Tag Archives: pilates

Life Lessons

The Corners We Paint Ourselves Into

We are not what we work. No matter how much we want to think it or others believe it. We are more. We aren’t who we are in a single moment. You can’t judge someone by observing them or talking with them for 5 minutes, 2 hours or 3 days.

Over the past few months, I have really enjoyed writing and specializing in a new industry and/or area that I do traditionally which is HR. The industry is niche and to be able to be knowledgable, it requires extensive research and/or the background of having worked in the industry. Most people can’t or don’t go to the lengths to fight and claw their way into an industry they are an interlooper in.

It’s good to mix things up. It’s a great idea to put yourself out there. Change things up and most importantly throw a curveball in the way you are living. These changes don’t have to be big ones. They can be small changes like my mom who after many years is committed to getting up before 8:00 AM. She’s been a night owl since I was a young girl as my dad worked third shift. Around the time I was 10 or 11 years old, he started working first shift and worked starting at 7:00 AM. My mom who has been self-employed or a stay at home mom most of her life, didn’t change her schedule. She always went to bed very, very late. I called her last week at 9:00 AM and was surprised that she had already had her coffee and finished reading her paper. I didn’t expect her to change.

The longer things stay the same the harder they are to change. This is how I have felt about my health and especially my weight. I’ve started traveling again. It’s conference season in the industry and vertical where I work makes it so easy for my healthy lifestyle to go off the rails. Old habits are easy to return to. Most importantly, wine and bad food choices are so easy to make when you are on the road. But now while I’m traveling I am signing up for one pilates class in the city I am at. Two weeks ago it was San Diego and this week it is Indianapolis. And for the first time, I’m excited to do this, and that’s because the change is becoming part of me.

The bad food choices sometimes happen and friends are always a good excuse to order another round of wine. Change is not easy because it’s messy. There is no quick path to the finish line. Once we commit to it, we realize that the process to change is long and often harder than we imagined, but for the first time in a long time I’m excited. I don’t see myself as the person I was. I’m not holding myself back or painting myself into a corner because it’s safe. I like being strong. I like surprising myself. I like the new story I’m painting and creating.

Life Lessons

How I Healed My Pinched Nerve in Neck & Back

pinched-nerve-back-neck

As I quieted my mind, my body shouted loudly. I heard and felt its cries loud and clear. The pain in my back and neck sidelined me for nearly two weeks. I didn’t exercise but focused on eating right, healing and visiting my chiropractor daily. It’s week 12 since I first sat down with the chiropractor and listened to his diagnosis. It’s been 12 weeks since I faced the reality that a pinched nerve in my back and neck were worsening. I needed to be serious about my back and neck or live life as a bent over old lady at age 37 and counting.

My Plan to Heal My Pinched Nerve in Back and Neck

I’ve been extremely transparent about this journey. It’s not about weight loss although it would be great if it was just that. It’s about healing my body, eating right, exercising and strengthening. I want to live a long, healthy and fulfilled life. I have to do this for myself. I want to watch my daughter grow up. I want to be pain free. I want to have another baby.

  • Eating Healthy. I’ve been tracking my calories and eliminating most processed sugars. I have continued eating organic and have been committed to juicing kale, carrot and other vegetables adding them into my morning smoothie routine. I think it’s extremely easy to just drink a powdered shake, however, I prefer keeping it simple focusing on fresh and natural ingredients. At present I use a MyFitnessPal and Shine to track my progress, calorie intake and activity.
  • Increasing My Strength. The pinched nerves are not helped by my underdeveloped core, back and shoulder muscles not to mention my horrible posture. Pilates has helped me concentrate on increasing my strength in these areas while also focusing on my spine as well as listening to my body. At present, I’m doing machine pilates on the reformer and exo chair 3-4 times a week under private instruction and classroom setting. (More about Pilates classes here.)
  • Visiting the Chiropractor. Since early January, I’ve visited my chiropractor 3-4 times a week barring any crazy travel I am doing. At first, the 45 minutes I spent those days seemed to really cut into my work schedule, but I’ve come to realize how much he is helping me. I don’t take work meetings until 9:30 AM most days to make sure I can focus on the chiropractor and healing.
  • Organizing My Calendar. I seem to thrive best in the mode of procrastination. I love working on a deadline or multiple deadlines since I work with multiple clients and projects at the same time. I’ve come to believe this isn’t the most healthy place for me or my body to be. Changing these bad habits has taken time. In truth, I still have a long way to go. I’ve said goodbye to things I don’t have time to do and eliminated meetings on Mondays and Fridays so I can focus on my to do list and tackling projects interruption free.
  • Remaining Mindful. Every morning I’m taking 5-10 minutes to breath and clear my mind before I start my day. Sometimes I focus my breath on the aches and pains of my body, but other times I just relax and think of absolutely nothing. It offers a nice change of pace.
  • Improving My Posture. My pinched nerve in my neck and back isn’t helped due to my poor posture and years of sitting hunched over my computer as I worked. I’ve made small yet simple changes by sitting with my arms back while driving or on the computer. I’ve also invested in a belt often used for waist training for new mothers. I’m using it to gently remind me to tighten my core and sit up straight.

Nervously I visited my chiropractor last week to check in on the progress of my pinched nerve in both my neck and back. In just a short amount of time, he is seeing improvement. We are scaling back my visits to him now once a week and will reassess in 8 weeks.

My New 12 Week Commitment

Over the next two weeks my travel schedule is ramping up which means I have to be more vigilant than ever to just get this shit done. I’m tired of hurting and not being healthy. I have begun to see results from my pilates which is further driving my motivation to these new commitments and change.  I still realize I have a long way to go. I can’t use the excuse that I don’t have time to do these things.

  • More Exercise. Spring has arrived and I’m committed to spending more time walking outside, in the garden or at the gym. I don’t have an excuse not to work out on the machines when my daughter has soccer practice at least once a week at the Y plus games 2 times a week.
  • More H20. I’m just not a water drinker, but recognize that this is key to flushing out toxins, healing my body and strengthening. I am commited to 8-10 servings of water a day.
  • Finding a Hobby. My work and my family is what I live to do. I need decompress and down time away from the endless reading, writing and researching. I really enjoyed rollerblading and want to add this into my exercise and activity routine.

What will the next 12 weeks hold for me? I’m hopeful I’ll be shopping for a smaller pant size, feeling more fulfilled, happy and healthy. Plus, we are traveling a bit for the summer. I want to make sure I’m ready for trips to the beach, horseback riding and more time with family.

Life Lessons

Pilates – The 10 Classes That Changed My Life

I’m 10 sessions into pilates, and I’m officially addicted. In fact, I’m taking my pilates out on the road during my travels to New York City next week. I’m attending 2 classes at the 5th Street Pilates studio. I really can’t wait. In my first 10 sessions, I can say I notice a visible difference. In fact, in the last 2 weeks I can say that I have lost 1 inch on both my upper and lower waist. I’m committing myself to practicing pilates at least three times a week going forward. I can now see as well as feel myself getting stronger. I think Joseph Pilates, the founder of pilates would be pleased.

“In 10 sessions, you will feel the difference. In 20, you will see the difference. And in 30, you’ll be on your way to having a whole new body.” – Joseph Pilates

For me, my commitment towards mindfulness has taken me somewhere I never expected. It has not been about my work. It’s about my personal health, life and the goal of having another baby.

I’ve never been the graceful type. I’ve never attended a ballet or a dance class. Until yoga and pilates I never really considered that I might have the personal option to have a graceful bone in my body. For my entire life, I’ve accepted the fact that my body wasn’t graceful. I was just not born this way.

 

This week while I watched my daughter during her ballet class, I watched her and saw the same things. I don’t want want her to follow my lead and believe that about herself or her own body especially when I see the joy for her that ballet brings.

And while I work towards understanding my own body acceptance issues, I try to think of myself as a graceful dancer during my pilates class. See myself as a beautiful and pretty ballet dancer who is performing her pilates dance and honing her graceful craft. Both pilates and yoga have made me more body aware, but they are separate practices that often overlap in often weird ways.

In yoga, I never liked “bridge pose” or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana in Sanskrit. I just don’t think I ever really thought about posture or my vertebrae when practicing the pose in yoga in the same context I do with pilates. With the bridge pose in yoga, I was focusing more on the ability to hold the pose for long periods of time while stretching and breathing into my back.

bridge-pose-yoga

 

In pilates, the bridge pose is much different. Your back plays a more supporting role in the pose. It’s about proper alignment and the stacking of vertebrae but for me it’s about using the different parts of your core to activate and lift your body. As I mentioned before, I am focusing on machine pilates with the Reformer. The key to doing the bridge pose on the reformer is to keep your core solid so that the carriage (The green flat mat seen below. It actually glides forward and back.) doesn’t move. Coming down from the pose you reverse the action vertebrae by vertebrae. Although I’ve been doing bridge pose with yoga for 10 years, pilates really changed how I experience the pose and think about how my abdominals are tied to my core. They need each other to be healthy.

 

bridge-pose-reformer-pilates

I’m not saying that my bridge pose is graceful but both yoga and pilates find utility and the beauty in small movements with a focus on the body. The control is an area I really enjoy. It’s challenging in a different way that 45 minutes on the treadmill is not. I’m not just checking the accomplishment off my life. I’m building strength and with that extremely small movement I’m learning about myself and my own inner power and strength.

Photo Credit Yoga Journal & Nywanda

Life Lessons

Pilates & Chiropractic Update – Week 4

pilates-reformerYou can learn more about pilates and the different exercises I’m learning and researching about by following my “Fitness” board on Pinterest. 

I’m starting week four of my eight week program. I’m visiting the chiro three times a week visit to the chiropractor along with my twice weekly visits to the Norman Pilates Center. In just a short time, I’m noticing some changes I wanted to share.

If you remember, one of my 2015 intentions and goals was mindfulness which in the beginning I thought was going to be daily meditation and just listening to my inner self. My inner self told my at the beginning of January that my back needed my attention which is why I visited my chiropractor and then began private pilates classes to help improve my core strength.

I have two pinched nerves. One in my lower back and the other in my neck. Now in week 4 of my healing, the tenderness in my lower back is gone. It doesn’t hurt when I touch my lower back. This is a huge thing. In fact, I haven’t had the heating pad on my back which is an amazing and beautiful thing. I’m also changing the way I drive in the car. In general I have horrible posture. I’ve always slumped over a computer and do the same thing as I grip the steering wheel. In my first private pilates appointment, I had a couple realizations about posture, and I’ve been working hard to make some real change.

Right this moment as I sit on my couch, I’m no longer hunched over. My back is straight and my shoulders are back. This also forces my neck to stay in line with my spine. I’m taking this same approach when I drive. My neck now touches the back rest. I’ve pulled myself up closer to the steering wheel and I’m tightening my stomach as I sit.

I think all moms tell their kids to “sit up straight” but to be honest I never really understood exactly what that was supposed mean. Having the private pilates consultations has helped me understand how my hip, pelvis and shoulder alignment and positions are contributing not just to my poor posture but also the added pressure on my back. I finally understand what my body should feel like now when my mom told me to sit up straight.

Private pilates sessions are expensive, however, I’ve never really focused on building my core. They are kicking my ass, my core. I am dying but feeling stronger every day. I’ve always been a quads and hamstrings girl, but with the cesarean I had with Ryleigh along with my pinched nerves I want to really focus on building those muscles which is why I’m taking pilates so seriously. Honestly, I love it. The movements are small, precise and I am learning so much about my body. In just 4 classes, I can tell a difference in my core and the size of my waste. I’m giving myself a total of 13 private classes to really build a foundation. I think it will go a long way.

The addition of pilates has been a great opportunity for learning. I’m currently reading several books on the pilates philosophy to make the most of my healing. At present, I’m focusing my pilates on what is called the revolver machine which you see in the graphic at the beginning of this post. . It’s the size of a twin bed frame and uses a series of springs, pulleys and straps along with a sliding bench that reminds me of a part of the cage of a squat machine. You use isolated muscles to help you slide up and down the frame. One of my favorites is when I pull up my entire body with just my arms using my core muscles to stabilize me.

When it comes to activities, people and just things in life, I’m either all in or all out. This is the reason I have to fully immerse myself in pilates and the health of my back. It’s the only way I will stay excited and committed if I’m fully focused on pilates. In doing some more self-reflection I have realized this is how I approach most things in my life. I tackle them aggressively. I complete immerse myself into learning everything and anything about the subject and/or person, and once I have completed the task to my satisfaction or become bored, I move onto the next thing. Recognizing this about myself is huge and explains a lot about me. It’s also why I struggle sometimes when I become disengaged in a project and in past jobs when I was an employee. I need to be challenged, stretched and always trying new things.

You can learn more about pilates and the different exercises I’m learning and researching about by following my “Fitness” board on Pinterest. 

 

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