Pilates and my (sweet) pain!

MY VIEWS | | October 9, 2012 at 10:33 am

I am one to cringe when someone mentions doing something out of the routine regarding exercise. I am good with commitments, well kind of, but intensity scares me. I am also the girl who says yes to crazy things because I do not like challenges holding me back (yeah I went on  zipline and went up in a chair attached to balloons too). So when Lisa Johnson and I were creating goals for the month as part of our Harvard Pilgrim’s challenges, I needed to do something for exercise. Lisa volunteered Pilates for me (seeing how she owns a Pilates studio I totally get that) and I swear I felt my insides twist. I am so not fit. I try to be but know that this body will only twist in certain ways. When you move me slow and deliberate you can see the things that don’t work. And then I would have Lisa see me at my worst and worry “Why the heck am I paired with Niri?”. So I said yes. I did!

I decided to focus on getting into Boston. That traffic alone would take my mind of my anxiety. Lisa was not coming, she was sick. Part of me thought bummer for her being sick and me not getting to meet her and the other part was relieved that maybe she won’t see me at my worst.  Well armed with my cool bright sneakers (thank you Olympians for making them look cool again) and big bottle of water I walked into the studio. I met an instructor who was in super happy spirits, a novelty if you’re in the city trust me. Some of the friendliness I get back home or in smaller towns in the USA grab my off-guard and I throw them a  “what do you want?” look.

I got this, I thought. Then she asked me to take off my shoes and I peeled them off it felt like I was storing my armor in the cubicle. I took a deep breath and I decided to let it go. Easier said than done. I had done yoga and still do it sometimes but the breathing and flexibility of it are the tough parts for me. Still, I am never one to give up. The contraptions in the room took me back to those old stories you hear of stretching bodies back in the day. True story: my geeky side was excited at all the springs and levers. Without a trace of technology around, somehow my acquired ADD persona remained with my shoes in the cubicle too.

Then I nervously glanced at the instructor, who I swear exuded to the essence of calmness, wondering if I should give her some warning sign screaming “lost cause!” to her. So wobbly me got into the zone with a lot of mental reminders. She kept asking if that was my balance or could I feel this here or there and honestly it drove me crazy for 5 minutes. I am in autodrive during the day so this stopping to listen to my body was a novelty. My husband always chides with me about using the GPS to head to the therapy office, the place I have been taking my kid for the past 3 years and I tell him, I need to not think. The mental exhaustion takes its toll so I tune out. It is my way of dealing with most stuff.

The issue is, I have been tuning out to me. Me! Not only have I been neglecting my meals in the morning rush but I don’t listen to my body. So admittedly the first few responses to her were lies. Yes, I lied. Sue me! But then I reminded myself of why I accepted this challenge: to be a better me. So I started listening to my body. Then she told me to breathe and honestly this is a huge struggle. The mechanical responses to me overtake and I forget to breathe. I did manage to figure out the muscles she mentioned and actually felt some of sensations she described.

Her little “imagine this a watermelon or $100 bill” were good visual cues for me to focus on and her calming mannerisms allowed me to work in a non-judgmental atmosphere. So when she glanced at me to tell me our session was over, I disbelievingly looked at the clock: she was right. You know, as I tell my kid, time flies when you’re having fun, I did not chalk up Pilates to be a “fun” thing. But surprise, surprise I was sad to see it end. I guess Pilates did not kill me and it may even make me a better person, or so my thinking is.

As I walked to my car in a bustling Brookline street, I felt calmer, and more aware in my surrounding and me. In light of how you sore you feel the day after, I jokingly considered whether I should have called Lisa straight after to suggest I takes 2 painkillers and call her in the morning. Yeah, I dreaded the next day as I expected my body to protest against the alien movements. I was also hoping there was some soreness as a badge that I did something right. I was surprised to find that I was not only sore in a manageable way but in a place, I never felt sore. It’s is like my upper abs had awoken from hibernation, now the trick is to keep it awake.

Mission Pilates? Sore but successful!

Now head on over to see how Lisa did with Zumba!

Disclosure: Harvard Pilgrim is sponsoring the various challenges this month and I am excited to be a part of it!

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    Karsih says:

    I can vouch for the fact that at med school there is litlte more than a cursory glance at nutrition. But as a vegetarian you do need to make a more concerted effort to make sure you are getting your protein. Which sounds like you do, Nicola. Doctors keep getting a bad rap on a lot of blogs for saying that vegetarians are not getting their protein. What they should be saying is that vegetarians need to make sure they are getting enough rich sources of protein, many whom do not.

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