A Little Fitness... Lose a Dress Size in One Breath

by Dawn
Posture Principle: when you learn to hold your body up and in, you lose five pounds instantly.  When you learn to hold your body up and in (and get the girls up and off your lap) you look five years younger. How do you achieve this?  Enter Pilates.
Proper posture is found by first feeling your spinal column continue up through the neck and through the crown of you head.  Feel the lifting and lengthening of your neck.  Shoulder roll back slightly, and begin the pilates breathing.

To feel the difference Pilates can make, just try the Pilates breath.  Placing your hands on your ribs, inhale your navel into your low spine.  As you slowly exhale through pursed lips, pull the navel back further into your body. Press your ribs together as you exhale, like you’re trying to fasten a vest that is too small.  You will immediately feel your core muscles contracting back into the body and the cinching of your waistline.
If you are feeling ambitious, grab some space on the floor and try the following Pilates movements using the Pilates breath.

Pilates Crunches.   Lay on the floor with feet flat, placing one hand on your stomach and one hand behind the head. Nod your head to lengthen the neck.  Exhale the body forward, eyes on the knees, pulling your belly button down away from your hand towards the floor.  If you feel your stomach muscles bulging up into your hand, more mindfully apply pilates breathing.  Think “navel to spine” on each movement.  Inhale the body down, and repeat slowly ten times.  You stomach muscles will train themselves to flatten with this movement.
The Bicycle.  Laying on the floor, bring your legs up to a 90 degree angle and take a deep pilates breath, pulling navel to your spine.  With hands behind the head, reach your sternum for the opposite knee, keeping the armpit open.  This will force you to twist with the core, rather than the neck. For an added degree of challenge, completely extend the opposite leg as you twist.  Perform this ten times slowly, imagining you are wringing out your core like a damp towel.  This exercise will not only make your side and legs ache, but will slim them as well!
The Roll-up.  In a seated position with legs forward, extend the arms.  Rolling hips back first, lower to the floor one vertebra at a time, pulling in the navel as you descend.  When you roll down, reach over head and then begin rolling your body back up, sequencing through the spine.  Continue reaching forward until you are seated and repeat 5-10 times.  This movement will flatten your abdomen, pull your waist in, as well as strengthen the glutes and low back.
The Pilates Push-up.  On all floors, take your body forward to a 45 degree angle.  With the arms wide and hands turned in slightly, hinge your elbows and lower down to the ground on a three count.  Exhale on the way up for one count.  The key here is not to muscle the movement with your shoulders, but to lift from your core, as if a string were suspending you to the ceiling behind you belly button.  Repeat ten times, keeping your gaze forward.

(This is an excerpt from a previous article by Dawn for LDS Bride Magazine, 2009.)
Photo: Fit Sugar

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