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by Heynia Loro-Cooley

6365669707_432874944f_bFinding a complimentary exercise regimen to incorporate while trying to lose weight can be a bit challenging. This is especially true when the extra weight is causing strain, inflammation, and pressure on the joints such as the hips and knees. For every pound of extra weight carried on the body, four pounds of pressure are experienced on the joints.

In addition to being a weight loss educator with GreenLite, I run a Pilates studio in Almaden with my sister called Almaden Pilates. I frequently work with clients who are overweight and looking to implement a joint safe workout plan to get them moving and developing core strength, stability, postural alignment, and flexibility. A weight loss program combined with Pilates, can compliment each other beautifully. As the weight reduces, a lean, strong, and healthy body emerges.

So what is the “core?” The main muscles of the core are the abdominals, obliques, and back muscles. All movement of our limbs should come from our core. To better explain the idea of a healthy core, I often use the analogy of a tree. The trunk of the tree is the base support and connects to the roots, branches, and leaves. Likewise, our core is in the center of our body and provides the same stability, balance, and connections to the body as a tree does. The core muscles work together with the hips, shoulders, and neck to maintain spinal alignment. If something in our core is misaligned, weak, or not working properly, another part of our body will be affected.

Pilates focuses on specific and intentional movements coordinated with inhaling and exhaling. In order to move the body, one has to be aware and focused on how the body is positioned so that movement supports the body’s optimal position. One of the reasons people are successful losing weight with Pilates is because they become much more aware of their bodies and in turn take better care of their body and make better food choices. Additionally, while losing weight and realigning posture, the body’s center of gravity changes, and movement becomes more centered and energized all at the same time. Along with developing a healthy awareness of the body and how to effectively and properly move, there are several ways Pilates can help you become more trim and toned and help with weight loss.

At Greenlite we encourage our clients to maintain and, if possible, increase lean body mass. Creating lean body mass is one of the best ways to increase your calorie ­burning potential. Pilates is basically a form of strength training, utilizing resistance to increase strength and, hence, lean body mass. Many Pilates studios use resistance bands, weights, springs, and different apparatus to increase the load to the muscles.

When it comes to weight loss, seeing is believing! One of the best ways to look and feel thinner is to have good posture. Pilates improves posture by firming not only your abdominals but your back, too. All Pilates work is performed with proper body alignment and attention to posture. By establishing optimal spinal alignment, you can facilitate better circulation, improve lymphatic flow, and increase stamina of the muscles along the spine. Not only will toned spinal muscles help you continue to lose weight via increased metabolism, standing up straight will automatically make you look thinner and, thereby, increase your confidence, as well.

Of course, any Pilates regimen for weight loss is not complete without a bit of cardio. Combining the strength training benefits of Pilates with a consistent cardio workout can accelerate weight loss and help you tone up twice as fast as doing either routine on its own. Cardio exercises such as walking, hiking, biking, or swimming are examples of ways to get the heart, lungs, and muscles going.

With all the great benefits that Pilates has for the body, why not give it a try and facilitate your weight loss efforts for a total body makeover?

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