Something I find myself saying a lot while teaching is “Set yourself up well.” What I mean by that exactly depends on what we’re setting ourselves up for, but the bottom line is the same regardless: It really helps your body to set it up for what you’re planning to do.

Planning to pick up something heavy by a handle? Tighten the muscles around your shoulder and your grip before you pick it up and set your feet in a good solid stance.

Planning to move into a plank position? Take a moment on hands and knees to make sure your hands are set well, your shoulders feel strong, and your ribcage feels supported rather than dangling.

Planning to go into Stomach Series for a little ab work? Take a moment to make sure you feel long in your torso in your curled up position and that your belly feels smoothly flattened inwards like origami and not like a big scrunched up piece of paper.

Doing squats? Where did you set your feet and are they even with one another?

This idea translates into other realms than just fitness, like:

Injury prevention: At night do you keep the floor by the bed clear so you can easily get up and go to the bathroom without tripping over your stack of books? (Or is that just me who keeps a giant stack of books hanging around…)

Preventing food waste: Every week I sit down and look at the food we have on hand to plan the meals for the week and then I write it down on a sticky note and stick it to the front of the fridge. This includes snacks and ideas for combinations. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reached for something in the fridge, read my sticky note, and shifted gears to eat the things I planned to eat instead of the random thing that popped into my head.

Remembering random ideas that pop into your head: Speaking of… I make a daily list for myself and that list has a big blank square called “Capture.” When something pops into my head that I need to remember, I write it down in that square and before I retire that list for the night, I either transfer the idea where it belongs, act on it, or put it in my in box to figure it out later. (I’m old school here and like to write things down but there are apps for this as well!)

Finding things you need daily: This can be very unique to you but some ideas I use are: hooks by the front door for our keys, a hook by the back door with the garage key, baskets by the door with our shoes, baskets in the living room with workout gear, a place to lay out my clothes for the following day, a spot for my wallet and phone, a charger station for devices, and in these days of COVID a mask bag with extra masks and hand sanitizer.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There’s soooooo much in life we can’t prepare for, that takes us by surprise, rips up our plans and burns the little bits into cinders. So it’s really nice to have these small places where you can plan and make things easier for yourself.

And that’s really what it’s for: to feel that little bit of success each day and patting yourself on the back for doing something helpful for yourself. I think sometimes systems can be presented by the self help industry as something you MUST do because otherwise you’re failing at life.

In my opinion that’s backwards. My systems have nothing to do with proving myself to anyone; I set them up to give myself that little moment of “ta-da!” that helps me feel like I can get through the rest of the day and breathe more easily.

Putting together a system takes a little bit of time and planning and tweaking but it’s worth it when it works. What things do you do to set yourself up well?

copyright 2021 Autumn Needles Pilates and Fitness LLC