If you will faithfully perform your Contrology exercises regularly only four times a week for just three months as outlined in Return To Life, you will find your body development approaching the ideal, accompanied by renewed menial vigor and spiritual enhancement. Contrology is designed to give you suppleness, natural grace, and skill that will be unmistakably reflected in the way you walk, in the way you play, and in the way you work. You will develop muscular power with corresponding endurance, ability to perform arduous duties, to play strenuous games, to walk run or travel for long distances without undue body fatigue or mental strain. And this by no means is the end. -Joseph Pilates, Return To Life Through Contrology
This quotation is up on my studio wall. In an idle moment recently, I was reading it. An idea was sparked: why not accept Joe Pilates’ challenge and put myself to work? That same day, I proposed to a client that we do the work out from Return To Life Through Contrology. We did, in proper time (about twenty minutes). But something didn’t feel right in my back when we were done, so I did a bit of stretching hoping to alleviate the symptoms. I ended up with a gnarly back spasm that took a few days to unwind despite my rapid response – I was at my chiropractor’s office within a few hours. With my crushed sense of confidence, the idea was tabled. About a month has passed and the idea is still rolling around in my head. I gave it some more consideration and came up with an action plan. I could use a little boost right about now.
I’ve got four collections of clothing for different sized bodies. And I barely fit into the largest sizes right now. While I have managed to hold off the rapid expansion that happened last fall, I am treading water these days, definitely not getting any slimmer. Since I never followed up on my diet plan of a few months ago and because it fits perfectly with this new project, here’s the simple story: I read Fallon and Prentice in preparation for this post. And I was persuaded that since I’m still nursing and hoping to have a second baby in the next year or two, that raw milk, butter, and raw milk cheese ought to remain on my daily list of foods consumed. As far as the white flour goes, well….I started with the best intentions by consuming only whole-sprouted grains. But little by little, white flour has crept back into my diet. And the sugar, well sort of the same thing. I’m still mostly consuming only whole sweeteners (palm sugar, honey, and maple syrup), but I don’t do well without a daily dose of chocolate (usually when I partake, I remind myself of Deb’s assertion and console myself that at least I’m not eating white flour too). What’s more is that I’m really not a dieter by nature. I never have been. I love to eat healthfully and have continually improved my dietary intake since I was a teenager. But I’m not keen to adopt a diet that includes deprivation. I like to eat and I like to do it in the company of others. And I really like ice cream. While I understand that a case could easily be made for avoiding it, I never seem to be able to hold on to the idea for very long. Eventually I end up thinking something along these lines, “this life that I’m living, here in the land of plenty, includes ice cream, why fight it?” And then I happily partake.
So if I’m not going to lose weight by dramatically altering my food intake, perhaps exercise will do the trick. I figure that with exercise, not only do I burn calories, I also help myself feel better physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Pilates is such an incredibly complete and effective exercise system, I really should reap the benefits of what I know by putting myself through its paces, yes? YES! And here’s where I have to remind myself of two things. When it comes to Pilates, I know what I’m doing. Sure I occasionally throw my back out, but for the most part, when I really put my mind to it, I’m pretty good at the stuff. And perhaps a bit more importantly, I’ve done this before….
Back when I was a working 6-7 days a week as a certified Pilates instructor and preparing to enter my apprenticeship with Romana, I had an idea. I was working long hours so as to fund my upcoming training, and I needed to keep myself in the game, body, mind, and spirit. So I decided to start out each day with a Pilates mat workout. I’d genie-sit to lay down on my floor (it was nicely padded carpet which made it all quite simple) and perform the “intermediate mat series” at the prescribed rhythm (this would take me 8-12 minutes depending on the day). The series ends with a genie-stand and I’d go directly to the shower to start my day. As I walked those ten paces or so, I’d revel in how I was breathless and sweaty. And soon enough I experience a completely unexpected result, my clothes were falling off me. Those morning workouts did something for me that nothing else had or has ever done. Since then my body has gone through a wide variety of changes. In those days, I’d naively thought that my body would stay the same since I was dedicated to maintaining my Pilates practice. While I have indeed maintained my practice through thick and thin, and while I have made all sorts of improvements to my knowledge base and physical execution of my exercises, I have never repeated this rigorous morning routine. I know that the rhythm and enthusiasm with which I consistently performed my workout was a key component to my weight loss. I’m now wondering if the time of day also had something to do with it. Perhaps a quick morning workout gave my metabolism (whatever that is), a booster start. Or maybe not. The reason, I even consider the possibility is because it’s pretty unlikely that I’m going to be able to workout at the same time regularly given my life as a mom.
Which brings me back around to the topic of self-doubt. I’m not really sure that I can do this (lose weight by simply amping up my Pilates practice and being a wee bit more careful with what I eat). It’s a test, a challenge, an experiment. But I do want to do it. So, having taken a cue from this lovely lady, I’m going to do it like this:
Starting the on the new moon (July 8th) and continuing till the full moon on October 18 (this makes a little over fourteen weeks total), I’m going to follow Joe Pilates’ prescription with four workouts per week. Given my line of work, I may indeed end up doing more. As far as my sensitive low back and abs go, I’m omitting the exercises that are riskiest for me and will supplement with some apparatus work (cadillac, reformer, wunda chair, and spine corrector depending on the day). I may also do some other more gentle exercises which I call “Human Mechanics” on an as need basis.
To keep myself inspired and honest, I’m going to video-record myself in minimal clothing once a week and share it online. I’ll also post a weekly update with my reflections and insights from the week, a photo to document progress, and key measurements (weight, waist, hips, and thighs).
I’m super excited for this challenge, it is coming at a good time for me. Heeeeerrre I go!