I regularly hop on TikTok live and answer questions about Pilates. People often ask me the same things – can Pilates help scoliosis, menstrual cramps, knee pain, ankle issues, sports injuries, and back pain? The answer to all of these things is yes. I have many YouTube videos for pregnancy, shoulder pain, back pain, and sore hips, simply because I’ve had these questions over and over and over again.
People also frequently ask if Pilates will help them with weight loss, and I tell them that it doesn’t. You need to complement Pilates with cardio in order to lose weight, and you also need to balance your hormones, manage your stress, get enough sleep, and drink lots of water. Someone asked me a question recently that really hit me deep in the heart – they said that they’d lost weight all over but that their thighs weren’t as thin as they wanted them to be. They wanted to know if Pilates would make their thighs smaller.
It really hurt me to know that this person had lost weight but was still focusing on the last ‘problem area’ of their body, as though they needed to lose that particular weight in order to be healthy, accomplished, acceptable, or happy. I told them that, even if they do lose that weight, if they maintain that mentality that there’s always something to be ‘fixed’ about themselves, the list will never end. Even if they get their thighs to the size they want, they’ll eventually go back to nitpicking the smallest things about their body and look at their body as something to be addressed or fixed.
Your body is not a problem to be fixed. If you’re always thinking about the next issue you have to fix – your breasts, your stomach, your arms and legs, your chin – you will always eventually find something. Your body works so hard for you, every second of every day, to keep you alive. Your body fights off infection, heals your wounds, and protects you as best it can. Your body has never given up on you, even in the face of neglect and punishment that you might put it through. It’s not a problem to be fixed.
The best way to approach exercise is to consider your mental health first. Work out from a place of empowerment, doing it because it feels good and keeps you healthy. When you work out to feel well and healthy, everything else flows naturally from there. When you’ve had a bad day, go for a walk. When you’re stressed after work, put on a YouTube dance workout and get your heart rate up. When you wake up feeling grumpy, do twenty minutes of yoga. If you want to make plans with friends, join them to go for a sun, play soccer, walk your dogs, or have a beach day.
When you look at exercise as something you do to feel better, rather than something you do to ‘fix yourself’ you will not only get better results, you will improve your relationship to your body and your relationship with yourself.
Exercise is not punishment for your diet, size, or appearance. It’s a celebration of what your body can do. It’s as nourishing as a good meal. When you use exercise to feel well rather than to berate yourself for a ‘flaw’ that you believe you have, it becomes something you look forward to and something that you do just because you enjoy it. Exercise doesn’t have to be hard, painful, punitive, or exhausting. It can be fun, comfortable, and easy. You’ll get better
results when you consider it joyful and celebratory.