November 1, 2023
In this installment of Wellness and Pilates thoughts, we begin with Evolution as in Evolution Pilates. You can catch up on any posts you might have missed here.
- any process of formation or growth; development: the evolution of a language; the evolution of the airplane.
- a product of such development; something evolved: The exploration of space is the evolution of decades of research.
We evolve as people, our practices evolve, and the world is constantly evolving. When it came time to name my studio, Evolution was the word that always came to mind for how you progress through the Pilates method. You can read a bit more about that evolution here. Evolution is what has happened to Pilates over the years with contemporary Pilates and Pilates-inspired workouts gaining momentum. It seemed like a catchy name and stuck with me. The studio was a 3rd career for me, and I was evolving once again. I think our willingness to embrace change is what successful evolution is all about. With each of our 4 physical locations, we evolved as a studio. We leaned into being a purely classical studio and became a host studio for the RPTT teacher training program. This is a role we cherish, training the next generation of classical Pilates instructors.
A body in motion stays in motion so exercise is key! We love the feel-good endorphins it releases, but exercise alone is not enough for overall wellness. Many people come to exercise to lose some weight, but without making any changes to eating habits, they tend to get frustrated and quit. That happens when you come to exercise for the wrong reasons. You cannot outexercise a bad diet. One pound of fat is 3500 calories. You would need to exercise an awful lot to burn that many calories. A few healthy swaps in your diet can easily get you 500 calories a day and that coupled with any type of exercise you enjoy and stick with will have you well on your way to your best self. While diet trumps exercise for weight loss, exercise is known to control weight, combat disease and chronic health conditions, promote better sleep, boost energy, improve mood, and make you feel great and more social. Engage in exercise for how it makes you feel. If you are not feeling great after exercising, you are doing the wrong types of exercise for your body and disposition. Luckily there are so many types of exercise to choose from, including Pilates!
Exploration ignites curiosity and learning new things about yourself, places, and others and is a huge component of happiness.
As a fan of travel and want to see as much of the world as I can. It’s also great to explore your own backyard and city by becoming a tourist. Learn something new from a friend with different interests than yours and expand your mind. It is said we are the sum of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Make them interesting and different enough from you that you are constantly exploring new places and ideas. Exploration is a great way to sneak in exercise, combat boredom, discover new healthy foods, improve your mental state, grow self-esteem, and even live longer!
Don’t starve yourself in the interest of fashion or vanity. Eat. It’s social and before big pharma took over the world, food was our primary source of medicine.
Eat so you don’t deprive yourself of one of life’s great pleasures but clean up what you are eating. I recently came across a simple way to make sure you are hitting all the right notes and all it requires is a measuring cup. Eat 1 cup of vegetables, 2/3 a cup of protein, and ½ a cup of carbs at every meal. Add fruit for dessert. No deprivation. Have whatever you want but try to be balanced and limit sauces and dressings to 2 tbsps. a day. This is remarkably easy to do. A healthy diet may help you live longer, improve your skin, support your muscles, strengthen your bones, and even boost your immunity.
Do you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all? You aren’t alone. Once you prioritize that list of ‘do it all’, set your alarm to be an early riser. There are so many great books on the benefits of being an early riser and it is life-changing. Want some inspiration? Check out ownmornings.com and my favorite book to inspire early morning changes, The 5 am Club. In my teens and twenties, I was one of those people who could happily sleep until noon, and now I am up every day by 5 or 5:30. That quiet time in the morning is just for me and sets my day up for success. Early rising helps regulate your circadian rhythm. I love to wake up with the sun something I learned by not having shades. In the winter use this orb to mimic natural sunlight for a gentler wake-up call. Waking up early can boost your productivity, improve your mental state, and may lower the risk of chronic disease.
Among the first exercises you learn on the reformer Elephant and is a basic yet super hard exercise in Pilates.
t effectively teaches disassociation of body parts and how to hone into your deep abdominals. The stretch is love-hate depending on who you ask! This exercise works on the powerhouse to draw the carriage in. It is also a stretch for the hamstrings and calves. In the wellness world, Elephants represent many things: they’re symbols of luck and prosperity, but they are also powerful beings who can remove obstacles and negative forces. They represent wisdom, long life, memory, and vitality.
Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, but often drains time when we disappear into social media. We encourage limiting social media use and focusing on smart tech like wearables and wellness apps which have given us greater access to health and well-being. Today you can use digital technology for personalized self-care. If your gadgets share data it becomes more actionable and manageable. Some of our favorites: 1 by one digital scale with smartphone tracking app. Apple Watch to track exercise and steps. Mindfulness apps to help with meditation. I like Waking Up. For all your other use of technology try to limit its presence in your life. We only check emails 2x a day. Find what works for you. Set similar limits for yourself on social media. Try removing apps from your home screen so you break the habit a little. Digital workout formats are great for rounding out your workouts when you can’t get to the studio. We are huge fans of Pilatesology if you want to follow a workout or working out virtually online with a friend for a workout you devise. We also want to take a moment to remind everyone that if anything comes up preventing you from coming into the studio, we can easily turn your visit virtual, so there is rarely a need to lose the session.
Smell is such a powerful sense. We love to use essential oils in our diffusers in the studio, roll-ons for perfume, and whatever may ail you! Oils are known to decrease stress, promote relaxation, improve concentration and focus, clear sinuses, reduce nausea, improve, and induce sleep, increase happiness, boost alertness, and even reduce headaches and anxiety. Plus, the scents are incredible. Looking to get started with some oils? Here is a great starter kit. You can also check out this past blog post on the topic.
I am enough, you are enough. These are powerful wellness mantras because we live in a world of excess and no longer recognize what enough is.
As a minimalist, I obsess about this idea as it pertains to things, but spiritually it is a powerful notion to recognize that you are enough, just as you are right in this moment. We don’t always need to be striving and acquiring. Where we are is enough if we are content. We never know what’s enough until we know what’s more than enough. Knowing you are more than enough; acknowledges we are worthy of love and compassion simply because we exist. The concept of “enough” must come from within.
A favorite quote of mine is “An unexpressed expectation is a recipe for disappointment”. I think I first heard it in Jay Shetty’s 8 Rules of Love. I had to read it a few times and then it was like WOW. We sometimes expect people to read our minds or envision a reality that is so far from possibility in each situation, that we end up disappointed and frustrated. Taking a moment to consider your expectations and assess whether they are reasonable goes miles toward contentment. We like to manage expectations in Pilates too. “Today we will do a shoulder bridge, maybe some small barrel or spine corrector, and work towards being able to one day do the backbend on the ladder barrel or spine corrector”. We walk before we run so appropriate expectations are key to any successful practice. Ease up on expectations and ramp up acceptance.
Just stop. Excuses are meaningless and can always be made. Ownership is huge for self-respect and earning the respect of others. I had a college professor who would kick people out if they came late and made excuses. If a student showed up late and merely apologized, they were able to stay. Now imagine that the person you are making the excuses for is yourself. Why? It’s just more distracting and makes matters worse. Just stop.
Very often there are no valid excuses. Once you realize that and change the excuse-making behavior into doing the things or accepting that you don’t want to, you feel free from the voices in your head. For perspective, a one-hour workout is 4% of your day. So is an hour of scrolling. It’s time to learn how to stop making excuses.
Be a part of the world we live in! Loneliness is dangerous and rampant, yet we walk past strangers on the street without a smile or kind words. We became alienated during the pandemic and need to relearn how to exist in a collective society. Start by making eye contact and small talk with strangers. You will notice that it is an effort, but you get a huge smile and shake the person out of their own little bubble at the same time. We need in-person connections and relationships for overall wellness. Engage in activities you love, maybe take up a hobby you have wanted to try, do it in person if you can, and get ready for improved self-esteem as well as physical and mental wellbeing.
Make lots of errors. That is how we grow and learn. An error when gracefully acknowledged is a victory, so try not to be afraid of trying new things because you think you won’t be good at them. Almost no one is good at something the first time they do it. Look at any inventor and there are hundreds of failed ideas before the one that stuck. Even Mr. Pilates had a basement full of his discarded ideas on the way to his lasting inventions. There was a pedipole with a bicycle seat attached, a square version of what we now know as the magic circle and others. To err is human, so be human.
I believe to my core in experiences over things. You may really want the hottest new bag, but chances are you won’t remember that you got it or how it made you feel 10 years from now, the experiences you have as you complete your bucket list items will probably stay with you forever. They don’t have to be grand experiences, but we have increasingly become obsessed with things and our human interactions are often about going out to eat or drink. Hikes, museums, galleries, bike rides, and things we did when our kids were little are the kinds of experiences you can revisit now and reconnect with friends and family in a different way. Read more about why experiences are better than things here.
This list is less than complete, but a place to begin! Join us every 2 weeks as we dive into Pilates and wellness topics to bring you a little closer to your best self in a way that might be sustainable.
Each post will tackle another letter of the alphabet and 14 topics that begin with that letter. You can experiment with any or all the topics over the next 14 days and keep the ones that work best for you. Stick with it as we add the next letter. Before you know it, you will have a habit stacked your way to wellness one letter at a time.
The road to wellness is about the journey, not the destination. We often focus on the body, but true wellness is mind, body, and spirit. I’d like to be your wellness concierge in addition to your Pilates instructor.