I recently wrote the intro page for my Foundations for a Healthy Core e-book that goes alongside my fitness courses. Contrary to what you might expect, I didn’t talk about the merits of regular exercise or how to develop healthier habits. Instead I introduced the concept of mindfulness.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “What’s mindfulness got to do with my postnatal belly?” Or even, “What actually is this ‘mindfulness’ that everyone’s going on about anyway?”.
“Mindfulness; the skill of thinking you are doing something when you are doing nothing”. The Ladybird (micky take) book of Mindfulness
“Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one's attention to experiences occurring in the present moment”. Wikipedia
“Awareness of ourselves and the world around us”. NHS.
First of all, mindfulness is NOT meditation. It is not a religious practice. It is for everyone – even your kids. Mindfulness, for me, is about paying attention to what’s happening, right here, right now. You can apply it to absolutely everything in your life and with great benefit. In the context of core health it's about paying attention to your body’s needs, tuning in and understanding that certain symptoms, like a leaky pelvic floor, a poochy belly or an aching back, are trying to tell you that something is off. That a certain activity, perhaps running or even sitting, is harming you.
So sit with me for a moment.
Close your eyes if you like, take a few slow breaths and just notice.
Work your way through your body from head to toe and just tune in to what your body is telling you.
Where is the tension, the pain? Behind your eyes? Perhaps you’re tired or stressed. In your shoulders? Perhaps you’re tense, cold or you’ve simply been carrying around a sick baby all day and need a break. Lower back? All sorts of possibilities but perhaps you need to take care of your posture, move more and move better and rebuild some core strength.
Whatever it is, wherever the symptom, the first thing you have to do is notice it in the context of your behaviour and your life. To see it for what it is and then you can begin to analyse, to problem solve and to make the right changes.
The wonderful thing is that mindful awareness, when you apply it to your health, allows you to recognise the triggers for all sorts of issues, not just physical but also emotional. For instance the stress that leads you to eat a whole packet of biscuits or shout at your kids at the end of a tiring day.If you’re mindful about these triggers; the days when you’ve not had enough sleep or when you’ve taken on too much and have exhausted yourself and everyone else, only then can you make some changes to try and move towards a less chaotic, happier and healthier way of life.
And that leads me back to my Core Health e-book intro. Here’s a little excerpt for you to finish with;
“Knowledge alone won’t get you a fully functioning pelvic floor or a flatter tummy. Nor will it give you energy and motivation to keep moving well. True health and wellbeing doesn’t start with squats or super-foods, it starts with making space. Space in your brain, in your house and in your life. Clearing the clutter from your mind, your cupboards and your over-busy schedule, is what will give you back the energy and desire to look after yourself properly in a way that’s meaningful to you.”
So whenever you can,
STOP, just push pause on your life occasionally, particularly when you’re experiencing a physical or emotional ‘symptom’. Don’t just rush on through your day and ignore it, especially when it comes to your core, that’s a sure fire way to more problems and worse symptoms down the path.
LOOK, at what’s going on around you that might be triggering this symptom. What activity are you doing (or not doing) that’s making it worse?
and LISTEN to what your body is trying to tell you. If something isn’t right, if you’re not able to do what you want to do because your body, or your mind, won’t allow it, then something needs to change.
I hope to see you soon in one of my Core Health and Fitness for Mums courses. For more info head to the website and join me in Heather’s Health Hub, a free Facebook Group for mums wanting to get a little bit healthier, a bit more active and a whole lot happier.
Health and Fitness for Mums