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  • Denise Shaw

March Mindfulness

Updated: Mar 2



Action for Happiness created a "Mindful March" calendar to help us experience various ways to be present and fully immersed in the moment. How often do you catch your mind wandering or what I call "future tripping" about things that haven't even taken place? The root of most of my sleep challenged nights have been a result of a "busy-brain." However, when I actually take time to take deeps breaths and listen to one of my favorite meditation channels on youtube, I'm always able to fall back to sleep. Once I understood the workings of the brain and accepted that I actually DO have control over my thoughts AND have a choice on how to respond, from either victim or creator mode, my life changed in ALL areas.


Continuing along the path of developing a present mindset, those who follow me on Instagram (@deniselovespilates) may have noticed that I have been advocating for Body Positivity and weight neutrality and against the Diet, restrictive, thin-obsessed culture. As a Pilates Fitness trainer and approval junky, these areas are extremely fear-provoking for me to be vocal about. I mean, isn't my industry focused on attaining "a strong core with long, lean muscles?" Am I not supposed to tell you what you can and cannot eat in order to "lose weight" and reach that magic number on the scale? I would be remiss by not sharing that I have a history with extremely disordered eating and destructive compensatory habits around food and exercise. Fortunately and thankfully I have sought a lot of recovery and continue to do personal work in these areas, which I am completely open about if you have any questions. Therefore, I don't have the "authoritah" (for you South Park fans), nor do I have any desire to put you on a specific meal plan, throw you on a scale, and wrap a tape measure around your waist/hips/thighs and allow you, a fully capable, resourceful adult to surrender your agency to me. I believe we know when we are making a choice that is not serving us nor in line with our goals. What I can tell you for sure from the research and personal experience is that restrictive eating and dieting will always lead to binging (numbing behavior). If a goal weight # is attained through restrictive eating and extreme measures the pendulum will swing back in the other direction. Then the cycle repeats again....and again...and this will become your narrative until you decide to work on attaining a sustainable, sane approach to your overall wellbeing on a decision by decision bases. This is where the invaluable life skill of mindfulness comes in. A couple of recovery tools I continue to use are practicing mindfulness and thought control. I found that when I want to binge and/or get fixated on my body, it was a way of disconnecting from the present or what Life Coach, Brooke Castille describes as "buffering." If I want to avoid uncomfortable feelings and disconnect from anything too real my brain is very well trained to go to food, fixating on my body, over-exercise (yes, that includes my figure/bodybuilding competition days), alcohol, social media, etc.. I also resort to these lil' escapes as a way of procrastinating on taking action towards the life I want. It's so much easier to check out than take intentional action that will most likely take me out of my comfort zone. Practicing mindfulness allows me to catch myself before I dive into the behavior and then ask myself, "If I wasn't fixated on trying to escape, what would I be thinking about? What kind of action am I afraid to take? What is one step that I am willing to take right now towards (whatever I'm avoiding)." When I engage these tools, presence and redirecting thoughts, I allow myself to build more evidence that I CAN do this. Self-efficacy and confidence will follow when you give yourself these gifts of tolerating and moving through the discomfort of the moment with these tools. My dream of launching my business back in 2004 was to support people on their journeys in living out their optimal quality of life. When you feel strong and healthy in your body it can be a vessel in which to carry out your dreams and life's purpose. A vessel that is striving towards attaining strength and balance is critical in order to navigate today's increasing life challenges. There are immeasurable physical, mental, and emotional benefits to a consistent fitness routine. For those who are challenged by the monkey brain, Pilates, in particular, can help you get reconnected to your body. Pilates can accommodate physical challenges and help to restore movement in a gentle, supportive way. It brings me pure joy to share my love of Pilates and developing strength, flexibility, and balance with all of my clients. My goal as a Health and Wellness Coach is to partner with you to make healthier choices around self-care in the areas of healthy, balanced eating, physical activity, improved sleep, managing stress, cultivating a positive mindset. Lifestyle change is a process and not an event. Accountability is part of the process, however, only for the purpose to identify and move through barriers that are getting between you and the life you want and deserve. This work transcends a number of a scale or tape measure. The focus is on the process and the journey where the real work is done. "Happy people plan actions, they don't plan results," Dennis Wholey



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