5 Ways to Quiet Your Inner Critic with Pilates


Good news your doing Pilates on a set schedule so your already working toward a more confident you! The amazing thing about practicing Pilates is the focus is on becoming self-aware in a positive way.


The idea is to concentrate on the exercise you are performing by doing a mental checklist of points to focus on before you begin to move,   making it more likely the goal will be achieved.    Our society promotes self-objectification which allows you to disconnect from your body. Pilates asks that you re-connect with your body.

Let’s take a look at some steps we may take to get the focus back on a positive critique.

1. Switch the Scene:

You just caught yourself criticizing you again. Quickly change the path of destructive thought instead focus on the thing you do like about your body like, “My legs are really starting to show the muscle tone, the workouts are helping”.

2. Jot it Down:

Take the time to jot it down when disparaging thoughts creep in. Adrienne Ressler says, “most women will be shocked by how much they beat themselves up.” The national training director and a body image specialist at the Renfrew Center, Philadelphia branch.

3. Be Present in the Moment:

You’re  in your Pilates class and you start to pick at your body shape, size, ability. Stop the inner negative chatter and focus on your breath pattern, (are you breathing at all), how  is your alignment and form. Feel how your muscles are responding to your movement request. Be present in the task at hand and notice, “hey I reached to my toes this time, awesome!!”

4. A Realistic Role Model:

So your never going to look like Poppy Montgomery on the TV show “Unforgettable”. Is that realistic anyway you are not unforgettable so is it more realistic to find someone in your world the real world who inspires you. I have a client who has an autoimmune disease called Mitochondria, and despite the odds stacked against her when she is out of the hospital she comes to do her private Pilates session with me, she inspires me! I bet it won’t take much for you to come up with someone you admire and is realistic.

5. Try an Activity You Enjoy:

If it is going to the gym, a brisk walk, a run, attend a Pilates class with a buddy, a little exercise can lift your self-esteem whether it makes an apparent change in your body. You now have proof that you are trying to make the change you want to see in your life. So when your inner critic starts in on you it will be easier to shut it down. The change will become clear to you when you realize you are feeling better, mind, body, & spirit. Joy will return to your life.
Next we will tackle the solutions beginning a healthful 2012.
Stacy A. Price-Darkis, CPI, BCES
Studio 59 Pilates Fitness, LLC




Is Your Inner Critic Getting To You?


Most women dislike at least one aspect of their appearance. Your doing the pre-stretch warm up in your Pilates class when you notice the woman in front of you can get all the way to her toes!   Outrageous, your inner critic says to you, well if you didn’t have so much belly flab you could reach your toes too! Ugh!


Each and every day 97 percent of women think negative even hateful things about their bodies according to a national survey of more than 300 women. Further studies, from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, found that 85 percent of women and 72 percent of men dislike at least one aspect of their appearance. This represents a national body image crisis that may contribute to an over active, and unchecked voice of your inner critic. Pilate’s instructors hear these comments almost daily.



In my Pilates studio clients often ask of me “how do I get rid of this fat?’, “how often do I have to workout?”, and “how long will it take?”.


Why are we so hard on ourselves? One reason is society has taught us the ideal for being beautiful or attractive is an unattainable standard. The continual images of tall, slender, large breasted, tight, firm young bodies is what we are bombarded with. Ask yourself are you tall, small boned, naturally endowed, tight and toned, ever given birth, how old are you, is there any form of stress in your life? So the downside of the desire for the tall, slender “perfect body” is it is not realistic. And when a client asks how long will it take to get the perfect long, lean Pilates body, a popular term used in the Pilates world, what will we tell them?


Negative self talk has negative self-effect. Research shows that if you continually say to yourself for instance, “I’m so fat and ugly”, it will eventually drain your self confidence in all aspects of your life. It can also have a physiological effect: you may start slouching and begin carrying yourself in a sloppy manner.   More information on this subject can be found at the Renfrew Center a woman’s mental health Center and Adrienne Ressler.


Not only can disparaging thoughts affect your psyche, but they can take a toll on your physical health too. Turn that around with positive and accepting self-talk which has been shown to improve well-being. When men and women learn to appreciate their own unique bodies and start to feel more comfortable in their own skin, they are more likely to treat themselves with kindness and respect.


Look for my next post when we address these issues.


Author: Stacy A. Price-Darkis, CPI, BCES.
Studio 59 Pilates Fitness, LLC



8 Rules to Keeping Your Power Over The Holidaze


Keeping your power, especially during challenging seasons like ‘The Holidays’ can feel daunting with the overwhelming crush of daily to-do’s and added social events.   And before we know it, we are in the ‘Holidaze’!   How do you re-claim your power?


Self Knowledge is Empowering:


1.   Remind yourself of what makes you feel good. If it makes you feel good, you will do more of it = Joy ROI!


2.  Give yourself permission to do your power stuff. Elf Yourself!


3.  Pre-plan your week to include your empowering activities. Checking the list twice will make you especially NICE!


4.  Stick to your schedule and remind others why you need that time and how it benefits them when you get it. Grinch Relief or Grinch Release!


5.  Just say “no” to conflicting or non-empowering stuff. Holiday Steel = No Wonderland Steal.


6.  Don’t be afraid to re-direct, re-group, or re-schedule empowerment activities. If you Jangled . . . Re-Jingle!


7.  If it empowers you, find others who are empowered by the same activities. Group empowerment is . . .well. . . mega watt power! Whoville Anyone?!


8.  Be gentle with yourself so you can be “Merry & Bright”! Nobody knows you better than you.


Power is very personal to each of us and during the Holidays it is best to roll with our own self-knowledge of what makes us feel individually empowered and connected to our own lives. Tis’ the Season for a Self Indulgence Reason!


Power Thought: “When we bring our best to the Season we receive more of the Season’s Best.” ~ Sherry Derossett/CNC.CPT


The Connection Between Diabetes and Pancreatic Cancer


Most diabetics are aware of the health complications associated with the disease, like cardiovascular problems, kidney disease and skin ulcers. But recent studies have suggested that diabetics also have an elevated risk of developing pancreatic cancer.


Despite the rarity of pancreatic cancer, pinpointing the underlying causes for this increased risk hasn’t been easy. Diabetes inhibits the pancreas’s ability to produce insulin, the hormone that regulates the body’s glucose levels—and this could lead to a number of complications with the organ. But there’s also evidence that two of the drugs used to treat diabetes might also increase development of pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas, as well as pancreatic cancer.


Conversely, about 80 percent of people who’ve developed pancreatic cancer also suffer from glucose intolerance or diabetes. The most obvious connection between both of these conditions is pancreatic dysfunction.


While people can develop diabetes because of genetic factors, prevention and lifestyle changes can lessen the negative effects of diabetes and, perhaps, avoid the factors that could contribute to developing pancreatic cancer as well.



Genetics contribute to the development of diabetes, but for many people, lifestyle changes can have a significant impact—both in reducing the risk of developing the disease, and in managing diabetes. Paying attention to diet, exercise, and quitting smoking can help diabetics avoid many of the symptoms of the disease. Those lifestyle changes can also help diabetic patients avoid pancreatic cancer: smoking and obesity can contribute to the development of pancreatic cancer. As with any disease, patients should talk to their doctors to help them create a wellness plan to help them manage their disease.



It’s critical that diabetes patients maintain a steady and honest dialogue with their health care providers about their diabetes symptoms, but that they also report any changes in their health that could be signs of pancreatic cancer. The two medications connected with the development of pancreatic cancer, sitagliptin and exenatide, have been found to increase pancreatic cancer risk six-fold—and diabetics who take these medications should be especially vigilant when monitoring themselves for signs of pancreatic cancer.


It’s also important that people suffering from pancreatic cancer talk to their doctors about their treatment regimen. Because pancreatic cancer can affect insulin production, patients receiving pancreatic cancer treatment should also encourage their doctors to do tests for diabetes, and look for symptoms of diabetes like excessive thirst, blurred vision, and rapid unexplained weight loss.


As research continues to solidify the links between diabetes and pancreatic cancer, patients suffering from either disease have the responsibility to change their daily routines in order to reduce their chances of developing complications. Coupled with regular checkups with a doctor and a healthy lifestyle, it’s possible that people could prevent more dangerous health issues. Each of these steps is critical to surviving both pancreatic cancer and diabetes, and to leading full and healthy life.



Poor Eating Habits Make Bad Food too Easy to Swallow


Would you eat food you didn’t like? You might try it, but would you continue to eat it? How about if it was a food that you normally liked but it was stale? If you are like most people, you are sitting there wondering why anyone would eat something they didn’t like or continue to eat any stale food. You would if your brain associated that food with a particular place.


Environmental cues can be so deeply ingrained that the experiment done by the author demonstrates that movies and popcorn are so connected that people were willing to eat stale popcorn, if they had that association. For those that didn’t eat popcorn at the movies, stale popcorn didn’t work for them. They are probably the candy eaters!


Our environment is so critical in our success when we initially change our poor eating habits that ridding our cabinets, fridge and freezer of all junk is essential if you want to eat healthy. Our brain cannot make the connection of cabinet and cookies if your cabinet is now stocked with other healthy goodies.


We do not eat just for taste. Triggers start the cycle many times. What are your triggers?



Keys to Weight Loss


Are you a fan of, “The Biggest Loser” or other reality TV shows that help people transform their body in a matter of one television season or, in some cases, in one episode?


I love seeing those amazing transformations and the excitement in the participant’s eyes as they achieve what they thought was impossible. Unfortunately, results like that in the time frame given are unrealistic. The average person cannot spend 6 to 7 hours a day in the gym and enjoy healthy meals prepared by a chef trained in cooking “clean”. What is a realistic weight loss goal? Losing one to two pounds a week is realistic and healthy. This can be done with a combination of diet and exercise.


A University of Arizona researcher notes that good self-esteem and a positive body image are keys to overall weight loss. People who have a good support system and professional support (personal trainer, physician, etc.) may find the road on their weight loss journey to be slightly smoother.


There are “3 A’s” that encompass the keys to weight loss: appetite, activity and attitude. Within those there are 11 skills you can practice and develop to help you reach your goal: honoring your personal story; accepting yourself the way you are; create a positive mental outlook; practice positive self-talk skills; guide away from comparisons; build your self-reliance; lighten up and live in the NOW; reward yourself in healthy ways; give yourself praise; develop coping skills to deal with setbacks; be connected. Read on for more detail!



How Can Trainers Help Clients with Body Image: Tricks of the Trade


Whenever I conduct fitness assessments I always start out my line of questioning with “what would you like to accomplish with a regular exercise routine?” And the answer is pretty much the same no matter who you are talking to. Most clients in my experience want what everyone else wants. They want to lose weight and look thin. Or they want to get ripped and look cut up. Simply put most people want to change something superficial about their body. The dangerous thing about focusing primarily on the physical though is that it can lead to body image issues especially when people try to measure their physical appearance in relation to someone else whom they are striving to be. So, as a fitness professional my job is mainly a behavioral strategy based job if you think about it. I must help clients change their perceptions their own body image.


An article in the 2002 IDEA Personal Trainer journal titled “How Can Trainers Help Clients with Body Image: Tricks of the Trade,” does an effective job of detailing how to change a client’s negative perception of their own body image. One of the stronger pieces of advice to fitness trainers is to not invalidate clients’ body image goals or concerns. Rather the article suggests that you work with those goals or concerns by redirecting clients through attainable and achievable amounts of exercise. Additionally, track both perceived progress and actual progress. I really like how the article presents this information because it is easy to want to tell clients that what they believe should happen is not right. Instead it is much better to acknowledge the behavior and the perception that they have and then try to slowly shape their behavior towards a healthier outlook of exercise and their body. Overall, this article was really excellent in how it presented behavioral change for clients.




Has Your Diet Stalled?


Have you ever had a friend tell you they lost the “last five pounds” or really slimmed down with the latest diet fad? So, you decide that if it worked for them, it should work for you, right? Unfortunately this is not usually the case. You are unique! What works for someone else may not work for you.


Being active every day, watching your portion sizes and generally incorporating some basic weight loss strategies can help you reach your goals. Incorporating health and fitness into your everyday life, even in small doses, can produce the desired results over time. Watch for your individual triggers when working toward your weight loss goals: Do you eat more on the weekends with friends and family? Does one bite of a high-fat or high-sugar snack lead to overindulgence? Are you getting enough sleep? You can and WILL be successful when you commit to “doing” instead of just “trying”.


I listened to my circle of friends as they lost (and gained) weight over the years. They tried restricting calories, sticking to a single food (take your pick: grapefruit, bacon, soup, etc.), ordering the late night infomercial promises…the list goes on and on. As I tried these fads, I realized that long-term weight loss and health could only come from incorporating fitness and portion control into my everyday life. Once that switch flipped for me, those everyday changes worked some magic in my life! Not only did weight start coming off but I felt better! I wasn’t as tired at the end of each day. I could enjoy trampoline time with my kids and not be sore and sorry after the fun. Best of all…I found a confidence I had lost over the years! That confidence you have as a kid that allows you to tackle new challenges, meet new friends, jump off the high dive into the pool…it came along with the weight loss and strength gains. Find something you love (or used to love) to do, something you miss doing and set it as part of your goal for weight loss.  Bring back that confidence and sparkle in your life!



Nicotine – Death Grip Addiction


Positively encouraging someone, especially a friend or loved one to stop smoking is one of the most frustrating things to do. It seems any approach you deliver is met with a defensive attack, or just falls Positively encouraging someone, especially a friend or loved one to stop smoking is one of the most frustrating things to do.



It seems any approach you deliver is met with a defensive attack, or just falls on deaf ears. In fact, you may try so much that you grow weary, thinking that your words have no effect, no impact and why waste your breath? You may feel nothing will work, no words can convey the truth and importance to that person. Well I encourage you to never give up on that close person. Although it may seem your words have no reasoning, they hear you.


Around seven years ago while I was attending college, my favorite professor was a long time smoker. His job, the atmosphere, lifestyle, all contributed to his ease of continuing his smoking habit. I felt for this guy, I was closest to him more than any of my other professors by far, and it pained me to see him over those years smoking.    I could see the extra stress, the mental and physical strain on him from smoking, and knew how much better his indubitable personality and spirit would be minus the habit. I didn’t judge him, I just cared about him and wanted to help.


He was a very intelligent and articulate person, so I never felt like I was wasting my time. Now I remember brief conversations with him about him knowing the importance, and wanting to quit, but nothing lengthy or significant. I never wanted to sound pushy, or like I’m better than a smoker, because that’s never my message. It’s a fine line.


I came across some fliers at a doctor’s office from the American Cancer Society. Inside, it just simply listed a timeline from the minutes you stop smoking your last cigarette to fifteen years after, and what changes occur within the body. I was blown away, and I had no idea these things; it was amazing. So one day I casually handed one to the professor, and I believe I just simply said how I came across them and found them incredibly interesting and enlightening, that’s it.


I graduated and stayed in touch with the professor via facebook, as much as that can mean staying in touch with someone. Just a few years back almost out of nowhere I get a personal message from him that reads like this:


“Hey! I simply needed to tell you that I did indeed FINALLY quit smoking back in January! I have remembered your advice many times and the info you shared with me. I feel so much healthier even after six months as a non-smoker! I was quite surprised by your interest in my habit at the time but now just want to say thanks……so, Thanks!”


For him to take the time to reach out and give thanks is beyond words. It gave me an incredible feeling and emotion I had never felt before. All those years, you just never know how your words impact someone, or if they do. I believed in the professor, and knew that when he got to the right point in his life he would take the time and effort to go after quitting. Sometimes you just have to give that positive reinforcement, and nothing else, give them their time and their terms…but don’t give up on them, don’t quit!


Below is the actual information inside the pamphlet, taken from directly from www.cancer.org

  • 20 minutes after quitting Your heart rate and blood pressure drop. (Effect of smoking on arterial stiffness and pulse pressure amplification, Mahmud A, Feely J. 2003. Hypertension:41:183)
  • 12 hours after quitting The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. (US Surgeon General’s Report, 1988, p. 202)
  • 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting Your circulation improves and your lung function increases. (US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp.193, 194,196, 285, 323)
  • 1 to 9 months after quitting Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection. (US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp. 285-287, 304) 1 year after quitting The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s. (US Surgeon General’s Report, 2010, p. 359)
  • 5 years after quitting Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years. (A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease – The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease Fact Sheet, 2010; Tobacco Control: Reversal of Risk After Quitting Smoking. IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Vol. 11. 2007, p 341)
  • 10 years after quitting The risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. The risk of cancer of the larynx and pancreas decreases. (A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease – The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease Fact Sheet, 2010; and US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp. vi, 155, 165)
  • 15 years after quitting The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s. (Tobacco Control: Reversal of Risk After Quitting Smoking. IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Vol. 11. 2007. p 11)


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Exercise-Injury Prevention & PRICE Protocol


We exercise for a myriad of reasons. Some of these include the reduction of body fat, weight management, mental health, to feel better or just for the overall positive health benefits. However, there are certain injury prevention protocols that should be followed. The last thing any of us wants is prolonged downtime in the form of a preventable injury.’
Here are a few protocols to follow.

Always warm up prior to any exercise activity. Warming up is important as it prepares the body and the mind for physical exertion. Warming up the body increases circulation, helps ligaments, tendons and muscles loosen up and slowly moves you into the mindset of “Okay now it’s time to work out”.


I always suggest light stretching immediately after the warm-up with more intense stretching at the end of a good workout. Again it is important to get the body ready for exercise. Light stretching at the outset does this. Include stretches for the entire body with more emphasis on injury prone areas such as the hamstrings, groin area and the lower back. At the end of each workout, when your muscles are warmer and more pliable, you can move into deeper stretching, while focusing on lengthening by holding stretches longer.


It’s important to know the difference between muscles soreness, a minor twinge or strain and a more serious injury. Typical muscle soreness is normal and a condition you really want to work through. You do this by warming up, light stretching and participating in your workout with maybe light modifications to sore muscle groups.


If you feel a minor twinge or strain during your workout or during physical activity know that this is a common occurrence. Almost everyone strains or pulls a muscle or one time or another. Typically, you will feel a sharp pain followed by a dull ache. When this happens stop whatever you are doing and end your workout for the day. Use the PRICE acronym; prevention, rest, ice, compression, elevation are the typical protocol for most minor strains or pulls. Here is the PRICE protocol.


Prevention: Protect an injury from further damage. Do not put excess strain on the injured area until the pain is completely gone.

Rest: Give an injury time to heal. This is very important as many people try to return to their normal routine before the injury has healed properly and end up reinjuring the area, which in turn creates longer downtime.

Ice: Use ice (ice packs) to reduce the pain and inflammation for the first 3 to 5 days after an injury. A top orthopedist once told me if every one of his patients would ice an injury he would be out of business.

Compression: Wrap the injured area if need be to reduce swelling.

Elevation: Elevate the injury above the heart to reduce the flow of blood to the injured area and reduce the swelling as well.


A more serious injury such as a sharp, excruciating snap or pop with continued, localized pain requires greater attention. Injuries like a pulled groin muscle, bad ankle sprain or severe tendinitis need to be addressed immediately. Stop all exercise that affects an injured area and see a qualified orthopedist or doctor immediately. A qualified medical professional can advise you on the extent of the injury and the proper protocol to follow as well as your exercise guidelines.


Stay away from weekend warrior mania! I know it’s a blast to go out with the buddies on the weekends for that pickup game of hoops, flag football, tennis or mountain biking. It feels great to go back in time and participate in sporting activities you did in your youth. You just have to remember your current age and fitness condition and don’t try to turn back the clock in one day. There is nothing wrong with participating in sports; however, as you get older it becomes even more important to warm up properly and to do some light stretching before any sport or exercise activity. Injuries can and do happen so you don’t need to encourage them.


Lastly, make sure you always cool down after any exercise session or sporting event. Rehydrate and give your body some recuperation time. Improper cool down can result in greater lactic acid build up and onset muscle soreness. Dehydration and insufficient rest saps you of needed energy.


So go out and have fun. Be active, but also be smart about it.


Michael George © 2011