Angela Rauter, AP, DOM, LMT, Pilates | Blog
Pilates Conditioning for Weight Loss
A one-hour Pilates session can burn up to 430 calories, according to the Health Status website. Additional Pilates benefits that may increase your weight loss include improved alignment and posture, increased energy and deeper breathing, according to Lynne Robinson, author of "Pilates for Weight Loss." Perform five repetitions of each exercise in this weight-loss circuit, and then repeat until you reach 30 minutes of exercise. Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
Half Rolldowns
Sit upright on your mat with your knees bent and feet flat. Place a 9-inch inflated ball between your knees and hold it behind your thighs. Scoop your navel in as you round your spine back into a "C" shape. Squeeze the ball with your knees to activate your inner thighs and your lower abdominal muscles, according to Robinson. As you round your back, walk your hands down your legs to bring your torso halfway to the mat. Scoop your belly in a little deeper as you return to upright.

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Bridge Curls
Lie on your mat with your feet flat and knees bent. Hold the small ball between your knees and reach your fingertips toward your hips. Press in to your feet and lift your tailbone off the mat. Scoop your navel in as you peel your lower back off the mat. Continue lifting until you reach your ribcage, but leave your ribcage on the mat. Squeeze the small ball and pulse your hips up and down in 1-inch increments. Perform five pulses, then lower down one vertebra at a time.
Bridge Squeezes
Lie on your mat with your feet flat and knees bent. Hold the small ball between your knees and extend your arms along your sides. Tilt your pelvis to lift your tailbone, then your lower back and then your ribcage off the mat. Your torso and thighs should create one long line. Squeeze the small ball five times, and then roll your spine down to the mat.
Criss Cross
Lie on your mat with your feet flat and knees bent. Hold the small ball between your knees and place your hands behind your head with your elbows wide. Twist to the right, lifting your left elbow and shoulder blade off the mat. Twist so far that you can see your right elbow. Hold this position for three slow breaths, and then slowly roll down. Repeat to the other side. Keep your elbows wide and initiate your movements from your ribcage. Do not pull on your neck.

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Weight Loss Benefits of Massage
There is no question that having a massage makes you feel great. Even having a deep-tissue, sports massage makes you feel wonderful afterwards. Massage can relieve stress, help you recover from hard physical activity or injury and even reduce anxiety, but can it help you to achieve your weight loss goals?
Research shows that massage can have a positive effect on your muscle-building capabilities and fitness levels, which in turn increases your capacity to control or loose weight.
Healthy strong muscles burn calories and give you the freedom to participate in all sorts of sports and activities that can help you burn excess calories and improve your overall fitness and wellbeing.
Massage has the following benefits that can directly influence your ability to control or loose weight:
1. Massage has been shown to improve circulation and the supply of nutrition to the muscles. Massage increases the interchange of vital substances between the blood and tissue cells, which increases tissue metabolism. After muscles are exercised, vital nutrients must be supplied to them so that they can recover and rebuild themselves. Massage maximizes the supply of these nutrients and oxygen though increased blood flow, which helps the muscles to grow and burn more calories as a result.
2. Massage improves your muscles' range of motion and their flexibility. This allows them to maintain maximum power and performance while active, and burn the maximum number of calories in the process.
3. Massage helps to shorten the recovery time needed between your workouts. Waste products such as lactic and carbonic acid build up in muscles during and after exercise. Increased circulation to these muscles helps to eliminate toxic debris buildup caused by these waste products and in doing so shorten recovery time.
4. Massage can also help reduce the chance of you over-training. Massage has a relaxing effect on the muscles and a sedative effect on the nervous system. By helping you to rest, which is a very important element of any exercise program, massage can reduce the likelihood of you experiencing over-training syndrome, which is known to limit your ability to build strong healthy muscles and therefore loose weight with maximum efficiency.
5. In addition to all of the above, massage may directly aid in fat loss. According to some research studies, massage is thought to be able to burst the fat capsule in subcutaneous tissue so that the fat exudes and becomes absorbed. In this way, combined with proper nutrition and exercise, massage may actually help in weight loss.
6. As we have already touched upon, massage helps prevent and heal injuries. By stretching connective tissue, massage improves circulation to help prevent or break down adhesions and scar tissue that result from muscle tears and other common muscle injuries. Massage also influences the excretion of certain fluids (nitrogen, phosphorous, sulfur) that aid in tissue repair. Fast and effective recovery from injuries means that you can begin exercising sooner after suffering an injury and getting your weight loss progress back on track.
So there you have it. Massage has a lot of benefits that can indirectly and possibly even directly aid you in achieving your weight loss goals.
Regular massage is just as important a component as regular workouts and correct nutrition in any comprehensive fitness and weight loss program, which is great news for those of us who thought that exercising and losing weight was all hard work! Remember, weight loss is all about leading a balanced lifestyle and massage is an essential part of any balanced lifestyle.
If you haven't had a massage lately, what are you waiting for? Get on the phone and make yourself a booking. If you haven't had a massage before, just remember to have your massage done by a qualified massage therapist.
And remember, have fun!
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Dr. Oz's Take on Acupuncture for Weight Loss
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Chinese acupuncture is finally getting under the skin of dieters by tapping into the body's many hidden energy meridians. The ancient practice of acupuncture helps to heal a host of ailments, and practitioners of Western medicine now embrace it to quell chronic pain, postoperative pain, nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, addictions and weight loss. When fine needles are barely inserted into the skin along strategic points on the body it can restore balance to the flow of energy along rivers of Qi (pronounced chee), or life force.

There are many reasons people become overweight - hormone imbalances, slowed metabolism, overeating, poor nutrition and lack of exercise are some of the most common.

Using acupuncture to tackle weight loss is a multi-pronged approach.

Pinning Down the Benefits
The rationale for using acupuncture for weight control is based in the premise that weight gain could be the result of disturbed energy flow to and from the regulating center of the brain, called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is responsible for maintaining "homeostasis" or functional balance that allows the body to run like a finely tuned instrument. It is the body's dispatch center that regulates hormones and neurochemicals, and helps to control body temperature, circadian rhythm, thirst and hunger.

Of particular interest is the ability of acupuncture to influence obesity hormones. Research measuring the effectiveness of acupuncture for weight loss found treatments increased ghrelin, a hormone that controls meal initiation and decreased leptin, the hormone that regulates fat storage and metabolism.

The guiding principal is that acupuncture can power up any other weight control strategy by curbing appetite, quelling cravings, boosting metabolism, improving digestion, regulating obesity-related hormones and enhancing the way nutrients are used. It also strengthens the function of the liver, the organ that produces many chemicals critical for digestion, processing nutrients and breaking down of fats. Acupuncture may also increase tone in the smooth muscle of the stomach to help people know that they are full.

Earmark of Acupuncture
To pinpoint the Qi for effective weight control, acupuncturists take aim at 4 acupuncture points on the ear - the hunger point, Shen Men point, stomach point, and endocrine point. A few tiny sterilized needles are inserted along these invisible channels to decrease the "heat" generated along these meridians and to stimulate centers that trigger the release of neurochemicals and hormones.

During some courses of treatment, the needles are covered with tape so that they can be left in place for a few days. Patients later remove them at home or during follow-up visits to the acupuncturist. Some practitioners may also use "ear seeds" that patient wear home that can be massaged periodically to help with difficult-to-control urges.

Guidance For Using Acupuncture For Weight Loss
Choose a qualified practitioner - Most states require that acupuncturists be licensed to assure that they have completed the necessary education and training standards to practice. You may see L.Ac. (licensed acupuncturist) following his or her name. Acupuncturists may also be medical doctors or other medical professional who have completed a postgraduate program of study.
Complete a full course of treatment - Acupuncture for weight loss is best achieved with 10 treatments delivered over a few weeks.
Follow a comprehensive weight-loss plan - Acupuncture should be used alongside a comprehensive weight-loss plan, like the Dr. Oz Diet that includes healthy food choices coupled with exercise.
Don't Confuse Treatments -- Although ear stapling is loosely based on the concept of acupuncture, it is an imprecise method that uses surgical staples that penetrate the cartilage of the ear, which is know to promote infection.
Acupuncture for Weight Loss
Here's an inspiring article about how a new Mom got her body back...

After the birth of her second son, Allison, 25, found herself in the same situation as many other new moms with a few pounds left to lose and no idea how to do it. While she tried cleaning up her diet and she was a regular at the gym, the weight wasn't budging, so this mom turned to something a little less conventional: acupuncture. "I went into the chiropractor for my first time to get adjusted and have acupuncture done for my back problems,” she says. "I was asking about all the things acupuncture can help with and she mentioned weight loss. My eyes lit up and I said 'sign me up, when can I start?'"

"At first it was easy," Allison says. "I just had to lay there while I got pricked all over my body (which actually felt kind of good) and then lay still for another 30 minutes after the last needle was inserted. It was a dark room with relaxing music. It was a nice break!" But things took a strange turn when the acupuncturist "hooked the needles on my stomach up to a battery that pulsed electricity into them. Now that was a weird feeling. My abs were sore the next day!"

In addition to the weekly hour-long acupuncture sessions, the acupuncturist taped a small magnet to her ear that she was supposed to squeeze every time she felt hungry—a practice said to use the magnet's south polarity "to restore areas of weakness or deficiency in your system that can cause food cravings." Allison laughs, "Yeah, I got some weird looks with that."

But what about results? Did she get her pre-baby abs back? After 12 weeks of weekly appointments, she reports, "I feel that overall, it worked. It wasn't quick by any means. I lost about 1-2 lbs a week. The magnet worked as well. It actually took my appetite away the majority of the time, but I learned it doesn't help when you eat out of boredom.” She adds, "I would do it again. The only reason I stopped was because it became a conflict with my schedule."

However, for people looking for a quick fix, Allison cautions, "This isn't magic. You still need to eat right and exercise regularly. It just helps give you an extra boost along the way." (Check out my blog to see pictures and read more about Allison's experiment with acupuncture.)