I used to be addicted to running.
A couple of years ago I couldn’t go a day without running or doing some sort of cardio or I’d feel guilty. My life revolved around how many calories I burned, how many steps I got, and how low I could get my resting heart rate.
Since being diagnosed with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, my whole life has been flipped upside down. My view of what “healthy” means has completely changed and it’s taken me a long time to come to terms with my new lifestyle and my new body.
I used to tell myself that running was my stress reliever and it helped me deal with my anxiety. Although part of that is definitely true as running can release endorphins, it was also an escape mechanism for actually dealing with the cause of my anxiety.
I realized that I was addicted to running because I was addicted to shrinking and controlling my body. I had body dysmorphia and a terrible body image, and running and cardio were the only sure ways I knew how to get smaller. I equated body control with life control; if I could be successful at controlling my body, then I would be successful in every area of my life.
As you probably already know, that is simply not true. It took me a really long time to accept it but now that I have, my life is exponentially better.
One of the ways I was able was to transition successfully through this part of my life was by finding Pilates.
Pilates has literally reshaped my body and my view on exercise and health. It helped me see what my body is really capable of instead of feeling like I was constantly punishing it for what I ate.
So here are 5 things that happened to me when I switched from being a Cardio Queen to a Pilates Pro:
1. My Body Shape Changed
When I was addicted to cardio, I’ll admit – I looked somewhat skeletal. Looking back at old photos I don’t know how I didn’t see it. People would tell me how skinny I was and I didn’t believe them; I took it as a compliment, but also as motivation to keep doing what I was doing.
Since switching to Pilates, my body hasn’t changed a whole lot, except I look more toned, less “skinny” and I have been able to hold onto more muscle mass than I ever used to.
You see, Pilates works with your body to accentuate what you already have instead of trying to drastically change it. I naturally have an athletic “ectomorph” body shape and I have a hard time putting on muscle. Pilates has allowed me to hold onto muscle, creating a long and “healthy” (healthy for my body) physique.
2. I Gained More Confidence
I feel stronger and I actually hold myself taller now than I ever have before. Pilates is all about improving your posture and allows you to actually “grow” taller after a class!
Since doing Pilates regularly, my posture, overall flexibility and mobility have all improved and as a result, my body confidence has also improved.
I have less aches and pains in my body from forgoing all the repetitive stress of cardio and now feel like I have the ability to try new things and can trust that my body will be able to handle new, fun activities 🙂
3. My Stress Levels Improved
Although I was no longer getting that “runners high” on a regular basis, I was doing my body waaaay more good by taking the stress of cardio off it.
And when you think about it, it makes so much sense! If you have a stressful personal and/or professional life, the added stress of exercise might be too much for your body to handle.
“If work or home life pressure is high, resulting in an elevation of the stress hormone cortisol, too much training may push cortisol levels even higher, adding that an overload of this hormone can actually reduce the body’s ability to use fat as an energy source.” – Byrdie.com
Simply put, if you’re stressed all day and then stress your body some more at spin class, a run or HIIT class your efforts could be wasted!
4. I Got A Lot Stronger!
I already touched on the change of my body shape, but more importantly – my strength improved soooo much when I swapped cardio for Pilates, especially my CORE strength!
I had no idea how weak my core was until I started practicing Pilates!
Because Pilates can realign your body, mobilizing and stabilizing all the right places, it makes your body much more efficient at moving and thus, all of your workouts become more effective and your everyday movements easier.
The little muscle I had before would waste away with all of the cardio I was doing so I would constantly plateau with strength training and making gains would be impossible. At the time I just thought that meant I had to work harder, when in fact it was the exact opposite!! I needed more rest and the right kind of exercise for my body.
5. I Have More Energy
Contrary to popular belief, running every day did not give me more energy… maybe it was a false sense of energy, but my bloodwork did not lie.
When I was doing cardio 7 days a week my hormone levels were at an all-time low, meaning I had ZERO sex drive. My thyroid was overworked (I had subclinical hypothyroidism) and my cortisol levels were out of whack as I had a hard time falling asleep at night, but would take multiple naps a day.
By taking a big step back from high intensity exercise, I was able to take enough stress off of my body to allow it to function optimally again.
By switching from cardio to Pilates, I regained my health and ultimately, I regained my life.
If you would like to learn more about Pilates, you can check out this post about Why You Might Want To Try Pilates Today.
And if you’re ready to swap your Cardio for Pilates, you can try my classes for FREE for 10-days at www.pilatesondemand.ca – use the code 5OFF to get $5 off your first month!