Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

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Archive for June, 2010

Ball of the Foot

Posted by terrepruitt on June 29, 2010

We often step on the ball of our foot.  We often call it the toe.  The Ball of the foot is one of the 52 Moves of Nia.  Ballerinas are actually on their toes and they do it in special shoes that have a support in them where their toes are.  We usually are stepping onto the BALL of our foot when we step on the “toe”.  It is the ball portion of the foot that supports the weight when we are “on our toes”.

This is plantar flexion and assists with keeping the ankle joint flexible.  If you are standing on the foot you are flexing it can also assist with strength.

In a Nia workout class we do all types of movement and sometimes we are using the ball of our foot.  We could be stepping or standing.  The moment might call for us stepping ONTO the ball either forward, back, or even laterally.  Or it could be that we are standing and just rising up. This could be a position where we stay either in a display of balance or it could be a display of agility, a temporary place where we quickly move onto another move.  Either way it is all part of how the body was designed to be moved.

It might be a nice idea to keep in mind that moving and working the foot in different ways than it is used to being worked might cause some muscle soreness or tenderness through the entire leg.  If you are never on your the ball of your feet and suddenly your dancing a few moments on them, your calves might remind you of it later that day or even the next day.  Same goes for the whole foot, if you are not in the habit of moving on the whole foot your ENTIRE leg could end up letting you know you worked some leg muscles.

As with the whole foot, the ball of the foot can be used in the stances of Nia.

Just as I have done with the heel lead and the whole foot, I am going to suggest that you take note of this foot position.  As you walk notice when your stride gets to the point of the ball of your foot.  As you reach for something on the top shelf and you balance on your toes, notice the flex of your foot and the muscles in your calves.  As you walk through your day notice the ball of your foot.

Posted in 52 Moves (of Nia), Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Whole Foot

Posted by terrepruitt on June 26, 2010

Using the whole foot is another one of Nia’s 52 Moves. The whole foot is used for secure stability. It is a powerful base.

Moving on the whole foot or just standing on the whole foot–either on both feet or just one foot allows for the bones in the feet to act as support for the entire body. Stepping or standing on the whole foot can bring rest to either the heel or the ball of the foot. The whole foot stance or movement calls different muscles in the foot and the leg into play.  If you are accustomed to standing and/or walking on the balls of your feet, this technique might be a challenge to your leg muscles.

Stepping onto the whole foot encourages a gentle flex in the knee so as to help absorb any shock that might be felt as the whole foot touches the ground.

There are times in a Nia class when we actually dance on the whole foot—you might recognize the whole foot dancing as what Carlos (Rosas now known as AyaRosas) called micro dancing. We use the whole foot to gently slap the earth. Moving around the space. We might stomp, bringing the foot to rest gently on the ground.

The whole foot is the middle of a stride in the heel lead walk. We sometimes will step onto the whole foot instead of the heel or the ball, this as I mentioned, can be a restful for the heel or ball if you normally step on it either. The whole foot can be used in all of the stances.

While you move through your day, be aware of your feet. Notice when you are on your whole foot. Take a moment to shift your weight from foot to foot. Sense the stability and power in your base, in your whole foot.

Posted in 52 Moves (of Nia), Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Heel Lead

Posted by terrepruitt on June 24, 2010

Often times in a Nia routine we are stepping or even walking. Since Nia’s movements are based upon the way the body was designed to move a Nia routine is often created with the step to be done with a heel lead.  The Heel Lead is one of Nia’s 52 Moves.

A lot of different types of dancing is done on the ball of the foot, cha-cha, two step, etc. Some dances are done on the toe as in ballet. With Nia we often are using our heel to lead and not the toe or the ball of the foot. This is a challenge sometimes. Sometimes it seems easier to step onto the ball of the foot or the toe. Using the heel lead technique really allows for our ankles to move through the full range of motion.

In addition to allowing the foot to move as it should, stepping on the heel gives the ball of the foot a chance to rest. If it is one’s habit to walk on the ball of the foot it can sometimes become a source of pain. The foot in its very architecture was designed to have the weight (when stepping) borne on the heel not the ball of the foot.

While I am leading a Nia class I frequently say, “Heel lead.” And most times it is to remind myself to use my heel. I tend to start dancing on the balls of my feet.

A lot of women’s high heeled shoes do not allow for a heel lead. In the case of some of the shoes if the heel were to lead and the weight were to be place on it, it would collapse. I know many, many women who love their high heels for so many reasons. I am not saying that people shouldn’t wear them, but I am saying that we dance Nia in bare feet, the routines are designed to allow the body to move as it was created, so embrace the heel lead.

Right now, if you are not wearing shoes that would inhibit the heel lead, try it. As you walk through your day actually consciously, place your heel down (not roughly, just place it down) first then roll through your foot. Notice how your ankle flexes and extends. Practice the heel lead. Enjoy the heel lead.

Posted in 52 Moves (of Nia), Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Apricots and Plums – Peaking

Posted by terrepruitt on June 22, 2010

Someone pointed me in the direction of this great map that indicates what fruits and vegetables are at the peak of the season in a particular state in a particular month.  I need assistance with that because I have never learned that.

This month it is June.  I’m in California.  Not only am I in California, I am in the Bay Area, the San Francisco Bay Area.  In the South Bay.  I have said before that we are very fortunate here in the San Jose Area because we have great weather.  The map does not give specific locations as to what grows where, but I was able to get some plums and apricots off of a friend’s tree(s) (They didn’t come off of the same tree).

I ate only one apricot.  I will save the rest for my hubby because he likes them more than I do.  It was very good.  Very sweet and rich.  The plums are in varying stages of ripeness.  But so far all of the ones I have had are sweet and delicious.  I had a couple for breakfast before my Nia class this morning.

I am thinking of different ways we can eat the plums.  Besides just popping the entire thing in our mouths.  Since even the ones that aren’t that ripe are sweet I was thinking I could cut some up and throw them in a green salad.  No matter the ripeness I could put them in an aluminum foil package of chicken or pork and cook that.  Mmmm.  I think that I am going to do a lot more cooking with fruit this summer, just to try new things.

Do you cook with fruit?  What fruits and vegetables are in peak season right now in your state?

Posted in Food, Fruit | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

Fruit Not Fat

Posted by terrepruitt on June 19, 2010

Fruit not fat promotes swapping fruit for fat, like applesauce in place of butter or oil.  Well, they have organized a swap.  They will swap your food that is unhealthy for healthier options. Cool. That is definitely one way to eat better, yes? For 90 days Saturday, June 19, 2010 Fruit Not Fat will trade you better-for-you-food for your greasy chips, sodas, oil. Whatever weight you bring in, they will give you that amount back —- in other products! Send it to them or bring it to them.**

Here are some examples:

Bring:  Cooking Oil               leave with: applesauce

Bring:  greasy potato chips or other greasy snack items      leave with: Popchips

Bring: any granola with oil in the ingredient list (like Bear Naked granola)      leave with: Galaxy Granola (which is cooked with applesauce)

Bring:   soft drinks      leave with: 100% juice

Bring:   sugar snacks      leave with: fruit mashups

Bring:  candy bars, snack mix and cheese puff bags      leave with: fresh, tasty fruit

They are also giving away three gift certificates for $250 (each) to Whole Foods. One on Saturday 06/19/10) to the person who BRINGS the biggest net weight of fat products to swap, one to the person who mails in the biggest net weight of fat products within the 90 days, and one to the person who swaps the most fat from their diet. (see their website for details)

Yes, it is somewhat of a marketing project. I think that the people that started Fruit Not Fat are out to help people swap fruit for fat and they had this great idea and they got sponsored. That is a great thing. So the sponsors want you to try their products. But so what . . . . it seems pretty win-win to me. You get to eat healthy and try new things. Sounds like a good project to me.

**San Francisco Bay Area: They will be swapping Saturday, June 19, 2010, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Whole Foods in Palo Alto.

Posted in Food, Fruit | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Eating Better is Easy

Posted by terrepruitt on June 17, 2010

Eating better is easy.  “Better” can mean so many things.  Everything can be improved upon . . . generally, and when it comes to our diets it is usually, not “generally”.  So eating “better” is easy.

Eating better could be a matter of fitting some water into your diet.  Maybe have a glass of water to replace a soda–even better than just adding a glass of water.  Maybe eating one less fast food meal a day.  If you generally eat two fast food meals a day, cutting out two would even be better.  Have a side salad or the steam veggie option instead of fries—better.  Having the smaller cut of meat or the leaner cut of meat—better.

Bringing a healthy lunch from home instead of eating at the roach coach—better.  Putting less sugar in your coffee—better.  Having a green salad with a meal, if you normally don’t—better.  Have a piece of fruit instead of a candy bar—better.  Eating popcorn instead of potato chips—better.

For me eating better is eating less.  I don’t drink soda or eat fast food, but I could use to eat less of even the good things I do eat.  I could also swap some simple carbohydrates for some more complex ones.

What about you?  Can you find some ways to make your diet better as in more nutritious?  Might you need to cut a few calories to make it better?  What ideas do you have?  Might you try any of the ideas mentioned here?  What are you willing to do to make your diet better?

Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Broccoli – An Amazing Food

Posted by terrepruitt on June 15, 2010

Broccoli is one of those vegetables that can be eaten raw or cooked.  When eaten raw people sometimes smother it in dip. While that does not take away from the nutrients of the broccoli itself it somewhat might help in defeating the purpose of eating healthy.  But that is fodder for another post.

A common way to cook broccoli is to steam it or boil it. One way to easily steam it is to stand the crowns up like little trees in a dish of shallow water and microwave it for a few seconds.  It depends on how much you want it cooked.  The less cooked better preserves the nutrients.  Boiling it might cook away some of the amazing nutrients that have been attributed to broccoli.

The amazing part of the nutrients of broccoli is that is has so many.  It is high in vitamin C, K, A, and is high in fiber.  It is believed to have anti cancer properties, such as sulforaphane and indoles which are phytonutrients.  This are nutrients found in plants that are thought to be nutrients that might help keep our bodies in check and in balance and not contribute to cancer.

Broccoli has been found to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

It might not smell pleasant while cooking it or after, but that is the sulfur that you smell.

1 cup of steamed broccoli has:

—over 100% of the Daily Value of vitamins C and K
—45% of the Daily Value of vitamin A
—20% of the Daily Value of dietary fiber
—15% of the Daily Value of potassium
—10% of the Daily Value of magnesium
—almost 10% of the Daily Value of protein and calcium

Broccoli has more vitamin C than an orange and more calcium than a glass of milk.  It really is a wonder vegetable.  Remember frozen CAN be just as good as “fresh”.

Broccoli has been found to help prevent heart disease.

Broccoli.  Are you a fan?  How do you eat yours?

Posted in Food, Vegetables | Tagged: , , , , , | 10 Comments »


Posted by terrepruitt on June 12, 2010

So I mentioned, in the old days we were taught to static stretch before exercise or working out.  But research is showing that this is not really keeping people from getting injured and might actually do the opposite of what we used to think.  It is not the best way to ready a muscle for a workout.

The best way is movement.  Get the body moving.  There are two types of warm-ups and many ways to do either.  The first is just a full body warm up something like easy jumping jacks, or jumping rope, or jogging in place, or lunges.  This gets the heart pumping, and the blood to the entire body.  The other type is more exercise specific, say you were warming up before a golf game, then you would just mimic the movements you would do while you were playing golf but at a slower pace and a lower intensity level, and stretching the muscles in a dynamic stretch.  If tennis is the exercise gently swinging the racket and/or hitting a few balls get the body ready for the task it is about to undertake.  The dynamic stretch is where we are extending the muscle but gently as it moves, whereas a static stretch is stretching the muscle and holding it.

Whichever method you choose the idea is to gently warm up the body and the muscles.  Movement is the best way to get the body ready to move.  The practice of static stretching before a workout is being proven to do the opposite.  It is stopping the body’s motion.  Moving the entire body or concentrating on the muscles are about to work is now the preferred way to warm up before a workout.

In Nia classes we warm-up doing both methods to get the entire body warm.  We might start the Nia workout using one body part – dynamically stretching – as we sense the music, but most often, by the time the first song is over we have warmed up the entire body; muscles, lungs, and heart.  The blood is starting to move in preparation for the get moving portion of the workout.  Nia also employs a bit of stretching in the cool down and floorplay to assist in giving the body a well rounded workout

So where are you in the warm up arena?  Do you participate in the latest idea for warming up?  If you move to warm up what type do you do, the general or the exercise specific?

Posted in Exercise and Working Out | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Stretching BEFORE Workout

Posted by terrepruitt on June 10, 2010

When I was young the thing to do, what we were taught to do, before exercise was to stretch.  Static stretching, moving into a position that stretches the muscle, then hold it for about 30 seconds.  The idea was to stretch every muscle in the body, from the top to the bottom or the bottom to the top.  This was considered a proper warm-up.  This was the correct way to get our bodies ready for exercise.  This we were told would prevent injury. Research and knowledge has changed that.

With advances in exercise technology and body knowledge, it is now a popular belief that this type of stretching, static stretching could actual harm the muscles or in the very least keep them from operating at their peak.  Some researchers believe that stretching before exercise actually causes the muscle to contract and tire, therefore not perform as efficiently.

A study done by the University of Nevada found that athlete’s muscle strength was decreased by as much as 30%.  If a muscles strength is decreased you are either going to be able to do less or injure yourself trying to do more than you muscle is able to do at the time.

So many of us have been taught to warm up this way for so long it is difficult for us to let go and to move on to the correct way to warm up.  This type of stretching — static stretch — is best left for the purpose of improving flexibility (and strength in the case of asanas) and is best done after a workout (unless it IS your workout as in the case of a yoga).  What type of warm up do you do?  Do you stretch before or after a workout?

Posted in Exercise and Working Out | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Conscious Personal Trainer

Posted by terrepruitt on June 8, 2010

In Nia you are your own CPT.  In some circles that stands for Certified Personal Trainer.  In Nia it stands for Conscious Personal Trainer.  You are responsible for your body, its movements, and its health.

If you were to hire me as your Personal Trainer you would complete a Health and Behavior Questionnaire.  We would discuss it, along with your health concerns, and your goals.  We would work together to create a fitness plan that would help you reach your goals.  We would have one-on-one sessions so I could observe, coach, and assist you when necessary.

In a class setting there is no Questionnaire that we discuss.  We have not discussed all of the things you want to address and the things you want to work on.  We have not discussed your concerns at length.  A class setting is different than a one-on-one personal training session.  You know your history your goals and how you feel at that moment.  It is up to you to set your pace and intensity level for that class.

It is up to you to be your own coach.  Be aware of what is going on in your body so that you can make adjustments to your movements.  It is up to you to do it in a non-judgmental way.  You have all of the information:  your fitness goals, your health history, your behavior history, how you feel that moment, you know your own energy level, and the status of your emotions.  It is up to you to tune into all of that and to use it to receive the work you need at that moment.  Move your body in a way that brings comfort. 

Every day might be different, with each kata it could change as I have stated before when talking about the different (Intensity) Levels of Teaching, there are different levels of doing.  As you move and you become more aware of how your body moves and what you sense as you move you will be able to tweak it so that you are able to move in comfort, but also reach the goals you have.  You will become an experience conscious personal trainer.

Posted in Nia | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »