Fear can keep you from becoming the best version of yourself and living a completely fulfilled life. As humans, we are programmed to have a natural fear response if we feel threatened or in danger, like if we’re being chased by a bear. We understand fight or flight, but many people struggle with a variety of different fears that can impact their daily life and health. As an active fitness enthusiast, I enjoy sharing my love of group exercise with almost anyone who will listen. What I hear more often than not from naysayers are excuses about why group classes aren’t for them, but what I really hear behind those words are reasons why fear is holding them back. How do you combat that fear, and more importantly, how do you get past it in order to challenge yourself and do more than you ever thought possible?
Jen, as I like to call her, is a woman in her early 40’s who has attempted to lose weight and keep it off many times throughout her adult life. Does this sound familiar? Most people have success with small and short-term weight loss, but a sustained life-long weight loss is a less common story and happens after inner change has occurred. Jen didn’t like the person she saw in the mirror anymore and started off simply by taking walks on a regular basis. Walking has a list of benefits and can often lead to a more complete exercise routine. In Jen’s case, she was quickly motived by both mental and physical results, and she began to learn to value herself as a person. She remembers vividly walking at a local metro park and experiencing a breakthrough in the way of a spiritual moment. Over a decade earlier Jen lost her infant son and has carried those wounds with her. That day in the park, while walking alone, she felt a strongly that her son was with her encouraging her to take back her life and decided to commit to walking a half marathon. She went on to register for The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Half Marathon and felt transformed by the intense 12 weeks of training. After successfully meeting this goal, she began to start setting new fitness goals. She felt inspired by others she met at the marathon and used this to propel herself forward. With a refreshed sense of accomplishment, Jen decided it was time to try more but had many fears about stepping it up a notch due to a knee injury in her past and continued doubts about her self-worth.
She reached out to an acquaintance who she had known for years through kids’ activities: group fitness instructor and new owner of Brickhouse Cardio Club Gahanna, Kris Chick. Kris has had the pleasure of serving as an inspiration to many health and weight-loss hopefuls. Jen was inspired as well and knew that fear had been holding her back in her fitness journey. She felt more confident in her abilities because of what she’d accomplished already and used this to help silence her fear. Through encouragement and fitness education, she began trying group exercise classes regularly and enjoyed both the physical and emotional benefits. No longer caring so much about what others might think has been key to trying new things in her journey. Piloxing, Zumba, and CXWORX to name a few.
Today Jen has dropped 40 pounds, but she has also gained a tremendous amount too. A work in progress is what she calls herself, and she strives to always be present and live in the moment while continuing to work on silencing her negative thoughts. One strategy in her arsenal is talking with other people when she hears too much of her inner dialogue. Seeing herself as a real person with value has aided her in being more rationale with these thoughts. Jen recently attended an insanity class, and while she began the class with fear and doubt, she finished it strong and confident. She feels strongly about using her experiences to inspire others in her life to overcome their obstacles too, and she is full of purpose as she continues to learn to love herself while traveling on a path of her fitness journey.
Don’t let self-doubt and fear hold you back from accomplishing your goals and living a full and healthy life. Check out some of the biggest obstacles that exist in your mind that are keeping you from taking the first step on your own journey.
Our thoughts and perceptions are our biggest enemy in determining our potential for success. Trying to lose weight and get healthy when you’ve been overweight or obese for most of your life can make you feel a little like you’re standing at the foothills of Mount Everest. Don’t limit yourself or hold back because of what you perceive about yourself. Being you makes you valuable and worth the effort to lead a healthy lifestyle. The mountain might be huge, but through small goals and changes you can conquer that mountain.
Stinkin’ Thinkin’ – Say goodbye to “I can’t”
I remember hearing about Zig Ziggler and the concept of stinkin’ thinkin’ in junior high health class, totally unaware of how important it was. You sabotage your efforts and set yourself up for failure every time you say the words, “I can’t.” I’m guilty of this myself and struggle regularly with dismissing my own self-doubt. Don’t create a self-fulfilling prophecy by determining your capacity to be amazing before you’ve even tried. Talk with someone who believes in you and figure out what inspires you. Practice always being present with yourself and silence your inner voice when you notice your negative thoughts taking control. Choose to say I can to whatever fitness activity you want: walking, running, dancing, or group exercise classes. Only you have the ability to tell yourself what you can and can’t do.
Performance Anxiety – Picture them all in their underwear
The first time I stood at a podium in my freshman speech class, I had to hold on to keep my legs from giving out. Today I can talk in front of a room full of people without a second thought, but occasionally when I am trying something new, that old familiar feeling of “they’re looking at me” strikes again. The fear of feeling that you might mess up and people will judge you has kept many potential class goers from trying a group exercise format that they otherwise find appealing. Start small and see that you can accomplish goals to build self-confidence, and then use that confidence to try something new. Find a fitness club where you feel comfortable where value is placed on having fun and being healthy rather than rock hard abs.
Chronic Pain – The ouch factor
It isn’t uncommon to see fitness participants wearing knee and ankle braces while giving it their all. Fear of reinjuring yourself, or hurting yourself in another way, can be a stumbling block when trying to reach your fitness and health goals. In some cases this can feel almost paralyzing, but there are strategies available to help you take that first step. Most every group fitness format has modification to help you stay injury free, and licensed/certified instructors at fitness studios can help educate you on how to do this. Say goodbye to this excuse and discover ways for you to work out safely with confidence.
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes. I’ve always wanted to use it as an inspirational message to others. May it inspire you to begin or continue a journey towards health by realizing that you are your own boss. Take charge.
“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson