Letting go of a dream

Letting go of a dream

Almost exactly a year ago, I achieved my Pilates Mat qualification.

It was an intense course, both physically and mentally.
It was early morning study sessions and or practicing the exercises to perfection.
It was spending all my morning gym time dedicated to finding a little quite corner, or an empty studio (yay) to practice, practice practice. Those that go to the Hillcrest Virgin Active know that trying to find a quite little corner is an accomplishment all on its own!
It was late night revisions sessions googling how to pronounce Tensor  fasciae latae among 64 other main muscles I needed to know.
It was spending extra money on 3 one-on-one Pilates lessons a week.

And I loved it!

I love learning new things, gaining a deeper understanding of the how’s and why’s of Pilates
I loved how the exercises were changing my body, almost before my eyes.
I loved watching my body get stronger and feeling my mind becoming sharper and more focussed.
I loved how the effort, focus and concentration was spilling into other areas of my life. Better mood, more productive at work, calmer, more energy and an overall sense of balance.
I loved Pilates. I still love Pilates. I mean it was originally referred to as Contrology by its creator, Joseph Pilates. It was meant to be for me. Control freak, meet Contrology……. I think the two of you will hit it off pretty well.

I refer to it as the secret of life. And it literally changed my life.

“Physical fitness is the first requisite of Happiness”

“Correctly executed and mastered to the point of subconscious reaction, these exercises will reflect grace and balance your routine activities”

– Joseph Pilates

However, when it came to taking a class for the exam, my nerves and anxiety went into overdrive. Actually, overdrive was an understatement. My regular anxiety buddies, UTI (Bladder infection) and sore throat dropped by for a visit, and wouldn’t leave.  When I say this was one of the hardest things I have had to do, I mean it. I just couldn’t get control of my nerves.

Forget getting your driver’s licence.
Forget having to drive then length and breadth of JHB for job interviews – back in the day before Sat Nav and google – maps… actual paper maps people!!)
Forget job interviews
Forget that I was the Northern Province’s (Limpopo) Y2K expert and was sent off to fly to Nelspruit, and then drive in a bright blue sedan polo from there to Pietersburg on my own (19 years old), again, with only an actual hard copy AA road map.
Forget me taking a wrong turn and landing up smack bang in the centre of a township, where thankfully some very kind police officers escorted me out back onto the main road.
Forget me having to spend 4 days in Pietersburg – where is was 42 degrees… in the shade!, and where the only dramatic thing to happen when the clock struck year 2000 was a flicker of a computer screen that needed to be replaced.
Forget all that…..

THIS mat class exam for some reason gave me way more anxiety.

To cut a long story short (Yes, I know, you don’t have to point out the irony of this statement… I could write for days) I did somehow pass and I was elated! I think my sheer passion and enthusiasm for Pilates carried me through. I had achieved what I set out to do. I achieved a dream I had since I was in school where one of my favourite teachers pitched up the gym to teach a Step class I was in and I thought to myself, oh my word I want to do that one day. Have a career, but also take my love of exercising further and teach an occasional class on the side. How awesome. I can do that.

And now I was one step closer. I achieved my dream and qualified to become a Pilates Mat instructor.

Now what?

Exactly… now what?
Well I turned my garage into a studio, started putting word out and I got a couple of clients for a Friday morning class. And one die-hard regular client in particular whom I dedicated my deepest gratitude for supporting me and pushing me further, and who has become such a dear friend in the process. Thank you Lisa, from the bottom of my heart. I could only commit to one class a week as between work and kids it was a struggle to find more than one time that I could commit to on a regular basis.  It has been like for almost a year, give or take a few times when either myself or Lisa couldn’t make it due to work commitments or school holidays. We tried once with kids around and I don’t think we managed to get through a single exercise without me having to yell, or moan or get up and down several times to avoid a fire or similar hazard. “Aiden put that Pilates ball down. No that dumbbell is not a bazooka!, The foam rollers are not Jedi knight swords, enough!!!”

But here’s the thing. Those same nerves and anxiety buddies of mine still hung around. WTF? I needed to figure out why. This was starting to bug me.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, where, charged with a bit of confidence, and the fact that I had put all this effort into achieving a qualification that was just sitting, parking off somewhere shooting the breeze, I needed to DO SOMETHING. So I casually mentioned to the gym manager, who was waiting for the Pilates instructor to arrive – she had been delayed, if they needed any backup/ sub instructors. She said yes let’s chat. I would need to do a First Aid course and a few other admin bits and pieces and she would email me. Well the email never arrived and I think I was quite relieved. The following week I arrive at my usual Saturday 7.15am class and the instructor, who is not dissimilar to an army sergeant major (Knows her stuff and is a little scary), says to me.. “Are you the one who wants to be my back up?  I nod. (again, thinking, what was I thinking). “Next week come teach my 8.15 beginners class and I will see if you are good enough” she says in a no-nonsense matter of fact tone.

So many more things went through my mind, most of which I tried to type here but Word kept correcting my spelling so Duck, duck duck duck ducking duck!

Hello sore throat, hey there UTI. You guys are back… ducking great. She took my number, I didn’t have hers. If I did I would have cancelled. Again, why? I stressed all week, practising.

Now it is the morning of.  My anxiety has now gone all terrorist on me and has held me hostage. No amount of deep breathing, rescue tablets, lavender oil, Urbanol, meditating (And of course my Headspace app free trial has run out – duck!) is helping at this point. Duck all. The nerves have banded together and clearly are holding me for ransom but I don’t know what that is. Why?  I go the gym, I do the class. I make it through. I sit down with the sergeant major and get feedback. I am always grateful for feedback, it shows someone cares to take the time to give you constructive thoughts on how you can improve so I really do appreciate it. It dawns on me that this is the almost the same feedback that I got from my exam a year earlier. Now, what I am exceptionally good at is being hard on myself. I am phenomenal at it, ducking brilliant. I do try to bear in mind this was my fist proper class of 8 people, yet still this sits with me for most of the day, and night.

This is a hard, truthful realisation that I think I have known for some time but didn’t want to admit to myself. Especially when I consider all the money, time and effort I have put into chasing this dream. I am not quitter and I hate making mistakes or doing the wrong thing.

Sometimes in life I put way too much effort into something that gives me little in return, for the pure reason that I don’t want to be a failure.

When I look back on my reasons for wanting to do it; because I love it, that I could do it AND be paid to do something I love, I think I missed the point. Simon Sinek and his “Start with Why” strategy is bang on the money.

I love doing Pilates, way more than I love teaching it.

The stress and anxiety of trying to master this teaching aspect of Pilates is actually affecting my love for it. (Sorry buddies, time for you oaks to pack your bags and bugger off now). To teach it, especially at this early stage where I am still new, takes hours and hours of prep time for one 45min class. I have a full-time job, I have two small kids, for the most part on my own, what the duck was I thinking? Any free time I have I want to be able to do Pilates, not hang around with my stress buddies worrying about teaching it.

There are countless number of motivational quotes that encourage you to chase after your dream, never give up at all costs, no quitting, put the effort it etc etc.  But there are very little that say, sometimes the outcome may not be what you expected it to be. You got your dream job, house, life etc and then suddenly realisation smacks you in the face, or it may be slow poke in the ribs over a period of time, that you got what you want, but not what you need?  Credit here to ColdPlay’s Fix You Lyrics.

I think it takes just as much courage to say when it’s not working, as it does to pursue your dream at all costs. Both have costs associated with it. Perhaps the objectives were not clear from the start, they could have changed along the way. Don’t mistake this for quitting on a dream. I wanted to learn all about Pilates and do it and I love it. But teaching it is a different game. Sometimes you can get it wrong. And that’ okay. I need to learn that it is okay. It is okay to fail/admit I got it wrong.

For me, right now, I am going to sniper shoot my anxiety and stress buddies right between the ducking eyes and lay them to rest.
I am going to let go of my dream to teach Pilates, for now at least.
Then I am going to go and do some Pilates with a lovely smile of relief on my face.

Perfectly Sorted
Bron
x

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#FitFriends

#FitFriends

Fitness for me is not a fad. It is for survival. I have tried life without it, and life with it, and I can unanimously confirm that I function better as a human being when I exercise.

Kids, if you don’t want Mom to stomp around the house yelling like a two-headed dragon, breathing fire and all…. Let her go workout.

Taking an hour out of my day sometimes feels like it is counterproductive, placing more pressure on me as then I have less time for my enormous TO DO list. But, ironically, I find it actually gives me more time. I am more focused, my head is clearer, and I have more energy. I am calmer and subsequently more productive. Leigh at work will attest to that. She can tell as soon as I have walked into the office if I have done Pilates or gym that morning or not. But during those very stressful pressurised times with inflexible work deadlines, inconvenient school projects and never-ending chores, trying to squeeze in a workout feels damn near impossible, and yes, I will admit it, guilty. Guilty for trying to put me first.

I have to keep reminding myself that if I don’t take that time for me in the mornings, I won’t have another opportunity that day, and by late afternoon I have resorted to screeching like a banshee to survive, then feeling guilty for not being a calm happy Mommy.  I looked up what a Banshee it as I use the term all the time. It refers to an Irish legend of a female spirit whose wailing warns of a death in the house. Pretty spot on I’d say.

The motivation to get out of bed or off the couch is tough.  It can feel overwhelming if you haven’t exercised in a long time or even if you have just taken some time out during the holidays. But overall the past 3 years have been the most consistent I have ever been with my fitness (give or take a few blips here and there) and here’s why:

# 1 Learn from the professionals

When I started, I teamed up with a friend. We shared a personal trainer, Tyrone, and he got us going. It is hard to flake out when you are meeting your buddy and more importantly paying for that session. Shireen would rather die that waste money. (Accountants for you).

# 2 Dress for the job you want, not the job you have

Same goes for working out. If you are shloomping around the house in your pj’s and bunny slippers you won’t feel like going to the gym, you will feel like crawling back into bed to binge watch a series. No no no.
Get up and get dressed in your lycra. Just do it.  It will put you in the right frame of mind for what you want to do, which is go to the gym.  Don’t get caught in the trap of having to have the right length tights, the coolest thermal, breathable, stretch fabric, compression, extra support, padded top. Just sommer get a T from Pick ‘n Pay clothing to start.  Tell yourself if you make it to the gym 3 times a week for the next month that then you can go get a super awesome top from Cotton On. You will eventually get to that point when you are swanning around Hillcrest in your active-wear. It happens.

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# 3 Show up

In between the PT sessions, I said to myself “Just show up. Just get to the gym”. Easier said than done if you know the Kloof Virgin Active and the parking saga.  You manage to get out of bed, in the car, fought school traffic to get to the gym, and all in vain as you spend the next 25 minutes trying to find a bloody parking. (See Never Skip Mondays for my theory on the Aqua Gals hogging parkings) Lord forbid you have to park all the way over at the Spar centre and walk over to the gym. Seriously. By that stage you have missed the class and are now walking around the gym wondering what to do. The point here is that things will try and get in your way. Traffic, bad weather, no parking, forgot your gym towel etc.  But don’t let those be excuses. Leave earlier. Pack the night before. Just go park in the Spar centre next door for gods sake. Just show up. Just jump on the treadmill or the bike for 10 minutes. No one is going to judge you. Well maybe they might be snickering “Did you see that chick? She just arrived at the gym, walked for 5min and left. WTF?”  So what? You showed up. Keep doing that every day and soon you will start to form a habit.

# 4 Plan ahead

Once you have gotten into the habit of going to the gym, you need to plan a workout. If you don’t have a good idea of what you will be doing when you get there, you will most likely feel like a lost fart cruising around the circuit area, then the machines (thinking how on earth to you even get into that machine?), then the free weights section(and get all intimidated by the beefcakes in their teeny shirts), get all confused, overwhelmed and then leave or go sit in the steam room. Or you would have had you thought ahead and packed a costume and a towel. (I speak from personal experience there).

Have a plan.
Even if your plan says Treadmill 20min, bike 20min, stepper 10min. Cool down stretches.

I enjoy going to classes but there are times when the kids have put on their best sloth impersonations to the tune of me yelling “Let’s go let’s go let’s go let’s go” and, between trying to find shoes, and a snack, and peeing, we have left late, like really late and missed the class. Then of course there is the drop off saga at Kids V club. Any other time I am just a doormat, a butler, a cook, a cleaner but as soon as I drop them at the kids club, they put on their best puppy dog eyes, glistening tears, and sob for me like they think I am dropping them off at the SPCA to be rehoused. They cry, and cling to me, crawl on my lap. I finally hear the words “but Mommy I love you” just at the moment I want to do a “drop and run”. Don’t believe them. They are trained in the art of guilt-enforcement.  Just like a band-aid, you have to tear them off quickly, its hurts only for a moment, and then run like hell. Consider it your warm up. Don’t even go to the ladies change rooms in case they see you come out again. And I promise, 30 seconds after that they are jolling around playing Simon Says or tag. Like I said earlier there will be challenges. Lots.

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#5 FitFriends

Lastly but most importantly, if you want to maintain your fitness regime, you need to buddy up and find some #fitfriends. Create a whatsapp group and keep each other motivated. If you have planned to meet up for a run or a class or to workout in the weights section, you are less likely to bail if you have said you would be there. You don’t want to be  THAT flaky friend who let the team down.

We are social creatures by nature so when you add in the social element and get a group of like-minded peeps together you will be more motivated and commitment to your fitness goals.

 

This is a shout out to my special #FitFriends.  Like I mentioned above, the last few years have been the longest, most consistent I have been with fitness and the benefits for me have been numerous. Not only from a physical and mental point of view but from a friendship point of view. From Reen who kickstarted this all with me (and who has moved on to conquering the trail running word – so proud hun), to Michelle and Lisa who used to join me for Pump classes at the Kloof gym, to Shaz who has been by my side for 2 fabulous Women’s Health Fit Night Out weekends and a very tough Jump City Challenge and to Vicky, my Hardcore Pilates instructor, who helped me find my love and passion for Pilates. And of course my #FitFriends Estelle and Kimmy. Estelle brought the fun, created the photos, and was the inspiration behind the now famous “Estelle is here” phrase which usually occurs around 40min into the session when we feel faint and need to sit for a moment.

And then there is the Wonder Woman that is Kimmy. For most of last year I was blessed with my very own drill sergeant, sorry um I meant to say personal trainer, who is for all intents and purposes a professional (just needs the paper), who  dressed for the occasion with Wonder Woman tights, who showed up every day, who planned ahead with a different routine, every day, and kept me motivated, every day. Not many people would be able to afford that luxury and you gave it willingly. Thank you, my dear friend. I have learnt so much. I have muscles I didn’t know existed and I have a friendship that will last a lifetime.  But now that JHB has claimed you, it is going to be incredibly hard to move on and keep focused. Estelle and I are going to do our best to make you proud.

After struggling to put pen to paper for the last week (which is unusual for me) I wrote this today to say thank you to my #FitFriends for being my female powerhouse, my foundation and fitspiration; to say goodbye to our special Kimmy, and finally to remind myself how I started this journey, take my own advice and keep motivated. Keep moving.

Wake up. Work out.

Your fitness motivation, perfectly sorted.

Bron

Never Skip Mondays

Never Skip Mondays
Unless it’s the first Monday of January.
Then don’t.
Don’t do it.
Do not go to the gym.
Unless you are thoroughly prepared…..
….Prepared to wait in line for the bikes, the no-brainier starting place for those of us who rushed to the gym with no plan of action, hoping to formulate a workout regime in the 10min warm up session.
…Prepared to fight for your sliver of space in the weights section squashed between Bob who, on his first ever visit to the gym, has grabbed the 24kg weights and is nursing them tentatively while checking his phone for what do with them, and Nigel, who was clever enough to get there early and have his allocated 20min max on the treadmill, which was still enough time to make him sweat like a guy who just got home, empty handed, on his wedding anniversary, and who has now created a sweat puddle exactly where you wanted to place your mat. Well that is to say if you even managed to get a mat or a stretchy band. Foam rollers? Ja right, are a myth at this stage.
…Prepared to deal with the water aerobics gals. Omg. The water aerobics gals! They arrive in what surely must be 2 cars per person based on the lack of parking spaces, the same goes for locker allocations. They come armed with their hand cream, foot cream, face cream, body cream, lotions and potions, and don’t forget the powder. (Talc not the meal supplement kind). They lay it all out and meticulously apply them in a specific routine taking over most of the changing room. No, there will be no quick shower and change at the gym this Monday.
The floor staff will probably be brand new or temps, hungover or pissed off for having to work on a public holiday.
And let’s be honest, anyone you meet there, today on this first Monday of a New Year, you are not likely to see again until this time next year.
If you are serious about your fitness, go on Tuesday. By Thursday it will be hundred times better and by the weekend you will have your pick of machines.
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So what is it about Mondays?  Or New Year’s for that matter, when it comes to resolutions?

For those of us with OCD  tendencies, this New Years Day is particularly important. Is a Monday. It is the 1st of the month of THE 1st Month. It’s all lining up to be a spectacular commencement of 2018. A fresh start. A new leaf. A clean page. ….

… for all those New Year’s Resolutions. (A firm decision to do or no to something)

Yesterday I was sleeping in, eating carbs and didn’t even know how to spell meditation, but now that it is a New Year, I am going to run the Comrades, create a LCHF cookbook, while meditating at 4am each morning. I am no psychic, but I can tel you now its not going to happen. It never works because we still bring ourselves and all our flaws into the New Year, the same people we were 24 hours ago.

I read a great article by Mark Manson the other day about New Years Resolutions that explained so well, my thoughts on the topic.  If you have a spare 30min, I highly recommend you read this article, Your Goals are Overrated. We fail because our goals are too big and our commitment too small.  We don’t need new resolutions. We need new habits. And to pick the right habits. And compounding habits are the holy grail. (refer to Mark’s article). Habits will get you to your goals, it’s the only way. One step, one meal, one conscious choice, one 5min meditation session at a time.

I am not going to make New Year’s Resolutions, instead my 2018 Game Plan is to work on the 6 fundamental daily habits

 

For those that don’t have time to read Mark’s article, here is the cheat sheet.
Below are the 6 most important compounding habits that will be the most effective use of our precious resources namely; time, energy and discipline. They are the also the habits that are most likely to help you form more good habits (hence the reference to compounding).
#1 Exercise
#2 Cooking (Diet)
#3 Meditation
#4 Reading
#5 Writing
#6 Socialising
I spent the last few days of 2017 desperately trying to clean everything that was dirty, sort everything that was in chaos, fix everything that was broken. Why?
I didn’t want to start a New Year with things not perfect. My relationship with perfectionism is a love-hate one. Some days it brings me joy, like when I have organised my wardrobe by style and then colour. It creates exceptionally high standards for me to achieve. Think of that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. It is also my crutch, or my ball and chain would be more accurate. It often holds me back. It stops me from living life at times. I know it is something I need to work on, consistently.
By mid-morning on the 31st December I had to wave the white flag of defeat and realise this just ain’t gonna happen. I gave up, climbed onto a lilo in the pool and relaxed. Yip, true story. Next thing, I had a house full of family and friends having an awesome time, saying goodbye to 2017, completely impromptu. We managed to find some snacks, some drinks, some lunch even… the weather was awesome. It was a fabulous, completely unplanned day. Lesson learnt right there Bron.
To all those who live with perfectionism. OCD, ADD, AHDH, lack of willpower, or whatever your own personal hurdles may be, I hope that 2018 can be the start of your journey to create effective meaningful habits that lay the groundwork for you achieving your goals. Your dreams can be achieved, one habit at a time.
2018! Perfectly Sorted
WIP* Bron (who did not go to the gym today)
*Work In Progress
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