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"Movement Heals"

Even the most motivated of us has moments of a lack of desire to get out and get moving, whether it be from fatique, laziness, injury, lack of time, or some other impediment.

After having given birth to a little girl about 9 months ago, I too, started to fall into that category, even though I always imagined that I would be able to jump back up from labor and start dancing and teaching dance, and teaching Pilates, just as before I gave birth. After all, I was still running all over New York City, juggling 4 very active jobs up until the day before I gave birth. If I could do all of this with the fatique of pregancy, surely I would not have problems afterward. However, 6 months after having given birth, I realized that I was quickly allowing life and all of its excuses to define me.

When my daughter was only 3 months old, my husband, daughter, and I packed up everything we owned, and we moved from New York City to Milano, Italy. With the stress of being in a new culture, having to cope with a new language, and a new baby, yet not knowing how to even move around the city, much less find time to do Pilates or Yoga, exercise was about the furthest thing from my mind. I spent 4 solid months staying inside, searching for apartments, nursing an injury, studying Italian, caring for my newborn daughter, and playing the same peek-a-boo games on the floor with my daughter, which I loved, but I noticed that my own personal mental health was heading south, as I was not putting energy or attention towards my own body, which in the end, is our only vessel for doing anything. I was too tired, or my daughter demanded attention, or the muscle I tore during labor was too painful, or I needed to cook dinner, etc. etc. etc.

I, however, am very lucky, as I spent the last 5 years of my New York City life working at a Pilates studio where the slogan is “Movement Heals,” and this concept was already ingrained deeply in my mind. I had personally experienced how it healed every single one of my previous dance injuries, and I have seen miraculous improvements with clients with Multiple Sclerosis, elderly clients, and even clients with severe injuries. However, I had never given much thought personally to healing the mind and the spirit, even though theoretically I knew it to be true. Perhaps I had never felt quite as alone or lonely as a new mother can feel, especially if her partner is at work all day and she is at home alone with a new little being or if a mother is raising a baby alone.

Finally, about two months ago, I decided that I wanted to start teaching again, and before I could teach, I needed to practice what I preach. Thus, I quit making excuses and started practicing Pilates again.

Here is how I did it….

Excuses that were defining me and I how I dealt with them…

  • I'M TOO TIRED!

  • This one, quite simply, was one that I just had to get over and suck it up. I started small. Everything seems doable when you start small. 10 minutes, that isn’t so hard, right? Afterwards, add on 5 minutes at a time. Then, I actually started gaining energy from working out, so it became difficult to use this as an excuse any longer.

  • MY TORN INNER THIGH MUSCLE HURTS!

  • Injury is definitely a sensitive and difficult topic when it comes to exercise. When working with clients who have an injury, I always make sure that they have clearance from the doctor before working out, and I encourage you to do the same. However, I believe with my whole heart that movement will heal. Just because you have one or several muscles that is/are injured, you have several hundred muscles that are just fine. Work those!!!! You might just find that you have strenthened the muscles around the injury to help support the injured muscle/ligament/tendon in order to give it time to heal so you are not putting as much repetitive stress upon it.

  • MY DAUGHTER IS DEMANDING ATTENTION!

  • This problem continues to take creativity, but thus far, I have had some success. I first started out by putting my daughter on the floor in front of the mirror. (My husband and I created a little Pilates corner/studio in our apartment, complete with a full wall mirror, ballet barre, and a Pilates Wunda Chair.) However, this is my profession, and I realize that most people will not want to do that. But you could always try to find a small mirror of some kind. Perhaps my daughter is particularly vain, but this kept her entertained for quite a long time.

  • Then, I have used her little vibrating chair or jumper on the floor next to me while I work out.

  • I have also tried to incorporate her in the work out, obviously not pushing too much, especially if you have very recently given birth. (And most doctors want you to wait at least 6 weeks before doing any work out of any kind.) I have placed her on my belly or used her as a weight, etc.

  • I NEED TO COOK DINNER AND PREPARE THE BABY'S FOOD!

  • For this one, I admit, I need to constantly think ahead and prepare, but I have found it helpful to prepare a lot of the baby’s broth and puree ahead of time, so all I have to do is heat it. Then for our food, I can prepare food on days that I don’t work out or where my husband is home to help me so that it is very quick to heat and serve.

After tackling these excuses, almost immediately, I noticed a mood shift and everything seemed easier, and I was ready to tackle the world. I am now starting to teach again, and it is as if, all of a sudden, I shed 2 tons of something that was weighing me down. “Movement Heals” has now become my personal slogan, not just physically, but mentally as well. That is not to say that there won’t still be moments of lack of motivation, but that is to say that I can remind myself that after I do movement of any type, 100% of the time, I feel more energized, more balanced, happier, and all around better.

Now I challenge you… What is your impediment?

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