Hello friends

If you’ve been following along in my Instagram stories (and if you haven’t, then you can do that here), then you’ll know I’ve been struggling with a lot of fatigue and energy dips of late.

Somehow, when you feel fatigued, you always tend to feel weaker in your body and when you feel weaker in your body you can feel less confident which means you start to hold yourself back from doing things that you know are important to you – like building strength.

In midlife we often see the tipping point when it comes to our health; suddenly all the things we had the energy for before, like making it to the gym for a hard and intense workout feel like climbing Everest.  Twice.  So we start to forgo things that are actually beneficial to us, when in actual fact this is the very stage in life where we should be prioritizing doing things that are good for our health.

So how do we take on Everest in a more manageable way?

Firstly, we should never be hard on ourselves in situation like this – the key thing to remember is that your body is changing, and you just need to keep flexible in your thoughts to change along with it.

That can often mean trying new things or a new approach to see if it works for you and if it aligns with how you’re feeling in your body and mind.

We are all creatures of habit and trying out new ways to exercise can often feel like going against the grain, and like it won’t work, but as our TLC members experience, there is freedom in thinking differently when it comes to your wellbeing, especially when you’re going through the many physical, mental and emotional life changes that midlife brings.

Having a ‘reserve’ of strength in your body is important throughout life, and it’s even more important at midlife as changing hormone levels can negatively impact bone density and also other important aspects of your physiology like cell hydration, which impacts balance and proprioception, collagen production, which impacts tissue elasticity and inflammation, which can impact joint mobility and range of movement. 

Having strength is like a kind of insurance policy you can call on if you need to. In fact, if you read this past blog article written for us by an NHS Hip and Knee Surgeon, you’ll see a call from him to “not get old weak.”

I found out just how important this is with my mum last year.  As an avid pilates fan and member of TLC, her consultant looked on amazing that she was not only able to sit up in bed without any help, but was able to get herself out of bed on the SAME DAY she’d had her colorectal surgery and was able to wash her face and brush her teeth.

Perhaps an extreme example but the evidence is there to support that fact that you recover faster from injury and illness (and surgery), when you have a reserve of strength to pull from.  Many surgeons will now prehab you before surgery if they don’t feel your ‘fit enough’ before an operation.  

Having strength also means you can also continue to do all the things you love to do without injuring yourself – like gardening, running, cycling etc.

But here’s the most important thing about this article, you don’t have to be moving heaven and earth nor be doing a full on 60 minute pilates routines, with every gadget under the sun, to get results when it comes to strengthening your body.

In fact, because of the way I’ve been feeling, I’ve scaled things right back and have been following this simple full body strength routine for around 5 minutes each day; helping me to keep making progress even on the more challenging days right now.

These pilates exercises are safe, easy to do and won’t take up hours of your day.  They also don’t require any equipment but by adding them into your daily routine, they’ll give you a nice little reserve of that all important strength your midlife body needs.

Let’s dive in………

Curl ups for core strength x 6 – 8 reps daily

This is not a ‘sit up’.  It’s also not a ‘crunch.’ 

Curl ups in pilates are all about training trunk stability by strengthening your core muscles, in particular your transverse abdominal muscle, which is THE deep core stabilsing muscle targeted through pilates work. You can read all about that important muscle in this blog post.

It’s also not all about the front of the body; the curl up is also a mobility exercise for your back; as you lengthen and stretch it throughout the exercise.

A great one for training awareness of working in a neutral pelvis and spine; there is no flattening of your back into the mat to achieve maximum height like in a sit up, this is all about moving with control and awareness, which is why you can typically do LESS of these exercises whilst getting MORE out of them.

Bridge for hip and glute strength x 8 – 10 reps daily

Anyone that has suffered from chronic low back pain will no doubt be more than familiar with the bridge.

This exercises works to strengthen the glutes and other muscles of the hip whilst providing a juicy long stretch for your hip flexors as your hips open towards the sky, which will also help to improve your hip range of movement, especially if you are a ‘sitter’ where your hip flexors tend to be stuck short, which can restrict your range of movement.

The thing I love most about this exercise, is that it’s literally done in 2 moves; going from a flexed position of your hips (start position) to an extended, or open, position of your hips and back to your start position.

You’ll start to feel your glutes fire after only a few.  You’re also training a good neuromuscular pattern with this exercise as the glutes are responsible for pushing your pelvis through space (walking), which is what you’re essentially doing here (the pilates squat works in a similar way).

The integrity of your low back during life, let alone middle life, is essential for living a pain free life and this is largely down to the work of the glutes, so don’t let this one slide as you age. 

Pilates Plank for full body strength, but especially arms and shoulders x 2 -3 reps holding for around 5 – 20 seconds dail

A perfect all rounder, there is literally no muscle left untouched in a plank; from your head and neck to your ankles and feet, all of your body is involved in this one.

The particular benefit for most though, will be in working to strengthen your upper body, namely your arms and shoulders.

Good form – particularly in the upper body –  is really important in the pilates plank – as the muscles of your shoulder girdle blend into your core via your fascia (then down into your inner thighs through the spiral line – told you it was full body).

Focusing on good form means you’ll pick up the right connections in your body which gives you the green light for holding the plank for less time but getting much more out of it whilst strengthening our body quickly. 

Pilates is all about working your body more efficiently!  

TLC members don’t forget you have a wrist modification video that goes into more detail on how to modify for your wrists in the pilates plank, as well as access to your Pilates Plank tutorial series that will walk you through the mechanics of a good plank, helping you to get the most out of the exercise without having to plank for a ridiculous amount of time  (it’s also featured in our Calendar this month!)

Try this this little circuit for the next 7 days to see if you feel stronger at the end of it.

Pilates for me, will ALWAYS be about moving peacefully with my body and respecting where I am in my health journey😊

Sending TLC to wherever you are in the world today.


Need a little bit more help with your self care?  Download my FREE Midlife Self Care Plan and starting taking care of your body and mind in a way that’s truly nourishing not nagging.

In midlife pelvic floor work always seems to be about strengthening the pelvic floor and in fact, I’ve worked with some woman who have actually been afraid to do any release work for fear that it’s going to somehow increase leakage etc.

So off the back of a focused month of pelvic floor education for our members, let me explain why release work is just as important as the strength stuff and why you never have to worry about anything ‘falling out.’

The pelvic floor, is subject to a number of hormonal changes throughout the course of woman’s life – the two most notable periods being pregnancy and menopause.

That said, it’s a complete myth that pelvic floor work is only relevant if you’ve had a baby or because you’ve reached menopause;  the pelvic floor muscles form part of you core muscle group, working in harmony with your diaphragm (breathing muscle) and you should be training them in all stages of your life regardless of whether you’re pre / postnatal or menopausal.

Releasing your pelvic floor muscles is an important part of control work and whether your pelvic floor is more hypertonic or relaxed, you should still incorporate some release work.

This is to help make sure that any negative tension held in the muscles is truly released before you start to contract them for strength work.

This ultimately means you will pick up more of the muscle fibres of the pelvic floor, which means you’re training them much more optimally and much more functionally.

What I can’t stress enough when you’re doing pelvic floor work is the DIRECTION for releasing and contracting work.  

To release your pelvic floor, you should be thinking about a gentle unzipping of the muscles from the front of the vagina (think pubic bone), underneath you towards the back passage.

On an isolated contraction, you are drawing the muscles together from the back passage, towards the front of the vagina and then slowly working to gently draw the muscles up inside.

This is really important to realise; the directional work is key when you’re training your pelvic floor muscles;  if you are just pulling up and pushing down on the pelvic floor, you are going to stretch that muscle group in the wrong way and that’s when you can get into trouble!

Other than that, don’t be afraid to do the release work – it’s an important part of maintaining a healthy pelvic floor.

Not only that, if you are someone who often feels particularly tense or stressed, then you’re probably a shallow breather and that means you can be holding tension in your pelvic floor muscles because of the unique way the pelvic floor connects with your diaphragm. And as releasing work is supported through your breath, it can be a very effective way to help you relax and release tension, not just from your pelvic floor muscles, but everywhere else too.

We looked a 4 exercises for developing control of the pelvic floor muscles through release, strength and toning work in our May Lifetonic.  It’s an aspect of pilates I absolutely love teaching and developed my knowledge through becoming qualified in pre and postnatal pilates as part of my journey to become a Level 4 qualified movement teacher.

In 2021 I went on to train with specialist stoma care nurses through their ConvaTec Nurse Education Programme – this was a very kind invite from a clinical pilates teacher and core rehabilitation specialist who runs this course for them and who was a great support to me when my mum underwent two life saving surgery for colorectal cancer last year.

Mum’s surgery left her with abdominal weakness, loss of sensation in her pelvic floor and low back pain.  I used this training to specifically help rehab her (she was given zero direction on what to do after her operations and no post surgery physiotherapy).

That’s just a little background on my pelvic floor education / CPD work and why I’m so passionate about helping woman maintain their health.

Back to you, are you afraid to do any release work when it comes to your pelvic floor?

Leave me a comment on this post over on Instagram and let me know if I can help you.

Sending TLC to wherever you are reading from.

Struggling to define self care for yourself at midlife?

Then download my FREE Midlife Self Care Plan that will help you think about the things that truly matter for your health at midlife.

Healthy Mobile Phone Habits

Hi lovelies

I have a question for you to ponder – do you think you’re addicted to your mobile phone?

I know I do and I know it’s not great for my overall wellbeing.

I rely on my phone to run my business, keep a running list of shopping lists and to-dos, scheduling appointments, connecting with friends, booking train tickets, I even use it to control my lights at home!  (I have the Hive system).

And if I’m being honest, I often feel like I am constantly connected to my phone, plus I very rarely use it to actually make a call!

Maybe you can relate?

Putting your mobile down more often is good for your health in so many ways. It helps to reduce stress and anxiety that stem from constantly being connected to email and social media, improves sleep quality, and lessens the strain we put on our necks and backs from long periods of time spent looking downward.

And by reaching for our phones less often, we also get to spend more meaningful one-on-one time with those we gather with — an important part of being able to find joy and abundance in life.

So this month in The Lifetonic Club we’re going to focus on the health benefits of reducing our phone use.

Because we rely on our phones to help us with so many things in our lives, it’s very easy to pick them up even when we don’t have anything specific to check or do. For example, I find often find myself scrolling through instagram when I am standing at the bus stop – twice I’ve been so checked out of my mind, that I’ve actually missed the bus which has made me late and angry for no reason! 

If you’re up for joining me in the attempt to spend less time on our phones this month, I’m suggesting a few strategies to help you:

You might try one or two of these ideas each week in June to see how well they work for you. The idea is to get more mindful about how you use your phone.

Want to go one step further?  Then I invite you to join me in a very simple challenge for the month:

CHALLENGE: Take a 24 hour ‘digital sabbatical.’   That means you actively turn your phone off for the whole day.  And please only do this challenge if you do not rely on your phone for emergency contact things!

It may seem like quite the stretch but having tried it, I can reassure you that it can be transformational for your wellbeing.

If you do decide to give this a try, take a note each week of the thoughts, behaviours and feelings you have towards your 24 hour digital sabbatical. No judgement here.  Just observations.

I’ve consciously used my phone a lot less since January and it has had a real positive impact on my wellbeing – my concentration has improved, so has my productivity, and my patience (does anyone else get unreasonably annoyed by the constant ‘bing’ of a what’s app message?).

It’s also helped to improve my mindset around not comparing myself to others (which I can often do on social media).

But the surprising revelation is how much money it’s saved me on my bill each month! With the cost of living rapidly rising in the UK, I’m seeing this an unexpected and very welcome WIN!

I’ll sign off by saying that, if you find reducing your mobile phone use to be a real challenge, here are a few resources to help your mindset towards this month’s Lifetonic: .

The New York Times recently wrote this article about how putting your phone down can actually increase your life expectancy!

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport is a good read if you want to go deeper on this month’s Lifetonic.

Courtney Carver’s 8 little tricks to spend less time on your phone are great suggestions with some novel things in there too (like 6 and 7!).

All food for food!

Start small folks and remember this is not about giving yourself a hard time!  Even if you just become more mindful towards how you use your phone, you’re doing something good for your health 😊

Make a note of your progress and the results you see from taking part in this month’s Lifetonic.  

Share your thoughts, learnings and views in our Private Facebook Community Group.

I’m looking forward to working together on this month’s health mission!

Last week I was delighted to host a live fireside chat with leadership coach, Natalie Hendricks.

I was introduced to Natalie through a member of The Lifetonic Club, who urged us to get together because she believed the work that we do was so closely aligned and that we were missing a trick by not doing some work together!   

And she was right! 

Natalie is just as passionate as I am in helping and supporting woman to be the healthiest version of themselves and has over 15 years of experience working in leadership development, helping and empowering women to be their most authentic and confident selves; after meeting Natalie, there was no way I was going to miss an opportunity to share her expert knowledge and experience with our community.

Our first collaboration worked to support the Mindtonic Pillar of The Lifetonic Club (incase you didn’t know, TLC is made up of 3 wellbeing pillars: – Bodytonic – how you’re moving your body; Mindtonic – how you’re thinking; and Lifetonic – how well you’re living).

And our subject was all around helping woman to elevate their self talk!

Negative self talk is something that I see showing up time and time again whenever I work with woman (which is over 4 years now).  

A lot of these thoughts are subconscious, which makes them pretty tricky to overcome.  They can definitely create obstacles to getting on your mat and can keep you stuck, meaning you are often unable to successfully create new habits or reach new goals.

Our thoughts are incredibly powerful and can literally shape our actions, and therefore our lives and you might be surprised to learn that this is the aspect of my wellbeing I work on the most.

Our thoughts also happen to be the foundation for confidence (or a lack thereof). This is an incredibly important, and much overlooked aspect of health; to make progress with ANY goals – health, work, relationships – you must be able to take control over your thoughts.

Consider in this moment the thoughts you have about yourself and your own wellbeing:  

This conversation was in support of a lot of our members who have expressed these very thoughts and who, before they joined The Lifetonic Club, sometimes felt they were not making the progress they should be with their health and wellbeing goals.

In the session Natalie shared:

The 3 main takeaways for me were:

  1. why thoughts are not facts
  2. why self awareness is so important when it comes to your thoughts & how to develop this
  3. How you flip limiting self beliefs to a more empowered and supportive inner voice to help you achieve your goals

I truly believe that every female should step into their midlife with power, grace and ease; you will not find a more important decade of your life where confidence and learning how to trust and talk to yourself with compassion is essential to make sure you do not become crippled by rising anxiety and overwhelming feelings caused by the perimenopause / menopause.

This session was a BONUS session and only available to members of our TLC community but because I love to share and help as many like minded woman as I can,  I also gave one lady, outside of our membership, the chance to join  our live conversation by sending me a DM over on Instagram with ONE limiting self belief she feels is holding her back in her health journey, which is just how I love to do business; woman supporting woman.

Do give us a follow for more opportunities like this: @thelifetoniclub

The feedback from our community has been fantastic with one member commenting:

That was brilliant…… I feel like I want to take on the world!

Lisa, TLC Member

I’m already planning our next live fireside chat and it’s not the last time you’ll see Natalie and I in action together either….so stay tuned for that!

Sending TLC to your small corner of the world,

And in the words of Natalie, be brave, be bold!

Love Julie x


Connect with Natalie:

Instagram: @Iamnataliehendricks

Facebook: Natalie Hendricks

Follow this link to explore Natalie’s FREE tools & resources for brave, bold females

A question I get asked a lot is this: Do I really do pilates every day? 

The truth is – I do. It doesn’t always involve rolling out a mat or putting on leggings (sometimes I just do it in the kitchen when I’m making breakfast), but I do make a conscious effort to move my body every day, because it helps alleviate a lot of the perimenopause symptoms I’m currently experiencing, so that makes it really worth it.

When I’m feeling off because of my hormones; achy joints, low on energy, more agitated and therefore less able to concentrate, I aim for 5 – 10 minutes.

Then on the days when I’m feeling more motivated and energized then I try to capitalise on that and spend longer on myself; anything from 25 – 45 minutes does the trick.

Many people have said that I must be super disciplined to be able to do this but I’m not.  I do it because I have a fail proof system that makes it EASY for me to get on that mat.

Yes, you read that right.  I use a system to help keep me motivated; not willpower or discipline.

And it’s so much easier than you think.

And today, I’m sharing it with you and it’s only 5 steps!

So if you’re someone who struggles with consistency when it comes to building healthy habits, and if you’re feeling less motivated than ever because of fluctuating midlife hormones, then here’s my 5 tried and tested tips for cultivating an everyday pilates practice at midlife.

1. Ask yourself this question: why is doing this pilates practice important to me right now?

Having a definitive reason for moving your body is a proven way to motivate yourself when it comes to taking action to support better habits.

If you are in perimenopause or menopause you’ll probably have a long list of physical, mental and emotional symptoms you could insert here.

For me it’s stay on top of joint aches and pains that I’m currently experiencing and I’m also experiencing excruciating period pain as a result of dropping estrogen.  Super low energy also continues to be a problem as is creeping anxiety.

Some are subtle.  Some are not so.

Midlife can be full of juxtapositions and can often be the tipping point for your health; on the one hand your entering the real start of life (life begins at 40 right?), whilst conversely, you are also noticing changes in your body that are wreaking havoc with your nervous system.

So ask yourself this one question: why is doing this pilates practice important to me right now?

For me, I’m much less interested in making sure I can do the perfect ‘teaser’ and instead want to work to alleviate joint discomfort and maintain joint range of movement, bone density, muscle mass and balance.

Yes, midlife is the point where I’ve started to get a lot more practical about my pilates practice.

I also suffered from chronic low back pain in my 20s, which is what led me to pilates over 17 years ago, and I now run a Healthy Back clinic in Edinburgh where I work 1:1 with clients who have chronic low back pain.

I’ve not had back pain in a LONG long time but I always want to make sure it stays that way, especially as I start to age and the spine starts to degenerate (a normal part of the aging process).

Whatever it is for you, call it out and be clear on your reasons for wanting to make pilates a part of your every day routine at midlife, because understanding this makes it a powerful daily motivator to build your habit.

At this point in your life, a helpful re-frame on this question could easily be: how well do you want to age?

2. Make it an intention

You could call this your game plan.  By setting an intention you’re actively making a commitment to honor your goal or habit.  This is as easy as saying ‘I want to do pilates for 10 minutes in my living room, Monday, Wednesday, Friday this week.’

Think about your schedule and what’s realistic for you in this given cycle of your life. 

If you’re not used to exercise snacking, then I want you to remind you now that your ‘all or nothing’ brain will probably try to tell you that ‘10 minutes doesn’t count.’

But all or nothing thinking is an example of a thinking error.  It is unhelpful, usually untrue and can actually cause you unnecessary stress.

Instead, your objective is to think more flexibly and to focus on just taking action.  Any action.  It does not have to be perfect, complete and whole.  Instead get comfortable with the messy, and the imperfect and the belief that 10 minutes is every bit as effective as 60. 

And if you’re really struggling with this, then think of the compound effect of where you might find yourself by simply doing 10 minutes every day for a year, versus 60 minutes for 3 months then falling off the wagon…..

Every month in The Lifetoinc Club I hear stories from our members who cannot believe just how beneficial and life changing this approach actually is; helping them to stay consistent for the long term.

3. Create a reminder

Schedule an alert on your phone, add it to your daily to-do list or pop a good old fashioned post it note of your intention somewhere you can see it.  For extra motivation, you might want to include one word that links you back to your why.

Remember, your why is the motivating force behind your intention and it’s this that will often spurn you on to take action.

4. Think about how you feel now versus how you’re going to feel afterwards

I’ve never heard anyone say they’ve regretted getting on their mat  – even at midlife.

I have heard people say that ‘couldn’t be bothered but did it because they knew they would feel better for it’ and they did! 

Movement – no matter how long or what stage of life you’re in – will always improve your physiological state.  And that’s backed by science.

Infact, some studies are showing this can happen in as little as 1 minute of activity!  And have you seen this Instagram post I wrote about hope molecules?

You cannot fail to win from moving your body at midlife – no matter how long you do it for. 

So again, roll out your mat knowing that you are going to feel better and alleviate a lot of the symptoms you’re experiencing.

5. High Five Yourself

In true Mel Robbins fashion, whether you did 5 minutes or 50, go to the mirror and give yourself a big high five for taking action for yourself.

If there is one thing I have learned from caring for both my mum and dad through cancer,

in the midst of everything that is going on around you on any given day, including those unpredictable hormone surges,  it takes courage to stop, draw a line and say ‘it’s time to show up for myself now’. 

That action takes guts and should be celebrated; never underestimate the power of speaking to yourself positively, being your own best cheerleader and looking after your own health and wellbeing.

And that’s it.  A daily pilates practice at midlife cultivated in a simple and easy way.

Give it a go and let me know if you find this approach works for you?

Come and join our community of like minded woman over on Instagram @thelifetonicclub

Try our FREE 21 Days of Pilates Challenge by following this link.

How to build a functional pelvic floor through pilates

Hi friends

Did you know that your pelvic floor muscles form part of your core?

It’s a muscle group that often gets left out of the equation when it comes to working your core, so I thought that this month, we’d spend some time focusing on this really important muscle group.

It works alongside your abdominals, obliques, diaphragm and your spinal extensors (multifidus) – all of the muscles we target in pilates as part of our ‘centring.’

Often a lot of people think your pelvic floor only becomes important if you’ve had a baby but this is a complete life misconception!

Both men AND woman have pelvic floor muscles that need to be worked just like all of your other muscles in your body, they need to be able to hold tone and both contract and relax to support you with your everyday movements – this is the very essence of a functional pelvic floor!

If you are a female, your pelvic floor goes through a number of transformations during puberty, pregnancy and at midlife with the perimenopause and menopause.  These changes are driven by  fluctuating hormones in your body during those significant periods of your life and of course physically, through the delivery of your baby.

As always, you can support ALL of these life changing moments in your life by proactively adding in pelvic floor exercises into your daily routine.

If you are around the age of 45, then it’s recommended that you start practicing PF exercises daily  to help maintain tone and strength.

If you are recently postnatal, you’re probably doing these already and if you are planning to be prenatal then you should start doing these exercise now too!

The exercises that follow are suitable for our male and female members.

What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor is made up of muscles and ligaments that support and cradle the bladder, uterus or prostate, and the bowels.

Symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction can include things like pelvic pain, incontinence/leaking of urine or bowels, urge to urinate, trouble fully emptying the bladder/bowels, constipation, painful intercourse, painful menstruation or ovulation, and of course things brought on by pregnancy and labour.

Breathing and the pelvic floor

The aha moment in pelvic floor work is understanding good breathing!  This really is the central ingredient of good pelvic floor work!

Your pelvic floor muscles are directly connected to your diaphragm (breathing muscle).  In fact, some anatomy textbooks actually refer to the PF diaphragm because it is activated and controlled through the breath.

There are 3 breathing cylinders in the body; from bottom to top – you have your pelvic floor diaphragm, your diaphragm and your thoracic diaphragm (your voice box is maintained here).

All pelvic floor work should start by releasing the pelvic floor and this happens on your INHALE.

Once you have found a release, you can then go on train both the fast twitch and slow twitch muscles fibers correctly.

Fast twitch means you can recruit your PFM quickly, which helps to support any sudden changes / big moves of the body.

Slow twitch means that you are working to maintain functional tone of your PFM (ie making sure that they are always ‘on’ to support low load activity like sitting, standing etc).

If you’ve been to any of my pre, postnatal or beginners pilates classes, then you’ll be familiar with all of these exercises.

Please remember that if you have an form of pelvic pain or discomfort please make sure you seek medical advice.

Overall with pelvic floor exercise, we are looking to isolating the muscles and then training them to maintain elasticity and functional strength – that means training them to be adaptable so as they can support you with activities of everyday living.

And that all starts with being able to release them, so let’s start there…

Pelvic Floor Muscles  – Release

Before you work to strengthen and tone your pelvic floor muscles, you need to make sure that you are able to fully release them.

This is true whether there is pain, restriction, weakness or if you just haven’t been exercising your pelvic floor; there will always be a benefit to releasing muscles.

Once you have control of the release, then move on to focused work on strengthening. 

Your pelvic floor muscles are truly released in your IN BREATH because this facilities a release of your diaphgram downwards, which presses downwards on the PF directly beneath it, which releases it. 

This is why, in the exercises that follow, we always start AND finish with a releasing INHALE.

When we are using our exhale in matwork, remember we are using the breath to train control of the PFM and aid stabilityl so it’ slightly different.

Give it a go with the following exercise…

Sniff, Flop, Drop

Come into relaxation position and find your neutral pelvis and spine.

Place your hands on your belly.

Start by bring your awareness to your pelvic floor area.

Gently start to breathe in (SNIFF) through your nose, keeping your chest soft, allowing your belly to soften and (FLOP) into your hands.   

As you exhale keep your belly soft and let it fall away from your hands.

Try to get softer with each inhale and cycle through this patter for as long as you can (5 -10 minutes if you can).

Your pelvic floor will start to gradually descend (DROP) more and more with each cycle of this.

Try to get into a state of complete relaxation with this; almost meditative.

Remember you are truly to fully release so make sure you let go backwards and wide as well.

Pelvic Floor Muscles – Strength & Tone

Once you feel ready to progress to strength and tone work, then you can add in these pelvic floor exercises to your daily routine!

Pelvic Elevator

Lie in relaxation position and find your neutral (you can also do this in sitting, kneeling, or on a pilates overball or physio ball if you want to feel the sensation of the pelvic floor lifting more). 

Start by bringing your awareness to your pelvic floor area.

Imagine that the whole of your pelvic floor area is a lift in a building.

Inhale to prepare the body.

Exhale to gently slide the lifts of the door shut (drawing the muscles of the back passage together) and then start to draw that sensation forward towards the pubic bone (as if you were zipping up from back to front) and gently raise your pelvic floor up to the first floor.

Inhale maintain this connection and lift

Exhale raise the pelvic floor a little more, up to the second floor

Inhale matain the lift

Exhale raise the pelvic floor a little more, up to the third floor

Inhale maintain the lift

OPTIONAL: At this point, you can hold the lift (gentle contraction) and breath normally for 5 seconds before starting to lower back down (step below).  You can progress to a 10 second hold once you feel more confident with this exercise.

If you don’t want to hold the lift, move straight to the step below…

Exhale lower your pelvic floor all the way back down, floor by floor.  Release from front to back and let the doors to the lift open gently to fully release the pelvic floor (think width of the hips not just the back passage here to facilitate a full release).

Inhale to soften the abdomen and fully release at the end (think Sniff, Flop, Drop above).

Repeat the whole process for 3 – 5 repetitions, 3 times a day.

This is a truly mindful practice and a great one to add into your daily routine.  Try not to multi-task when you do it (ie don’t do it at your desk working).  Stop what you’re doing, close your eyes at your desk and build the picture of what you’re doing, so as you are doing it correctly.

We are training the correct recruitment pattern of the pelvic floor muscles in this exercise and also control of the muscles in a co-ordinated way.

Some things to watch out for when you’re doing this:

Stay relaxed in your entire body including the jaw, shoulder and neck

The lift should be slow and controlled – try not to let the pelvic floor come racing back down through all of the floors.  Try releasing from floor 3, 2, 1 before fully releasing from front to back.

There should be no movement in the spine of pelvis.

Flower

This trains the slow twitch muscles fibres – think posture!

Start by bring your awareness to your pelvic floor area.

Fully release your PFM.

Imagine your favourite flower in full bloom then Exhale and start to slowly draw all of the petals ‘inwards’ until you have a tight bud.

Hold this contraction and breath normally for a count of 5 seconds, eventually working up to 8  or 1o breaths.

Exhale and slowly, with control, start to unfurl the petals back our until you have your flower in full bloom.

Inhale to fully release (Sniff, Flop, Drop).

Try to follow the same recruitment pattern – back to front, then up inside.

Remember to soft and relaxed in the rest of the body – don’t recruit any unwanted tension anywhere else.  We’re isolating the PFM only.

Emergency Stop

This trains the fast twitch muscle fibres of your pelvic floor, which can help your pelvic floor react quickly to sudden changes or big moves of the body.

Start by bring your awareness to your pelvic floor area.

Fully release your PFM.

Exhale and quickly lift (contract) ALL of your pelvic floor muscles (you are looking to contract maximally here). 

Hold this contraction and breath normally for a count of 5 seconds, working up to 8 then 10.

Exhale to release in one go.

Inhale to fully release (Sniff, Flop, Drop).

Be really careful to not also recruit muscles in the shoulder, neck, jaw etc.  You are isolating the pelvic floor only and the rest of your body should be in a relaxed state.

Try to follow the same recruitment pattern – back to front, then up inside.

Let us know how you get on with these exercises in your private Facebook Group and share ONE THING you’ve learned about your PFM that you might not have known before with us! And don’t forget to add in a few PF exercises into your daily routine!

Other TLC resources to help you maintain a health pelvic floor include:

Talking to yourself positively & compassionately

Hi beautiful people

Have you ever heard the saying, what you think you also become? 

That’s great news if all you’re having is positive thoughts, but what about if your thoughts are not so?

Spring is a time often associated with a fresh start, a time of growth and renewal and this month we’re going to be using it to upgrade our thought patterns.

The way we think about ourselves—also known as our “self-talk”—can have a positive or negative impact on how we feel and reinforce the beliefs we have about who we are and what we’re capable of.

Researchers in positive psychology from University College London, found that people have more than 6,000 thoughts per day and for every negative thought we have about ourselves, we need at least eight positive ones to counter it.  Our thoughts have more power than we realize! They can truly affect our self-esteem and overall well-being. It is SO important to be aware of the thoughts we’re having about ourselves throughout the day.

That’s why this month’s Lifetonic is to recognise negative thoughts and change the script to more positive self-talk and self-compassion so as you become your OWN best cheerleader!

Did you know that when we practice cultivating a compassionate voice in our heads, we react to our thoughts with kindness.

We recognise that we are only ever doing our best and that progress, not perfection, is the goal.

And we do our best to use positive self-talk over harsh and unnecessary criticism.

By starting with small steps toward more self-compassion, we will see a shift in our thought patterns, which can have a positive and lasting impact on our overall wellbeing.

Become Aware of Your Self-Talk

Whenever you find yourself in a situation where you feel frustrated or overwhelmed, take a moment to breathe and become aware of what you’re thinking in that moment.

Decide if the thoughts you’re having about yourself are fair and justified.

As a frame of reference, try asking yourself, “is what I am thinking necessary?  Is it true?  Is it absolutely true?”

Try to recognise how often you talk to yourself in a negative way and how this might be affecting your confidence, your decisions, your habits and the love you show yourself.

Not all of our thoughts reflect the truth, but they do reflect what we are feeling in that moment.

Get Curious

Get curious about your thoughts without judgement. When that voice in your head isn’t as kind as it could be, ask yourself:

What triggered this thought?

Does my environment or surroundings play a role in my having this thought?

Where did I learn to speak to myself this way?

Why am I so hard on myself in this moment?

What evidence is there to support my thought?

How would I respond to these thoughts if a friend or loved one were talking to themself this way?

As you become aware of your thoughts this month, take some time to journal. Sometimes writing out how you’re feeling can be incredibly helpful to move forward with a healthy mindset and improve your self-talk.

Change the Script

Remember that you have the option to choose the thoughts you want to focus on. Try to replace any negative self-talk with thoughts that support the vision of how you want to feel or what you want to achieve.

Think about how you would speak to a friend or consider these two questions:  what would love SEE in this moment?  What would love SAY in this moment?

Dr. Kristen Neff, author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself and several other books on self-compassion, suggests extending the same compassion to ourselves that we show to others.

Think about what you might say to someone who is having a bad day or is frustrated by not being able to achieve something or make progress in an area of their life. Talk to yourself like you would to that person. Rather than thinking “I missed another workout! I am never consistent with exercise,” try flipping this thought to something positive like “I make time to care for myself and move my body regularly. It’s okay if I miss a workout here and there.”

“If you are continually judging and criticising yourself while trying to be kind to others, you are drawing artificial boundaries and distinctions that only lead to feelings of separation and isolation.” – Dr. Kristen Neff

When negative self-talk creeps in, accept how you’re feeling and make a decision to respond to that thought in a way that feels supportive. Even if you can’t think of a positive thought in that moment, try to replace the negative thought with a more neutral one like “I’m doing the best I can.”

Define Your Worth

Taking some time to explore how you define your worth can be a very constructive exercise. How do you determine your success or value in different areas of your life?  Are you stuck in a comparison trap, measuring yourself up to unrealistic standards or people?

Personally, when I feel negative self-talk coming on, I try to remind myself that I am worthy and valuable regardless of the success I do or don’t achieve, what I look like or in spite of the ‘things’ I do or don’t have in my life. 

“Our successes and failures come and go—they neither define us nor do they determine our worthiness.” – Dr. Kristen Neff

Start by asking your loved ones what they love about you. Can you start to mirror this love back to yourself?

Accept That Not Every Day Will Be Perfect

In The Lifetonic Club, we recognise that not every day will be perfect, and that’s okay. When obstacles come up, remember that you have a community here in The Lifetonic Club that accepts you as you are and supports you.

Positive self-talk and self-compassion take time to cultivate. By paying attention to how you talk to yourself and being open to creating a more encouraging narrative, you have the power to change your mindset and move forward with confidence. 

I’m excited for us to work on our positive self-talk and self-compassion together this month. If you have more ideas for ways to change the script, please share them with us in our Facebook Community group!

Building a simple morning routine

Hi friends

In this month’s Lifetonic we’re looking at elevating our wellbeing by building a simple morning routine (or ritual if you prefer that term).

But what is a morning routine?

A morning routine is all about starting the day off in a way that helps you to feel your best.  This can help you build momentum for the day ahead and help improve your concentration, energy level and your mood.

Research shows that it can also positively contribute to your wellbeing by:

If you tend to have a lot of worry or anxiety, then establishing a routine can help you to focus your mind and give it a rest; especially as the routine becomes second nature to you.  This can help you to make better decisions throughout the day.

None of us do this nearly enough!  We just get up and jump right into auto pilot mode. Instead, try setting an intention of what you want to get out of your day, how you want to feel, and let it flow from there.

Never tried this before?  Then use your TLC Quick Start Guide that will take you through a formula for this!

With a routine, you have a plan and a plan leads to organisation which ends up giving us more time in our day and less stress.  Hands up if you want more of that?

Have you factored in that a good morning routine really starts with a good night’s sleep? By creating routines that help us to get better and more quality sleep, we not only feel better throughout the day, but quality sleep is also connected to lowering stress and fighting inflammation in the body, which means you can capitalise on your morning.

This month your challenge is to either create a fresh morning routine for yourself or have a think about upgrading your existing one.

To help you, I’m outlining  two routine ‘templates’ to inspire you into action.   You can pad these out in any way that you think might work best for you. 

Let’s take a look at them….

3 Step Morning Routine – 10 minutes

The 3M’s Morning Routine

Movement
Meditation
Mindset

This is my personal morning routine although I also use it at various points in my day, not just in the morning, because of the unique way that it helps me to stay consistently grounded, present and fluid in my body. 

You might even recognize these as the building blocks of The Lifetonic Club….

Sometimes I do longer than 10 minutes if the time allows but at most, I aim to do 10 minutes spending roughly 3 minutes on each.

I purposely haven’t given the specifics of what I do under each because I want you to make this an exercise all about you so give it a try!

5 Step Morning Routine – 25 minutes

Best Possible Self Routine

Gratitude
Meditation
Movement
Visualization
Affirmations

This is a morning routine that I used when I was shifting careers and felt like I needed to do a little more work around the results that I wanted to call in for myself.  

It’s a little longer at 25 – 30 minutes but if you’re working on a big project, making any shifts in your life or just want to double down on your own self-care and build confidence in yourself, then this might be the one for you…

To build a morning routine that you’re going to win with, there are a few questions you might want to ask yourself first…. 

5 questions to ask yourself when building a morning routine:

1. What’s the why behind your routine? If you can connect with why you’re doing it, you’re far more likely to stay consistent with it

2. Find a routine or rhythm that feels good for you not because it’s what Meghan Markle does (you know what I mean here!). Experiment with different things until you land on a formula that’s giving you the greatest wellbeing return – this is the routine sweet spot!

3. How are you going to make it non-negotiable? It you’re out of the habit of being in a routine, this is going to be a big one for you.

4. How many steps is your routine going to have? In this lifetonic I’ve highlighted a straight forward, 3 step routine and a slightly longer 5 step one. Go back to your why and the non-negotiable question – this might help you answer this question. And remember – your routine should slip seamlessly into your day and should never be overwhelming.

5. Remember we’re not all or nothing thinking here! Your morning routine can also be an evening routine or lunchtime routine or a post meeting ritual! The important thing is that you are building a personal system that’s going to help you to feel better more of the time and call in the results you seek for yourself more of the time.

Are you surprised that I’ve not mentioned making coffee, brushing your teeth or flipping pancakes yet?!

You can, of course, include ALL of those things (and you should definitely brush your teeth!), but a good morning routine is really all about setting you up to win your day.

Share your morning routine journey in our Facebook Community and lets support each other to win not just today but EVERY day!  You are more than worthy of it.

Staying Hydrated ( + a Simple H2O Challenge!)

Why water?

You’ve likely heard numerous times how important it is to get your daily dose of water. Not only does it comprise 70% of your body, it’s required for every cell of your body to function. Digestion, mental processing, detoxification… none of it would be possible without our friend H2O! Plus it’s a key ingredient in keeping your spinal discs hydrated and your muscles flexible!

But as we know, knowledge doesn’t always translate into action! That’s why this month’s challenge is to guzzle the good stuff, getting in your recommended daily litres.

How much do you need?

The exact amount of optimal water intake varies depending on activity level, weather and a number of other factors. But the easiest way to get a handle on how much of the wet stuff you need is this:

Divide your body weight in pounds by two to get the approximate amount of water in ounces that you need to drink per day.

On the metric scale? Divide your weight in kilograms by 30 to determine how many liters of water you need.

WEIGHT = (LBS) / 2 = (OZ)

WEIGHT = (KG) / 30 = (LITERS)

Anything but boring…

One of the biggest barriers to drinking more water is the taste—or lack thereof!

If you think plain water is boring, jazz it up! Here are some easy ideas:

Add a little sparkle.

Sparkling water definitely counts towards your daily total, but avoid those enhanced with artificial flavors or sweeteners.

• Give it a squeeze.

Add citrus flavor by squeezing fresh lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit into your water.

• Try unique blends.

Cucumber mint. Grapefruit rosemary. Lemon raspberry. The sky’s the limit! Just make sure to avoid artificial additives. If you need a little sweetener, stick to natural fruit.

Make it part of your routine

The best way to make sure you’re drinking more is to start out the day with a glass or two of water. (I love hot water with a squeeze of lemon to wake up my digestive system!) Then sip regularly throughout the day, using our TLC Hydration Challenge Tracker to keep track.

More ideas:

• Drink a glass of water before every meal.

• Keep a bottle on your desk and another in the fridge so as you always have a full one to hand. Swap out the flavours to keep it interesting!

• Hungry for an afternoon snack? Reach for water first (thirst is often mistaken for hunger!). This is hard to think about 9 times out of ten we are just thirsty not hungry.

To help make this month’s Lifetonic a little more fun, here’s your very own Hydration Tracker I created for you to use this month. Just download it by hitting the button below!

Share your progress in our Facebook Group this month and let us know how you’re jazzing up your H20!

Lifetonic January 2022

Designing Healthy Habits

Happy 2022 dear friend!

This Lifetonic comprises a combination of both James Clear’s Atomic Habits and BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits, two books on behavioural change that I read last year to support my health coaching certification.

Whilst people tend to traditionally focus on setting lots of BIG Goals for a new year, we’re going to reverse engineer a bit and think about establishing tiny habits that support just a few goals that you might want to work towards this year.

On that note, if you are setting goals, I’d recommend setting no more than 3 – 5 for the year. Anymore than 5 and research indicates that there is a greater likelihood of not meeting them as we become overwhelmed with the changes needed to drive them!

I typically set 1-2 per Quarter and then review these at the end of the Quarter, either dropping, refining or adding a new one all depending on how I am progressing within that first Quarter.  Stay flexible with this process – it’s more than fine to change your goals and course correct as you go – no black or white thinking please!

If you’re new to goal setting, start small and think about just setting one goal for the year.  As with anything, you want to set yourself up for the best chance of success to really try and ingrain the habits needed to get you there – not leave yourself feeling demotivated and like you’ve failed!

You’re habits are the small, tiny steps that are going to lead you down the path of success to reach your goal!  So if you’re goal is a cake, think of your habits as the ingredients to make it!  This is normally where most people get stuck – they don’t create the small things that are going to facilitate the big change.

On that note, I’ve created a Goal Guide to help you with all of this!  You can use it to note down your high level goal and then use the section ‘tiny steps,’ (habits), to note down the small actions you’ll need to help you reach your goal (your ingredients).

So, for example, say your goal was to complete our 28 day pilates challenge, you’d note this under ‘My Goal,’ tie it to a ‘why’ (you’ll recall I’ve said having a why is a really powerful way to motivate you) and then note down any little steps that are going to help you make it onto the mat for the next 28 days.

Here are some tips to help you think about what those little intentional steps might be…

Stack your habits.

Experts say that the best way to form a new habit is to tie it to an existing habit.  So I encourage you to look for patterns in your day and think about how you can use your existing habits to create new, positive ones.

For many of us, our morning routine is our strongest routine, so it’s a great place to stack on a new habit. Your morning coffee, for example, can create a great opportunity to fit in 10 minutes on the mat either before or after it (you can link this to point 5 below….). Similarly, when you are brushing your teeth, you might choose to fit in a couple of pilates squats or stand on one foot to practice balance.

Start small.

B.J. Fogg, is the author of the book “Tiny Habits,” (the book I mentioned at the beginning of this lifetonic) and a Stanford Behavioural Researcher.  He notes that big behavior changes require a high level of motivation that often can’t be sustained, which is often what perpetuates the on and off the wagon approach to fitness.

He suggests starting with tiny habits to make the new habit as easy as possible in the beginning. Taking a daily short walk or doing a 10 minute Bodytonic or for example, could be the beginning of an exercise habit.  Or, putting an apple in your bag every day could lead to better eating habits.

In his own life, Dr. Fogg wanted to start a daily push-up habit. He started with just two push-ups a day and, to make the habit stick, tied his push-ups to a daily habit: going to the bathroom. He began by, after a bathroom trip, dropping and doing two push-ups. Now he has a habit of 40 to 80 push-ups a day.

Do it every day.

Habits take a long time to create, but they form faster when you do them more often, so start with something reasonable that is really easy to do. You are more likely to stick with an exercise habit if you do some small exercise — 10 minutes of pilates, one minute of breathe work, a brisk walk — every day, rather than trying to get to the gym three days a week. Once the daily exercise becomes a habit, you can explore adding on to this, including things like intensity.

Make it easy.

Habit researchers know we are more likely to form new habits when we clear away the obstacles that stand in our way. Leaving your pilates mat somewhere you can see it is one example of this as is laying out your workout gear the night before, so as it’s a no brainer just to slip into it in the morning.  Choosing an exercise that doesn’t require you to leave the house — is another way to form an easy exercise habit.  Hello Lifetonic Club!

Reward yourself.

Remember the coffee stacking example in point one? Rewards are an important part of habit formation. When we brush our teeth, the reward is immediate — a minty fresh mouth. But some rewards — like weight loss or the reduction in back pain from doing pilates — take longer to show up. That’s why it helps to build in some immediate rewards to help you form the habit.  Rewarding yourself with your morning cup of coffee straight after your pilates routine can help reinforce your new habit and keep you motivated.

That’s it!  Your Goal Guide also includes a Habit Tracker that will help you to monitor your progress.  If you’ve been in The Lifetonic Club for a  while, you’ll know that we love to tick off our progress because it’s a great way to visually see the progress we’re making, which in turn can help to keep us motivated and inspired.

>>You can download your 2022 Goal Guide Here<<

Here’s to a year filled with tiny habits that support us in becoming the healthiest version of ourselves.

See you on the mat for our 28 Days of Pilates Challenge.

Love Julie x

P.S.  Join me for our January Q&A this month, where I’ll talk you through how to complete your very own Goal Guide!  You can sign up to join the call but following this link which will also send you a reminder closer to the time of the call.