How to cultivate a daily pilates practice at midlife

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.

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Meet Julie

Hi, I’m Julie owner of Ostara Pilates and creator of The Lifetonic Club. Here you’ll find pilates workouts, educational resources and practical tips dedicated to woman at midlife.  You’ll learn how to build a better relationship with your body and mind during one of the most significant periods of your life and how to create a simple wellness routine so as you feel supported even on the days where you have no energy.   Read more.

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