“I’m so out of shape”
“People are going to judge me”
“I won’t be able to make it through the whole class”
All the above are fears that went through my head last night as I was signing up for my first workout in a very long time. Life happens—we get busy with work, family, friends or any combination of the above and before we know it we perceive ourselves to be back at square one with our fitness. That’s my story anyway. Maybe you are someone who has let some combination of the thoughts above keep you from even trying it in the first place. But trust --you are not alone. These are the feelings that I hear a lot from people as the owner of an active lifestyle company. That means that most people assume I never go through these periods of feeling inadequate or disconnected from fitness- or worse, the fear of not being “good enough”. Well, you’re wrong--I do.
These feelings far too often hold us back from even trying. They hold us back from deciding to take those scary steps to getting active- from signing up for that daunting race They keep us from showing up to a group run or a group ride, fearing we will be the slowest, hold the group back, or not be able to make it. And guess what? You’re not alone. We all battle these fears and sometimes they are what keep us on the sideline. But, we need to recognize that we are not alone and we have a community that will support us. First we must decide that trying is the most important step and believe that taking the challenge, not speed or distance, is what makes us an athlete.
Now, I can’t promise that I have some magic formula for conquering these fears and feelings but I wanted to share the things that have worked for me.
- Embrace the uncomfortable. The anticipation of your first run is going to make you anxious. Walking into a class for the first time in six months (or ever) is going to feel uncomfortable. That’s okay. The first time getting on the bike is going to make you question what the heck you are doing. That’s still okay. Just know it is all part of the process and you will survive. Even if it’s the worst experience of your life, you will survive and be stronger for it.
- Find your community. 98% of people in this world could care less how fast you run, how many watts you put out on the bike, or how many burpees you can do—they care that you showed up. The other 2% aren’t important. Surround yourself with people who are enablers and are supportive and then trust them. Trust them when they tell you ‘nice job’. Trust them when they say they want to run with you (even when you worry you’ll slow them down). We’ve all been at the beginning and most love the opportunity to support someone else.
- Have a plan. Make a plan and stop questioning it. The mind is both our greatest and most dangerous tool—fear and insecurity will talk us out of a lot. Have a goal, make a plan, and be accountable. End of story.
- Celebrate yourself. Give yourself permission to celebrate even small victories. Really, there are no small victories. It’s the showing up that matters. It’s the taking control of your destiny. And don’t compare yourself to a past you or someone else. Success is achieved by the culmination of small steps.
Here’s the real kicker: these fears and anxieties aren’t specific to working out. The fear of failure rears its ugly head in our work, our relationships and our life experiences. What’s great- you can face those fears the same way—embrace the uncomfortable, find your community, have a plan and celebrate yourself. Live your life with grit.
Gillian Fealy is the owner of Live Grit and a laid-back triathlete. When not swimming, biking or running, she enjoys spending time with her partner and their dog Vince. She's also recently taken up the guitar and has started to plan her debut world tour.