One of the things I hear often from my clients is that they find starting an exercise program to be incredibly intimidating. But why is that? What is so intimidating about moving your body? And how can you get past that and start seeing progress?
Don’t Conflate Exercise with Weight Loss
To start off, I believe one of the biggest reasons people are intimidated by exercise is because they believe that there is a direct correlation between exercising and looking good, and if they don’t see results, they think they are failing.
But exercising isn’t about looking good, it’s about challenging your muscles or elevating your heart rate to increase your overall health and fitness level. There are numerous benefits from exercising, but weight loss is not necessarily one of them. Exercising can help with your mood, cognition, libido, and energy levels, in addition to physical benefits such as stronger bones and muscles, better balance, and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Instead of thinking about weight loss, try thinking about exercise as a way to challenge your body and reap those benefits.
If You Never Start, You Can’t Progress
Another reason that people find exercise intimidating is because they don’t feel ready. Perhaps they’re scared of going to the gym with others who know what they’re doing and they don’t, or perhaps they’re waiting until they have the time to exercise four times a week for an hour. So instead of getting started, they do nothing but wait for the right time.
The problem with this is that without taking action, they will never feel ready. They will never know what to do in the gym, and they will probably never feel like they have the time.
Everyone has to start somewhere. If you never get started, you can never progress. There are baby steps you can implement that will help you increase your fitness slowly. The key thing is simply getting started.
Set Specific, Achievable Goals for Yourself
It’s important to set goals for yourself so that you have some way to measure progress, but it’s also important that you are realistic with the goals you set for yourself. If you have lofty expectations and then fail to meet them, it can be demotivating, but achieving small goals will motivate you further.
If you’re a beginner, expecting to run a 5k five times a week is unrealistic. Starting with something small, such as committing to 10,000 steps a day or doing a few push-ups three times a week will make you more likely to stick with your new routine and therefore more likely to achieve your goal.
Once you’ve established consistency and seen success with your smaller goals, you can begin adding to them.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
The final reason I believe people find exercise intimidating is because we have a culture of constant comparison. People see athletes and others who are extremely fit and they make a goal to imitate them and their exercise routines.
However, that is unrealistic and often unhealthy. A beginner simply cannot perform at the level of a seasoned athlete and may suffer injuries if they try to.
Instead of comparing yourself to others, accept yourself and where you are at in your journey. Start with goals that are achievable for you, and stick with it. You’ll feel better about yourself as you see your progress if you aren’t constantly comparing yourself to someone who is farther along in their own journey.