Tag Archives: success

Bikini Body using Pilates? Jennifer Hawkins knows better

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www.chrishuntwellness.com

‘Tis the season for Pilates for Bikinis posts and articles. I cannot seem to open my inbox or look at the net without seeing yet another “5 Pilates exercises to get you into bikini shape” article.

I wrote previous about the claims that Pilates claim give you a flat stomach (see Does Pilates create a flat stomach?) and if you read that post you will know how I feel about people who make such claims. So is “bikini Pilates” any different?

Let’s use Jennifer Hawkins as our example today. She has never been shy about her love of working out, and at the weekend she posted on her Instagram account some nice pictures of her doing Pilates with the comment “Fave toy. Ohhh, lil bit of luv/hate for sure!! #caddy #workout.”

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The 30 year-old is an Australian beauty queen, model and television presenter best known for being crowned Miss Universe Australia and later the same year Miss Universe 2004 in Quito, Ecuador. She is currently the host of Australia’s Next Top Model. She previously told Vogue that early mornings were her favourite time to exercise in between her hectic schedule. ‘I’m definitely a schedule person so I’ll get up really early and do a Pilates class or go for a run. Pilates I love. If I could do that three times a week I would but I just don’t have the time.’

So back to Pilates for bikinis articles. Of course such an evocative claim is not far from the truth. We all know the benefits of a regular Pilates exercise regime. Such benefits can and will be increased by integrating other exercise systems (including cardio) into a weekly practice, and by eating a healthy diet. For sure the body will respond over time and for sure you will look better in a bikini. What gets my goat is the headlines about “5 Pilates exercises to get in shape”. This for me categorically goes against the principle that Pilates is a holistic practice, especially as typically those “5 exercises” will focus on abs and butt. Such headlines and articles are simply trying to grab attention, and as is typical in today’s culture, give the impression that you are only 5 exercises away from the body you want.  Jennifer Hawkins has achieved her body thanks no doubt with a little help from genetics, but also hard work over a sustained period of time.

The other dangerous thing is that it is now, in spring/early summer that these same old articles and miracle cures do the rounds, clearly suggesting that you only need a matter of a few weeks to achieve that wonder-bod for the summer. Such claims, in keeping with other “New Year” diet nonsense (see my blog “Another Year, another new diet….) only serve to fuel the misconception that there is a quick fix, and of course this only leads to failed diets/exercise regimes and ultimately disappointment.

The simple truth is that there is no quick fix. Any lasting changes we seek to achieve in life usually take time and lot of dedication and sometimes sacrifice. Whilst “Get a bikini shape in 12 months” might not get me many clicks, it’s a far better target to be aiming for next summer and be able to maintain a body shape change than it is to con people into thinking change is easy.

And as a final point, why do I never see “exercises to get fit for your swimming trunks” articles?!?! I can feel another blog coming on….

Chris is an international Pilates presenter and educator. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength.  He also organises Pilates Carnivals, Pilates conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. Read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway? for more.

How are those New Year’s Resolutions going? Not good? OK, let’s talk…

www.chrishuntwellness.com

www.chrishuntwellness.com

On January 1st, millions of people began the annual ritual of New Year’s Resolutions. Memberships at health clubs and diet programs soar, whilst sales of chocolate and alcohol decline. People take a long, hard look at their spending habits as they sort through the January bills.

Now we a few weeks into the New Year and despite all this good intention, most people will fail at their resolutions. Come February, most New Year’s resolutions will be a dim memory. How can such apparently strong determination fizzle out so quickly? What can we do to increase the likelihood that our desire for change will translate into permanent positive change?

Let’s first examine the psychology of the New Year’s Resolution. During the month of December people tend to overindulge in eating, drinking, spending money and neglecting exercise. Rather than moderate these behaviours, we promise ourselves that after the holiday season is over, we will definitely take control. In the meantime, we give ourselves permission to overindulge without guilt. Our resolve is at its peak when we feel full, drunk, or broke. It’s easy to think about going on a diet as we groan from a bloating holiday meal. It’s no problem to plan to quit smoking when we’ve just had a cigarette and replenished our nicotine level. At this point we feel confident about our New Year’s resolutions because we have not yet confronted any prolonged physical deprivation or discomfort.

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In early January, we are often so sick of rich food and drinks, and feeling so sluggish from lack of vigorous physical activity that it’s not difficult to abstain from overindulgence. In fact, some people look forward to more structure and discipline in their lives. However, a few weeks into the new discipline, our appetites have returned, and we start to feel deprived. It is at this point that we are most at risk for reverting back to old behaviours.

Soon we start rationalizing that this is not a good time of year, what with cold weather and our numerous obligations. When spring comes, we’ll really get into shape. Thus, we make another promise to ourselves, and, now free of guilt, put off habit change for another few months. Chances are that when spring arrives, we will have another temporary surge of motivation, only to abandon it within a few weeks.

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So why do people abandon their resolutions? One reason is that we become discouraged when results don’t come quickly enough, or when we find that we are not necessarily happier because of them. Behavioural change requires sustained effort and commitment. It is also typically accompanied by physical discomfort. For example, reducing food, alcohol or nicotine intake from a level to which you have become accustomed, results in cravings. Forcing yourself to get off your cosy chair to exercise is often difficult when you’re tired. And of course, it’s easy to procrastinate until tomorrow, so that you can rationalise not disciplining yourself today.

Therefore, if you are going to try to keep your New Year’s resolutions this year, be sure you are ready for the challenge. Here are some tips to maximize your success:

1. Examine your motivation for change
Are you just feeling full and bloated at this moment? Do you have a hangover from last night? Did your last cigarette give you have a hacking cough? Or is there a more enduring reason for your desire to change? If you can’t think of a better reason than the fact that you’re uncomfortable at this moment, then you’re better off not making promises to yourself that you probably won’t keep. However, if you are realistic and accept the responsibility of discipline required for change, your motivation will be sustained long after the discomfort from over-indulgence has passed.

2. Set realistic goals
Habits and behaviours that are changed gradually have a greater chance of success.

3. Focus on the behavioural change more than on the goal
For example, if you decide to control your eating, your goal for the day is not to lose a specific number of pounds, but to stick to your program. Such focus on your behaviour will help you feel in control of your life. You will gain satisfaction from making sensible choices several times throughout the day.

4. Learn to redefine physical sensations of discomfort
Whenever we restrict ourselves, we have both physical and mental reactions. For example, a smoker feels bodily sensations when his nicotine level drops. However, he has a choice as to how he interprets these symptoms. He can define them as extremely unpleasant, or alternatively he can interpret them as his body cleansing itself of the drug.

5. Make tasks non-negotiable
People who are most successful at implementing such changes are those who make their tasks non-negotiable. For example, if you debate with yourself at 5:30 a.m. whether you feel like getting up to exercise, you will probably opt for staying in bed for another half hour. But if getting up for exercise is no more negotiable than getting up for work, then you’ll do it regardless of how you feel about it. The same goes for organising your closet or taking charge of your finances. One can almost always find an excuse not to do these things. However, if you make a non-negotiable decision that’s based on a sound logical reason rather than on how you feel at the moment, you will be successful.

6. Allow for imperfection.
No one is exactly on target all the time. In fact you should expect to falter every now and then. If you give in to temptation, do not use this as an excuse to abandon the whole program. Learn from your mistake and move on.

7. Do it now.
If you’re waiting for a more convenient time to begin behavioural change, it won’t happen. It’s almost never convenient to change ingrained habits. Now is just as convenient as any time.

So I could say good luck, but we all know that it has very little to do with luck. It has everything to do with commitment and planning.
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