The Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

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Posted on 25th September 2010 by Jiggly in Yoga and Pilates

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Wow, this is my first post in… a long while!  I don’t even know if anyone still reads this, but the reason I’ve neglected this blog is because I got married, and a couple months after that I went and got myself PREGNANT.  It might be an understatement to say that there has been a few things on my mind.  I’m entering my 24th week now, so I’m already halfway through my 2nd trimester!

My last post was about Tabata 20/10, and just when I discovered it I got pregnant and couldn’t explore it more.  In fact, I stopped doing all high-intensity exercises the moment I found out about the pregnancy and even bailed out of a full marathon (and out $125) that I was supposed to run with my husband.  There’s some controversy on how much pregnant women should exercise.  The age-old advice is that you should not have your heart rate elevated to more than 140 bpm.  Modern research indicates otherwise.  To stay on the safe side, I’ve stuck to more low-key exercises, such as prenatal yoga.

There are countless benefits to prenatal yoga, both for mommy and baby, such as:

  • Keeping your body limber and flexible.
  • Tones muscles while being gentle on the joints (pregnant women release a hormone called relaxin that loosens the joints and ligaments… so it’s easier for pregnant women to strain their muscles with more rigorous activities).
  • The ujjayi breathing technique practiced in yoga will help relax you during labor and delivery.
  • Reduces low back pain and sciatica because yoga promotes proper body alignment.
  • Helps in stress reduction.  Pregnancy can be a very stressful (not to mention hormonal) time in your life… yoga helps center you and brings you back to a place of peace.

Those are just a few benefits of prenatal yoga, but I know there are many more not listed above.  In my own personal practice, I can really feel a difference on the days that I choose to do prenatal yoga versus the days that I don’t.  Yoga has been the one exercise that I’ve been able to keep up with throughout this pregnancy.  Running is no longer an option, the stationary bike is a bore, and even the stairclimber is too strenuous these days.  Swimming is one of my least favorite exercises so that’s out.  The one thing keeping me going is my yoga practice.  It clears my head, keeps me sane, and makes me feel rejuvenated and alive.

I was able to do my prenatal yoga in the comfort of my own home, which is nice because I didn’t have to work around someone else’s class schedule to squeeze in my practice.  After some trial and error, I found the one DVD I absolutely love.  Will share that DVD and a thorough review of it in my next post.  Unless you have a favorite that you’d like to share with me?

Tabata 20/10

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Posted on 29th April 2010 by Jiggly in Cardio and Toning

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I’ve rarely had good experiences with the classes at my gym.  The ones I’ve tried were always led by unmotivating (or just downright odd) instructors.  One time my friend and I checked out a yoga class at my gym.  The instructor was overweight, wore a mesh black top over a sports bra, and made us do FINGER EXERCISES for the first ten minutes.  It was… interesting, to say the least.

Over the years, I’ve checked out kickboxing, step, and a myriad of other classes – all led to disappointment.  Then recently, my friend convinced me to go to a Bootcamp class with her.  I LOVED IT and look forward to it every Monday – I try not to miss if I can help it!  This is the 1st gym class I’ve ever been enthusiastic about.  The instructor is this amazingly fit, upbeat, charming guy who does not waste a single minute of the hour-long class.  He alternates his style weekly – one week it’s a normal bootcamp routine, and the next week we’ll do a technique called “Tabata 20/10″.

What is Tabata? Tabata 20/10 is named after its creator, Dr. Izumi Tabata, from Tokyo.  This workout is meant to give the maximum aerobic and anaerobic workout in a short amount of time.  Meaning, it combines cardio and weights to give you an incredibly effective workout.

What is 20/10? You do an exercise intensely for 20 seconds (do as many as you can within 20 seconds), then rest for 10 seconds.  Repeat for a total of 8 cycles, which is the equivalent of 4 minutes.  Then rest for 1 minute.  Then you’ll go on and do a completely new exercise and repeat the 20/10 method.  These can be any exercises of your choosing – some common ones are jumping jacks, push-ups, skaters, and squat thrusts.

It sounds very confusing doesn’t it?  Here’s a video that shows you how its done:

It’s a really effective workout that keeps your muscles guessing and your heart rate up!  Has anyone else tried Tabata 20/10?

The Shake Weight Media Hype

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Posted on 26th April 2010 by Jiggly in Reviews

The moment I saw the infomercials for “The Shake Weight” I disregarded it as another fad.  But it seems to be gaining ground and people are seriously interested in this thing.  It was even showcased on The Ellen Show and Jimmy Kimmel!  Haha I love Ellen!

People are drawn to quick fixes, and this one promises to deliver.  The question is… does it work?  I’ve never tried it myself so I can’t tell you from firsthand experience, but has anyone used this and seen results?

Some of its claims:

  • Get results in just 6 minutes a day.
  • Increases muscle activity by more than 300% compared to traditional weights.
  • Utilizes new exercise technology called Dynamic Inertia.
  • Proven scientific results – show me a weight loss product that doesn’t claim this!  Where are the results?  I can’t find them anywhere online.  Forgive the candidness, but what a load of bull.

Here are some reviews I found online:

Studio Review: Pilates-Ballet Fusion at Pure Barre

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Posted on 21st April 2010 by Jiggly in Cardio and Toning |Reviews

Pure Barre
6791 Quail Hill Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92603
(949) 500-5924
(Multiple Locations)

Lift.Tone.Burn – that’s the mantra at Pure Barre, a fitness studio combining pilates and ballet techniques into one unique workout routine.  I recently had the opportunity to try a class because a great deal was offered on Groupon.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I wasn’t expecting my thighs to be quivering nonstop within the first 15 minutes of class!  I thought I was in pretty good shape with all the marathon running I do, but Pure Barre is a whole different animal.  Supposedly the word of this innovative new technique is spreading the nation like wildfire.

Here is what you need to know:

  • The studio provides you with all the equipment you need – this includes two sets of light weights (you can choose between 2-3-5 lb weights), a band, and a ball.
  • The workouts emphasize short, tiny movements meant to fatigue the muscles and gets switched up every 10-30 seconds.
  • You begin with a small warm-up, then go right into workouts designed to tone your arms, thighs, butt, and abs.  They used up every minute of the hour, so there were really no opportunities to rest.
  • No dance experience required.  The movements are designed so that anyone can follow along.  Even my two left feet can attest to that.
  • The studio floor is carpeted, but you MUST wear socks.  They also sell socks with grips on the bottom, but I found that regular socks were fine too.
  • Attire is a tank top and capris or tight-fitting shorts or pants.

I was sweating buckets at the end of my hour-long class and my heart rate was definitely up.  Pure Barre provides a comprehensive toning and cardio workout that seriously works you!

Best for: those who want a challenging, different type of workout that focuses on toning.  The workouts don’t require a lot of bouncing so it’s also great for those who have sensitive joints.
Would not recommend for: those who are extremely out of shape.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Yoga

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Posted on 19th April 2010 by Jiggly in Yoga and Pilates

When people ask me if they can just do a yoga DVD at home, my response to them is, “Sure!  But I’d recommend taking a few classes at an actual studio first before jumping straight into DVD.” – why do I say that?  Because Yoga involves a lot of intricacies that can’t be caught if you’re alone at home following along to a DVD.  If you don’t do the poses correctly, you won’t see the full benefits of yoga.  Not only will you miss out on the benefits, but incorrect form can also lead to unnecessary strain and possible injuries.

Individual yoga classes can get pricey, but many yoga studios offer introductory unlimited classes (like $29 for 2 weeks) for new students.  These are great deals to pick up to get you started into the world of yoga.

Let’s take a look at some common mistakes:

Standing Forward Bend: The image on the right is correct.  Notice how your hips must be directly aligned over your ankles and that you need to bend forward at a 90-degree angle.  She is also standing with feet parallel to her hips and keeping a slight bend in her knees.

Plank: The bottom picture is correct.  Don’t lift your butt so high in the hair.  Make sure your back is aligned with your hips in one straight diagonal.  This releases the pressure from your shoulders and engages your core muscles.

Cobra: The posture in the first image is incorrect.  As you can see, her chest is up too high and her shoulders and nearly touching her ears – this puts strain on the shoulders.  It feels awkward just looking at her.  It’s important to pull your chest down and squeeze your shoulder blades together, as if you were cracking a nut in-between them.

Downward-facing Dog: this basic yoga pose was one of the most troublesome for me when I first started out.  My yoga teachers would constantly come around and pull my hips up higher even as I thought I was doing all I could to get this pose correct.  Your body is bending downward in a “V” with arms straight in front of you, palms pressed flat into the floor, and fingers spread apart.  The head should be aligned with the spine.

Adapted from: The Los Angeles Times, which has a more extensive list of proper yoga postures.

Poor, Neglected Blog!

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Posted on 18th April 2010 by Jiggly in Getting Personal

This poor blog has been neglected for a couple weeks.  Partially due to the fact that I was in the middle of finals, and part of it is due to the fact that I launched another blog for fun – The Hungry Gourmand. Ever since my friend bought me a Julia Child cookbook for my birthday, I’ve had this strong desire to cook dishes I’ve never attempted before.

That, coupled with a love for food photography, led me to the launch of that blog.  I promise to post more on JiggaRoo now that things are calming down.  See you in the coming days… there’s been a lot on my mind I’d like to share.  :)

Studio Review: Soul At Home

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Posted on 30th March 2010 by Jiggly in Reviews |Yoga and Pilates

Soul At Home
17612 17th Street
Tustin, CA 92780
(714) 573-7685

I wanted to get to know a friend better, so we bonded over classes at her yoga studio, Soul At Home. Originally, I planned to just take one class with her, but it was more worth it to buy the one-month unlimited pass ($39) than to pay for a single class ($15). I ended up coming with my friend once a week for a month.

Soul at Home has a full schedule filled with a variety of classes.  The downside with soo much variety is that if you can’t make it on a certain day/time for a class you will probably have to wait until the following week to take it again.  Their most regular class is the beginners/level 1 yoga, which crops up frequently throughout the week.

They have two rooms where they hold their classes – one large and one small.  The rooms are clean and well-lit, and I loved that they provided really great quality mats and props for those who don’t have their own.  Beyond being just a yoga studio, they also offer massages and facials so this could essentially be your one-stop-shop for your health and beauty needs.

For More Reviews: http://www.yelp.com/biz/soul-at-home-tustin

Best for: those who want a truly relaxing, meditative yoga experience.
Would not recommend for: those looking for a more intense, sweat-inducing workout.

The Right Kinds… of Protein!

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Posted on 29th March 2010 by Jiggly in Food and Drink

Shamefully, I admit I fell into the Atkins Diet craze as a teen.  The appeal of a high protein high fat diet was too tempting to pass up.  What’s that you say?  You can lose weight eating full-fat meats, cheeses, other meaty goodies just as long as you didn’t go near bread??  Sounded too good to be true, and it was.  After stuffing my face with bacon (which I don’t even like!) for a couple weeks and eating tons of melted cheese on hot dogs, I felt sick to my stomach AND didn’t lose weight.  Naive, teenage me only saw the “eat as much meat and cheese as you want” message, but failed to realize that ultimately, calories still matter.

Yup, I’m pretty sure I still have this book catching dust somewhere in my parents’ house.

Anyone else succumb to this craze?  What failed diet fads have you tried?

I’ll admit, this diet could help you lose weight in the short term because it’s hard to eat your days worth of calories just in meat.  However, it will also destroy your health.  This diet is high in saturated fats, leading to high cholesterol, heart disease, and clogged arteries.  The diet is also devoid of the good nutrients and fiber that come from fruits and vegetables.

What’s my point with all this?  Not all protein are created equal.  Reiterating the message of my earlier posts, no food category is all good or all bad.

“What makes a protein good is its nutrient base, how it was raised and farmed, its omega-3 fatty acid value and if it’s high or low in saturated fat.” — Dr. Oz (made famous by Oprah)

Why is protein essential to a balanced diet? Protein helps to build muscle and collagen and assists with tissue repair, that’s why body builders often drink a protein shake after workouts to help with muscle recovery.  Also, our body needs 20 different amino acids for healthy functioning.  11 of these are nonessential and can be synthesized by our body.  However, 8 of these are considered essential amino acids that we can only get through diet.  That’s where protein comes in – protein is the most efficient way to get our fill of these essential amino acids.

Good Protein: lean meats, lean poultry (white meat), wild mercury-free fish, seafood, legumes, eggs.
Bad Protein: high fat meats (ribeye, ground beef, burgers), farmed fish (little omega-3 acids), meats high in nitrates like bacon and processed deli-meat, and dark chicken meat.

Rule of thumb: when possible, avoid all heavily processed animal products and meats that have been injected with hormones.

The Right Kinds… of Carbs!

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Posted on 16th March 2010 by Jiggly in Food and Drink

Eat THIS!


And This…

Not to mention this…

(Look at all the beautiful colors – its got me salivating)

NOT THIS!

Don’t be deceived – this last picture looks very similar to the first picture above, but this one is full of refined (dare I say deadly) white, devilish carbs.  Throw out those nutrient-free bagels, chips, muffins, pasta, and breads and replace them with the whole wheat variety.

These days it’s not so easy to tell anymore.  Just because something is brown in color or claims to be “whole grain” doesn’t mean it’s whole wheat.  In order to weed out the good from the bad you really have to check the ingredients list.  Make sure the first ingredient in anything carb-related is the phrase “whole wheat”.  If the first ingredient says “enriched” anything put the devil back on the shelf!

Carbs ARE good for you and essential for energy and metabolism.  Good carbs are full of fiber (for fullness), essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.  Don’t be fooled by the marketing blitz’ against carbs.  That’s all nonsense.

My Rule of Thumb: the closer it came from the ground the better.  So whenever possible, eat rice over bread.  And of course, it’s hard to go wrong with fruits and vegetables.

The Right Kinds… of Fat

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Posted on 15th March 2010 by Jiggly in Food and Drink

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(Source: http://www.badfatsbrothers.com/BFB.html)

In my last post, I mentioned “the right kinds of food”, but failed to tell you exactly what those are.  Instead of doing one long post, I thought I’d do a brief series on this topic.

Contrary to popular belief, eating fat does not always make you fat.  Look at the French with their Foie Gras and full fat butters.  Stick to eating the right kinds of fat for optimum health.  The good, unsaturated fats help reduce harmful LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL cholesterol.  Avoid bad fats (mostly trans fats and some saturated fats) that clog your arteries and raise bad cholesterol.

Did you also know that even though fat is the most calorically dense, it also helps to suppress appetite?  Always a good thing when you’re trying to lose weight.

Good Monounsaturated Fats:

  • Avocados
  • Nut butters
  • Nuts (except Macadamias)
  • Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil
  • Canola and Olive Oil

Good Polyunsaturated Fats:

  • Salmon (contains Omega-3 Fatty Acids)
  • Fish oil
  • Corn, Soy, Safflower, and Sunflower oils (contains Omega-6 Fatty Acids)
  • Leafy Greens
  • Algae, seaweed

Saturated Fats - these are naturally occurring fats often found in animal protein and dairy products.  The media went on a frenzy against saturated fats so they have a bad rap, but they do have a place in our diet and are not necessarily bad for us (when eaten in moderation).  Benefits include aiding calcium utility in bone health, reducing heart disease, acting as an antiviral agent, and stimulating the immune system.  Nonetheless, try to limit your intake of these foods because they are high in cholesterol.

  • Palm oil and coconut oil
  • Cream, butter, margarine
  • Chicken with skin
  • Marbled, non-lean meat
  • Whole milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Mayonnaise

Bad Trans Fat - beware of these sneaky devils – it’s hard to tell which foods contain them unless you read labels and check the ingredients list of most packaged foods.  Trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.  Another name for trans fats is “partially hydrogenated oils”.  The good news is that most companies are veering away from using Trans Fat in their products because of the bad rap its been getting in recent years.  You’ll see a lot of products now touting “0 Trans Fat!” in big, bold font.

  • Processed, packaged foods
  • Deep fried foods like french fries
  • Shortening
  • Pastries and Pie crusts

Bottom Line? Yes certain fats are good for you, but too much of it can still lead to weight gain if you’re not careful.  Ultimately, it is about calories in versus calories out.  I wouldn’t recommend eating a bucketful of nuts in one sitting no matter how much healthy fat they contain.