The Pilates Transformation: Shifting From an Unhealthy to Healthy Mindset
Fairy tales...fables...nursery rhymes – all pieces of the joyous and imaginative experience of storytelling. As a toddler, I treasured those magical moments of drinking in another bedtime story before drifting off to sleep.
Remember the tale of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears?” Who would’ve thought this classic children’s story would become the impetus for a concept in psychology known as the Goldilocks Principle.
And, in case you're wondering, the term has nothing to do with an addiction to porridge or believing talking bears exist. Rather, it’s about finding just the right balance.
So...why is this important?
Have you ever realized how we hold ourselves to extremes? Good versus bad. Right versus wrong. There’s no in-between. It’s all or nothing. This type of black-and-white thinking can wind up becoming a destructive habit, distorting your perception of reality. And half the time, most of us are doing it without even consciously realizing it.
For example, you’re either 100% dedicated to dieting or you’re stuffing your face like a pig. If you succumb to the allure of a freshly baked cookie, you’ve completely ruined your entire diet. Just toss being healthy in the trash. There’s no hope for you.
Sound familiar? I know it does for me.
Speaking from experience, I can tell you this type of polarized thinking is mentally and physically harmful. It’s why I used to be miserable. Anxious. Unhappy. I was literally self-sabotaging myself.
That is until I discovered Pilates.
Here are some common extremes we hold ourselves to and how a simple shift in perspective can completely transform your life.
Obsessing Over Unrealistic Body Standards vs. Respecting Your Body
For many, the idea of loving your own body is a concept that feels foreign and unattainable. I completely get it. I’ve been there. Between diet culture, #fitspiration accounts on social media, and unrealistic beauty images show in magazines and media, we’re being exposed to messaging that essentially says living a happy, successful, and healthy life requires you to be thin and look a certain way. #NoPainNoGain, right? Wrong.
For me, Pilates served as a gateway to discovering an inner strength I never thought possible. It shifted my mindset, teaching me the importance of holistic wellness while showing me how to respect and celebrate my body. The transformation was so substantial that it inspired me to pursue a new career path and purpose: to help other women discover their worth, find their confidence, and live more fulfilling lives. And it all starts with altering the conversation surrounding fitness – focusing on mindful movement and controlled breathing vs. heart-pounding, sweat-drenching workouts.
You’ll often hear me talk about body neutrality because it’s much more authentic and powerful than using the term “body positivity.” The reason? Let’s be honest: who the hell is radiating positivity 100% of the time? You can’t hold yourself to that standard – I mean unless you’re literally the Dalai Lama.
The word neutrality gives you the space to be human. While the goal is to feel good about yourself a bulk of the time, it’s perfectly normal to have an “off” day. By adopting this idea of body neutrality, you’ll never feel like you’ve failed – and most importantly, you’ll still have a massive amount of respect for your body (and all the amazing things it’s capable of).
Focusing on self-care over punishing workouts will help you begin shifting your perspective. You hate being an unhappy fitness junkie, so let’s make a change. Comparing yourself to Victoria Secret models and your unhealthy addiction to social media makes you feel insecure, depressed, and disconnected from your true worth – so why not ditch the comparison game and fill your social feeds with joyful, empowering accounts instead? If it seems impossible – I can tell you it’s not. I’ve made my fair share of fitness mistakes in my life, but I’ve learned from them – using Pilates as an outlet for adopting new habits...happier, healthier habits that have completely changed my life.
Punishing Workouts vs. Mindful Movement
We all strive for a balanced body – but that isn’t simply defined by flat abs and sculpted arms. It’s also about mental clarity, genuine happiness, feeling calm in lieu of stress or anxiety, and gaining the motivation and energy needed to live an inspiring and rewarding life. Mindful exercises, like Pilates, work your entire body – allowing you to form an invaluable connection between your body, mind, and spirit.
Unlike a vast majority of other workout systems, Pilates uses deliberate, controlled movements to activate your muscles on a deeper level – working your entire body. Each workout in my program lasts between 10 and 30 minutes, making it simple to integrate into your weekly routine without feeling like it’s a dreaded chore. Plus, the on-demand videos can be done anytime and anywhere – even from the convenience of your home.
What you’ll truly love about the exercise is how great you’ll feel physically and mentally post-workout. Yes, that means no more exhausting, can’t move, feelings of complete and utter dread after some insane high-intensity workout. Instead, you’ll feel a renewed sense of purpose, a calm and clear mind, and an intoxicating endorphin-boost like no other.
Exercising shouldn’t be a vehicle we use as a form of punishment for eating a burger or having a slice of pie over the weekend. The motive for exercise should be to improve your focus and mental clarity before a big meeting, or to destress and revive your spirits after a long day – a.k.a not something you do to torture yourself because of unwarranted guilt. The biggest thing I’ve learned from practicing Pilates is that exercise is a way to celebrate your body and what it’s capable of, not punishment for what you ate or a picture you saw on Instagram.
Guilt and Shame vs. Happiness and Confidence
Many of us do the bulk of our black-and-white thinking when it comes to how we treat our relationship with food. Often times, we simply fall into the pattern of categorizing certain foods as “good” or “bad.” As a result, we force-feed ourselves kale for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and feel completely ashamed of ourselves if we have a single scoop of ice cream.
Doesn’t that make you want to shove your face in a pillow and scream? Seriously. Let yourself indulge in a sweet treat or plate of fries – it’s about finding a healthy balance. As cute as caterpillars are, you don’t need to impersonate one and solely munch on teeny tiny little pieces of leaves. When we only define food as being one extreme or the other, it winds up suffocating us with feelings of guilt for straying off track.
As Elsa would say, “Let it gooo” 🎵🎶. It’s incredibly freeing to stop overanalyzing every bite you take. It’ll feel like a weight has been lifted – and all it requires is a little moderation.
Another way we fall victim to feelings of guilt and shame is the way we choose to speak to ourselves. Whenever I find myself falling into old patterns – allowing things I see in the media to capitalize on my insecurities –I simply give myself a little pep talk to put my mind at ease. Because when it’s all said and done, “perfect” does not exist.
But you know what does? Happiness. And when your life is filled with joy and purpose, you are officially living your best life. Prioritize self-love over self-hate. It takes practice, but don’t be afraid to call yourself out on it – because, over time, your mentality will naturally follow this line of thought – just like learning something new or forming a new habit.
Each of these dichotomies represents who I was before I started pilates versus who I am today. And I’m not gonna lie, it feels really effing good. I never want to go back to the dark, depressing place I was in a few years ago, and that’s why I’m so passionate about helping other women avoid going down that rabbit hole as well.