What I Learned about Life from taking a Pilates Reformer Class

Last Monday I got to do something I had been dying to do for two years: take a private Reformer class. And, for those curious about what a Reformer looks like, here is an example:

The instructor lives in a beautiful loft apartment in my town and teaches there to keep costs affordable. I love that! I was excited and nervous about going but mostly eager to be learning something new and getting some hands-on instruction to use in my personal mat practice.

This sweet lady got on to demonstrate and told me I would be doing some innocent sounding exercises called “footwork.” Piece of cake, right? Well, except for the fact that this is Pilates so every exercise is designed to be total body and is never simple.

I loved the lesson and can say I was a bit sore for two days after that! And the biggest takeaway for me was this: Nothing is as easy as it appears to be.

We often watch other people flow through life. Things seem easy and success effortless. But there are always hours of learning, re-learning, sweating, and shaking that precedes any change.

If you are doing Pilates “right,” your entire mind and body are engaged and in the moment. And so it is with life off the mat. But the time spent to learn how to do something right is crucial to living your best life.

So please, don’t compare yourself to others. Try something new. Let yourself be a beginner. And live in deep satisfaction of soul that comes from knowing that you experienced the adventure of being yourself.

What lessons are you learning lately? Head over to my Facebook page and let me know.

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Why I love Pilates

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A few people have asked how I came to Pilates. It’s a long story but I thought I would share it here so you can be encouraged to keep moving and find something that works for you. And so you will know that what works will change over the course of your life…and that is okay.

I started exercising in the early 1990s. I was in my late 20s and noticed some weight “creep” and the spandex and lycra leotard group was the rage. I joined a women only gym where we jumped and pranced and ran in place to thumping music. Then we entered the step aerobics craze. This time, we jumped up and down and around our aerobics step. All the while ignoring the important components of weight training and flexibility training.

Somehow in my mid-thirties, my body began to change yet again. I was aging, had three pregnancies and births under my belt, and just had less time and energy for a gym and high-impact aerobics. I began to lift weights and still do my cardio and my body composition totally changed. I looked fitter and firmer. Now mind you, I was still pounding the heck out of my joints with high impact, but I could still take it.

In my forties, I began running to cross-train. And that was fun for a bit(except for the near constant shin splints I had.) I have issues with my flat feet and back curvature that really don’t like all the jumping and pounding. But I thought that was what exercise entailed. And I was a “go hard or go home” person.

So I entered my late forties about twenty pounds heavier and full of aching joints. I hobbled if I sat too long and my hips ached nearly constantly. And I was always nursing some sort of injury. I changed my diet and tried barre for a bit. I lost the weight but now my knees ached, along with my hips. I was discouraged and thinking that exercise should not have to hurt to be effective.

I had tried Pilates in the past but thought it was too easy to be effective. Remember, I was a “go-big” person. A friend told me about Lisa Pentony of Pilates By Lisa and an upcoming challenge she was hosting, complete with a meal plan and online support. I figured a month couldn’t cause me too much weight gain if I decided to lie down and work out, right?

Oh, how wrong I was! In that month my clothing got looser (and I really didn’t’ follow the meal plan at all), my energy soared, and, most remarkable of all, I no longer hurt. Soon I could sit cross-legged on the floor again. I had absolutely zero pains in my hips and low back. I was amazed.

The best part was having a trainer in Australia who was super-responsive to any question I had. Over the two years I’ve done her workouts, she has honestly become a good friend and I even had the privilege of meeting her last November when she was in America. It was seriously like meeting up with an old friend.

Today I walk and do Pilates. That’s pretty much it. I feel good and still fit in my clothing. 😉 And I am just so disheartened when people say they’re exhausted from going to the gym or running all the time.

The thing is, you don’t have to hurt to be healthy and fit. You just need to find the thing that causes you to feel good. Yes, our bodies were made to move. And maybe yours was made to run, unlike mine. That’s fantastic. But above all, I want us to all experience a mind shift. Fitness and exercise should be about taking care of ourselves so we can live our lives fully, abundantly, and with joy. Exercise isn’t the goal:  living life is. So I encourage you to find that type of movement that lets you do just that.

How do you like to move and stay healthy? Drop me a line and share your thoughts, tips, or journey with me. I love hearing from you.

Oh, PS~If you try Pilates with Lisa, be prepared to be humbled. She does have a free 10-day trial and a fantastic beginners series. You can get 10% off your first payment with the coupon code MEMBER.

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Why I Strength Train

 Women’s wars are a thing now, aren’t they? Mommy wars about how to feed children, co-sleeping, and working vs non-working moms abound. Vegan vs Paleo, cardio vs strength training, cross-fit vs yoga,  Republican vs Democrat, and so on. And I say enough!

You can find dozens of articles out there to support your side. I could give you scientific reasons why I favor Pilates and my weights over lots of cardio. But here’s the thing: I’m not a scientist or fitness pro. I’m just a woman in her 50s who has exercised since her late 20s who has tried it all on her self. A certified experiment of one. So today I’ll share with my beliefs about why I think building some muscle is great.

 

When I  first started to exercise in my late 20s, I wanted to lose some unwanted pounds. And life was all about cardio then. I joined a gym and we put on our spandex leotards and did step aerobics or floor cardio, jumping around like crazy. Other friends ran. And life was good. The pounds left and I felt better.

But fast forward to my mid-30s. Marriage and three babies later, I was tired and my weight had shifted. And cardio was a burden. I heard about strength training and tried some weight work at my gym. My weight went UP a few pounds and my clothing size went DOWN. And, cardio seemed easier. That was a total eye-opener for me.

In my late 40s, things changed again. I was still using weights, but my body ached. And I was about 20 pounds heavier. Clearly, something had to change. And a lot of that was what and how I ate…which is another post. But I realized all those years of high-impact jumping had taken a toll on me. So I changed how I exercised(switched to barre and Pilates) how and when I ate. And lost the weight and healed my body of the achiness.

Today I focus on Pilates and walking. And even though I am about 8  pounds “heavier” than my lowest cardio-craze weight, I wear a smaller size in clothing. My sleep is better. My anxiety has improved (I have struggled with anxiety off and on all my life). I am more relaxed and can sit on the floor and bend and squat at work with the 21-year-olds. And health markers actually improved over doing lots of intense weight and cardio work.

If you look at the studies, they will tell you the following about strength training:

  1. It increases muscle mass
  2. It increases bone density~adding more muscle to your skeleton increases its load so bones are stimulated to strengthen and grow
  3. It improves strength
  4. It improves cardiovascular endurance
  5. It improves your mood

 

All of which I personally experienced. And that’s why I love it so much.

Do you strength train? What type is your favorite? Let me hear your ideas and your stories about strength workouts. And tell me your favorite way to exercise. I love hearing from you.

My 10-10-10 Fitness Plan for Super Busy People

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I shared a bit about my plan to stay healthy and active in a post about moving. Several people mentioned that they enjoyed reading about that concept. So I'm expanding on it a bit here so you can get some ideas about how to stay active on your busiest days.

I deeply believe there is something mental involved in taking care of our health and well-being. That mental issue is our concept of time. Most things we procrastinate on are things we label, "I don't have enough time for that."

That's why I think like in terms of ten minutes if I am procrastinating. Even at my busiest, a ten-minute window seems do-able without adding extra stress to my thinking. So that's  how I came up with a 10-10-10 plan for those times my life gets crazy. It adds up to 30 minutes of activity during my day without me even realizing it and is nicely balanced.

10-10-10 Fitness Routine

Get Strong

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For me, this is all about Pilates! (Yes, that's me mid-rollup)! I love it and will do a ten-minute routine Pilates arm routine, lower body routine, abdominal routine, total body on different days during my busy weeks. I do this the first thing in the morning so it's done and I can't procrastinate. Plus, there's something almost magical about ticking something off of my to-do list first thing (I'm a HUGE list maker). There are many strength style workouts you can do if Pilates isn't your thing (although I think everyone should do it, that's another post)! If you love lifting weights,  doing body weight work like planks, squats, and lunges,  or practicing yoga, do that. Whatever it is that taxes your muscles and helps you build some strength to get through those busy day is perfect.

 

2.   Get Moving 

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Get your blood pumping, your body moving, and your mind working.  You can walk your dog (my favorite), pop in a DVD or stream a Cardio or indoor walking workout (check out Leslie Sansone or Jessica Smith), run, do jumping jacks…heck do burpees or ballet if it's your thing. I promise you the best thing about this is how energetic and awake you feel. That's why I like to sneak this in during lunch or a break. It clears my mind and gives me a brighter outlook.

3. Get Loose

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Now, now…I mean stretching! 😁 Your body gets tight from moving, sitting, standing, lying…basically anything we do for prolonged periods of time. Our bodies are amazing and intricate and created for movement. So flexibility is crucial. This is super easy to sneak in during the evening. Almost everyone has ten minutes while watching TV. Sit down and stretch. You will love this ritual as it can relax you(especially if you do forward bends and twist your spine). Pure bliss.

There you have it. Easy and simple. And you can incorporate coworkers, spouses, kids, or friends into your routine. You will feel fantastic and will inspire others.

Tell me if you try my 10-10-10 Routine. And share your favorite ways to move and stay healthy, here or on my Facebook page also named Almond Butter Babe. I love hearing from you.

Moving Mindfully

We all know it. Exercise matters. But how many of us actually have a consistent fitness routine? 

I began exercising in my late 20s to get off unwanted pounds. Somewhere along the way all the Jane Fonda Abs and Step Reebok videos changed my why.  I continued the routine because of how I felt. Alive. Having fun. Less stressed. Happier.

But none of that happened off the bat. Honestly, none of it happened until I found Step workouts-they were just fun to me. It felt like a reward, like play, to pull the step out and pop that tape in.

In the 25 years since, the how and what of movement have changed. My body has aged. I have had three children. My needs and my definition of fun are poles apart from that 27 year old me jumping on an aerobic step. But my why is the same. Because I feel better. Am happier. And I still like to play.

So find exercise that brings you joy. Stick with it. And reward yourself for the baby steps you take. 
PS My things these days are dog walks and Pilates. My at-home streaming instructor is Lisa Pentony of Pilates by Lisa. She has a fun, month-long challenge starting Monday, if you want to try it out. The code MEMBER will give you 10% off your first month. Lots of prizes, articles, E-book, live chats, etc. So much fun! Let me know if you try it out. Your first 10 days is free! 

Why Almond Butter Babe?

After 25 years of exercising, making strides then having setbacks, and trying everything out there,  I realized how little I knew my body because of how much I listened to the “experts”. I heard other women talk about how they wanted to be healthy…but had no idea how or what that meant. And, quite frankly, having graduated two children from homeschool and having one who will be a junior next fall, I finally had time to blog. Thus Almond Butter Babe was born.

I love to exercise. After lots of trial and error, causing many injuries, weight gain, and frustration along the way, I am learning to listen to my body.  Nourish myself.  Live life and enjoy indulging. But it’s been a long journey.

I now know that it’s okay to love iced coffee and dark chocolate. To be obsessed with almond butter. That the best thing you can wear is your smile. I’ve discovered Self-confidence is what makes a woman shine, and that real food can taste fabulous.  And life is about far more than having that elusive six-pack.

So come back often. Share your thoughts. And let’s learn from one another.

Now excuse me while I get some iced coffee…and a bit of almond butter.