How to own your habits so your habits don’t own you with Sandra Chuma

If you have been trying to incorporate more exercise into your life you know exactly how challenging it can be to build the habit. Our habits make us who we are, so it’s important to intentionally cultivate good habits. Our guest today is Sandra Chuma, a coach and certified habit-building expert. In this episode, she … How to own your habits so your habits don’t own you with Sandra Chuma Read More » The post How to own your habits so your habits don’t own you with Sandra Chuma appeared first on Lindywell. Mindful movement changed the fitness game for me. I spent years exercising without any sense of what my body needed or how it actually felt. Coincidentally, I could also never stay consistent with any program or routine.  I’d be invested and excited for a few months and then life would get busy and all of a sudden, lifting weights or going to the gym felt like the last thing I wanted to do. So I’d stop and then eventually, start again at some point in the distant future. You may be familiar with this off-and-on relationship with your fitness routine. One of the things that made it possible for me to stay consistent once and for all was mindful movement.  Pilates brought this style of exercise to my attention and in the last 10 years, it’s created a powerful shift, not just in my fitness routine but in my life as well.  If you struggle with stopping and starting your fitness routine but want to be consistent enough to experience both the mental and physical benefits, this may be the missing piece. Mindful movement reminds us that exercise is about so much more than simply showing up. It’s about slowing down, being in your body, and taking even just 10 minutes for you to focus on yourself. Let’s talk about what mindful movement is and how it can help your fitness routine stick once and for all. What Is Mindful Movement?  Do you pay attention to the sensation of your muscles contracting as you lift weights? Are you able to breathe slowly and intentionally as you move your body through your workout? How often do you listen to the needs of your body when choosing your workout each day? All of these ways of thinking about and approaching exercise are part of mindful movement. This is the integration of mental awareness and physical exertion. It helps you focus on what your body is doing—and how it feels—from one exercise to the next.  This style of movement helped me stick with my workout routine once and for all. I started choosing exercises that my body was craving rather than forcing something I didn’t want. I also started noticing the mental benefits of consistent mindful movement, like less stress and better sleep.  All of this showed me that simply showing up to my workouts wasn’t enough. To stick with it, I needed to slow down, tune into my body, and take note of how each workout was impacting my life, not just during but after. How to Incorporate Mindful Movement A few of the most common examples of mindful movement include yoga, tai chi, and, of course, Pilates. This is the basis for our workouts here at Lindywell, but all types of movement can be done with a mindful approach using these basic principles: Slow down and breathe: Slow down each movement and use your breath to connect with your body as you do it. For example, breathe out as you roll your body down to touch your toes, breathe in at the bottom, and breathe out as you roll back up. Focus on what your body needs: Some days you may want to lift heavy weights but other days you may want to stretch gently. This is especially true for women who have a monthly cycle. Choose the movement that your body is craving each day rather than forcing something that doesn’t feel good. Set an intention: Your workout does so much more than build muscle. It can help you tap into your creativity, let go of anxiety, or cultivate energy for your day. What do you want to get out of your workout? Set that intention and keep it front of mind as you go through the movements so it becomes not only about the movement itself but how you feel as a result. How Mindful Movement Creates Consistency If your idea of a workout is to rush through a series of intense exercises as quickly as possible, then mindful movement may be far outside your comfort zone. That’s okay, I’ve been there! But, trust me, if you’re willing to give it a try, this will change the way you experience movement.  It may also be the missing piece to creating more consistency in your workout routine. On that note, here are eight science-backed reasons mindful movement will make your fitness routine (finally!) stick. 1. Stress Management The combination of being mindful while also moving your body is impactful, according to researchers at Penn State University. This state of being can help relieve stress, anxiety, or depression because mindfulness trains you to take deep breaths and concentrate on physical sensations, rather than what’s happening in your mind.  Both of these actions reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels, creating a relaxing effect on the body—even when it’s in motion.  When do you most often bail on your workouts? When you have a stressful day. Yet that’s when you need it most. Consistent mindful movement with Pilates is one of the main ways I show up as the best version of myself for my kids, my husband, and my business because it helps me manage and reduce my stress.  Without it, I would definitely struggle more to juggle everything that life throws my way so I always prioritize it. 2. Fewer Injuries When you slow down to focus on the correct form, cadence, and technique of an exercise, you’re less likely to injure yourself. This is important to consider because, when you injure yourself, you’re more likely to get out of your workout rhythm to take time for rest and healing.  Slow down with mindful movement to avoid injury in the first place. This way you have one less reason to get out of your fitness routine. Let’s be honest, we all have enough reasons already, right?! 3. Better Sleep Mindful movement can boost sleep quality and alleviate insomnia by regulating your nervous system. A regulated nervous system can stimulate the natural sleep-wake cycle, in addition to helping you manage inflammation, increase oxygenation, and lower your resting heart rate, all of which promote better sleep. Lindywell member, Kristen, experienced this after starting Pilates: “I have also noticed that I am getting more deep sleep than I was before starting Pilates, and there is a noticeable increase in my core strength, which is definitely encouraging and motivating.” Take note of your sleep patterns and habits. When you slow down your workout, do you notice you sleep better at night? This benefit might just be enough to help you stick with your routine because we all feel so much better when we get quality sleep! 4. Mood Regulation Physical activity releases mood-lifting hormones (cue that post-workout glow) like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. When you integrate mindfulness

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