Yesterday marked the final day of the 21 Days of Pilates Challenge (which I talked about signing up for a few weeks back), and I wanted to do a recap of all that I’ve learned over the past 3 weeks!
Spoiler alert: I did not complete the challenge perfectly. Not even close! But thankfully, my goal from the start was never to be perfect – it was to learn and grow, and I’m proud to say I accomplished both of those things! Read on to hear about my experience, and let me know in the comments how you’ve been learning and growing lately too!
1. Grace over guilt!
This is Robin’s mantra, and I absolutely love it! Life happens, and you miss workouts. I was on a perfect streak of completing every workout in the challenge until day 10, when I got hit with norovirus. Needless to say, I was off the mat for a few days. I felt well enough to jump back in on Day 15 and completed it and a couple more days before getting into a minor car accident on Day 18. Thankfully, no one was injured, but I was shaken up and a little bit sore and didn’t want to push myself, so I let the rest of the days slide. But you know what? I’m still proud that I participated in the challenge, even only completing a few days of it. And this is because of the next thing that really sunk in for me throughout this challenge:
2. Something is better than nothing.
I am the definition of an “all-or-nothing” personality type. I often put off tasks if I feel I can’t do them perfectly and all in one sitting. But as I gain more life experience, I’m learning over and over that this kind of approach to life is not helpful or practical. It blocks us from doing meaningful work on good and important goals that we could be making real progress on, all because we’re afraid we can’t execute them to some kind of imaginary ideal standard.
It goes against my nature to do so, but I end up feeling so much more free and more accomplished when I allow myself to do things imperfectly, partially, and little by little. I did not complete this challenge perfectly. But I completed 12 Pilates workouts that I otherwise wouldn’t have done, learned some important things about my body and my fitness habits, and made some new friends in the process! I call that a fun, imperfect win!
3. For me, working out first thing in the morning is key.
From the start of this challenge, I did my workouts literally right after getting out of bed. We have a small apartment where the two main divisions are the bedroom and the living area. So every night before bed, I laid out my Pilates mat on the floor in the middle of the living area and put my workout clothes and computer on the love seat where they would be neatly waiting for me the next morning. I woke up, opened my laptop, changed and did my workout before I even got my coffee! (This is big for me, because I don’t do anything before I get my coffee.)
This was by far the best way for me to make sure I completed each workout. On the days toward the end when I started to feel more busy and less certain, I would wake up and just want to go ahead and sit with my coffee and Bible, and I’d tell myself that I would get the workout in later that day. After all, they were only 10 minutes! Unfortunately, there was only 1 time when I actually followed through and completed a workout later in the day. Mornings are my golden workout time, for sure!
4. Having accountability buddies makes fitness more fun!
I loved texting and tagging my accountability buddies on Instagram throughout this challenge, even though our communication was admittedly here and there. (Again, grace over guilt!) It really does feel more meaningful when you know you’re part of a community of people with the same goals and challenges as you. Shoutout to Jess of Just Jess and Molly of Molly and Stacie for being my Pilates accountability buddies this time around!
5. Challenging yourself is rewarding.
This has been another lesson that’s hard for the perfectionist in me, but it’s so good! There were some workouts that I got through easily, without exerting much effort, and there were others where I had to take breaks halfway through a set because it was just too painful for me to keep going. But rather than shy away from the tough workouts in favor of repeating the easy ones, I made a conscious effort to challenge myself!
I’m proud of the fact that on the days when we could choose our own workouts, I deliberately chose to go back and do the workouts that were hardest for me instead of the ones that were easiest (in a word: legs! So challenging!) I even found myself doing pliets, the one move that was the hardest for me to hold, throughout the day sometimes, like when I was brushing my teeth or washing dishes! I noticed even in the short time of doing this challenge that I felt a little more stable and strong each time, and it taught me that challenging yourself, while it’s not always fun in the moment, does actually make you stronger.
I’m thankful for the 21 Days of Pilates Challenge and the things it taught me. If you’re interested in learning more about Robin’s Pilates program, check out her online community, The Balanced Life Sisterhood. It’s a great resource if you want to make Pilates your go-to exercise of choice and want support from a community of women who are on the same journey. I’m so thankful to have this experience to look back on as I continue to learn and grow in my fitness journey (and in life in general!).
It has been a struggle for me in the past to find fitness routines that I can stick to consistently, and I openly admit that I am kind of a serial workout-er, jumping on the train of different disciplines and sticking with them for a while before moving on to something else. (See my post from earlier this year when I was super into yoga for a month as an example!) But I don’t think that’s a bad thing, because it takes a lot of trial and error to find what works for each of us as individuals. I’m excited to continue trying different approaches to fitness to find the best fit for me and learning more about my body and myself in the process!
What is your current exercise of choice? What have you learned about yourself through the process of trying different types of exercise? I’d love to hear your thoughts!