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December 30, 2017

Choosing Grace Over Guilt | Alix Schaubhut

It’s that time of year when the word ‘resolution’ becomes one of two things, a foundation for change or a bed of guilt to wallow in for months to come. This year, what if we choose Grace over the guilt of unmet resolutions?Guilt can be a useful emotion; when appropriately applied one may feel remorse for a wrong doing. The problem is that guilt more often resembles a parasite that lives within us creating feelings of shame and manifesting itself in blame. Guilt ultimately does not function to resolve a problem, but rather does more damage. This year instead of carrying guilt, what if we make a plan to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we are certain to make along the way, and keep reaching for our resolutions anyway? Guilt then transforms from a rather useless emotion, and can be an opportunity to sit with the feeling, then forgive ourselves and move forward. 

How do we choose Grace over Guilt? Mindfulness is the ability to appreciate where we are, and not stress about where we believe we are supposed to be. The way to authentic change and fulfilling a resolution takes dedicated time for self-reflection, and continual re-direction of the mind back to the NOW. Unmet expectations of ourselves and others emotionally locks us in a state of constant dissatisfaction and disappointment. In the state of expectation, we never allow the beauty of enjoying what is to happen. Instead we are left with nothing ever being enough. Mindfulness is unplugging from Instagram and connecting with how we feel on the inside. 

When I found Pilates, I was in state of chaos in my family life. My husband had been diagnosed with cancer, requiring years of chemotherapy and a major surgery with no guarantee of long-term health. In this state of chaos I made one small change. I decided to pursue a comprehensive certification in Classical Pilates. This was a serious commitment overall, but it broke down into two areas of focus: daily practice, and learning to be mindful of my body and where it was in space. Pilates requires total focus and control. It was this daily hour of self-practice that I learned the idiosyncrasies of my body. There were moments of blame and dissatisfaction, yet I forgave myself and learned to let go of the guilt. I started to recognize how difficult true transformation can be and how adept the body is at telling us everything we need to know. I even began to study how our negative emotional energy physically manifests in our body causing aches and pains. I realized that daily mindfulness practice and concerted movement of our body in this attentive way was a challenging commitment, but it was one that changed my entire life. This one shift to take time and pay attention to myself was the catalyst of every beautiful change in my life. 

Now after working out thousands of bodies over the past few years, I have realized that there is absolutely no quick fix. It is small habits daily that create revolution of self over time. It is the choice to do one hour for yourself five days a week. It is the choice to pay attention to how you feel in every moment. It is the grit that brings the grace. The strongest of clients are the ones that show up on a schedule and take time to nourish their bodies and soul in the way that is right for them. 

When you fall, don’t stay down; dust yourself off, forgive yourself and sweat off your mistakes. We are all bound to cheat on a diet, or miss a workout to stay in bed for a bit longer.  Consequently, the guilt sticks with us and can often send us into a tail-spin of additional bad choices. This year, resolve to make mistakes, forgive yourself, and get back to your Mindfulness and exercise. I am a huge believer in private training, as a Pilates instructor to whom the method was primarily taught one-on-one. This to me makes sense. There are no two similar bodies as we are finely crafted individuals, and a one-size-fits-all approach does not work. Unique bodies require specific physical cues for their individual needs. Group classes can be fun, and a great way to stay accountable, but that workout is not designed for your body.  Private instruction can be more expensive at first, but I have found I am far less likely to flake on a private lesson than a group class. Try a few one-on-one Pilates and Yoga sessions, and learn the areas of your body that need special attention for when you head back to a group class. Most importantly, don’t be another number in a gym this year; find a studio that will help you keep your resolutions. My clients know that I will call them when they fall off the program, just to let them know we are here, and we have all been in similar positions. I own a studio, and even I struggle to work out! My team helps keep me accountable and checking in constantly. Truthfully, once you get into it, your body will crave the work when it is gone. 

With that commitment in mind, we here at Grace are so excited to offer the services of Elesha Kelleher, Registered Dietitian, to help our clients coordinate their diet with their body and mind. The journey through cancer and fitness has opened my eyes to the importance of what we put into our bodies and how that affects our mission of health. 

Overall, it is so important to find a healthy balance between eating properly and exercising effectively. The balance is found in the mindfulness. The more this practice becomes second nature to me the easier it is to avoid excessive sweets at every school function or eating bread at the start of dining out. When I listen to my body after I have made a not-so-healthy choice I often physically feel bad. The days when I skip workouts, I listen to my body as it often results in back aches and tightness. I pay attention to how much better my body feels after a session of Pilates or Yoga. It reminds me that skipping my workouts leads to more work, and feeling less connected to myself. The balance is in listening to the body. It is a magical gift to hear her saying what she needs, and in turn, giving it to her. In doing so the balance of health between eating properly and exercising effectively seems less like a to-do list and more a blessing. 

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