Self-Esteem in the Way of Your Fitness Goals? Read This!
The gym is intimidating.
I first joined a gym to lose 15 pounds. I remember it clearly. I covered up, wearing loose and baggy clothes. I felt like I didn’t belong. Everyone was so fit. They all knew what they were doing. Then, there was me. I hated the mirror. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing. I made a point to avoid going during the busy times - to avoid stares. I was beyond self-conscious.
That was about 7 years ago now. The funny thing is that we have all been there. Everyone starts somewhere. Most women start working out to feel better about themselves. Yet, low self-confidence can derail and stop your fitness regime altogether.
If your confidence needs a little nudge or if you’ve ever felt self-conscious working out at the gym, this fitness article is for you. Because guess what? Most of us have too! And we all need a little help once and awhile.
How Your Self-Esteem is Hindering Your Fitness Goals
A lack of self-esteem can make it tough to get started. It can lead to self-critique and self-sabotage. You convince yourself you can’t get there. You can’t lose those 10 pounds. You will never be able to do a full push-up. Everyone is watching you. They all know. They know you can’t lose that extra weight. They are all thinking the same thing - you don’t belong.
The reality is that no one is watching you. No one is paying any attention to you. And it’s hard to wrap your head around. Mirrors don’t help at the gym. They make catching someone else’s eye easy and unavoidable. We build up these negative thinking patterns in our heads - that we know what they are thinking. We know it’s negative. Newsflash: we don’t and it’s likely not.
Most of the people in the gym are likely trying to just get their workout in or like you, improve themselves one small exercise session at a time. And it’s not easy to put these negative thoughts aside. They pop up in our minds and we run with them.
However, there are ways you can get around it all and actually build your self-esteem. One of the major benefits of exercise is improved mood and increased self-confidence. But, where do you start? Surprisingly, you’ve got options! And no, they aren’t limited to just the gym.
1. Start-At-Home Workouts
Ah, technology! It has benefits galore - including taking your workout to a more private space, such as in the comfort of your own home. Look up short workouts on YouTube. Or commit to working out on commercial breaks (Often, we aren’t doing anything useful during this time, so why not make the best of it? No one’s watching!).
You can even buy exercise DVD packages. Follow that 8-week bodyweight program. Do it all at home. Gain that initial confidence, then explore new options - such as the gym or fitness classes.
2. Go for Solo Hikes
Hiking can provide some much-needed me-time. And again, no one’s watching. A weekly hike can help boost your confidence. Plus, nature offers many benefits for our emotional and mental health. It can decrease stress, increase your mood, and in turn, up your confidence. It can reignite your love for fitness. And make you believe that your fitness goals are possible.
If you live close to a beautiful park or trials, take advantage of them! Build your self-esteem one step at a time.
3. Hit the Gym During Off-Peak Hours
Google is great for this! If you google your gym, you can often determine when the busiest times are. I used to avoid these. And it worked - it helped me figure out the gym layout and figure out what I enjoyed doing the most. There are way fewer people. You won’t have to wait for machines. You won’t worry about what others think as much. It’s the ideal situation.
Frequently, these times are mid-morning and mid-afternoon - after the morning work rush and before the afternoon work rush. Yet, if you have a 9-5 job, this might be tough. Go earlier in the mornings or later at night. At 7pm, the group of after-work exercisers are heading home for dinner. Get your hour workout in then!
4. Hire a Personal Trainer
Many consider personal training expensive. It’s probably one of the biggest reason people don’t do it. If you are new to exercise or unsure what to do to reach your goals, consider paying for a session or 2. You don’t need to commit to 12 weeks or anything.
At the first session, explain why you are doing 1-2 sessions only. Your personal trainer will often help you discover new workouts and a plan for when they aren’t with you. It can also help decrease your stress and fears of not knowing how to use the equipment. Get the lowdown on it all when you first sign up! You won’t be wondering if you look strange or like you don’t know what you’re doing (you’ll already know!).
5. Sign Up for a Women’s Only Gym
These exist in most major cities. Workout with other women! These kind of gyms are smaller - offering a supportive and tight-knit community. They are way less intimidating. And provide a safe space for you to reach your fitness goals. A lot of women feel judged by the men at the gym - no men, no problem!
Bonus: Women-only gyms cater to what women like. For example, women tend to enjoy group classes more - at women’s only gyms, they often provide scheduled group classes, specifically designed with women in mind. Find one in your community today! Try it out and see if it’s right for you.
When All Else Fails…
Grab a friend. Every single fitness article mentions this - we know. But workout buddies really do work wonders! Motivate and encourage each other. Be open about your self-confidence and allow your friend to help. And return the favour.
Create a community of empowering and supportive women around you. September 26th is National Women’s Health & Fitness Day. Grab that friend and do that workout together! You are strong. You are confident. And you definitely can reach each and every one of your fitness goals - All you have to do is try.