How Pilates Can Help You Achieve Your 2020 Goals

Are you one of the estimated 60% of people who made a New Year’s resolution?

Researchers say that while so many of us make them, only 8% are successful in achieving the goals that we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year.

The most common resolutions are to:

lose weight
get more sleep
stop smoking
drink less
exercise more
stress less
eat more healthily
improve finances

We know that adopting these habits would improve our overall health and happiness, but if more than nine in ten of us fail to follow through, what’s stopping us?

We need to think about why it’s so difficult to change. Some of it has to do with routine and being organised. You may have heard the saying “a goal without a plan is just a wish” - change doesn’t happen without setting out some steps to do things differently.

But there are often bigger, more difficult issues to overcome. Regularly indulging in behaviour that we know isn’t good for us in the longer term is linked to all kinds of physical and mental health issues. So why do we do it?

Perhaps we use food, alcohol and Netflix to escape from uncomfortable feelings.

A nice glass of red and a couple of episodes of The Crown may seem like the perfect antidote to a really tough day at work. Chocolate might be how you reward yourself when you finally get the kids off to bed after a long afternoon with them left you feeling frazzled and worn out.

Maybe you indulge in a little online shopping when you’re out of synch with your partner, or lose too many evenings to mindless Instagram scrolling when you haven’t seen your friends in a while and are feeling out of the loop.

Acknowledging those uncomfortable feelings and naming them - stress, anxiety, boredom or loneliness - is the first step to facing them and ultimately overcoming them.

Getting on the right track with better alternatives

Replacing a bad habit with a good one takes some work, but it’s so much easier once you better understand the “why” behind those patterns of behaviour. Identify the habits you’d like to change, then think about what kind of uncomfortable feelings might lie behind them.

While you’re mulling over any issues you may have identified, you can make some simple swaps to break those bad habits. At home, you might like to replace your evening wine with a soothing herbal tea. Try a kombucha or sparkling water with a refreshing slice of lime in place of a G&T.

Rather than mindlessly cosying up with the remote control, pour yourself a warm, lavender-scented bath. Ditch Facebook for an actual book and instead of online shoe shopping, pull on your sneakers and take a quiet walk. And if you really can’t live without chocolate (and let’s face it, very few of us can), don’t sit with the whole packet. Take one square out and pack the rest away.

How Pilates can help:

I could go on and on about the many benefits of pilates - and I’m sure I will for many years to come - but to support you in achieving your New Year resolution goals, pilates will:

- Give you a mental break: Mindfulness doesn’t have to happen as you sit cross-legged in silence - pilates is mindfulness in motion. Anyone who’s ever been to a class knows that you can only think about one thing: your body. A break from distractions leaves you feeling centred, better able to cope with whatever’s going on in your life and less likely to indulge.

- Lift your mood and help with self-control: When you practice Pilates, endorphins are released into your body. They relieve pain and make you feel happier overall, which is ideal if the habits you want to change are about self-soothing.

- Help you to meet a challenge: Studies show that it’s possible to change your emotional state just by the way you breathe. The type of breathing we do in Pilates is the really good, calming kind that helps with emotional control (handy when you need a little extra willpower to achieve your goals). It’s also great for winding down at the end of the day to get a better sleep, meaning you’ll wake up feeling recharged, energised and ready to face the day.

- Improve your confidence: Feeling physically strong has an incredible effect on your confidence and Pilates improves your posture which can also give you a boost in that department (try it now - stand tall, head high, shoulders back - how do you feel?). Building muscles that are long, lean and toned certainly doesn’t hurt either.

If you’re looking ahead and thinking of making some changes, taking the time to practice Pilates is a great start to your new year.  No matter what your personal goals may be for 2020, Cambridge Pilates is here to support you.