Happy New Year to you all! How is it that we are already more than half way through the month?
Who here has been making New Year's resolutions? If you have been, and feel like you have slipped, or abandoned them already, fret not - you are not alone.
The trouble with New Year's resolutions is that we get carried away with good inspiring intentions but the reality sinks in that we often bite off more than we can chew in one big go. Many people let go of their plans at that point and give up. And then we berate ourselves for it, and feel even worse for it. Mental health suffers, physical health suffers, you know the story.
Well, I am not here to tell you off for that. In fact, I will say you are very human if you feel that way. But if you truly want to make change, it has not to only come from within from a very deep sense of motivation, but also it needs to be laid out as an achievable pathway to help you get inspired by your own progress.
You can't navigate a big staircase in one huge jump, that's what the steps are there for.
January is a Balanced Life Month, and in our world of health and movement, this is so relevant. Many of us are rehabilitating from an injury or long standing issue, what do we do in that case if daily exercises seem like an impossible chore to add to the schedule?
Here is what I recommend:
* Be kind and honest to yourself and recognize what time you can dedicate to it. Overcommitting creates stress. But not prioritising your health also creates stress. Find that optimal ground and do it for YOU, not for anyone else.
* To overcome a physical restriction, concern, pain, or tightness, we don't force our body into full load, range of motion, or excessive number of repetitions. That is how injuries occur or are exacerbated. Instead, we build tolerance in our body's tissues gradually, and take a step by step approach.
* We work and move with awareness, taking in the effect on the rest of the body. Pushing and trying to get there too fast can be counter-productive. For many of us, less is more. "More" can create stress and resistance of the nervous system for those of us who are already tending towards higher stress levels.
* It is hugely important to understand the issue behind our concern first. Often, it is not the immediate area of pain. For example, if the hip does not want to move, we don't keep yanking it into the painful range. We don't even necessarily want to massage out all the painful spots around it. Instead, we assess the movement of the hip in the context of the whole body. Perhaps it is an old back issue that causes the hip to not move very well, or an issue with adhesions in the scar from an old surgery. For this, seek help from someone who can take the holistic view of your full health history. I am very happy to help. Remember, all history is relevant.
* We then need to devise a strategy to progress our health in measurable and easy to observe targets. For instance, if standing on one leg hurts, and walking for half a mile is uncomfortable, we progressively work towards being balanced with more load into that leg, one bit at a time, and walking for more extended periods of time.
* And then we make sure that whatever movement regime we devised, it can be easily peppered-in through your day. Binge-movement does not work - we incorporate this into our daily life. For instance, not do 20 squats in a day in the morning, but maybe do a couple of squats when loading up the dishwasher. Two more when looking for a book on the bottom shelf. You get the gist.
Take a balanced approach to your movement regime. It is good for our mental health as it is not stressful, not pressurised, and a lot more holistic - you don't need to feel like you are fighting yourself trying to squeeze in your exercises as you do your rehabilitative work.
And of course, working alongside someone who can guide you through this, and making a commitment to yourself really does help. So put a marker in that diary and allocate time for your own health and switch your phone off :)
To talk about your health and fitness goals, reach out to me to chat.
To your health,
Pilates and Movement Therapist. NeuroKinetic Therapy ® Practitioner