In this blog I’m going to look at 4 of the most common fears that hold people back from achieving their fitness goals. We will dig in to what causes them, how to recognise them, and finally what to do to avoid them.
Hopefully by increasing awareness and planning for problems in advance, we are able to meet them head on with a plan, and not let them dictate our results. The 4 fears are:
- Fear of failure
- Fear of change
- Fear of success
- Fear of the unknown
Fear of Failure
This is a common and obvious one. We’re scared of putting in lots of time and energy on something that might not work.
In the case of fitness, you might very well have tried many diets, exercise plans, fitness classes, etc. before and never seen the results that you want.
Further, we are scared of being embarrassed. Of setting a goal in public and not meeting it. We don’t want to try, because we simply do not believe we are going to succeed. Based on all of the past attempts, it is hardly surprising. Something has to be different for it to work this time.
Finally, we fear that if it doesn’t work – but we’re still unhappy with our body – where will we go from there? It’s better to not start, than to fail and then be even more unhappy and lacking in confidence.
Fear of Change
Staying in your comfort zone is much easier than making changes to your fitness (or any other part of life). We like our habits and routines, they’re reassuring and we do not want to change them.
Maybe we will have to give up some small pleasures that make our days better. We don’t like coffee without two sugars. We like to lay in as long as possible – not get up and go to the gym.
However, we still have a goal that we want to meet, and something has to give. Our actions have to match up with our goals.
We’re scared that we will start doing the things required to meet our goals, and hate every second of it. We don’t want to be the salad eating, yoga doing bore. We like the pub on a Friday afternoon.
Of course, there is always room for both, and finding a sensible middle ground is generally the best strategy. You just have to kick yourself in to action.
Fear of Success
This sounds funny at the outset, but it makes sense on a lot of levels when you understand human psychology.
Firstly, we are comfortable as we are. Even if we don’t like certain things, the fear of change is still strong. We are always comfortable where we are, and that means we find it hard to imagine being comfortable in a different place. We simply don’t know what that feels like.
Self-image plays a huge role in this. If you perceive yourself in a certain way, you always go back to that. If I think of myself as an ‘overweight person who hates exercise’, guess what – that is what I’ve been telling myself I am for years and years. Changing our self-image involves letting go of so many excuses, facing so many fears; that often we prefer to stay where we are.
Sometimes our current situation acts as a protection mechanism or barrier from something. Maybe you got divorced and gained weight because subconsciously you didn’t want to be attractive to the opposite sex. Keeping the weight on protects you from facing the heart ache and discomfort of meeting someone new and being intimate.
This discussion could get very deep, but we will leave it there for now.
Fear of the Unknown
This is obvious. We’re scared of things we don’t know. Why? Because we don’t know what they are! Our brain likes its habits and routines remember. Anything new is a challenge.
The fear of something before it happens is almost always much worse than any pain associated with it actually happening.
Overcoming Your Fears
To break through these fears and create the results that you want in your body, you need to make a commitment to doing what it takes.
It’s helpful to be aware of these fears. When you’re making a plan for success, if you can plan out all of the possible places you’re going to slip up, and work around them from the start, you’re more likely to succeed.
If you wait until you’re already in a struggle, the chances are you’re going to give up.
So plan in advance, have a contingency in place and connect with your big ‘why’ to ensure that you are driven and committed to overcoming whatever barriers come up.
Experience is the best way to really overcome the fears. Once you have come out the other side successfully, the fear will be no more. There’s no magic tricks or hacks to it, simply be prepared, be committed and do the work.