we discussed above.

No, Low, Healthy Fat: If you’re drinking coconut water without the pulp, there’s no fat, if you prefer a little coconut meat you’ll be getting low amounts of fat. Don’t be scared of a little fat, it’s great for your brain and can help settle a queasy dehydrated stomach and give you some energy. If you are afraid of fat choose the no pulp option.

Coconut water will help you stay charged and hydrated through these hot summer months so you can keep on sweating. Remember to drink good ole regular H2O as well, the classic hydrator.

8b23fa_98359f271ca346bd84885bdaecfb4925.jpg_srz_323_293_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzAbbey Matson~Health and Nutrition Counselor

After a decade working in several different industries spanning fashion, mental health, finance and clinical research, I recognized how often general wellness is ignored. We have become accustomed to feeling sub-par and eating anything convenient, regardless of the negative repercussions on our health and life force. I founded Mind to Body Health so I may support others in creating a life that allows the individual to feel well and function at full potential. I work with clients as a Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor to help individuals understand their mind to body connection and determine what works best for their bio-individuality. Contact me today to learn more.

 

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It’s Your Mind That Builds Your Money

 

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An interviewer recently asked me, “What’s the biggest issue you see when it comes to people and their money goals?” and without skipping a beat, I replied, “Resistance.”

I know with Pilates and other forms of fitness, resistance is often a good thing — it helps to strengthen, burn calories and build muscle.  Bring it on! However, when it comes to money matters, resistance translates to procrastination, avoidance or just plain denial

In many ways, having a money goal (like getting out of debt, sticking to a budget, saving more, or raising your rates) is not that much different than starting a new exercise plan or diet.  We start with good intentions and lots of motivation. But before we know it, we fall back into old habits and resist making any real changes.

We may know, deep inside, that we need to get out of debt, stick to a budget, save more, raise our rates, etc.– just like we know that we need to exercise regularly and eat kale.  If we could just get ourselves to do it…but, much to Oprah’s dismay, when we know better, we don’t always do better.

The interviewer was surprised by my answer. She thought that I would have said something more obvious like personal debt or underearning, but in my opinion, those are just symptoms of the real issue.

The real issue is that people don’t have the right money mindset.  When it comes to money, more often than not it’s we’ve inherited an underlying money story from our parents or other authority figures in our lives that have caused us to look at money in a negative light. Rather than view money as something that comes naturally to us and something we want to take care of, people tend to see money from a perspective of lack and scarcity, or use it to mask deeper feelings of fear or inadequacy.  We see finances as too overwhelming, complex, over our heads, boring, etc. that we want nothing to do with them, and would gladly hand the responsibility over to someone else.  Hence, the resistance.

But the question is what can you do about it? 

Developing a healthier money mindset is similar to training a new muscle.  But in this case, the muscle you are flexing is your brain.

Here are a few tips to get you to think about your finances differently so you can begin to tackle all those money goals, break through your resistance, and create the life and business you’ve been dreaming about:

  • Look at Money Story. Begin by noticing what you are telling yourself about money and identifying the stories or belief systems you might have you inherited as a child about money (and work). Did you always hear that there was “never enough money?”  Was money is your household tied to work that was stressful or unappealing? Or was it something that easily flowed in and out of your household?
  • Find alternate evidence.  Whatever negative story you might have inherited, start looking for evidence that proves otherwise.  For example, if you were always told that one could only make a decent living by working a 9-5 corporate job or becoming a lawyer or doctor, find examples of people who became successful by other means, say, through entrepreneurship or creative pursuits. If you were always given the impression that women were not good with money, find examples of females who rocked their finances or career, like Jean Chatsky or Amanda Steinberg.  By finding alternate evidence, you can start to create a new money story that works better for you and brings you closer to the goals you want to accomplish.
  • Change your language. There’s power in words.  Catch yourself whenever you find yourself using negative language when saying things like “should” “have to” “can’t.”  Instead, practice replacing those words with “choose” and “decide” (e.g., I should save more > I chose to save more; I have to keep my rates where they are > I decide to keep my rates where they are) etc. Recognizing that you always have choices will help you start seeing your money goals as empowering rather than as a sacrifice.

And remember, be patient!  Joseph Pilates once said, “Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.”  Our money stories run deep, so be patient with yourself and trust that a new money mindset is something you too can achieve.

 

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Jennifer Faherty is a Martha Beck Life Coach and Certified Financial Planner who loves helping people save and spend freely.  Sign up for more money tips at www.redbirdpartners.com and you’ll also receive a free copy of ‘The Mindful Money Tracker” — the one step you need BEFORE you start budgeting.  

 

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My 5 picks for Thanksgiving Dining in NYC

turkey-city_450We’re New Yorkers. We can order anything from Lebanese to lasagna at 2am and have it delivered right to our door. While we know culinary brilliance when we taste it, our stove hasn’t been ignited since that night we tried to heat the apartment by turing the oven on. Let’s face it, we could cook but it’s SO much easier just to eat out. Thanksgiving is no exception.

During my seven years in the Big Apple, I haven’t traveled home for the holidays once. Since all my kin live on the west coast, I find it much easier just to make a reservation instead of making a turkey. Here are my picks for those of you who find yourself in NYC this Thanksgiving and feel the same….

Jane
Jane has been my go-to destination for my holiday feast for 4 years now. A casual American bistro smack dab between SoHo and Greenwich Village, it’s classic NYC fare. The space is comforting and warm (kinda like Grandma’s kitchen, only chicer) and the menu has all the components you’d want on your plate. T-day menu consists of a prix fix, three course with various options. You can’t go wrong with turkey and the trimmings but you could go with short ribs, risotto, or salmon if the bird isn’t your thang.

20081027-igobblenyFreeman’s
One of my all-time foodie favs is definitely Freeman’s. Located at the back of an alley, its charm doesn’t stop just at the decor. The food and design is rugged, rustic, and has a certain old world charm. Their holiday menu consists of turkey and the usual suspects, as well as their signature (almost better-than-sex) artichoke dip. Believe me the dip alone is worth the trek to the LES. Oh, and did I mention they have pie? Homemade pie.

Maialino
A little pricier than the two above, Maialino is one of the FINEST NYC restaurants you can pay a visit. Their Thanksgiving bill of fare has an Italian flare since it’s what they do best. Start with the zuppa di castagne (or chestnut soup), then get your roasted bird with Polenta instead of stuffing, and finish with their expertly executed Zabaione or Italian custard. They also have a special menu just for the wee ones that doesn’t require they sit at the “kids” table.

Red Rooster
I included Red Rooster simply because I’ve heard such amazing things about this uptown gem. You’re pretty much gonna get a typical Thanksgiving dinner here but chef Marcus Samuel is bound to throw in a couple culinary surprises here and there. They also have live jazz so prepare to be serenaded by some of the good stuff in the heart of Harlem.

Il Buco
I used to teach a couple in their home (with equipment and all) right across the cobblestoned street from Il Buco. Finally, I had salivated long enough and one day decided to visit their feast of the pig. OMG! THE BEST suckling pig I’ve ever had. Thanksgiving dinner here has your choice of that or traditional turkey. Part Italian, part Spanish, all delicious. A holiday feast here will change your life.

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A look back at the breast

Pink ribbons, pink Susan G. Komen kitchenware, and 5 hour energy pink lemonade. The only colors we used to associate with October were orange and black, but now pink (in the best way) has taken over. It is nearly impossible to go anywhere this month and not see a form of breast cancer awareness. Even though we’re still “racing for a cure,” I think it is important to look back and see how far we’ve come.

Did you know that back in Ancient Egypt before 1000 AD, when they observed a form of breast cancer, it was common practice to cauterize the infected tissue? While some form of cauterization may always be used to remove unwanted growths, it was no match for cancer cells. Fortunately, since then we’ve found alternative methods.

Prior to the 19th century, most people did not live long enough to noticeably develop breast cancer. Once improvements were made in sanitation, the increased occurrences of breast cancer began to draw attention. The first successful treatment of breast cancer was achieved by surgeons Jean Louis Petit and Benjamin Bell, who chose to surgically remove lymph nodes, breast tissue, and chest muscle. In the 1880s, another surgeon by the name of Halsted, piggy-backed on that idea and began performing mastectomies. Although most patients had long-term pain after the procedure, the invention of the mastectomy raised the survival rate from 10 percent to 50 percent.

First Mastectomy

This treatment continued until the 1970s, when the removal of just the cancerous tumor (known as a lumpectomy) became more popular. By 1985, research proved that a lumpectomy combined with radiation was just as effective as a mastectomy, without the impingement.

In the past twenty years, researchers have made leaps and bounds. With ongoing studies looking at similarities between not only patient reactions, but also potential risk factors. Since doctors have discovered that the cancer affects the entire body (not just the infected area), treatments have appropriately evolved. This has resulted in chemotherapy, pills, and now even some preemptive treatments to replace any harmful genes. Treatment is more customized than ever before, focusing on the genetic makeup of the individualized patient.

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As it stands, 1 out of 7 women develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Thankfully, diagnosis is not a death sentence like it was in Ancient Egypt. Each patient diagnosed has millions of people indirectly (and some directly) supporting them throughout their treatment. It’s only a matter of time before a cure is found.

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GUEST POST: When Your Nest Moves…

IMG_0358While I crave experiencing new places or relaxing changes in scenery, all the planes, trains and automobiles can be a total drag. When I was packing for a recent trip, I wondered, “What do other people pack to take care of themselves when they go all Road Warrior?”

So, I thought I’d share. Here’s what I take with me when I head out of town:

  • A backpack – While my idea of camping is an outdoor fireplace at a spa, I bring along my little old backpack. I love its comfy, padded straps. especially when there is going to be a lot of walking or standing. Why un-do all that fabulous Pilates work that you’ve doing all year?
  • A 32 oz. water bottle – Staying hydrated while in transit can be a challenge, but it’s SO important. With this size bottle, it helps me keep track of how much water I’ve been drinking (or, sadly, sometimes not) drinking. I shoot for emptying this bottle twice each day.
  • Probiotics – Each of our guts plays hotel to trillions of microbial cells. Some are friendly; some are not so much. Probiotic foods (or supplements) can help those friendly microbes crowd out the pesty ones. The result: we have smoother digestion and better immune response. Both are totally important when you’re traveling and likely encountering lots of new germs and bacteria. While I pack a probiotic supplement, I also try to enjoy some of my favorite probiotic foods like miso, tempeh, kombucha, coconut kefir, kimchi and other fermented pickles & veggies. Mmmmm!
  • A stash of herbal teas & healthy snacks –Gas stations and airports are getting somewhat better, but healthy choices are usually limited. However, you can always get hot water. Having a cup of tea just feels like home to me, so I always carry an herbal assortment with me. Depending on my mode of transportation, I usually have some fruit, dried fruit and nuts with me. Montmorency cherries, for example, can even help with jetlag. It does require a little planning, but it’s way better than stressing to find something that won’t make you feel gross when you’re already starving. (My husband would probably add “and a pain in the @$$” to the end of the last sentence.) All natural meal replacement bars have also saved me when I’m off my normal meal schedule. Just read the ingredients first. If you can’t speak or spell them, please don’t eat them.
  • A can-do Pilates attitude – One of the first things that I fell in love with is how damn portable the method is. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve done a challenging mat workout with nothing more than a towel on a carpeted floor. Let your teacher know that you’ll be traveling. Ask what exercises you can take with you and about their favorite resources. Like a DVD or an audio classHint, hint.
  • A yoga strap – I love to walk, especially when I’m touring some new place. My hamstrings quiver with joy (or resistance) when I pack my yoga strap. Lying on my back, I hook the strap around my heel and gently open up the back of my legs and do a couple of hip stretches. I also can also use it to bind my legs and settle into a constructive rest position to unwind after a long day. The strap is light and rolls up into a fist-sized ball for ease of packing.
  • A hot water bottle – My hot water bottle is bright red, so I’ve named it Ruby. Before you think I’m about 150 years old, I challenge you to try it. Remember all the walking that I mentioned? Well, it’s great for applying heat to soothing sore, tired muscles. (Use cold water/ice for bumps and bruises.) I tend to get cold when I’m tired, so I’ll rest it on my center when I first settle into bed. It’s so relaxing.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a little lady who loves lots of options. These are just a few that work for me personally. Like I tell my clients, play and experiment with these; or create some new options that work even better for you. Just remember: You CAN get out of town without feeling run-down. Safe and happy travels!

Be (s)well.

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027_130425_MARTINSYNDER-(ZF-3036-76899-1-001)Kara Martin Snyder, CHHC is the Owner & Chief Coach over at vital corps, a health and wellness studio located at the intersection of strategic action and self-care. Kara’s not your run of the mill, woo-woo wellness coach, though. Sure, she’s got the classroom and professional creds that many health coaches have but she’s also got an arsenal of bad-assery stemming from her boardroom, kitchen, and street savvy. Devotedly serving whipsmart, Type A, professional women, Kara deconstructs the broken processes in her clients’ lives and together they co-create actionable, manageable steps to creating healthy, more fulfilling lives slathered with joy. Forget frazzled and famished, it’s time to get focused and downright fierce… without starvation, deprivation, or tribulation. Visit Kara’s little slice of digital Shangri-La at http://vitalcorpswellness.com/ and scoop up your free copy of Integrative Nutrition: Feed Your Hunger for Health and Happiness today.

 

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Loving The Lizard

I have a confession- I struggle (I know BIG surprise!). I struggle with going to bed on time, choosing salad over nachos, not having just-one-more-drink, and especially getting my sweat on daily. This is particularly shameful since my job as a Pilates Instructor is to teach people how to be fit and healthy. The thing is- I am human, and I’m realizing that so are my clients. Change is NOT something we welcome and as it turns out- it’s actually all in our heads.

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In our most primitive part of ourselves, or our Lizard Brain, we are just concerned with staying alive, chowing down, and making babies. While this primal part of ourselves comes in handy if you’re stranded on a desert island, it can create roadblocks for our modern lifestyle. This reptile brain sits at the top of our spine and responds, instead of reasons using instinct to keep us keeping on. Change is not good for survival, so the lizard will tell you to stay home in your p.j’s and eat that second bowl of cereal. We are safe here, we have grub- what more could we possibly want?

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So how can smart, motivated, type A personalities like myself get past this prehistoric monkey wrench? My game plan is to reward the lizard (what do lizards like as treats? Bugs?). Instead of setting useless goals and plans that the reptile will just shoot down anyway, I’m gonna catch more flies with honey- so to speak. Check out my plan below:

  • Change my “have-to’s” to “want-to’s” Instead of planning a workout schedule or eating plan, which could cause resistance I will just do one thing, at least, everyday that is good for me. It could be hitting that yoga class, doing a 10 min meditation, or eating kale. Just one single thing that I’m drawn to that day, depending on my mood.
  • Implement a rewards program Instead of punishing myself for not doing as much good as I should, I’m going to reward myself everyday- just because I can. It could be a bubble bath, mani/pedi, massage, that new top I saw in the window, or even squares of good quality dark chocolate. The idea is that I don’t have to do something to get perks. I get them just for being alive and surviving.
  • Let the lizard have it’s way At least once (maybe twice) a week I aim to let the lizard lay around and be lazy. No plans, no goals, no to-do list. I will give myself permission to feel safe and sheltered on my couch, in my bed, in my den. We didn’t survive for centuries without doing something right.

What is your reptile mind telling you? How do you motivate yourself without alienating the most primitive, instinctual part of your self? I want to hear from you! Leave your comments below…

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