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Shape up like the stars

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Side straight leg lift: Start on your hands and knees. Take your right leg out as far as you can to the side. Point your foot and take your leg as high as you can towards the ceiling. Take your leg a bit higher than your hip, touch your toes to the ground and take it back up. Repeat 20 times for three sets each side. Picture: Marilyn Bernard

Having read plenty about Tracy Anderson online, I was curious enough to try out her programme. Her method involves doing her specific bodyweight mat work for 10 consecutive days, then adding new moves for the next 10 days, and then more new moves for the next 10 days.

Which means that for 30 days you are constantly challenging your body.

The method includes a cardio routine involving dancing which is great for those who want to exercise in the privacy of their own home or when it suits them.

Lastly, Anderson advises a carefully mapped-out eating plan.

Once I got the angles right, I found the exercises easy to do and liked them because anyone can do them, anywhere.

After six weeks I noticed a visible change.

However, I don’t know anyone who could follow a programme rigidly and I added my favourite workout exercises as well, such as squats, lunges and rocket bag work.

I also didn’t follow any diet, I simply made healthy food choices. I keep my weight under control by avoiding carbohydrates after 3pm and having one “cheat meal” a week.

I have never been overweight, and as a professional trainer I am sure I have an advantage; however, what I liked about the programme is the way in which it helped sculpt my body.

What Anderson’s method does is target the smaller, secondary muscle groups she calls accessory muscles.

We tend to forget to work these smaller muscles when we focus on the larger ones.

The method is great for sculpting, elongating and eventually creating a smaller body structure.

By changing the sequence every 10 days, your muscles are always challenged and alert while you tighten the skin, burn the fat and tone up.

The cardio component is high-intensity and therefore raises the heart rate to burn excess calories and that layer of fat on top of the muscle.

In the linked gallery a few exercises to work those smaller muscles. - The Mercury

* Also see www.gijane.co.za

Superfoods for all ages

These are what Tracy Anderson recommends as being almost essential superfoods necessary to help stay in tip-top condition.

Apples

All of the age-old adages about apples are absolutely true. You need to include apples in your diet because they are loaded with powerful antioxidants, particularly in the skin. Apple peels contains five times more polyphenols than the flesh. Apples are also great because they are sweet and crunchy and can add a lot to a bland meal. Great for when you are craving something sweet but want to make a healthy choice.

Blueberries

Another fruit that you should eat as often as possible. Blueberries are great for anti-aging purposes and they have also been shown to improve brain function. They are high in potassium and Vitamin C, which can lower your risk of heart disease. Eat a handful each morning if possible – never underestimate berries.

Cabbage

Cabbage helps your immune system, kills bacteria and viruses, and is a really versatile superfood. If you eat red cabbage you can also get the incredible anti-cancer benefits. Mix a bunch of shredded cabbage in a salad, season with an oil-free lemon dressing and add a nutrient rich topping like seeds.

Fish

It is critical to have Omega 3 in your diet, and it is most prevalent in cold water fish, such as wild salmon. Avoid farmed fish if possible, and try to season lightly without oil. Fish have also been shown to reduce heart disease, and the fatty variety also helps alleviate depression.

In your 20s you want to focus on foods that have great preventative properties such as apricots and cucumbers. Both of these are so great for your skin. It’s a good idea to eat a lot of raspberries because of the cancer fighting properties.

In your 30s I always suggest having kale, a form of cabbage, in your diet, but it’s especially important to include kale because of the folic acid, which is great for pregnancy and women trying to become pregnant. You want to eat foods that have polyphenols, fight cancer, and decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. Examples of these are black tea, green tea, and strawberries.

In your 40s you should eat a lot of cranberries. They strengthen capillaries and can improve vision. It’s also a good idea to enjoy black tea and raisins because they have pro-anthocyanidins antioxidants that are part of flabanoid family. Chestnuts are also great in your 40s because they help protect against vascular damage. – www.tracyandersonmethod.com

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