When talking to people over the years about how I began my weight-loss journey, I often describe my laziness. I’m a self-confessed, couch-potato bum. I wasn’t an active child. I come from a house full of readers. We may not know how to play sports, but we can navigate a library with ease.
But I got older, my ass got wider and every flight of steps began to look like Mount Everest. I knew I needed to make a change, but I’d never done anything like this before. Of course I hadn’t. That’s how I got into my situation in the first place. Besides dancing for a few years, physical activity was a foreign concept to me. And things that are foreign can be scary.
Fear is one of the biggest obstacles you will have to overcome as you embark on your weight-loss journey. It can be so powerful that it’s debilitating. You know how to walk, obviously, but you haven’t run since recess in elementary school. The last time you rode a bike it was a Huffy 10-speed. You haven’t taken a class since college almost 15 years ago. Doing these things will muck up your routine, and they’re all unfamiliar to you and the body you’ve developed.
Have you ever been so scared to something that you did it anyway just to relieve the anxiety of fear?
That was how I decided to just go for it. You’ll hear lots of disclaimers about not participating in any strenuous physical activity without your doctor’s consent. I’m a big believer in that, too. But after you’ve gotten the doc’s OK, the only thing holding you back is you and your fears.
So what are you really afraid of? That you’ll run out of breath? That you’ll hurt yourself? That you’ll make a fool of yourself? Let me help you out: you will do all those things and more.
If you’re brand new to the whole exercise thing, you will definitely get short of breath a lot faster than some of the other people around you. And you will deal with it. Never, ever push yourself to the point where you absolutely cannot breathe. But don’t shortchange yourself to the point where you’re not really working yourself. Always remember: oxygen is good.
A little pain got you scared? Again, you will deal. Your body is going to fight you so hard on the “damage” you’re about to do to it. You will ache in places you didn’t know could ache. I knew my hamstrings would get tight, but I never thought my butt muscles would betray me. That’s when I became good pals with my friend Epsom Salt. A quarter-to-half cup of that in a hot bath will ease a lot of your aches and pains. Or, if you’ve worked your legs overtime, an ice bath is the trick for you. Just think bath.
Humiliation is a fear we can all relate to. Who hasn’t tripped and fallen in front of others? Who among us hasn’t seen that one guy at the club looking like he’s having a seizure when he’s supposed to be doing the Dougie? It’s embarrassing to be the new person. But you won’t always be new. You will get the hang of things, you just have to keep trying. The person killing it in front of your Boot Camp class wasn’t always the star pupil. They tripped over their aerobics stepper just like you did. The fastest swimmer at your pool once had to doggy paddle to do laps. And then they got better, as will you.
Don’t let your fears keep you from doing what’s important to you. Use them as motivators to keep you moving on the right track.
What scares you most about working out? What steps can you take to overcome them and even use them to your advantage?
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