What You Think is What You Get: Seeing Our True Beauty

Have you ever had a Pilates session, or nice long walk, and gotten that awesome feeling of accomplishment when you finished? Have you also noticed that, with that feeling of accomplishment, you’re more happy with what you see when you look in the mirror?

Lately this has absolutely been the case for me as I’ve been noticing more and more how my thoughts relate directly to what I see in the mirror.

In my last post I mentioned I planned to share a process that I’ve learned over the last couple of years. This process is part of a new set of tools I’ve used to radically change my life as well as enhance my Pilates practice. I think you’ll find it useful too.

Today I’m going to share two steps I use every day to keep myself feeling good on the inside, which leads to feeling and looking good on the outside.

Recently I had a day where I went from being unhappy with what I saw in the mirror to loving what I was seeing within hours. Obviously I don’t think that my body actually physically changed in such a short time frame, but it sure felt like it.

I was having one of those mornings where nothing seems to be going right and I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before. I have a full length mirror in my kitchen and when I’m at the sink I can’t help but see myself in the mirror.

I was getting coffee ready, my mind was already running with everything that needed to be done that morning. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and immediately thought to myself, “You are looking seriously busted.” (This is actually the edited version of my thought 🙂 ).

As soon as that thought entered my mind, I started feeling worse than ever.

This was pretty early in the morning. I had a full day ahead of me. I knew I had to turn this morning around. I had to get my mind right, or it was going to be one looong, not fun day.

Luckily, the process came to the rescue and I used it almost automatically since I’ve been practicing regularly… It’s a process that works really well on days like these.

Here are the two steps I took to turn my day around:

Step 1

I changed what I was thinking.

When I had the thought, “You look seriously busted.” I immediately felt worse and disliked what I saw in the mirror.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the voice we hear in our heads isn’t always very kind or truthful. When we listen to the negative things that voice has to say, we’ll see those thoughts reflected in the mirror. This is called projection.

But here are the really cool, empowering rules about that voice:

You don’t have to listen to it.
You can choose another thought.

As soon as I recognized the insult I was giving myself I acknowledged the thought and then immediately selected another thought. A kind one.

On this particular morning, I went with Hey, I am looking beautiful for someone who only got 4 hours of sleep last night.

And immediately I felt better and when I looked in the mirror I was able to see myself in a much better light. I actually looked better to me than I did a few moments ago.

Every day I hear people say negative things about  themselves. Often it’s an off-the-cuff comment, or said in a joking way, like it’s no big deal. We say to ourselves consciously that we don’t really mean it.

But here’s the thing, when we make a statement about ourselves out loud we can pretty much guarantee that the same exact thought, or similar, is running through our minds at a subconscious level on an ongoing basis throughout the day.

The average human brain thinks 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a heck of a lot of thoughts. The most frequent ones become like feedback loops. We get so familiar with them we aren’t even aware how often they pop up in our minds anymore.

If your brain is running negative feedback loops all day long, imagine how that is going to affect not just how you feel, but what you see when you look at yourself.

On the flip-side, you can also create positive feedback loops once you begin to turn negative thoughts around and select kinder ones. When you do this consistently, you’re going to feel much better and you’re going to be much happier with what you see in the mirror.

Step 2

I took action and got myself moving.

The second step I took that morning was to get myself moving. I hit my Pilates mat for 10 minutes where I breathed, moved my spine and worked my deep abdominals.

It’s not often that I give myself the opportunity to take a full 55 minute Pilates session, but every single day, as soon as I get up, I do a 5-20 minute Pilates/stretch session followed by a minimum five minute meditation. This practice sets my body and my mind up for the day.

It’s rare that I miss my morning practice. But the days I do miss tend to be the days I’m infiltrated by more negative thoughts.

When I have these days, I find that taking an extra five minutes to get on the mat, breathe, and do a few Roll Ups, which are a personal favorite for stretching my spine, helps me ground and establishes a foundation of presence that really stays with me for the rest of the day.

Pilates is an amazing way to connect with your body. There’s nothing like moving your spine and the wonderful feeling you get when you activate the deep muscles in your body; especially the transverse abdominis, the deepest abdominal muscle. When the TA engages, it flattens and spreads across the low belly so it naturally leaves you with the feeling of a flatter stomach.

When you get yourself moving, even if it’s only for five minutes, this is all the action you need to completely transform your awareness. Additionally, taking action leaves you with a strong sense of accomplishment in the moment and that feeling grows over time when you keep taking action day after day.

While you may think that feelings are unrelated to how you see yourself, I have found that when you have a feeling of accomplishment you are going to feel happier when you look in the mirror.

These two steps make up the major part of my personal process which I use to keep myself on track every day and loving what I see in the mirror.

They may seem too simple to have an impact, but when practiced consistently on a daily basis, these two small steps add up to a BIG positive change physically and mentally.

I really encourage you to try it out and see for yourself. And then let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear how these steps work for you.

Do you have a process you use on days you aren’t feeling so hot? I’d love to hear what you have to share in the comments below.

See you in the studio,

P.S. Looking good is all in the mind. 😉

P.P.S. I have a really quick poll at the bottom of this page that should take you no more than 6.3 seconds to take. It would help me out a lot if you could click and submit before you go as I’d like to be sure I’m writing the kinds of articles that you’d actually like to see here. Thank you!



Hi, I'm Sydney and I'm a Restorative Movement Specialist here at Pilates Tonic. My goal is to empower you with tools to connect and live in your body in new and better ways. I'm a passionate advocate for wellness through optimally aligned movement and I look forward to designing a customized alignment and movement program just for you! If you want to find out more, just give me a call at 423.702.5233, or email me at info@pilatestonic.com. See you in the studio!

12 Responses

  1. Awesome post Sydney. It’s amazing what positive thinking can do for us. While I don’t meditate I think that is a great way to help us be happy. Running for me has always brightened my day. And of course Pilates!!

    1. Thank you for sharing Will! Running can definitely be a wonderful form of meditation. Not to mention how beneficial just being outside can be!

  2. This is a GREAT post! I also am working on remembering if we change what we look at, the things we look at change. A change in perception can certainly make a HUGE difference in my day.

    Thanks for a great post!


    1. It is so great to hear from you Angelia! I’m happy you enjoyed the post! I was just thinking about you this morning and here you are 🙂 I hope all is well. Thank YOU!

  3. i have come to the same realization myself. I hope someday soon, I can return to pilates. Leah Gallant

  4. Thanks Sydney. I really enjoy your articles. I have really missed pilates this summer and can’t wait to get back to class when the kids start school. I have a morning habit of drinking coffee before anything else happens and I don’t look in the mirror! I will try doing some stretches and maybe a roll-up or two and see what happens. Thanks for the encouragement.

    1. Thanks for sharing Anne! I’m thrilled you are enjoying the articles 🙂 Let me know how adding a little Pilates/stretching to your morning coffee goes. I look forward to seeing you when school starts back!

  5. Wow, What an inspiring post! Getting outside to take a walk or hike in order to hear the sounds of nature around me helps to reset my mood. It literally restores my Soul:) You are the best Sydney… I love working with you!.

    1. I love that Nita! Getting outside and hearing the sounds of nature does restore the soul. That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing. And I love working with you too 🙂

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