Reach for the … toes? How small adjustments stretch our potential

touch your toes

I like to say I’m one of the most inflexible people in the world.

Now, when I say inflexible, I don’t mean that I can’t adjust my schedule or go with the flow. I mean truly inflexible: I can’t touch my toes. I have never been able to touch my toes. Not even when I was a kid.

I am fit. I like to stretch all the time. Yoga is my favorite. So people are usually surprised to find that my toes and finger tips have issue making a connection.

Or at least my fingers and toes used to struggle to connect.

Picture me, a few weeks ago, in one of the best restorative yoga classes of all time, at Love Junkie Yoga and Fitness. I love this yoga studio. Restorative yoga always feels like a massage for my mind and body.

The wonderful teacher says, “Often we don’t have our weight balanced between our heels and toes, putting too much weight in our heels. We make forward folds too hard.” She comes over to me and shows me how to shift my weight more into my toes. A small adjustment.

And guess what!? I touched my toes! I stood up, and then I touched my toes again!

I went home and showed my husband how I could suddenly touch my toes. I texted all my closest friends and family. I can touch my toes! I am approaching 40, so lots of years, like 32 years, I have not been distributing the weight in my feet. I was making it too hard. I can touch my toes!

Now picture me as the exploding-brain emoji:

Just a small adjustment

All I needed, I realized, was a small adjustment, and I could do something I deemed impossible.

That’s applicable in so many other situations.

“What other things have I been telling myself? How am I limiting me? What else needs small adjustments?”

I know touching your toes may not seem like a big deal, but when you look at the bigger picture — making small adjustments to achieve what you thought was impossible — well, it’s a big deal.

So, I have turned this into a challenge to myself: When I catch myself having limiting thoughts, I try to examine them and question if they are really true. Or am I just limiting myself?

For instance: When I told myself I was too old and out of shape to ever jump up on the “big” box at the kickboxing gym again.

Photo courtesy of Sara Devlin

The gym I go to has varying levels of boxes. Small, medium and large. You stand in front of the box and jump from the ground to the top of the box. About six years and two children ago, I could jump the big box. Lately though? Not so much.

But … no self-limiting, right? I decided to give it another go.

First, I stepped up on the box to get an idea of the height. I then pushed the box in front of the mirror and could see that I could get my feet high enough. It took a little pep talk to myself (“No fear!”). But a couple of false starts later … I found myself on top of the big box!

I am not too old or out of shape to jump the big box. I can do it. Now, every time I go to the kickboxing gym, I jump the big box at least five times to remind myself to not to be afraid.

The other kind of box

Nicole Dorn owns Love Junkie Yoga and Fitness, where I had my big toe-touching revelation. She is also mom to two little ladies.

Nicole says everyone in the studio shows up with different baggage that they get to put down when they get on their yoga mat. The biggest thing she sees is people think they are not worthy. They think they have to earn their place in the world, so they live small.

She thinks people have put themselves in a box out of fear or comfort and are missing out on some big opportunities. They self-limit what they can do. So the yoga studio is often a place of surprise for participants. They stretch out of their box and discover they can accomplish so much more then they give themselves credit for.

The biggest thing we can do for ourselves is be OK with setbacks, Nicole said, so we can grow and learn and come back stronger: “Crazy things can happen when we create the possibility.”

Now, I challenge you.

What have you been telling yourself you can’t do? Why are you putting limits on your abilities? What small adjustments can you make in order to achieve big-time success?

We are all more capable then we could ever imagine. So … OK, women! Let’s do it! Go for the toes!

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