Have you ever stood in front of the mirror right before going out and thought, "I usually look better than this"? It recently occurred to me one night--somewhere between the 12th and 13th outfit--that maybe it was how I was feeling, and not how I actually looked. I couldn't bear asking my husband the dreaded question "Do I look fat in this?" So how was I going to lose the insecurities, ditch the negativity, and get out the door in 10 minutes?
I quit obsessing and started into a series of Pilates exercises that I knew were challenging, but always made me feel great. The adrenalin from this quick workout made me feel refreshed, brought color into my cheeks, and totally checked my crappy mood. Sure enough, when I stood up and put my first outfit back on, although I probably weighed exactly the same as I did when I started getting ready, I found that I actually looked and felt better. Here is the quick fix: a five-minute series of exercises that delivers a tummy-tightening, butt-boosting, mood-enhancing blast!
What you will need: A towel, enough space to lie down, and five minutes to spare.
Series of exercises: The Roll Down, Kneeling Side kicks (In this position there are four exercises: Front / Back, Bicycle, Small Circles, and Up / Down, then repeat on the other side), Push Ups and Child's Pose.
The Roll Down:
I started with this exercise because it lengthens the spine, and naturally draws the abdominal muscles in. This exercise also relaxes the shoulders, which makes you look and feel better. When you concentrate on regulating your breathing, you can focus on making your whole body work in unison, instead of letting the mind pull your ego apart.
Sit with your knees bent and place your hands behind your legs. Keeping your feet on the floor,
lower your head and pull your waist in. Inhale, as you roll your spine down onto the floor keeping a curved position. Exhale, and continue to round your spine as you come forward, repeat 10 times.
I chose Crisscross next because twisting the waist helps blast muffin top, and is great for bringing definition to the abdominals.
Lie flat on the floor with hands behind your head. Using a slow and controlled tempo simultaneously lift and twist your torso bringing the elbow and knee together. Relax your head back down to the floor between sides. For an added challenge, try to lift and twist your body higher to meet the knee, instead of bringing the knee all the way in to the chest. Repeat 10 times.
Kneeling Side Kicks:
This is the center of the workout because it targets the butt and sometimes even more importantly, below and beside the butt!!! Remember, this is a five minute workout so keep your leg at hip height even when your leg gets tired. Your abs, arms and legs are working during these exercises as well, butt....
Facing the long side of your towel, tip over and place one hand on the ground, as you simultaneously lift and lengthen one leg up and out in the opposite direction. Eyes are focused straight ahead and the leg is held out at hip height.
1. Kick the leg to the front and back smoothly, slowly and with control 10 times.
2. Bicycle the leg to the front, and then reverse it to the back. Five times each way.
3. Make 10 small, slow and controlled circles forward, then reverse the direction for 10 more.
4. Lift the leg up and then half way down. Repeat 5-10 times. Repeat from beginning for other leg.
I have yet to see anyone walk away from a push up without feeling like they hadn't really done something, in addition to making your arms look great. Go for your maximum, but don't get super sweaty...
Pilates push ups are done with a strong center, that means don't sway your back. Repeat 5-10 times. If you can't actually do a push up, just hold the position for 5-10 counts.
Simply sit on your heels and let your forehead rest on the ground in front of your knees. Any variation of this stretch will work as well.