How I Stopped Being Self-Conscious In The Gym

The other day my sister sent me a text asking how I got over being self-conscious in the gym.  My immediate response was, “I don’t know.  I just made myself do it…”

But how??

Fitness was not always a part of my life.  Working out was a chore or a punishment depending on the day and my version of a work out was going for a run.  I didn’t know anything about weights and even had escape plans up my sleeve to save myself from embarrassment of “figuring” out equipment.   Now the gym is my first home and I wouldn’t know what I would do without it.

So how did I get this to this point?

 

I had a goal, a vision, and a purpose.  The day I stepped in the gym (I mean really stepped in a gym) was the day I decided to compete in my first bikini competition. I had little knowledge in the gym, but I wanted to get into the best shape of my life and show it off in a competition wearing the smallest bikini known to man.  Placing in the competition was always a bonus, but I was there to prove to myself that I could do this. I researched different “competition coaches” and hired someone online.  Even though they gave me a plan they didn’t show me how to actually do anything in the gym.  This plan was no better than googling a random workout.  They did hold me accountable, but I was still on my own to figure it out.  Despite how intimidating it was I determined enough to step in that gym and do the work even if I looked like a jackass.   As motivated as I was, I was still afraid of using certain machines or doing certain exercises, because I knew I was “weak” and thought I would look stupid.  I avoided these exercises for quite some time until I finally decided to make myself do it.

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I came up with a plan.  Every week I picked an exercise that I had been too intimidated to try and made a promise to myself that I would get it done by the end of the week/session.   Sometimes I failed on that promise and sometimes I succeeded, but I never stopped trying.  I was consistent in my efforts and building up the courage until I finally did it all.

 

I used visualization.  Some days were harder than others and it required more mental strength to get through it.  I’m inspired by the visuals I can create in my own my mind.   There would be days I sat in the parking lot seeing myself lift or at my goal physique on stage with the lights on me.  I could physically feel the emotions of accomplishing these goals and what my life will be like when I checked this goal off my list.  It was a high that I used to help step through those doors and try something new.  Visualization is still a strong tool for me, but I’ve been able to utilize self-talk to get me through hard workouts as well.  Try both to figure out what works well for you.

 

I dressed like a bad assin my own head.   I’m not a fashionista nor do I have any right telling anyone what looks good and what doesn’t.  I started off trying to find things to hide my body or sweat stains because avoiding all forms of embarrassment was key and wardrobe played a role in fading into the background. But as I grew more confident in the gym I began to expand my outfits outside of black and baggy.  It may sound silly, but when you feel like a bad ass in your gym gear then you will work out like a bad ass.

 

At the end of the day there is no magic trick to get over being self-conscious in the gym.  At some point you need to stand up to your fears and make yourself do it.  If you need to start off small then do that.  If you can rip it off  like a band-aid and go balls to the walls then more power to ya’ sista!   Regardless of the size steps you take you have to be ready and willing to make the commitment to change and step outside your comfort zone.

 

The best piece of advice someone has ever given me was ‘do it scared.’   And no matter if you’re scared, just go ahead and do it anyway because you might as well do it scared, so it will get done and you will feel so much better if you step out of your comfort zone. – Sherri Shepard

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Dealing With Negative People

Negative people are everywhere and it’s almost impossible to get away from them.  Negative people find pleasure in bringing other’s down.  I mean, why else are they up all in your grill telling you how to live your life?  Because seeing you doubt your choices that bring you happiness makes them feel a little better inside.

Fitness Model
No matter how hard you try you cannot change these people or their opinions. The only thing you can change is how you react to them.  When you choose to change your unhealthy lifestyle for the better you will come in contact with a lot of positive people rooting you on and joining in on the fun (Yes, I said “fun” because fitness is fun when you find your home in the gym).  At the same time your new priorities will start to bring the negative freaks out to play.

Where is the Negativity Coming From?

Before you decide to cut them out figure out where this negativity is coming from.  Is it a place of concern or a deep-rooted ugly that only the negative person can feel?  If you come from a family that doesn’t know what a vegetable looks like and all of a sudden they see you eating a salad then you might start to hear remarks implying that you are starving yourself.  Sometimes these “concerns” come from ignorance.  If they don’t know what healthy eating consists of or don’t really care to be healthier, they may not understand what it is you are trying to accomplish and what it takes to get there.  Take the time to educate them, but know your audience before you waste your breath.  Don’t waste your time defending the reasons of your meal choice if it is going to fall on death ears.  If your audience is open to the conversation then they might be opened minded to the whole healthy concept once they “get it”.  Then when they start seeing your changes you will definitely be the first person they go to for advice.

If you have ruled out the “concern” option, then this fool is just simply unhappy with themselves.  They may be a “friend” and say they want the best for you, but if their actions don’t match their words then there is something wrong and it’s not you.  They probably can’t even acknowledge their inconsistency and shit talking, but unfortunately you cannot fix their problems.  Depending on your relationship, cutting them out of your life may not be the answer or something you are willing to do.  If that isn’t a choice for you then you just need to learn to ignore them; don’t give them a reaction and don’t bother defending your lifestyle.  It’s easier said then done, but this negative person will either learn to leave you alone, accept your lifestyle or weed themselves out once they realize you don’t care what they say (better for you…you don’t need that idiot anyway!)

Regardless of the person and the negative message they are delivering, you need to keep focus on your goal. Remember what it is you are trying to accomplish and how it is going to feel when you get there.  It is a shame you can’t share your new-found happiness with other people but life isn’t perfect and not everyone will be happy for your success.  It will feel like a heartbreak when the ones you thought would root you on don’t, but what you will find is a brand new circle of people who support your choices and will even join you on your cardio days.

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Be Your Own #Fitspo

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There is always some kind of controversy behind body image in our society.  One minute we hate models because they are “too skinny” and portray an unhealthy image of beauty.  The next day, fitness models are being attacked for being “too muscular” giving people the impression  that achieving health is impossible because the of various ignorant fitness beliefs.

It is disturbing that people blame “fitspo” or fitness imagines on self-esteem related issues.   The word “fitspo” is disturbing in itself, but this blame as a whole is just another way to point the finger as to why people are unhealthy and unhappy.  Take some responsibility of your own crazy and work to heal yourself to fight against.  It doesn’t matter whether you believe these imagines are damaging or motivating because they will always be there and there is nothing you can do about it.

 

You will always have two choices – Spend your energy comparing yourself to other people and feeling bad about it or work on yourself to be a better version of you.

 

Of course the media can portray better examples of beauty and health, but the reality is that no matter what is out there (skinny model, fit model, plus size model…etc) someone somewhere will always have something bad to say about it.

Beauty and health does not come in one package.

Fitness is not one shape, body type or form of exercise.

Happiness and confidence can’t be handed to you externally.

 

Stop blaming other people for your problems and take some time to recognize where your problems actually come from.  Find a therapist, start a blog, research what it takes to get to your goal or ask for help in which ever way you think you need it.  Make the choice to live a better life because you deserve it!  The sooner you focus on you and only you, the happier you will become.

Be your own #fitspo, damn it!

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How To Stay Motivated

You created a goal and now you’re pumped about taking the steps to achieve it.  Then a week goes by and your motivation slowly simmers or life gets stressful and you’re suddenly too tired to work out and cook your planned meals.  Now three weeks have gone by and you haven’t made progress and you may start all over again.  Let me guess, you’re not motivated enough?  Don’t let the words “motivated” and “will power” make you believe you aren’t capable of accomplishing this goal.  You are very capable so let’s go over some ways to keep you on track.

What is your real Goal?

There are two types of motivation – intrinsic and extrinsic.   Extrinsic motivation is influenced by outside factors; are you losing weight because the doctor told you to or because society says it’s not ok to have cellulite? Extrinsic motivation is influencing actions to avoid punishment or to receive external rewards.  This motivation will only last so long before it dies and you’re back to square one.  On the other hand, intrinsic motivation influences behavior because it is personally rewarding.   Does it feel good after your work out?  Have you notice your confidence grow as your go through the process of your fitness transformation? If you are motivated by something that feels good you’ll have more of a drive to want to keep doing it.

So what is your goal and what influences your behavior? If your initial goal is based on an outside influence like winning your first bikini competition that’s ok, but when times get hard that shiny new trophy won’t seem so appealing.   Dig deep beyond your surface goal and find your real goal; find your why.

Track your progress

Changing your body and life style is probably one of the hardest goals because no matter how hard you feel you are working you cannot see the changes in your own body as quickly as you’d like.  Every day I wake up and flash my stomach in my mirror searching for a new crease as to hint incoming abs.  No matter how hard I squint I look the same.   Personally, I believe the scale was made by the devil so I hate to weigh in. Do I still do it? Of course, and then I regret that decision immediately after as I am guilty of defining the beauty of my body based off a number. I could go on and on about how much I hate measuring tools but we can save for that for another day.   The point I am trying make is that even though I despise weighing in I discovered a more effective way to track my progress and that is through pictures.  And no, I don’t mean Instagram #selfies.  When I am on a mission to change my physique I go through weekly progress pictures.  They may not seem like much in the moment but when I look back and compare I can easily spot my changes without having to squint.   Moral of the story – find something to keep you on track whether it be through pictures, exercise logs or calendars and if you insist, some way to measure your body composition. Find out what works for you and use it!

Find support

Nothing is harder than trying to make a life style change around people who are content with sitting on the couch eating an entire box of donuts right in front of your face.  You have to keep convincing yourself that you don’t want that glazed donut as sweat drips down your eyebrow and your hands are gripping the seat cushions for dear life.  You don’t need to get rid of these friends, but you can look for other people who have similar interest.  Better yet, share your goals with your friends and family and I bet you would be surprise how many people will jump on board with you. Having support in a challenging change will help you through the tough times and keep you accountable.

Ask for help

I get that we all want to have independence in every aspect of our life and we want to do this ourselves, but if you keep trying and nothing changes maybe it is time for a come-to-Jesus moment and get real with yourself; you need help! Suck it up, get it together and hire a Personal Trainer. Is it expensive? Well, that depends on who you ask but what is more expensive? Investing on a few months of training to grow and change as a person or the medical bills you are going to have to pay for years from now because you refused to invest in your health and personal fitness goals?  Be proactive with your health not reactive.  Learn from your trainer, ask questions, nag them with little shit because that is what they are there for – they dedicate their life to this.   It’s their job for crying out loud!  Stop trying to be a professional in a field you know nothing about and let the Professionals help you.  What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results…? Yea, get yo shit togetha! Ask for help and use it as a learning opportunity to take with you for the r e s t  o f  y o u r  l i f e .

 

No matter what your goal is and how you chose to stay on track remember that you are human.  There is no fool-proof way to get to your finish line and what you are striving for consists of behavioral changes.  Your body won’t change over night and your love for broccoli over potato chips won’t just switch in a blink of an eye.  You are not perfect; give yourself a break when you mess up and give yourself kudos on the small changes.  Those small changes add up to the big picture.

Set your goal, know your why, find support and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

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