Fear is a powerful motivator to force you to take action, but it can also make you sit and do nothing.
When people start thinking about working out, especially if they’ve never gone to a gym, or have never been active people, that fear is often there, and that fear is often driven by a combination of self-consciousness, a fear of not knowing enough right away, and sometimes, even a fear of changing their lifestyle to the point they no longer have anything in common with their existing friends, family, or loved ones. And now, with a global pandemic happening, that fear may also extend to being in a public gym, or in an outdoor group class for health and safety reasons.
The feeling of self-consciousness is a very big one for so many. When you’re overweight, or struggle with not being traditionally fit, the very beginning of your journey can be scary. You may be afraid of people looking at you in the gym because you don’t have the perfect body, or in that class because you can’t keep up with all the choreography or the pace. It can be frightening to think people are judging you.
If you’re not quite ready to go to the gym, well, don’t do it! Talk to your healthcare professionals, and consider exercises you can do at home. Think about incorporating daily walks into your schedule. Start slow, but stay consistent. If judgement is your fear, don’t put yourself in a position to be judged if that would hold you back. Eventually, you’ll be in a position to keep building more into your program. There are so many work out at home options now that you’ll never be at a loss. I personally love Beachbody on Demand.
At home workouts can also help you get it stay fit while managing the fear of being in public gyms or classes post-pandemic. It makes sense. The fear of Covid-19 is completely valid, and completely acceptable. Personally? My program has kept me consistent, offered a respite from stress, and provided a way to stay fit without putting my health at risk.
One of the biggest fears, and likely one that remains almost unspoken, is a fear that a new lifestyle built around healthy living, working out, and self-care, will alienate existing family, friends, and loved ones. If your friend get togethers are built around drinks or restaurant meals, making a switch to healthier options can make that difficult. If family events are built around food, changing that can feel impossible. Dating, too, can be hard. Pretty much every date is built around food or drinks.
But, every program does allow for a bit of wiggle room. As I write this, I’m admittedly enjoying a glass of wine. If you think of healthy eating as a 90/10 or 85/15 proposition, instead of an all-or-nothing, you can still fit in those restaurant or bar visits. If your gatherings are being held more at home due to the pandemic, you can influence the menu with healthier options. I have a massive sweet tooth, and have rarely met a chocolate cake I didn’t like, so I build around that. If I know I’m going to indulge, my day looks a lot healthier for the rest of my meals. Or, I’ll have a single square of decadent dark chocolate instead of a cheap chocolate bar at the checkout of the grocery store. If you’re heading to a potluck, bring a big salad, or a healthier main dish. Since I’m a vegetarian, I often bring a vegetarian main dish that will appeal to the meat-eaters while also being nutritious. Or a quinoa-based salad that feels like a main dish so I can avoid the mayo-heavy potato salads, or have to fill up on desserts because it’s the only thing I’ll be able to eat.
Mostly though, it’s sometimes the fear of shedding the layer of weight that keeps you invisible or somehow not worthy of attention. The fear that people will look at your differently. Or approach you differently. Or expect something different of you. The psychology behind any of these issues can be hard to get to the bottom of. Giving your fear a voice, talking to yourself about why these things might be fears, is important. Write down what you’re scared of about getting in shape or taking better care of yourself. Talk about it with a professional – mental health plays a huge role in well-being and health and wellness journeys – to figure out what you might need to work through.
With all of those aspects of fear in mind, it’s important to remember that fear as a motivator for positive change is also valid. Changing the narrative from being scared to embrace a healthy lifestyle to excitement about moving to a new chapter will help keep you on a path to wellness that will serve you, and all the people in your life, in so many positive ways.