Monday, December 9, 2013

strengthen your core

For a while now, I have been working one-on-one with a Pilates instructor in an effort to strengthen my core muscles. As some of you already know, for me this has been a very hard year physically as I've undergone two surgical procedures to relieve pain in my lower back. You see, I suffer from degenerative disc disease and am plagued with icky bone spurs in my spine and arthritis throughout my body.

I've been told by two doctors that my lower back issues stem from an old knee injury in which this last decade has required me to undergo several difficult surgeries (and possibly more to come). Unfortunately, my health predicaments have left me physically "older" than I really am. Climbing stairs and walking long distances prove especially challenging and must always be regulated as my knees can easily buckle and give out. Also, I can usually predict weather changes and barometric shifts because I literally "feel" them approaching with my throbbing joints. I have learned to walk with a subtle difference in the length of my unstable, arthritic legs, and, as such, have a tendency to favor the "bad" leg over the "good" (or as I like to tell my husband - the "Frankenstein" leg over the "Sexy Mamma" leg). Needless to say, after years of shifting my body weight to one side, sciatic pains have started to scream - finally drawing a line in the sand for me to change how this injury effects my overall posture.

Anyway... this year, after getting my pain under control, my doctors all recommended that I undergo more physical therapy to strengthen my lower back. From there, Pilates was recommended... and the rest is history. For those of you who are like me (who may know little to nothing about Pilates), let me tell you, it is quite simple in theory but extremely complex to execute correctly. After working under the tutelage of my instructor, I can confirm that it is an excellent method of strengthening your core muscles without causing strain or pain to your lower back. (Very important!) If done correctly, Pilates will actually change everything about you - how you breathe, stand, walk, sit, etc. For me, it has been a very positive discovery, and an important education both physically and spiritually.

What do I mean? Well, let me give you an example. The very first thing I learned in Pilates was that my posture and breathing has forever been incorrect. Can you believe that? Something so basic in life... something that I assumed was normal... for over 40+ years of my life has been executed incorrectly!

Once my instructor began showing me the small adjustments necessary to correct my posture and breathing, I could immediately feel relief in my lower spine as well as other areas of my body. I could actually breathe without holding tension. As crazy as it sounds, these simple corrections have completely rocked my world. For they truly do not seem natural to do. But now that I am aware of them... they are clearly correct and good for my health.

Now, I find myself frequently checking how I stand... how I breathe. I can easily slip back into the old way of doing things, so it is key to always remain aware and deliberate in my movement. (Which is not as easy as you'd think.) However, I've learned that the changes my Pilates instructor has taught me have completely changed the direction of my health. That's revolutionary!

I am grateful that I really researched and chose a wise instructor too. She is not one of those "cookie cutter" trainers who walk about with limited knowledge of Pilates and other forms of exercise leading many clients to perform the movements incorrectly. (Apparently that is more common than not in the Pilates world.) No, she has spent a lifetime learning the art and has studied under the very best and renowned. And she knows that simple, small corrections lead to big, life changing improvements. She does not overwhelm me with the full Pilates regime when I visit her. No, instead she gives me one or two small truths in dosages that promise huge differences to my betterment.

Jesus is the same, you know. He understands that we are corrupt. He knows that we have lived our whole life incorrectly and in detriment to our own health. Our natural human posture leans us toward what is wrong. Our breathing is suffocated by our own sinfulness. Yet, Jesus can change us. He is ready to teach us how to stand upright. He is able to make us new. But we must be willing to learn how. We must be aware and deliberate in our movement. We must frequently go to our Teacher and learn His truths. We must be ready to change everything we thought was normal and make His standard our new way. Only then can we know real relief and be blown away by His wisdom and changes. Only then can we become holy... healthy individuals.

Ladies, will you allow your core to be supported by Jesus' strength? Will you frequently, deliberately, relentlessly go to Him to relearn everything you know? I hope so. I pray so. He will exercise every part of you. He will teach you to move in ways that seem unnatural and strange. But He will also show you what is really correct and good for your health. His way is indeed revolutionary and life changing. Most importantly, His way comes from the greatest authority of all.

This is the day to learn something new from the Instructor/Teacher/Creator who is truly able to change us. Let's exercise ourselves to know Him better and change our posture for good, shall we? Let's intake His breath of life and enjoy the benefit of our mighty, impressive King!

"He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” (Isaiah 2:3)

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson

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