- A lot of people hate sport at school and that can lead to damaging thoughts around exercise as an adult.
- You can change this though.
- Reflect on your childhood experiences, be kind to who you were then, but know that you're not stuck in one box forever, advised personal trainer and sports therapist Joslyn Thompson Rule.
- Stop forcing yourself to do exercise you hate and keep trying new things until you find what you actually enjoy.
- You don't have to go to a gym, but if you do, remember everyone is focusing on themselves.
- Read more Working It Out here.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
I hated gym at school as I wasn't very good at competitive sport. I had terrible coordination and wasn't particularly fast or strong — I generally just felt awkward and counted the minutes until it was over. The problem is, I still associate exercise with the dread of a looming gym class — it's created a lasting negative association.
I feel like I "don't belong" in a gym or deserve to treat myself to nice exercise gear, even though that sounds silly typed out. How do I foster a healthy, personal, and enjoyable relationship with exercise without unearthing those feelings of inadequacy from the past?
— Uncoordinated and uninspired
Yours is a feeling so many people can relate to.
As teenage girls, we're not typically encouraged to be sporty in the same way boys are, and in my experience, very few young women enjoy PE at school.
It doesn't help that as we grow up, we're generally bombarded by diet culture messages that teach us to equate exercise with weight loss and a way to "earn" or "burn" food.
A cultural shift is needed because it's such a shame that so many of us grow up with these negative feelings towards movement, but the good news is you can change your mindset — trust me, because I've done it.
Take some time to reflect on your childhood experiences
Personal trainer and sports therapist Joslyn Thompson Rule suggests thinking back over those PE lessons you hated to help you move past the barrier they've created.
"Were you not 'good' at sport or were you just not met where you were at?" she asked.
"It can be really hard to forget or remove ourselves from the emotions of past experiences, particularly ones where you feel inadequate and unseen."
Thompson Rule recommends thinking about what would have made PE enjoyable, and being kind to your younger self.
"Take yourself back there in your mind, what would you tell her?" she asked.
"I find the following helpful: 'I forgive you, thank you, I love you, and I'm sorry.' You are not who you were, it is OK to let go of the past, and forgive yourself for holding onto it."
Start consciously thinking of yourself differently
Although I've always been active, my reasons for exercising used to be all wrong — like many people, I forced myself to do cardio to try and lose weight, and then I gave up on that altogether, accepting the fact that I just wouldn't be a "fitness person."
Everything changed when I tried weight lifting and fell in love with it. And now, a few years on — I'll say it — I am a "fitness person." If that means someone who actively enjoys exercise, which is what we should and can all be, as far as I'm concerned.
My point is that you're not stuck in one box, with one label. You and your habits can change, but you have to make that happen.
"Imagine yourself as someone who enjoys training or sport," Thompson Rule said, recommending you ask yourself the following questions:
- What do they love about it?
- How does it fit into their life?
- Where do they go to for support if needed?
- What is the first step you could take?
"This is the first action you are taking to leave your old relationship with sport behind as you create space for a new one," she told Insider.
View this post on Instagram
The GUILT + SHAME around uplevelling your work 👇🏽⠀ ⠀ In last week’s Be the Change biz call, we covered ‘profit leverage’- investing time/money into something for it to guarantee more income later (check out @mikemichalowicz ‘Fix This Next’ book for more on this) ⠀ ⠀ What does this look like for coaches?⠀ ⠀ 1️⃣Freeing up time – to work on your biz e.g. delegating housework/admin/childcare. (This one comes with a heavy dollop of shame + judgment)⠀ ⠀ 2️⃣Acquiring knowledge – Taking a course so you can charge more due to the increased value you give when you apply those learnings. ⠀ ⠀ 3️⃣Increasing your bandwidth – taking time out/self care/more sleep. This gives you space to create; clarity for a full business audit; or a quiet moment to have an aha! We know this from training, recovery is the magic pill. ⠀ ⠀ No. 2 is fully accepted and congratulated in most circles. It’s also low-key procrastination dripping in imposter feels “I need to do just one more course, so that I know enough and will finally feel worthy” ⠀ ⠀ 1 and 3 can be bound in guilt and shame. Somehow delegating house work/childcare, strips us of our wholesomeness, and sweet mother, taking some time out to think? #selfish “the poor kids” “it’s alright for you” “oh I couldn’t do that, I just don’t have the time.” ⠀ ⠀ My guilt was elevated by the judgement I anticipated, it was easier to stay small – When you are in the business of helping people, you get judged. To make lasting change, you have to pass through multiple levels of judgement as you do YOUR work, but keep it up because screw staying small. Nobody benefits from that. ⠀ ⠀ If you’d like to give the finger to staying small, you can join the waitlist for round 6 of Be the Change in September via the link in my bio. It’s a judgement-free zone, and we encourage putting yourself first, because that’s how you help more people. ⠀ ⠀ #bethechange #levelup #wemove⠀
Mindset and lifestyle changes don't happen overnight, but when you do decide to try exercising in a new way, do so mindfully, and ask yourself the following questions afterward:
- What went well?
- What would I do differently?
- How does this give me confidence?
- How does this make me feel better prepared?
"It forces you to keep the negative voice at bay and keep you moving forward with clear next steps!" Thompson Rule said.
Find a type of exercise you love
As a general rule, I hate steady state cardio (jogs, long cycles, etc), so I don't do them anymore. For years, I forced myself, but doing so was terrible for my mindset because I spent all day dreading it, which created a negative association with exercise in my brain.
Now, I only do what I love. And for me, that's basically weight-lifting, dancing, and netball. I used to think people were lying when they said they enjoyed exercise. But now I get it, because I've found what I love.
View this post on Instagram
Back to the gym. Back to the big weights. Back to what I love. I’ve done a couple of little gym sessions since coming back to London (genuinely little – moving house doesn’t give you much free time you feel me), and it’s been ace. I definitely don’t have the same strength I did six months ago, but actually, I haven’t lost as much as I thought I would have done. I haven’t properly tested my lifts yet because I don’t want to be a silly billy and push myself too hard (tempting as it may be), but it’s amazing how you can keep your strength and fitness up just by keeping moving and using your muscles in some capacity. Building strength and muscle takes aaaaaages. Rebuilding it is, I’m told, much quicker. But I ain’t gonna rush it. I’m out here enjoying the process my friends – doesn’t really matter what the weights on the bar are. It feels good to be back.
And you can do the same — you just have to keep trying different things.
It needn't be in a gym either. How about you try rock climbing with some friends? Or roller derby? Or synchronized swimming? There's so much out there that something is bound to become a passion.
I thoroughly recommend trying a team sport too. The idea may seem scary if you hated it at school, but adult sport is different. It's sociable, a great workout, you can't bail because your team are counting on you, and it doesn't even feel like exercise because you're just having fun.
Persevere till you find what's right for you
Strength and conditioning coach Sam Gwazdauskas agrees that not all forms of exercise are for everyone and that's OK.
"Finding what you enjoy and where you feel most comfortable takes trial and error — but also effort to persist, even when it's uncomfortable and you're feeling insecure. That's where exponential growth begins," she told Insider.
The more you try, the more confident you'll become too.
"My comfort level was established through repetition and education," Gwazdauskas said. "I became a student of biomechanics (learning my body and how to safely move weights) and was encouraged by the improvements I saw but more importantly felt.
"I didn't start by throwing myself in head first and forcing something I didn't enjoy, but rather by slowly integrating myself.
"Picking up some weights and hanging out in a corner by myself. Finding a room to workout in alone. Building my confidence slowly over time in a way that challenged me and that I enjoyed.
"Like most things — pursuing the uncomfortable and stretching that line always leads to the most significant results."
If you can afford it, I thoroughly recommend working with a qualified coach or trainer to show you the ropes in whatever you decide to pursue — knowing what you're doing is the key to confidence, which ultimately leads to greater enjoyment.
'Gym people' aren't as scary as they seem
The gym, and specifically the weights room, has become my comfort zone. But this certainly wasn't always the case, and it can be incredibly intimidating for newbies.
"When I first started lifting, I was incredibly insecure in myself and certainly intimidated to be in a male dominant setting," Gwazdauskas told Insider.
"I wasn't confident in my ability to perform at a certain level and I was constantly concerned I was doing things wrong and being judged by those around me. That feeling of 'not fitting in.'"
View this post on Instagram
PEACHES ARE MY FAVORITE FRUIT 🍑 lol jk but i do love a good booty burn and this workout KICKED MY ASS🔥 . . GLUTES GLUTES GLUTES 1️⃣ THREE ROUNDS: ➖10/10 single leg box squat ➖10 rdl to squat 2️⃣ FOUR ROUNDS: ▪️10/10 staggered hip thrust 3️⃣ FIVE ROUNDS: ➖5/5 Bulgarian split squat ➖5 db squat jumps . . Simple but sooooo effective. That finisher….this is your warning. Lol. Don’t underestimate it!!!
Spoiler alert though: Everyone in the gym is focused on one thing — their workout.
And the ones who look like they could bench press a house and have been dumbbell curling since they could walk? Often the nicest, most welcoming people in there, because they love the gym and usually just want to share that passion with anyone who'll listen.
Oh, and get the nice workout gear — looking the part will help you feel it too.
Take your time, be patient with yourself, and don't give up. You can do this, and a healthier, happier life awaits you.
Wishing you well,
As a senior lifestyle reporter at Insider and a self-described fitness fanatic with an Association for Nutrition certified nutrition course under her belt, Rachel Hosie is immersed in the wellness scene and here to answer all your burning questions. Whether you're struggling to find the motivation to go for a run, confused about light versus heavy weights, or unsure whether you should be worried about how much sugar is in a mango, Rachel is here to give you the no-nonsense answers and advice you need, with strictly no fad diets in sight.
Rachel has a wealth of experience covering fitness, nutrition, and wellness, and she has the hottest experts at her fingertips. She regularly speaks to some of the world's most knowledgeable and renowned personal trainers, dietitians, and coaches, ensuring she's always up to date with the latest science-backed facts you need to know to live your happiest and healthiest life.
Have a question? Ask Rachel at [email protected] or fill out this anonymous form. All questions will be published anonymously.
Read more Working It Out:
- I've stopped losing weight even though I'm exercising regularly and eating healthy. How do I break through the plateau?
- Whenever I do ab exercises, my neck and back hurt. How can I strengthen my core and work towards a six-pack?
- I'm confused about whether I should eat before exercising or not. Will working out 'fasted' in the morning help me lose fat?
- I rarely feel sore the day after exercise. Does that mean my workouts aren't doing any good?
- I want to lose weight but am confused about how to eat. Should I track macros or are calories king for fat loss?
Source: Read Full Article