I once had a friend, who although I loved (and still do) dearly, had one quite irritating quality. It seemed like she would always ask for advice or suggestions on what to do or say, but she didn’t actually want to take it. She would circulate her latest dilemma or decision to be made around our circle of friends, soliciting opinions, but almost to no end. Regardless of how many people said she should do X or they would take Y, she seemed unsatisfied with the response and unwilling to make a step forward in any direction. This would usually go on for a while, until eventually, maybe days, weeks, or even years later, she heard someone new say the exact same things as at least 3 or 4 of us had already told her and it was like a lightbulb went off. She seemed oblivious to the fact that this was not new news or a novel suggestion and eagerly went off to do whatever had been recommended. I was often exasperated and indignant (about being “right” along – related to one of my greatest weaknesses of all – often unrelenting insistence on my own “rightness”) until I realized how common this is and that I, of course, am just as guilty as anyone else. Sometimes it’s not a new idea, it’s just a fresh perspective on the same things which makes a big difference.
This is not an earthshattering revelation in the least, but it was something I was recently reminded of with my time at barre instructor training last weekend. During the course, we started with some of the basics – key terminology and body positioning for effective and safe exercises. None of it was necessarily new or vastly different, but there were a few times that he did word things slightly differently than I would or have heard before, which did provide a fresh perspective. But one of the things that struck me in particular was related to cueing. After our breakdown of all the basics, he was quick to point out that it while it is important to make sure that these things are being communicated in our classes, it is equally vital to ensure that we don’t “over-cue” the same things over and over, lest the messages lose their meaning by being excessively communicated.
And although this was nothing new or something that I haven’t thought or heard in the past, it did still make an impact in two ways. The first was a renewed passion for better communication, not only when I am cueing during barre or Reformer, but also when I make presentations at work, talk to friends or family, or write this blog. When I say the same things over and over (and over) how can I expect those around me not to become immune to the message regardless of how important it may actually be. It was a kick in my “lifted seat,” a challenge to find different ways to say the same things or with better timing and delivery because different people respond differently. Secondly, it increased my level of awareness and renewed my commitment to not just “phoning in” and going through the motions myself.
It’s so easy to tune out those the things (or the people) that we hear repeatedly. Often when we are in a familiar situation, or with someone we know well, or listening to the same idea, it ceases to have impact not because whatever is being communicated isn’t true or because it isn’t important but because of us. We learn to tune out, or assume that we “know” what is going to be said or happen next. I know this is the case for me and I have a sneaky suspicion that it is for many others. When it comes to barre, Pilates or many other workouts, many people falsely believe that they will plateau over time as their body becomes more accustomed to the work. I beg to disagree. In over four years of barre now, there has not been a single day that the workout was easy. My technique, form, and body continue to progress because I am committed to finding new perspectives on the same things and learning to work deeper. There are certainly times, when I have found myself drifting or my mind wandering, but I try to quickly snap out of it and think about what I am doing in order to be able to achieve the most bang for my buck and an optimal experience. Over time, I continue to have what I call “barre epiphanies” when I am struck by a metaphorical lightning bolt and I realize what something really means or what it is supposed to feel like. I have often realized with surprise and delight “OHHHHHHH! That feels totally different if I just make this teeny tiny adjustment” or “Wow, I guess I was doing that wrong all along.” By staying focused and tuned into what is going on, we can often find new challenges, deeper understanding and growth at the barre and beyond in all areas of life. Sometimes this is hearing a different take on something for the first time and sometimes this choosing to find a fresh perspective ourselves.
This is true when it comes to time at the studio or gym, when it comes to the workplace, when it comes to our relationships, and when it comes to the food on our plates. It is easy to think that a major overhaul on your diet is unsurmountable or that “we all know how to lose weight and eat more healthfully,” but I don’t think that either is actually the case. By choosing to take a closer look at the choices we are making, finding a fresh perspective or new way of looking at things, we can make small adjustments leading to big and lasting changes. Just because something is common or expected, doesn’t mean there is nothing additional to be gleaned or that there isn’t a way to make it just a little healthier. For example, you may think a sandwich is an easy and dependable lunch option for workdays, which might be true. But with just a few tweaks, you can make it THAT much tastier and better aligned with your overall goals. This Whole30 Tuna Avocado Salad is one example of just that.
- Canned Tuna in Spring Water 1 4 oz can (120 g) drained
- Avocado (very ripe) .5 each
- Paleo Mayo 2 TBSP (recipe here)
- Green Olives .25 cup (85 g)
- Diced Green Chilies/Jalapeños 2 TBSP
- Tabasco Sauce 1 TBSP
- Chopped Scallion 1 each
- Large Leaf Lettuce or Cabbage 2 or 3 leaves
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper to Taste
- Start by slicing the olives in half and chopping the scallion and chiles/jalapeños and set aside.
- Scoop the avocado and mash in a mixing bowl until it reaches a smooth consistency.
- Add the paleo mayo and tabasco to the avocado (feel free to adjust to fit your desired level of spicy - I personally go generous on the hot sauce).
- Then add the tuna, olives, scallions, and chilies/jalapeños, mixing well to combine.
- Add sea salt and black pepper to taste and then scoop into each of the lettuce or cabbage leaves, wrap and enjoy!