Scarcity and Your Pilates Practice

Sydney Articles 17 Comments

Pilates and Scarcity

I recently had the pleasure of taking an entire week off strictly for vacation. And I didn’t work on one single blog post!

While taking a break may sound simple and easy enough, for me it’s a giant accomplishment.

Why, you ask?

Simply because I have believed for a long time that I just couldn’t afford to take time off. And the source of that belief was the same source that frequently causes many of us to put off, or even avoid the things in life that would most benefit us.

That source is a scarcity mindset.

What You Focus On Is What You Create

Focusing on scarcity is something I’ve struggled with most of my life. As a child I obsessively practiced to achieve whatever goal I had in mind; generally it was getting ready for some type of talent show or trying out for a team.

But no matter how hard I practiced, I would always spend more time worrying and fearing that I wouldn’t make the goal and that I would ultimately fail.

Hard work is all well and good, unless you allow the outcome to define you, which is exactly what I did and is a post for another day. 🙂

As an adult, my scarcity mindset has played itself out in my careers, my family life and my finances.

I’ve been an entrepreneur since 2001 and have taken pride in creating work and an income for myself and my family.

But, with a scarcity mindset, my focus was always on what I didn’t have and what I hadn’t yet created, or accomplished, instead of seeing just how far I had already come.

In other words, every time I succeeded at one goal, I would instantly discount that success and instead focus on the long list of goals I was afraid I couldn’t handle.

Scarcity and Fear Ruled My Life

Fear of not having enough money kept me on the hamster wheel of work and certainly didn’t allow for vacations. The funny thing about situations like this is that they’re invisible. I was completely unaware of how much turmoil I was constantly creating for myself.

I was in pain and I had accepted that as normal!

In 2009, I had a big wake-up call. Life and work became painful enough to raise my awareness to a new level. Something had to change and I was finally moved to begin the slow process of shifting my perception.

In the spring of 2010 I was extremely fortunate to join an amazing group of women who met once a week and who were also on a similar path of shifting their perception to a happier existence.

At one of our meetings I arrived feeling particularly low. I’d just completed payroll and paying all of the bills. I was left with $0 in my business account and $0 in my personal account.

Instead of focusing on the fact that I actually had enough to write payroll and rent checks and pay all the other bills, I was focused on the zero dollar balances.

In the group we took turns discussing situations that were “up” or creating turmoil for us and I took the opportunity to talk about my dire financial situation.

Without skipping a beat, the woman leading the group looked at me and said “Do you have food in your kitchen at home?” I nodded, yes I did. Then she said, “I imagine that you not only have food in your kitchen, but you probably have a few options to choose from. You probably even have enough for multiple meals.”

She was correct, we did. I knew we at least had peanut butter and jelly, bread, spaghetti, ramen noodles, eggs and soup.

Then she said, “Can’t you see? You are already abundant. Focus on what you have. Until you are grateful for what you have and can see the abundance you already have, things are not going to change.”

Her words hit me like a ton of bricks.

It was so simple and obvious. I had been completely blind to my existing abundance. How could I have been so blind?

That moment was a major positive turning point in my life.

What is Your Default Setting?

It turns out my mind’s default setting is scarcity and defense and it has been that way most of my life.

My goal and focus the last four years has been to reset my default mindset from scarcity and defense, to abundance and happiness.

It hasn’t been easy. An abundance mentality is a commitment that I must renew each and every single day.

And I’ve made significant progress, which my recent vacation reflects, but there have also been other far deeper improvements in my life, especially on the physical side of things.

What Does This Have to Do with Your Pilates Practice?

When it comes to our bodies and our physical practice, it’s easy to get caught up in a scarcity mindset. See if any of these statements sound familiar:

  • I don’t have enough time.
  • I’m not thin enough.
  • I can’t do a roll-up or roll-down.
  • My body doesn’t move that way.
  • I’ve missed so many weeks/months, how can I possibly get started again?
  • If I had just kept going to classes when I first began, I’d be so much further along now.

These are all scarcity thoughts that will stop us in our tracks. They are ways we use our minds to justify staying in a painful place instead of seeing the other side of the coin of possibility and focusing on changing and improving our present and future lives.

I invite you to explore your thoughts and see if you uncover any scarcity phrases or habits that are keeping you in a holding pattern with your Pilates practice, or any other part of your life.

I have found that scarcity in one area of life affects all other areas, so there can be a big payoff for your Pilates practice if you find that place and bring some light to it.

I didn’t realize the magnitude of my own scarcity thinking and the crippling effect it was having on all aspects of my life, including my body and Pilates practice.

It’s fascinating to me that the more I’ve uncovered these thoughts and deepened my awareness of them, the more aware I’ve become of my poor physical patterns and habits.

Greater mental and emotional awareness has given me more subtle and sensitive body awareness and that, in turn, has dramatically improved my body and Pilates practice.

In fact, challenging my scarcity mindset has ultimately helped me develop the awareness I needed to balance my back and gain two inches in height!

Do you have a favorite scarcity phrase you find yourself using? I’d love it hear it! Speaking a scarcity thought out loud (or typing it 😉 ) brings it to the light and starts the process of transforming it.

I hope you’re enjoying the change in season, wherever you happen to be and I wish you abundant thoughts and positive leaps and bounds in all areas of your life!

With love and abundance,

About the Author


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 See you in the studio!

Comments 17

  1. Sydney,
    Gaining perspective is truly freedom for each of us. My journey to thoughts about abundance began with Pilates. When I began to be a student at Pilates Tonic, to allow myself to find my breath, find my length, find what I could do which led to the possibility of what was to come, my calmness increased!
    Seeing possibilities instead of limits is why I want to be a student of Pilates Tonic!
    All of the instructors at Pilates Tonic practice limitless teaching and it is infectious!
    My go-to scarcity phrase—“If only I could…….”
    Thank you for giving me a deeper breath this Tuesday morning!

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  2. Sydney, I found your website a couple of months ago! So wish I lived closer to you! There I go! ” I wish”. I have a great Pilates Studio here called The Core Center, where u was lucky enough to meet Rebecca Leone! She was here in Augusta learning Rossiter! When I read that you had some training with her, I have been very interested in your teaching,
    I became a certified Pilatrs Mat instructor, and teach at the Y.
    I strive everyday to get better and reach my goals.
    After reading this email, I realized I do the same thing.
    Thank you!
    Love your website!

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  3. Sidney,
    Thanks for sharing your insights! Yes, I do have, to many times, this scarcity mentality. I have many things to be thankful for, but many times focus on what I cannot do. With your help, I can do a roll up with many different props. Thank you for your expertise in teaching Pilates, and making it something I can do with some physical limitations.
    I look forward to getting home, and back in my routine, after being out of town way to long!
    Marilyn McCamish

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  4. Dear Sydney,

    I sooo remember the days when I had the scarcity thoughts that my body “couldn’t do forward bends” or that “I might hurt my back” or that “I’m not flexible” or “I might overstretch and hurt myself”. I could feel the fear in my body. It would cause me to guard and resist. I know you remember those days, too:) My private Pilates sessions with you have been such an eye opener to that mentality. I am now doing things in my practice that I never dreamed I would ever be able to do again. I am even going to Will’s stretch class and enjoy it a great deal. I can now catch that feeling when it comes up and am able to just let it go. I can never thank you enough for guiding me to this place where I can now say “I AM supple and my back IS strong”. Thank you for sharing this journey with me!!!!

    Love, Nita

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  5. Having always been open minded and somewhat impulsive, I used to spend money until it was gone and then worry about that until there was more to spend. The transition out of that habit involved telling myself: “I can’t afford it.” Talk about a scarcity mindset! It did improve my financial situation but peace of mind became hard to find. Focusing on the abundance that was actually beginning to manifest in my life was the turn around…just as it seems to have been for you! Simple Abundance, a book by Sarah Ban Breathnach, taught me how to evaluate the physical things in my life to prioritize for my own best self. “I can’t afford it” became “I choose for my highest good.” My healthy body became a treasure beyond price and everything else came into focus around feeling at home in my skin. So thank you for your videos! They are always pivotal to my practice and come right on time for the issues that are on the surface. Bless you!

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  6. Love your posts and your willingness to expose yourself to the world! Thinking back to 5-6 years ago when I began the commitment to Pilates, it’s a wonder I didn’t give up. Couldn’t even do the sideline oblique work, not to mention roll ups & downs. Thanks to you & your amazing instructors, I was able to make tremendous progress strength-wise. Now just need to work on my scarcity mentality in other areas of my life…..

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  7. Sydney,

    I would love to find a local Women’s group to meet with. Right now I meet with one every quarter in Nashville, but having one here would be more convenient. You certainly have fooled me, because I have always viewed you as having an extremely positive attitude, so keep up the good work!


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  8. Sydney – I am so incredibly grateful that I found your blog and the Pilates Tonic website! I’ve had SI joint issues on my right side for almost 3 years. Prior to my injury, I had a daily exercise routine which included running 3 miles/day. I stopped all of it because of my pain. Essentially saying if I couldn’t do what my body was capable of before, I would do nothing. This scarcity thinking has damaged my emotional and physical health. Doing nothing has lead to a 10lb weight gain, feeling emotionally drained and physically exhausted from pain. I have such bad hip flexor pain on my left side that I can barely get out of bed in the morning, bend to pick up a pair shoes off the floor, sit or stand for prolonged periods. Thank you so much for writing this article and for the stretches! I’ve altered my thinking from I am so weak I can’t do “real” exercises to: I choose to stretch so that I feel healthy and strong. I tried several of the hip flexor stretches and the standing alignment “test” and it’s made an incredible difference already! I live in Milwaukee, WI. Are you familiar with any practitioners or studios here? Thank you!

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      Hi Michelle, Thank you for your feedback. I’m thrilled you’ve found the blog posts and videos helpful! I don’t know any practitioners in Milwaukee. But, I did a little research online, and if I were going to try a studio in Milwaukee, I’d try either Flying Squirrel Pilates, Core Concepts or Spinal Dynamics of Wisconsin.

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