At home with Lily McDonald from LKM Pilates
How are you?
As good as you can be in lockdown! I definitely have my not-so-great days, but on the whole, I am a-okay!
Tell us where you are and what you can see? Laying out in the backyard… it’s Sunday, 21 degrees and the sun is shining! I’m surrounded by my beautiful housemates (who also double as my best friends). I have an unspoken rule that I’m not allowed to spend the whole day inside if nice out... soaking up Melbourne’s sunny weather while it lasts.
What are you reading at the moment? Without a doubt, my all-time favourite book is Dolly Alderton’s memoir ‘Everything I know about Love’ – it redefines the meaning of 'love' while following her journey in navigating early adulthood, identity, romantic relationships and friendships. I’m currently re-reading James Clear’s Atomic Habits – a bit of self-development cult-classic but for good reason! It’s an easy read that provides actionable steps to cultivate healthier habits and remove the bad.
What are you listening to? The power of a good playlist is severely underrated. If you’re ever feeling down, enlist the help of ‘Purple Disco Machine’ – instant serotonin boost guaranteed – I promise.
What are you wearing day to day? My Jasmine Alexa ‘In This Moment Tank’ has been a closet stable, especially with the warmer weather. If I’m not in activewear – I’m in sweats, socks and slides – no shame.
Have you implemented some structure to your day? Or are you taking it a day at a time? I try (emphasis on ‘try’) to balance both.
I’m a sucker for structure on the best of days – I’m a huge planner and like to be organised. A typical day starts off with some variation of my morning routine (check my Insta @lkm__pilates), a satisfying breakfast, a couple of hours of work or uni, a workout or walk, then my housemates and I cook dinner together – our go-to’s are salmon pasta or a veggie curry. A sense of predictability and a good routine can be really comforting when everything feels out of control. On days when I feel a bit flat and unmotivated, I like to make myself ‘f-usy’ – fake busy. I’ll write a silly to-do list of tasks that are super easy to accomplish – such as ‘make bed’ or ‘shower and get ready’. Crossing off a task gets the momentum going and feels oddly satisfying – is that sad?
With that being said, I start to feel a bit robotic doing the same thing day in and day out. When I need it, I’ll let go of the routine (and my sad little to-do list) and spend the day more intuitively. I’m a huge fan of a slow morning, catching up with a friend for a coffee and pastry (BreadClub’s almond croissant is a non-negotiable) or just chilling at home.
Striking balance is so hard – but so important.
How are you keeping busy? I kick-started my pilates Instagram at the start of the year – creating new recipes and sharing workouts is way more time consuming than I anticipated, so its a great way to keep occupied! I’m currently interning for a lifestyle, beauty and fashion PR agency and in my final semester of university – six weeks left before I graduate!
Do you have any tips for staying sane during this time? Release expectations, take the pressure off and be kind to yourself (easier said than done). I think we’ve become so accustomed to lockdown and this new (and very odd) way of life that we’ve forgotten the gravity of the situation – it’s a global pandemic. It has affected us all in one way or another and whether you’re consciously feeling it or not, it is ridiculously stressful.
There’s a lot of rhetoric in the self-development and wellness sphere that we must ‘optimise’ the time, be productive, reinvent ourselves, start a side hustle etc. That’s all well and good If you’re in the headspace, but if you’re struggling (which is expected and completely understandable – know that you’re not alone) the added pressure to become ‘that girl’, might be doing more harm than good.
With that in mind, take a moment to reflect and see if your expectations are helpful or a hindrance. If you’re setting unrealistic goals then beating yourself up for not achieving them, it might be time to reevaluate!
For far too long, I would get so frustrated if I didn’t perfectly execute my morning routine – who wants to feel like a failure before they’ve even brushed their teeth? For whatever reason you skip your morning meditation, the world will keep spinning. Try again tomorrow. Be kind to yourself.
With just a few mindset adjustments, we can make sure we’re still working towards our goals and cultivating healthy habits without running ourselves into the ground.
Be flexible. Be intuitive.
For example, instead of ‘I must walk 10,000 steps every day’ aim for ‘I will go on one walk every day”. If you walk for 10,000 steps – great. If you walk for only 10-minutes - also great! The habit – that is, 'walking' – is still maintained but in a way that is conducive to your energy levels, time and motivation. Establishing vague and slightly ambiguous goals may seem contrary to popular goal-setting principles (such as S.M.A.R.T goals where the ‘S’ stands for ‘be specific’) but it allows for flexibility which in turn, makes the goal more achievable. This mindset shift has been an a game-changer for me!
Are you doing any at-home workouts? If so, what are they? Yes! At the moment I am loving Heather Robertson for resistance / HIIT (Youtube), Power Living Yoga Fitzroy (are offering free Zoom classes via the MindBody app) and CorePlus Connected for all things pilates (you can try a few of my classes!). I’ve just started Noah Training’s (Youtube) 30-day glute challenge – it’s a killer!
Ensuring I have variation in my workout schedule is key to keeping consistent – anything from a gentle walk to a super sweaty HIIT workout. I think it’s so important – more than ever – to move intuitively and find exercise that you actually enjoy. My goal is to simply move my body everyday. How I 'move' depends on how my body feels and what I want to do!
How are you staying positive? My housemates and I try to plan a handful of fun activities for the week – bike riding if it’s sunny, driving to a new park to go for a walk (provided it’s within our 5km radius), finding a new recipe on Pinterest or learning a new cocktail. To spice things up (and to get out of our pyjamas) we have themed dress-up days such ‘f-ugly fit Friday’ (think jeans + runners) and 90’s (we dressed as our favourite Friend’s character.)
But at times, the novelty of lockdown activities can wear off – you can only bake so much banana bread and binge-watch so many hours of Netflix. It’s an objectively tough time, it’s okay to feel down.
If you are struggling, there is absolutely no shame in leaning on loved ones, professional help or medication.
How are you practicing self care? What are you doing to look after your mental health? A non-negotiable for me is my early morning walk – even if it’s just around the neighbourhood. Fresh-air, sunlight and gentle movement is a killer combo! Grabbing a takeaway coffee is always a good incentive for the days I can’t be bothered and a great way to support local! I also allow myself to feel the feels, there’s nothing more cathartic than a good cry.
What are you most grateful for right now? My best friends. They are genuinely like the sisters I never had. So unbelievably grateful to have them by my side through the good, the bad and the ugly.
What are you most hopeful for? I’m crossing all my fingers and toes for a ‘normal’ summer. Lots of lost time and memories to catch up on! Now that the warmer weather is upon us, an Aperol at a rooftop bar wouldn’t go amiss (Hello Johnny’s Green Room).
What has been the most unexpected blessing that has come out of this for you? A tad cliché, but realising that I can be content with a simple life. Despite much of last year being a right shit-show, I found pockets of happiness and fulfilment in each day. It came down to appreciating the little things – quiet early mornings, a good coffee, warm weather and morning swim etc.
Are there any goals you have set for your self? I’ve been loosely following a 30-day meditation challenge. I'd be lying if I said I found it easy, but I am determined to stick with it! It’s such a valuable practice that has made me realise the intrusive nature of my thoughts. I definitely need to work on quieting my inner critic and practice more positive self-talk.
What are you most looking forward to in the future? Where to begin... I cannot wait to get back to teaching pilates in person – it's not quite the same online! I also cannot wait for the borders to open - I tend to get really restless when I stay in the same place for too long. I hope to travel, live abroad or move back to Byron at some point!