Doubts that creeps in when exercising

It has been practically 1.5 months since I started on the journey. As of now, I have lost 5kg up until this point but generally the circumference around my arms and belly decreases by 2-3cm. Truly the progress has been slow and I’m gradually getting complacent with my workout routine.  I was reading through the motivation posts but self-doubts get in the way and I needed to find a channel to lean on. Nevertheless it was insane when I discovered on reddit that it is super relatable to many individuals. 

“God, I’m so tired. Ahh, I can do it tomorrow. I don’t see much a difference when lifting weights anyway. Should I run everyday instead? But what if my knees get injured? I need to be lighter or else my knees gonna give away? I shouldn’t eat that much. Should I get new supplements? I wanna get a knee protector but the size on the market is not catered to me. Let’s play a game once I clear this set. I am so sleepy.”

This train of thoughts keep whirling in my mind while I count every rep and I get mentally and physically exhausted.  Apparently similar to me, many people don’t realize that before any muscle can contract, whether to do a Push-Up or even brush your teeth, an electrical impulse from the brain must first signal the muscle to do so. A part of our brain stem called the Reticular Activation System (RAS) controls awareness  and attention and helps regulate energy toward a certain task. When we put a lot of focus on what we can’t do, we signal our RAS to conserve energy by focusing attention to things that have a higher priority for us. So if missing your last set of Deadlifts is what you have in your mind, all variables related with those negative thoughts will be elevated. Since our brains can be reshaped, consistent contemplation of self-doubt can become routine leading to sub-par performance.

From an overall perspective, the brain is unable to differentiate reality from thoughts. It simply knows to respond to a stimulus, whether it’s a genuine missed lift or the constant thought of one. Have you at any point woken up from a bad dream with your heart dashing and your breath gasping as though you just ran a long distance race? These physical manifestations were brought about by mental stimuli from your dream. That lion pursuing you was believed to be real, so your body went into fight or flight mode to help you handle the pressure.

Consider it like rehearsing a physical skill. Envision a hurdler who intentionally hits every hurdle during training. His body adapts to running races in this unorthodox manner. When the actual race comes, he struggles to break away from this form. That’s exactly how your mind works with negative thoughts and self doubt.

How To Overcome Self-Doubt while Working Out

Intimidation and self-doubt are some of the first things I hear when talking to my favorite sister about losing weight. For instance, she is concerned she “is too old to workout like that,” “can’t lift weights,” “burpees are too difficult,” or she is “not able to do a push-up, pull-up,” etc. While coaches and other fit individuals may reassure you that they have been in your place at one time, it can be difficult to convince yourself when you see someone who can do every movement with consistent perfection.

Here are a couple of manifestations that can get rid of the uncertainty when you first start on your fitness journey.

1. Know you’re not alone

Everyone has doubts. As opposed to spending time and energy to worry, perceive that  self-doubt can be helpful. Try not to allow negative negative thoughts swallow your will to succeed. Perhaps you’ll spend more time practicing or maybe you’ll put in more effort when you’re aware that there’s a chance it might not go smoothly. The more comfortable you become with the cycle, the easier it gets.

2. Stop worrying about what others’ opinion

There will consistently be someone who appears to be doing better, getting further or lifting more. Do not benchmark yourself against others’ achievements. Someone else’s accomplishments are not a target to review  your own success. Remember like yourself, everyone is on his or her own journey.

3. Set and record goals

As well as defining long haul goals, remember to establish attainable and short-term ones. For instance,  a small goal can be losing one kg versus an entire 40kg. Keep track of these accomplishments and your progress because it is spurring your self-confidence up. It’s easy to allow doubt in when your big long term goals aren’t immediately attained. By meeting your small goals along the way, you are gradually reassured with albeit little wins.

4. Surround yourself with the right people

Keep motivators close and seek constructive feedback regularly. Do not hesitate to ask questions or ask for suggestions. Mentors will want you to achieve your goals and will be there for you to occasionally adjust your hand position slightly or getting a little lower in a squat. The small changes in technique can truly have an effect and assist you on getting fitter. 

5. Defeat your inner negative self-perception

Most people have an idealistic expectations of themselves, and when failing to live up to that image of themselves, self doubt sneaks in. Despite your best efforts and intentions, mistakes do happen and dwelling on them don’t burn calories. Instead, learn from reluctance and actively develop better habits.

6. Embrace changes of plan

When people sign up for gym membership, you have a plan: a plan to lose weight, get healthy, get fitter or stronger. In all of these instances you must pace yourself. Be patient because it takes time. Time for your body to become adjusted to new food choices, heavier weight or moving in ways you never thought possible. Sometimes it’s easier to step away and refocus. Take a rest day, do an alternative workout, remove strength training, look at your milestones and reassess. Every day is a new day and you always have the ability to start fresh.

7. Confronting your fears

The more you push yourself, the more you’ll realize your tolerance and endurance level. So what if you are unable to do a single push up! With hard work, practice and dedication, you will figure it out and get there. You CAN do it, it will just take time. .

8. Worst-case scenario

Self-doubt is fueled by thoughts like, “I’ cannot do it,” “I can’t pull my body weight up,” “I won’t be able to jump rope.” When you wind up speculating, things will go poorly. All things considered, ask yourself “what’s actually the most noticeably awful thing that could happen?” 

You are surrounded by others who know the pain of what you are going through. Despite the uncertainty, you are encouraged to try your hardest and not give in to self-doubt. Remind yourself that even if things go terribly, you are there persevering to change and moving forward towards your goals. AND most of all, you are not alone!

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