Ask Mary Helen - Part 4

When standing my feet tend to roll in or pronate. Any tips on how to correct it? Any exercises that can strengthen the correct muscles?

Pronating can lead to a slew of injuries so this is a bad habit worth correcting! For starters I would say the more aware you are of how you hold your feet on the floor, the better. Sometimes just gaining awareness helps us notice when we slouch or pronate, and quickly correct from there. To lift through the feet and arches begin by pulling in with the stomach and lifting up and out of the hips. From here – roll the arch upwards, straightening the foot out on the floor. Work slowly through several sets of plies and tendus at the barre in this lifted position each day for a few weeks to strengthen and solidify the position.

For inner thigh, would you say it is important to keep the working leg turned out so the heel is toward the ceiling and the toe is to the floor?

I work in a series of different movements with Ballet Beautiful’s inner thigh series, sometimes the hips are turned out but sometimes we are also turned in. For our most basic inner thigh work begin down on the mat and stretch the legs out long. Open the hips all the way down to the toes, as if lying in first position on your side.  Pull in tight through the stomach and place one leg down to brace the body and stabilize the position. Keep the knee straight, hips open, abs engaged and you are ready to go!

Can I get a great workout without doing your standing exercises? 

Absolutely! There’s a huge amount of toning and even light cardio work that is incredibly beneficial in the mat portion of the Ballet Beautiful program. Many people like to mix and match our mat and standing exercises for a more balanced workout but it is certainly possible to build lean muscle, burn fat and get great results without incorporating Ballet Beautiful’s standing exercises. I often recommend beginning with our mat work to build strength and going from there.

What do you do on those days where you could eat all day because of actual hunger?

Hahaha this is totally normal! With my kids we always assume it’s a growth spurt but there is no denying that some days you are hungrier than others. I think the key when this happens is to make sure that you are eating the right foods to satisfy your hunger rather than exacerbate it. When I am really hungry I reach first for protein and healthy fat to keep me satiated (think grilled chicken and avocado with salad) before carbs like sweet potatoes, whole grain breads or other grains. Healthy snacks can also keep the metabolism humming and prevent overeating. An apple with natural peanut butter is a favorite along with boiled eggs and some fresh fruit.

What are your favorite healthy snacks to satisfy sweet and salty cravings? 

I love my sweet and salty foods just like anyone else out there! I can’t live without my afternoon chocolate and tea! To satisfy my sweet tooth cravings I look for dark chocolate rather than milk and pick a really high end option with almonds to help me be happier with less. I also love a handful of small gingersnaps with a square or two of chocolate and lately Lumina and I love imported Italian vanilla wafers in the afternoons! Air popped popcorn with olive oil and sea salt or cheese with a few whole grain crackers or pretzels is the perfect salty, crunchy fix.

What is your skincare routine?

Skincare is a huge part of my beauty routine. I like to use organic products, facials when I have the time and I don’t leave my apartment without my daily SPF!  My skin is dry so for me staying hydrated is everything! My beauty approach is a more natural one.  I want to prevent and preserve rather than correct.