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my pet peeve: are you committing it?

I know we all have one or (two 🙂 ). Mine happens every day, in all sorts of places. The coffee queue, as I’m waiting to be served. Travelling on the tube. Out for a bike ride with my boy (aka the pilot of our tandem). Walking down the street minding my own business. Listening to a speaker at a conference or event. Out to dinner with friends. Seriously annoying.

And the worst thing is the people doing it don’t even know or if they do, they just don’t care. So why do I?

Because I am a Pilates Teacher on a mission to improve your posture.

I say no to rounded shoulders. No to chin juts. No to flat backs. No to slouching. No to pot bellies and tailbones in the air.

NO TO MY PET PEEVE, BAD POSTURE.

The first thing I do with any new client is to ask them to stand up as if they were waiting for a bus or lift. This gives me my first impression of their posture. We then work together to bring their body into “standing neutral” in Pilates terms or as you might say perfect posture. Their first reactions are always “Wow, this feels weird”.

posture

It does feel weird, as your body has gotten used to its habitual way of standing, which has developed from years of use, lifestyle and workplace norms. Did you know reading your smartphone or tablet, combined with hours bent over a keyboard or eating off your lap can all add up to poor shoulder posture? Or that end of the catwalk model pose with your weight on one leg, hip thrown out to the side can give you back issues?

Ok, it’s time for you to stop committing my pet peeve and sort your posture out.

  • Start at your feet – they should be hip joint width apart. That’s approximately the width of your fist with your thumb knuckle sticking out.
  • Knees are soft and slightly bent – this lets them act as shock absorbers as you move.
  • Moving on up to your pelvis. Place your hands on your lower tummy in a diamond shape, heels of your hand on your hipbones, finger tips pointing down to your public bone and thumbs to your belly button. Roll your pelvis forwards and backwards until you find the position where your thumbs are directly above your finger tips making a vertical plane with your hands.
  • Make sure your ribs are directly on top of your hips and you’re drawing in your chest – no popping your boobs/pecs in our faces. Save that for special occasions.
  • Draw your shoulder blades gently together to open up the collarbone area
  • Your arms and hands should now hang loosely by the side of your body with your palms facing the seams of your trousers.
  • Place your first finger on your chin and pull your chin away from it a fraction.

To hold it all in place, you will need to engage your core (ha ha you’ve never heard me say that before!) – lightly squeeze your lower abs under your hand diamond and nip in your waist like putting on a fresh pair of favourite jeans.

Oh I feel better already. You know my pet peeve and how to avoid committing it in front of me.

That said, I’ve got two questions for you:

1) Do you struggle with your posture? If yes, book into a class with me. Either at Physio in the City (near Bank and Monument tube stations), Cadence Performance (Crystal Palace) or treat your team and book a corporate class via Stretching the City.

2) What’s your pet peeve and how can we avoid committing it? Tell us in the comments and brownie guide promise to stop doing it!

  • Daniela

    What is a brownie guide promise? haha…this foreigner has no idea. But I do know that attending your pilates class at Physio in the City has DRAMATICALLY improved by posture. My doc just told me last week that she can see a difference.

    But I still have a long way to go. So I pinky promise, brownie guide promise and cross my heart promise that I will be mindful of my posture.

  • Sarae

    I love it – I accept your pinky brownie colourful heartfelt promise 😀

    And that folks, is why I am so passionate about Pilates: it makes a REAL difference

  • Robert

    I love the fact that reading your post got me sitting up properly in my chair 🙂

  • Sarae

    Happy to help – should also get you standing a bit taller on your stage and a bit more air in your lungs to get your voice to the back of the room!

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can’t get no satisfaction? make the change

How are you doing today? Good day was it? Had fun? Spent time with great people? Got to do some rewarding work? Oh dear! I’m so sorry to hear it wasn’t all that you had hoped for – maybe tomorrow will be better…….

OK you know me. I can’t leave it at that. I want to help you make a change to give you satisfaction each and every day.

The Oxford English Dictionary gives the definition of satisfaction as:

NOUN

1. Fulfilment of one’s wishes, expectations, or needs, or the pleasure derived from this:

“I looked round with satisfaction”

“Managing Directors seeking greater job satisfaction”

Let’s take the first part – having your wishes, expectations or needs met. Are you clear on what yours are? No? Try these questions to uncover them (for your life, career or any area of dissatisfaction):

  • If cash, time and help were unlimited, what would you want to do/to be/to have? (delete as appropriate)
  • What would you expect to give or share?
  • What would you expect in return?
  • How would doing or being this make you feel?
  • Who do you want involved?

Now, analyse your reality:

  • How does today match your identified wishes, expectations and needs?
  • How does today mismatch your identified wishes, expectations and needs?

This should provide you with what you should stick with – where you are getting some satisfaction – and what needs to change – where you’re not getting any satisfaction.

You’ve now got 2 choices.

Do nothing

Accept your lot. Live with it. Put up with the itch. Breathe through your frustrations. Wipe away those tears. Settle for a life less than ideal. Suck it up.

You know my opinion on this one. I’ve worked with clients, who on the brink of taking action, back out, hold back and decide they’ll just wait awhile and see if things improve. Sadly, I’ve yet to hear of this playing out to the extent that a client’s wishes, expectations and needs are fully met. Yeah maybe it gets a bit less sore for a short time, but then that nagging feeling is back…..only this time it’s worse.

I knew I wanted to run my own business way back in the last millennium. At that time, I knew it would involve working with people who shared my values and beliefs as well as my passion for enabling others to live a better life. I thought that was going to be a centre, a place where you could train, be counselled, massaged, talk, meet, socialise and more.

Then my relationship fell apart. I had to move out. I needed my job to pay my bills – how could I possibly go it alone and set-up a business? I took a new path. I worked my a** off to get a promotion and pay rise. I dropped a day at work and could still cover the bills, as well as studying part-time to teach Pilates. Then I switched jobs to a better paid firm and squirrelled away my cash to create a safety net savings account.

My vision changed track – I no longer want to run a centre. It’s too far from the action for me I now realise. I enjoy and thrive in the heart of it, right there in it with you. b-elastic was born and I’m loving it!

Go on – stretch your life!

Take that list you made earlier and work out your path to satisfaction – each building block, each skill, each piece of knowledge, each helping hand, each ££ or $$ – that will get you to a fully satisfied way of being and doing. Your path could include:

  • doing something different
  • stopping something
  • spending less time with someone or a group
  • devoting more time to someone or a group
  • trying a new route, like I did.

Then get moving. Take the first step and you’ll build momentum to complete it, begin the next and the next and the next.

Hmmm, not feeling ready to start tomorrow? Don’t go it alone – take a friend. Ask someone who has your best interests at heart to hold you accountable, to check in with you, to join you to drown out the sorrows and celebrate your successes! Or contact a role model who has walked the same or a similar path to yours and can mentor you. Or why not ask a coach?

You want to work with me? Fab! You can check out my coaching packages or drop me a line.

Can’t afford my rates right now? My birthday competition closes at 12 noon on Thursday 20th February. ENTER NOW for the chance to win one of 3 coaching packages worth £900+ or drop me a line as I’m looking to start a few group coaching programmes around common issues – career change, life goals, fitness goals and the like – these will be a more cost effective way to work with me.

This week, let us know in the comments how you are getting more satisfaction in your day. Big or small – share away as you’ll inspire someone else to take their first step too.

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Are you a Life, Career or Design it yourself Changer?

Since launching my birthday competition last week, I’ve had a question from a b-mailer:

“I know I want a change in my life. Can you tell me more about Life Changers, Career Changers and Design it yourself Changers?”

Thank you for sending your question in! Let me take them in turn:

Life Changers are those of you looking to transform your attitude or mindset, shift your work/life balance, step up your confidence or self-belief. They might also be intrigued by their values, beliefs and their interactions with others. Life Changer clients have included mums returning to their workplaces to find their peers have moved on, people who have experienced a significant life episode (e.g. illness, bereavement or accident) and those who find themselves lacking energy and motivation as their lives are missing a sense of purpose. Within this type of coaching, I use various reflection techniques, assessment tools and psychometrics where appropriate.

Career Changers usually split into two distinct groups. Firstly, those who know which career path they are following and seeking to take the next step – perhaps a promotion or lateral move within their existing employer or alternatively, moving to a new employer, region or industry. The second group are people wanting to explore potential new career paths, more fulfilling roles or employers or ways of working such as freelancing or entrepreneurism. I’ve worked with these clients to uncover their signature talents and strengths, marry work with their values and ethics as well as building brand statements and marketing collateral (CVs, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, social media profiles, etc.)

Design it yourself Changers are focussed on very specific changes, so it’s super tricky to give you a “definitive” answer. Here’s two examples to give you a flavour:

  • Eric wanted to improve his business presentations to get more sales. However he recognised that at the front of those panelled conference rooms, he often lacked passion and animation in his delivery. This resulted in bored faces and Eric’s confidence being knocked. Together, we developed his verbal skills, his audience interactions AND ditched his soundtrack that professionals don’t share their emotions (aka in his mind, passion!). How? Coaching sessions, homework inquires and some unusual rehearsals and new learning (think Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park and improv exercises).
  • Fiona was struggling to shift some old baggage from her childhood. A throwaway comment from a maths teacher was impacting Fiona’s adult life – in her head, she continued to hear “You’re not worth the effort”. She’d sidestepped projects, fallen out of love and struggled to share her opinion or thoughts. Having identified this script, we worked to re-evaluate its validity, the teacher’s importance and Fiona’s application of it in all circumstances. With my support, Fiona built a set of more supportive, helpful scripts allowing her to ask for new responsibilities at work, join an evening class and tell the waiter her starter wasn’t alright without blushing.

I hope those descriptions help you select which type of Changer programme you’d like to enter my competition to win. If you’ve got more questions, do give me a shout via Facebook or the get in touch page.

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it’s the little things

When embarking on changing a part of your life, it can feel like you’ve got a huge mountain to climb, through hail and shine. You don’t see ladybirds on the leaves, feel the sunshine on your face or know the fun you’ll have picnicking halfway up…….yet. But these little things add up to the big panorama at the top.

Let’s look more closely at the little things that can make the big difference in your change.

Career Changers might want to shift their role into a new firm or geography – that’s one giant leap for mankind. The little steps could be building a new LinkedIn summary, reading up on a new technology or approach in their field and starting to follow a mover or shaker in their desired firm or location.

Health Changers looking to create their summer body in the winter months can’t drop the muffin top or build tone in the blink of an eye. Nope, small changes to their diets (dropping the sweets for carrots or switching puddings for fruit) and fitting in small workouts to their schedule all add up to greater body confidence and health when the sun (finally!) comes out.

Life Changers might be looking for more balance in their lives. Identifying what are their important and valuable people or things to do can help find the small additions or deletions from their schedule and creating the life they want to live.

Not sure where to start on your little things? Try these to kick start your big difference!

  • Get up 5 minutes early to wake-up your body: For the first minute, draw your arms backwards in large circle to open your chest and improve your breathing capacity. For the second minute from standing, slow bend forward towards your toes and slow come back up to standing, repeat. For the third minute, again from standing tall, rotate at your waist to look over your left shoulder, then round to look over your right, repeat. Next minute, standing with your legs about 0.5m apart, side bend over to the left, back to standing and over to the right. These three moves mobilise your spine. Finish with one minute of jumping jacks to get your heart going. Now, hit the shower!
  • Practice a spot of mindfulness: sit or lie comfortably. Close your eyes and focus on your toes, moving up your legs, hips, torso, fingertips, arms, shoulders, neck and face. Repeat, noticing how heavy or light they feel. Try to soften and relax your muscles as you go.
  • Have a mini-declutter: Work your way through your desk drawers, your wardrobe, your bag, the bathroom cabinet and so on. Not used or worn something in ages? Bin it, eBay it or give it away to a friend or charity shop. Clean out the fluff and move on.
  • Drink more water: instead of reaching for a coffee or a fizzy drink, take a glass of water or better still carry a reusable bottle for “on the move” rehydration.
  • Script your new response to “hello, who are you?”: I like Alexandra Franzen’s fill in the blanks script on saying who you are and what you do or stand for.
  • Save your loose change: check your purse or wallet for 20ps, 10p, 5p, 2s and 1s. Collect them in a jar, tin or box until full and then it’s treat time! Use your savings to buy extra popcorn at the cinema or subscribe to your favourite magazine. (I do this as our holiday mojito fund – it makes them taste so goooooood!)

What little things can you do to move you towards the bigger change you want? In the next week, pick one little thing and stick with it. Let us know what difference it makes to your stretch in the comments.

Really stuck? Get in touch and I’ll do my best to help you find your next little thing.

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Get ready for your new year: Prioritise 2013

How are your Christmas preparations coming along? Here’s mine: decide what to bake for my family, go to the market, bake cookies, brownies, cheesy scones, yummy nutty mushroom loafs (2 of those) and Christmas muffins then wrap presents, do the laundry, change the beds, pack bags and if we get chance put up the tree! Oh the glamour! And fit in time with my girlfriend to get our nails done (aka gossip time) and birthday lunch with my boy! 🙂

Sound familiar? Lots to get done, yet not much time to do it? Prioritisation is the only way – but how? By chronology? By your level of desire? By ease? (or difficulty?). Hmmm tricky.

Worksheet 3 “Prioritise 2014” will help you do just that for your 2014 goals by developing your outputs in the first two worksheets (Say what? Not downloaded them? You can play catch up here: Goodbye 2013 and Decode 2013). Inside you’ll find exercises to playfully stretch your 2014 aspirations and a chance to layer on a spot of reality before working to building and aligning your goals to your values and beliefs. To wrap it all up, you’ll prioritise your goals.

Download your copy here: Get ready for your new year: Prioritise 2014

I’d love for you to share one of your goals in the comments and how you’re feeling about starting 2014? “Activate 2014” will be out on 26th December – b-mail subscribers get it first, so sign-up in the little green box (top right on browsers) to ensure it lands safely in your inbox!

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