5 Steps Towards More Self-Love

I see inspirational quotes all over Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram all day long so they tend to become white noise after a while. The other day, though, I came across a quote that really stayed with me: “I workout because I love my body, not because I hate it.” I think this is a brilliant attitude to have. Way too many people are punishing themselves for those extra 5 pounds, the pizza they had for lunch, not making it to spin class…the list goes on and on. These thoughts build up to make a completely negative self-esteem and view on life. I know first hand that when you stop doubting every decision you make or hating yourself for eating a piece of pie, it becomes a lot easier to be healthy and happy. In fact, when I let go of some of the rules that were causing me to feel negative every time I broke them, I actually lost weight and developed a much healthier self-esteem and approach to wellness.

Being healthy is very, very important. I don’t advocate throwing out your apples and exchanging them for a bag of Doritos in order to be happy, I’m just saying maybe if we started practicing more self-love and let go of all the “I have to workout because I hate my thighs” talk, we’d be happier and find it a bit easier to make healthy choices. So in addition to repeating “I workout because I love my body, not because I hate it” all the time, I recommend practicing these 5 steps to develop more self-love:

1. Pick Something You Love About Your Body.

Everyone has parts of their body that they wish they could change, but we all have parts that we’re pretty happy with to (we just forget about the good parts quicker). Do you love your muscular calfs? Check them out any time you start harping on your thighs. Don’t hesitate to brag about it either. You can totally roll your sleeve up and tell your best girl friends how awesome you feel about the tone you’ve developed in your arms!

Think about the progress you’re making too! Didn’t make it to a Pilates class at all this weekend? Remember how much smoother your roll-up was last time you were there so you have some POSITIVE motivation to get you back in to class.

2. Say No to Negative.

Literally say no to negative. As soon as you start that self-hatin’, just. say. no. Say it out loud, or just in your head, but do it. Although no is by nature a negative word, giving yourself the power to say “no, there is absolutely no value in feeling negative right now” will help you make room for positive thoughts and self-love.

3. Compliment Others.

Being positive and admiring others for their healthy lifestyles, delicious looking healthy lunch, or super toned legs (and meaning it) will help you feel positive about their success, instead of jealous. Admire people and let them inspire you, they are just proof that achieving your goals is totally doable. Plus won’t helping someone feel really good about themselves make you feel pretty good about yourself, too?

4. Calories Only Count If You Feel Bad About Them.

Okay, we all know this one isn’t really true but in my mind, it totally makes sense. I used to have off-limits foods that I felt I should absolutely not eat in order to be healthy so when I inevitably ate them, I got down on myself and ate even more of it to really get it all in before I cut it out completely again tomorrow. What a terrible way to eat food! If you have a piece of amazing chocolate cake, please ENJOY IT! If you eat that cake and you love it and you enjoy it and you don’t worry about never eating it again your brain will shut up, let you eat a normal portion and move on with your life. Self-hate will make you feel crappy which will probably make you eat more crap. So love that cake and love yourself.

5. Practice Forgiveness.

Forgive others. Forgive yourself. Forgive Giselle for being perfect. Forgive that negativity for creeping in to your brain, because its sneaky and it will. Give yourself a big hug, check out that awesome part of your body that you feel confident about and say “It’s okay girl (or boy), you look good and I love you.”

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Home Equipment Favorites: The Resistance Band

Working out at home is a beautiful thing. Especially if you live somewhere like Buffalo where, as we have recently learned, snow and wind can keep us cooped up inside and all of our gyms and Pilates studios closed! Being an in-home Pilates instructor, I have found a number of really awesome pieces of equipment that greatly increase the number of exercises my clients can do in the comfort of their own homes while keeping their muscles guessing and their brains excited.

The resistance band (or Thera-band) is one of my absolute favorite pieces of home studio equipment. Not much more than a long piece of latex (they come in non-latex too), the resistance band can be tied around your legs, held in one hand, held in two hands, folded in half, stretched long from foot to head, wrapped behind your back…the possibilities are infinite. My top reasons for loving the resistance band are:

1.  Varied Resistance: Need more tension? Grab further towards the middle of the band. Too much? Just move your hands back to the ends. Manipulate the resistance band in any number of ways to change your tension: fold it in half, tie it tighter, or just move your hands along the band to change the resistance.  This allows you to progress through your workout, making exercises more challenging as you grow stronger.

2.  Durable: Resistance bands can take a lot of pulling, twisting, tying, and getting stomped on before they come anywhere close to ripping or breaking. Resistance bands are inexpensive and can last for years. The only major threat to the bands are cats. Even the best resistance bands will break more easily once they have cats scratching holes in them (yes, I know from experience). Cat scratching aside, this piece of equipment will take all the pulling you can give it!

 3.  Adds an Extra Challenge: There are resistance band specific exercises, and then there are the millions of exercises you can simply add a resistance band to in order to make it harder. I love adding resistance bands to the Pilates side-lying leg series or tying it around my clients’ legs during Hundreds to challenge the outer thigh more. There are tons of ways to make an old exercise seem new again with the extra challenge a resistance band adds.

 4.  Therapeutic Benefits: The bands are great for adding an extra challenge to a workout, but they can also be used to help rehabilitate injuries, work on muscles imbalances, or help stretch and strengthen in a gentle way. For example, the bands assist in a 3-way stretch that is typically done on the Pilates Reformer to stretch the hamstrings in 3 different directions without stressing the upper body or forcing the body in to an incorrect posture. I also use resistance bands for exercises that rehab ankle injuries, knee injuries, and shoulder injuries in a safe and effective way.

5.  E-C-C-E-N-T-R-I-C Muscle Contraction: Resistance bands are awesome because they encourage you to strengthen muscles in an elongated position through eccentric contraction. The nature of the bands forces you to control the movement as you return to the starting position of each exercise, giving you an added benefit that you can’t quite get when lifting weights. That little extra work may be all you need to find the muscle tone you’ve always coveted!

Click the links below to try some of my favorite resistance band exercises.

For the Legs and Hips

For the Shoulders (Careful not to let those shoulders inch up to your ears)

Stretch it Out

Buy your resistance bands HERE!  

*I recommend starting with a heavy resistance, you can always adjust where you hold the band to give yourself more or less tension. I like buying the 6 yard spools because the precut bands are never as long as you want them to be! Cut yours easily with scissors to a length that is about the same as your height.