after every storm there is a rainbow

When everything is good, we forget that once it wasn’t.

We forget what it was like when we first started out as a beginner and couldn’t balance both feet off the floor for Rolling Like a Ball, or stay up in the Hundred for more than 20!

We forget that we started exercising because our back pain was so bad, we could no longer put on our own underwear without a struggle or having to call for back up!

We forget that every time we ran for the bus, that we had a little ‘oops’ moment with our bladder!

We forget that we had to stop playing footie with our mates because our knee would flare up badly the next day!

Through regular Pilates practice and building solid foundations, we have managed to stop living in pain and moving like the Tin Man and we feel invincible! But those weak spots are still always our weak spots. Superman is pretty fabulous and can do all sorts of amazing things even with low level exposure to green Kryptonite. But amplify the Krptonite, add in not keeping up his fitness regime, and he experiences severe muscular weakness, pain and things spiral radically downhill to stop him flying.

Flow is like that. (or whatever you call it; mojo, being in the zone, runners high)
You aren’t in it or out of it like a light switching on. It’s a cycle. Some parts of the cycle are great and in the mojo vibes, sometimes it’s a struggle but without the storm there wouldn’t be a rainbow.

Lockdown can be a bit like that. After the third one, it can be hard to keep up the motivation to exercise, look after yourself, eat healthy. We were just getting somewhere with our fitness regime and now you might be struggling for motivation

Here’s Michelle Top Tips for Getting Back Your Exercise Mojo

  • Be kind to yourself! You can’t be on top form all the time, flow doesn’t work like that. Read my Kindness Starts Closer To Home article
  • Get dressed first thing. It might have been fun to be in your PJ’s every day at the start of lockdown but getting up, washed and dressed is essential for your own wellbeing and motivation.
  • Get out! A quick walk outside, meditation in your garden on a chair under the morning sunlight, breakfast outside reading your book, or watching the birds. It doesn’t have to be sunny- you’ll be dressed, just wear an extra layer or take blanket. Getting outside makes everything feel good in the world.
  • Accept and adopt a new normal. It might not be the same as going to your Pilates studio with the Reformer, or meeting up with friends at your Zumba class, or sweating it out in the gym and heading for a coffee after, but online classes have been an absolute lifeline for people managing lockdown, helping hearts stay healthy, managing weight, helping stress levels, keeping back and joint pain away and connecting to others for a human connection and interaction. Try finding a class/business that you feel connected to, that make you feel good and you will want to feel that time and time again. Even if you feel alone, being part of something makes you feel connected, not lonely.
  • Book things in- with all good intentions, you have to book things in. Commit your mind to doing it, show up, love it, repeat. It becomes a habit. Break the cycle- Book it in! 2-4 times a week, so you stay connected, committed, to showing up
  • Understand the four distinct and necessary stages of the Flow Cycle and where you are in the cycle: StruggleRelease/PivotFlow- Rest and Recovery (according to the Flow Genome Project)
  • STRUGGLE- where you may be now! When you are in struggle (with your body, with life, with your goals, with your exercise habits, with work tasks) you simply need to recognise you are in struggle then Pivot! If you don’t, you may push on, work harder, run faster but you still struggle and that’s just more frustrating! So STOP!
  • PIVOT- Pivotting is simply you recognising the struggle, and stepping away, Going for a bike ride, doing some gardening, spot of painting, a little dance round the house, even building a snowman! By pivoting, you release the nitrous oxide in our brain which acts as a neurotransmitter, which then flushes the stress hormones that are in overdrive and we start calming down. In Pilates, we call this “if in doubt, leave it out” Don’t struggle along with exercises if they are frustrating you (it’s probably other struggles in your life that are manifesting here, just leave it out, breathe, move on….
  • FLOW- thanks to some system calming, we now open ourselves up to the happy hormones! After the pivot, you can now crack back on with the task. This is where you can exercise and it feels effortless, where you can do the work task you’ve been putting off and it works first time, where you paint and hours of time passes by like it was 5 minutes! Dopamine and serotonin kick in which is great for mood enhancing and happiness. Now you are in Flow, which is good for productivity, creativity, reaction times, lateral thinking.
  • Then importantly, don’t forget to REST! Rest! It’s not doing nothing, it’s not sleeping, it’s resting! Your body needs it, your mind needs it and if you want to be productive or effective, happy and healthy, you need to do it!! Take time out to read, watch TV, lay down and do absolutely nothing!

I won’t confess to being the flow expert, so check out this great easy to understand blog post on Flow by Clare Sarah Johnson

Written by Michelle Smith

Founder of Mind Movement Matters, and The Pilates Pod.

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