It’s no secret that the benefits of a healthy lifestyle extend far beyond mere physical fitness. You’ve probably red countless articles online about how healthy eating and regular exercise can improve your mood, help you fight illness and increase your mental willpower. On top of that you have the improved self-esteem and confidence that come from taking the time to look after yourself physically.
So you know that exercise and fitness are good things. But for some people knowing in your head that fitness is good and actually getting involved with it are two very different things. So what’s holding you back from getting started?
Sometimes it’s fear that stops you throwing yourself into healthy living. Here are 5 of the most common fitness fears and how you can break them.
#1 Not Having Time
If you asked 100 people what their reasons were for not spending more time on exercise and healthy living, this would almost certainly be the number one. “I just don’t have time for that in my busy lifestyle” or “between my job and the kids there’s just no time for exercise” and other variations might sound like valid excuses, but are they really?
Solution: Fitness doesn’t have to be the major time commitment you imagine it to be. If you take the attitude of “what could I do right now to improve my fitness?” then you’ll start seeing opportunities everywhere- whether it’s going for a walk in your lunch hour, twenty minutes in the gym instead of waiting in the train station or spending your family time doing something active instead of in front of the TV.
#2 Self Consciousness
A big hurdle for some people to tackle before they get stuck in to fitness is self consciousness or fear of looking stupid. If you struggle with low self esteem, social anxiety or body image issues then heading down to the gym or going for a run round your neighbourhood can be an intimidating prospect.
Solution: It’s important to realise that everyone has to start somewhere- everyone was new to fitness at some point. So who cares what other people think? If people see you having a great time exercising, they won’t be judging you- they’ll be judging themselves for not taking their health as seriously as you do.
#3 Not Getting Better
If you’re just starting out on a weight loss or fitness program it can seem like you have a real mountain to climb. You might feel like you’re surrounded by people with ideal bodies and be unable to see any way you can ever reach that level.
Solution: Real, lasting change doesn’t come overnight. There are no shortcuts. But that doesn’t mean that even a little bit of effort can’t have lasting results. Try not to see improvement as all-or-nothing, and see it as a gradual process. You might not be able to change 100% of yourself in a day, or even in a year, but you can change 1% of yourself each time you try. And that all adds up.
#4 Fear of Failure
A similar fear to not thinking you can change is not thinking you can change enough. You might have set yourself fitness goals and now find yourself reluctant to try and hit them for fear that you’ll fall short. Better to stay as you are than to give your all for something and still come up short.
Solution: You need to remember that realistic goals and targets are useful motivation tools, but they aren’t an absolute measure of success and failure. If you were aiming to lose ten pounds in three months of exercise and only managed nine and a half there’s no reason to beat yourself up about that- it’s still a huge achievement. Be forgiving with yourself and celebrate every success, however small.
#5 Fear of Change
A harder issue to spot could be that, deep down, you aren’t fully committed to change. You might think that fitness is a good idea, but find yourself dreading the effort involved, or just too comfy with your lifestyle as it is to really want to make the tough changes.
Solution: Don’t beat yourself up about this! It’s perfectly natural to want to keep things as they are. If you’re afraid of the change that a new lifestyle will bring, start small. Minor changes will make a big difference while paving the way for bigger improvements when you’re ready.
Most of these fears stem from a feeling of inadequacy- a fear that you won’t be good enough when compared to others or to some imagined ideal. If constant self-criticism or a highly negative view of yourself and the world are holding you back from fitness or any other area of life, expert help is always available. Cognitive behaviour therapy is the gold standard for any type of anxiety and fear. If you can recognise and overcome any of these five fears then you’re well on your way to reaping the benefits of a healthy and vibrant lifestyle.
By expert Angus Munro is a registered clinical psychologist and director of Angus Munro Psychology in Sydney. He excels in evidence-based therapies for a comprehensive range of Emotional and psychological challenges. One of his passions is engaging, educating and helping people work through all manner of mental health issues to live their best life.
Find him here