Pilates is usually not the first choice for people who are trying to lose weight. Most of us think about running and other cardio workouts to shed a couple of stubborn pounds.
You are absolutely right, cardio and HIT workouts burn more calories and can be effective for weight loss. However, if we turn to the science behind weight loss we will see that energy burned during physical activity is just a small fraction that is needed to lose weight. The major weight loss player is the DIET. As a rule of thumb, weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise (according to Shawn M. Talbott, PhD, nutritional biochemist and former director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic.)
Exercise is important to gain muscle mess, speed up your metabolism, shape up, improve your heart health, lower your rates of cancer and achieve many other health goals. But exercise is effective only as long as you can stick to it. It’s better to have 3 Pilates sessions a week (even though they are not burning as many calories) than go running once a month. If Pilates is your exercise of choice then it is an excellent way to lose weight and achieve your health goals (check out all surprising benefits of Pilates.)
Today I want to introduce you to Michelle Laframboise, a Pilates instructor and the creator of the online fitness and lifestyle resource Buff, Bold and Beautiful. Michelle is a STOTT certified Pilates instructor, the owner of Southern Pines Pilates who is committed to helping people improve their health and lives. She is a lifestyle and wellness coach who uses her nursing background, Pilates and Nutrition education to transform her students’ lives and help them reach their health goals.
She is ready to answer some of the toughest questions about Pilates and weight loss. But before we jump to the questions let Michelle show you some of her favorite Pilates moves that you can do anywhere.
1. Michelle, how do you combine Pilates training and nutritional counseling?
My clients know how passionate I am about nutrition and making simple upgrades to achieve faster and long-lasting results with their Pilates practice. We usually start with a simple analysis of their food log – most often the biggest issues are food timing, nutrient balance and hydration. It’s amazing the changes they see just by making sure they eat breakfast everyday and that all meals are smaller, balanced and spaced equally apart to maintain a stable blood sugar. Boom! Results … just by making those simple changes.
I like to focus first on getting more of the “good stuff” in and not on removing all of the “bad stuff”. Once people are eating more nutrient dense meals, cravings abate, blood sugar stabilizes and they end up cutting the bad stuff (processed foods, refined sugars, sugared drinks) out on their own. They realize how much better they feel when the good stuff (whole foods – veggies, fruit, raw nuts, whole grains) goes in!
With the clients who do not opt for nutritional counseling, I sneak tips and tricks in during their sessions … I can’t help it! What is the point of spending time and money on physical fitness if you aren’t feeding your body with the nutrients it needs to support the external work you are doing? Good nutrition is the most important factor in maintaining and building health, fitness and vitality!
2. What led you to creating your system of lifestyle and health coaching?
I grew up with a grandmother who made her own Kombucha, always had a big cast iron pot of millet porridge on the stove and took me to the health food store for carob and licorice root for my “treats”. Until the day she was overcome with terminal cancer, she woke up every morning at 6am to practice her yoga. I have pictures of her in her 70’s with her feet behind her head!
My mom always ate clean and dabbled in bodybuilding throughout my childhood. We both figure skated competitively.
Health and fitness were always a way of life for me.
Becoming an RN and working in the ER only fueled my need to help people not only reverse their lifestyle-related illnesses, but to prevent them in the first place. My lifestyle and health coaching system was cultivated from all of these life experiences. I’m a big believer in the importance of addressing all factors in a client’s life – there are just some things that no amount of Kale is going to fix! Emotional health is equally as important as physical health – they are inter-dependent.
Never underestimate the healing power of laughter either – I always try to find the humor in everything! It opens people’s hearts up. I love my clients and want to understand them and their lives and their challenges, hopes and dreams, so that I can help to guide them to a healthier place all around.
3. What is the best way to achieve weight loss with Pilates? What additional tools/tips can one use for success?
You can absolutely achieve weight loss with a regular, effective Pilates practice. More importantly, clients note a loss in inches and a total “re-shaping” of their physiques. Learning to constantly deeply engage the core – and understanding what your core actually IS – is fundamental. Once my clients have established the fundamentals of intentional, coordinated movement, breathing and good body awareness, the REAL fun begins!
My personal style of teaching includes a variety of influences – I also teach Booty Barre and have a fitness background, so I like to mix things up. I add in different sequences and exercises from barre and fitness into reformer classes. We use lots of props – I love resistance bands, weighted balls and over balls. I love to throw in jump board intervals. I keep them moving and always emphasize form, form and more FORM! Most importantly, we laugh. They are working hard but smiling and laughing, because its so important to connect your exercise to a feeling of enjoyment and happiness!
I also feel it’s important to mix things up and always be trying new things. Adding in a barre or spin class or even long walks, will keep the body challenged and prevent boredom. Lastly, when it comes to Pilates, it needs to continue outside of the studio. Even if it’s 15 minutes a day, establishing a home practice of select mat exercises that work for each individual will allow big leaps to happen in-studio!
4. In your opinion, what benefits does Pilates offer over traditional resistance training?
One of the major benefits of Pilates vs traditional resistance training is the development and use of STABILIZATION. Resistance training typically focuses on working one muscle group at a time and does not necessarily encourage joint stability (neck, shoulder, spine, hip and ankle). It can, in fact, destabilize joints and cause more harm than good.
PILATES, while isolating a working muscle group, simultaneously utilizes the core to stabilize every movement – this way, appropriate stabilizing muscles are deeply engaged and protecting the above mentioned joints throughout movement. The musculature of the body is worked on a broader and deeper scale. Pilates works the body safely and efficiently and I am a huge fan of efficiency!
Who wants to spend 90 minutes trying to achieve what you can in Pilates in 45?! We have busy lives!
That being said, I always tell people that whatever it is they do – traditional weight training, cycling, yoga, running – practicing Pilates will allow them to perform with far better form and efficiency and will speed their recovery and prevent injury. It is a perfect adjunct to any other physical discipline!
5. What are your 3 best tips on getting the most benefit from a Pilates workout (especially when working out at home.)?
For home based Pilates workouts, here are 3 tips to get the most benefit from the time you invest:
- Find a great online site or favorite instructor. YouTube is loaded with great channels where you can follow along with a knowledgeable instructor who will give you great, consistent cuing. I pay about $20/month to belong to Pilates Anytime and I love it – not only is it a great resource for instructors, but there is a huge selection of multi-level classes you can do from home along with some of our country’s best instructors.
- For increased fat burning, alternate Pilates exercises with short bursts of high intensity exercise like 5 minutes all out on a stationary bike, jumping rope or plyometric moves like jump squats – as long as it is safe movement for your individual body.
- Actually DO it! I know this sounds like a ridiculous tip, but home workouts are easy to avoid or put off. I know when it’s time to do mine, suddenly laundry and pressure washing my house sound like good ideas! Commit to a schedule. Put it on your calendar and treat it like you would a work meeting or a doctor’s appointment. Discipline is the key!
6. Can you share with us the most inspiring success story that you helped happen?
I have had the pleasure of experiencing many success stories with my clients, but the one that will always stand out for me was a woman in her early 50s who came to me in end stage Pancreatic cancer. The fact that she was still thinking about physical movement at that point was truly amazing. It was important to her to do something that felt nourishing to her body and mind. She never felt well during her sessions but never complained.
We just took it as slowly as she needed to and often times would talk more than move – but she always smiled during her sessions. Her weak, wasting body would come alive and she would smile. How amazing is that?! Sadly our partnership was short lived and she passed, but I was so deeply honored to be a part of her life at such a vulnerable time and she always said she felt better walking out than she did walking in. The power of Pilates 🙂
7. Please share with us your 5 best nutritional/lifestyle tips that could help anyone get healthier and get the body of their dreams.
This is no re-invention of the wheel, but I swear by these!
- Use organic, virgin coconut oil for everything! I take a tablespoon every morning. I use it to cook. I mix baking soda with it to cleanse and exfoliate my face. I condition my hair and cuticles with it. I use it under my eyes at night and on my lashes, that I swear are longer and thicker! Coconut oil has unbelievable properties – anti-microbial, healing, metabolism booster, increases skin texture and elasticity and improves immune function to name a few. Just use it, you won’t regret it!
- Drink a minimum of 2 liters of water a day and add organic lemon slices! Lemon brightens teeth, aids in digestion and is a potent detoxifier. I also love to add a dandelion root tea bag with a tablespoon of pure lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of pure organic cranberry juice on days I feel bloated – dandelion root is a natural detoxifier and mild diuretic, so this drink hydrates, cleanses and de-bloats you – sign me up!
- Make a smoothie everyday and LOAD it FULL of nutrients! Smoothies are the easiest way to get a bazillion nutrients in at once. There are a million and one ways of making them to keep you satisfied and enjoying them.
Use purified water or a non-dairy product like unsweetened almond or coconut milk. Hempseed milk is great as well, as it contains the highest amount of naturally occurring Omega fatty acids.
Add a handful of ice. I use a quarter of an avocado for the good fats and its thickening properties – it makes a nice smooth smoothie!
As far as fruit goes, frozen berries are best as they are low on the glycemic index. Sometimes I will add a half of a banana or a few frozen peach slices. Use organic fruit when available. Add a tablespoon of chia seeds – they are chock full of Omegas and swell in liquid, allowing you to stay fuller for a longer period of time. Finally. throw in a big old handful of baby kale or spinach – or a cap full of greens powder.
- EAT BREAKFAST within an hour of rising and continue to eat smaller, well balanced meals (think lean protein, good complex carbs and good fats ) throughout the day every 3 hours. If you don’t plan out what you will be eating the next day, this easily falls by the wayside, so get in the habit of making food ahead of time – hard boiled eggs, grilled chicken, cut up raw veggies.
- Cut out or at least cut way down on wheat and dairy. This is due to the way they are manufactured these days more so than anything. There are entire books written on this. Because of genetic engineering of wheat, there are tens of brand new gluten proteins created that our bodies don’t know how to process. This is causing symptoms like brain fog, irritability, fatigue, bloating, digestion issues and weight gain. No thanks! Dairy is also a very common irritant to many that don’t realize it. There are so many healthy alternatives these days that it’s not hard to go dairy and wheat free. It has made a huge difference for many of my clients as well as for myself.
- BONUS: SLEEP! I need to take my own advice on this one! A consistent lack of sleep wreaks more havoc on our bodies than one could imagine! Never mind the dull skin and black circles under our eyes … it interferes with normal hormonal release and function and can effect things like hunger, satiety, cravings and metabolism! get your ZZZs!
Stay in touch with Michelle on her website Buff, Bold and Beautiful where you can download her free resource 3 Simple Secrets to Get Buff, Bold and Beautiful.