Here’s a short little movement sequence that can be especially helpful if you’ve been sitting too long, or in a deep squat too long (like weeding, or cleaning out low cupboards). It helps lengthen out the front of your hip flexors and turn on the gluteals (your booty!) and spinal extensors. A nice postural reset!
I show it with a PilatesStick loop, and you can also use a Cadillac or Fuse Ladder loop, a lightly-weighted cable machine, and even fitness tubing. Hope it’s helpful!
I first met Dr. Haley Perlus years ago at the World Spinning & Sport Conference in Miami, Florida. She’s a sport psychologist, and was speaking on motivation strategies in goal achievement for athletes as well as regular, active folks.
I still love her clear, reasoned strategies, and thought you might love this one, too. If you want to improve your mental toughness, whether in sport or other aspects of your life, you will appreciate this simple exercise with big benefits.
Today during my step benchworkout I had an epiphany: pain in movement doesn’t mean I need to necessarily fear movement. It more likely means that I’ve stopped paying attention to myself. I’ve set down my self-care, my self-love, and let my ego step in. I know that sounds like a contradiction. “Doesn’t listening to pain mean paying attention to your body?” No! It means I HAVEN’T been paying attention to my body and now my body is sending out an alarm!
Here’s what I’m trying to say: if I get caught up in trying to keep up or do better than the guy on the screen, or the person next to me, or with someone I admire, I stop focusing on how I’m moving. I’m trying to make my body be their body. In a body like mine full of injuries, or in a body that hasn’t been moving much lately, that can spell trouble. I have to LOVE MYSELF ENOUGH by paying attention to my body enough to NOT follow the leader, to NOT do as many reps as the person next to me, to NOT jump when the person next to me is jumping… Is that hard for me to do? You bet.
Is it hard for you, too?
“I feel weird modifying.” “Everybody else can do it, why not me?” “I feel bad if I can’t keep up.” “I feel like a failure if I can’t do as many.” “Everybody’s watching me.”
Our fears of C.R.A.P. are really our egos getting in our way. Our ego starts that horrible comparison game (you know, the one that is “the thief of joy?”). That’s when we have to SHUT THAT VOICE UP and let our self LOVE talk louder than the C.R.A.P. For me, that can mean moving slower so that I can pay attention to how my foot lands, or changing the movement so I can pay attention to how my shoulders are set. It’s me keeping my ears on for the cues but taking my eyes inward to see how MY system is doing.
It’s also me saying over and over, “So what?” So what if my number of reps is different – they’re MY reps. So what if my push-up isn’t as low – it’s MY push-up. So what if I can only run XX seconds/feet/miles – that’s how far I can go being mindful of caring for my body and that effort is MINE.
I get to OWN my movement, and to be proud of it, because I am working hard at letting my only benchmark be me. And I so want you to feel the same. Wouldn’t you like to find a place inside that empowers you to move while holding yourself up with love? Love means you accept who you are, you celebrate who you are with all your movement considerations, and you work on who YOU are. That doesn’t mean you don’t push yourself. Oh, no! It only means that your efforts come supported from a place of loving self-awareness.
And that’s powerful.
With thanks to Shaun T. and Judit Szabo for today’s inspiration.
Let’s be honest… we’ve all been there, me included: the alarm goes off, it’s dark outside, and though you told yourself you’d get up and go out to exercise, you roll over and hit snooze instead. Or maybe you’ve finished your work or school day, and you even though you told yourself you’d make it to the gym you plop down on the couch instead. Oy!
Staying self-motivated can be a real challenge when you haven’t slept enough, haven’t eaten particularly well, when you’re feeling fatigued, or especially if you’re depressed or feeling anxiety. These are the times when we all need a hand; we need a workout buddy! Studies have shown that people are better at sticking with a workout routine when they have someone to be accountable to, someone who’s counting on them to SHOW UP.
Depending on your personality, your workout buddy can be:
• A friend! Choose a friend, family-member, or co-worker whom you can give permission to gently nag you about showing up, someone who will encourage you to be your best self and not be a pushover when you are feeling like a slug. Considerations: 1) For best buddy results, choose someone with a) similar goals, b) at a similar fitness level, and, c) who can work out on a similar schedule. 2) Figure out what activities make you both tick. If you have to drag your friend to HIIT class when they just want to do yoga, one of you will be harder to motivate.
My cycle class peeps!
• A group fitness class. Getting to know your fellow members and instructor creates a community that expects you to show up regularly and be part of its success. These people can become a multitude of friends! Considerations: 1) This one may be a challenge to stick to initially are too shy or anxious to speak to anyone, or if you don’t feel “fit enough” to be seen in a gym (a very human feeling!). You may have better consistency making your friend come with you to class and both of you becoming part of the community together. 2) Choose a gym or fitness studio that is convenient to either home, school, or work. If it’s further than 10 – 15 minutes away you may find yourself skipping unless your friend is driving. 3) On-going punch-card or membership cost may be a deterrent.
Sharon J.! She shows up for me and puts in the work
• A personal trainer. You paid for their time, so hopefully that is a motivator for you to show up to your appointment! Finding the right trainer can not only encourage you to get your exercise in, it could change your life. You might find that you will work a little harder – and smarter – with that one-on-one attention. Considerations: 1) It may take a few tries to find a trainer you really mesh with. If this approach appeals to you, be patient! When you find them, you’ll know. I have clients whom I LOVE who’ve worked with me for YEARS. 2) Depending on the situation, you may have to pay a gym membership on top of the personal training fee. 3) If you are not motivated by money, then hopefully you’ve found a trainer whose personality motivates you to show up.
… Another option which combines aspects of these, and has the added bonus of you not having to work against the inertia of not wanting to leave the house, is to join one of my Accountability Challenge Groups. In my groups, which run through an app or social media, you will commit to a workout schedule and to healthier nutrition. You’ll workout in the comfort of your own home or office – in your pjs if you want! and with a friend if you want! – and check-in with me daily via the app. I’ll supply you with something to think about health-wise each day, and we’ll all cheer each other on through our fitness ups and downs.
Me, getting my on-demand workout done. When I lead a group, I have to be accountable, too!
The benefits of this group challenge approach are many. The on-demand workouts can be done anywhere that you can find about six feet of space, as long as you have a phone, computer, or TV to stream them, and at any time of day. You can meet up at your friend’s basement, you can take your workout on vacation, you can even do it outside as long as you’ve got wifi to stream. You also get a little daily attention from your coach (me!), and you get to bounce ideas off the group… AND, in some of the groups, everyone can choose from their own on-demand program! That means if your friend wants to join the accountability group with you but you want to do Core De Force kickbox and your friend wants to do Cize hip-hop, you can!… PLUS, because you check in virtually via the app, you don’t even have to be in the same town working out at the same time to be cheering each other on with the group.
So, whether you find a friend, join a class, hire a trainer, or grab a friend and join my challenge group, you’ll find that working out is always #bettertogether. 🙂
PS. Want more info about my next Accountability Challenge Group? Ask today to get in on the next one. 🙂
If you come to Pilates Northwest, you’ve probably seen my client LT. He’s the guy who, when he’s not in the middle of his session, instantly puts everyone at ease with his friendly smile and self-deprecating quips. He’s also the guy other clients notice during his session focusing hard on the smallest movements, inspiring them with his intense concentration and work ethic. You might have seen that he has an unusual gait. You probably guessed that he was born with cerebral palsy.
LT is one of the most inspiring people I know. He never, ever stops working at improving. He always gives 100%. And he says things during his Pilates session like: “That’s hard… I LOVE it!” and even after a really hard and especially muscle-lengthening workout: “That’s. AWESOME!”
And this month, LT is featured in Pilates Northwest’s client spotlight! I encourage you to take a moment to check it out. I think you’ll be inspired by his dedication to figuring things out, to not giving up, to finding a way forward when the end goal is clear even though the pathway is not.
“My work with Mona and Pilates Northwest has been the key to me learning to speak and understand the language of my own movement. Everyone’s language will be different, but they will all respond positively to Pilates. Pilates will challenge you, but it will also change you!”
There are days when you have a big to-do list, or just a normal list but you didn’t get enough sleep… days when you are doubting that what you want to achieve isn’t worth the effort, or that what you want is worth it, but you just can’t figure out how to make it happen.
Meet those draining thoughts head-on with a mental attack that will energize you! You can close your eyes, or you can stare determinedly at yourself in the mirror, but either way pick a positive mantra and repeat it fervently for at least thirty seconds.
You can try something like one of these, for example:
•. “I am excited for this day/this workout/this project!”
• “I am capable and can handle this with grace!”
• “I have SO got this! I can’t wait to show myself how awesome I am!”
You’ll set off a positive chemical reaction in your brain that really will help you feel more energized and improve your outlook.
–> What are some of the “yes-I-can” things you tell yourself?
I had the privilege of being part of Premera’s recent effort to entice their members to try Pilates. Why would they want their members to try Pilates? Too many reasons to mention! Among other things, Pilates is great for:
preparation for other physical activities
and, most famously, core strength!
You can check out the Premera Wellness quarterly newsletter complete with instructions and three how-to videos featuring myself and my hubby! The three moves featured will strengthen your abdominal group, your mid-back and spinal muscles, and your glutes and thighs.
Do you have questions about form, or wondering if these particular exercises are right for your particular body? Just ask! 🙂
PS. Special thanks to Carie Nava at Premera for choosing me for this project. I am so grateful for the fun experience, and getting to work with her writer Marygrace Taylor, and her wonderful videographer Dominic Dunbar. Thanks also to Louise Beckley, director of Pilates Northwest, for allowing us to film on site – it’s my Pilates home!
Everything you want in life is in your reach if you can master yourself. Maybe it’s your attitude, or a skill-set, or a work ethic, or even a scheduling challenge. Maybe it’s a combination of things! Just know that if you are willing to put in the time to be honest with yourself, you can figure out what needs to be done to move forward. 🙂
–> What revelations have you had that allowed you to get out of your own way and move forward toward your goals?