A personal story about my fear of working out.
Every year, we buy a new notebook and write down our dreams for the coming year.
2017 was no different. I’d bought a new planner with a gift card – a perfect goodbye present – and started filling things in.
The first things, of course, were the goals I wanted to achieve that year.
But, they say, the difference between a dream and a goal is the existence of a plan put into action.
When creating goals, I’ve tried to be focused and think in measurable terms. So, instead of “lose weight” that has been my go-to dream for the majority of my life, I’ve chosen to “lose 30lbs” – a tactic I hadn’t really tried before.
But one of the biggest things I wanted to focus on this year wasn’t my weight. I wanted to be a runner, if only I could get over the fear of working out.
Why? Not to compete in marathons or colour runs which, I must admit, do look fun.
But for mental clarity, fitness and a physical goal to push myself toward. And, the most important bit, to be okay with looking sweaty and puffed in public.
As we travel around, there are plenty of great walks, hikes and tramps (I don’t actually know the difference between those terms) that promise spectacular views from the top – if only I wasn’t so scared to get there.
But, I reasoned, if I was a runner, not only would my fitness level be better suited to walks, hikes and tramps, but I would be so used to being uncomfortable in public that it wouldn’t worry or scare me to give these walks a go.
For some people, this is a non-issue. Judging by their Instagram posts, being sweaty and puffed in public is a badge of honour for these gym bunnies – the fear of working out doesn’t exist for them.
Not so for me and quite a few of my friends.
I used to be a sporty and outgoing kid. I would jump onstage and perform for hundreds of people. I would compete in gymnastic competitions and talent contests. I had no fear.
Then, one summer, everything changed.
I could blame it on a lot of things and, the truth is, I don’t really know what happened. But overnight, I turned into a defensively shy, nervous and self-conscious teenager. I died my hair red, started wearing all black and got into angry music.
This is normal. I know that now. Moving from childhood into adolescence is a stressful but entertaining time. It’s full of surprises, but it also gave me a fear of working out in public.
Since I moved to New Zealand, I’ve been trying to shake off that self-conscious emo kid feeling and fully live my life.
I joined the debating society at university, I was in a local play and I even got really into the gym for a while there (although awkward work hours and a 24hr gym meant there was hardly anyone else there when I went).
But now I’m travelling, can’t afford gym memberships and trying to always be the best version of myself, running seemed like the perfect hobby to take up.
I have all the gear already; Lululemon workout pants, a fitbit and those headphones that hook over your ears. I can plan my day however I want. I have my hair treated so it isn’t such a pain to wash and dry anymore. I am staying in beautiful places that are perfect for exploring on foot.
I literally have no more excuses. I have to get over this fear of working out.
So I am.
Not only did I go for a run today, I got Adam to come with me – we both need to be aware of how much we sit on our computers all day.
It was a big leap. If one of my greatest fears is being super unattractive in public, telling my partner to come along and witness it seemed crazy.
But, I believe in treating fear like a band aid.
So today, we had our first run together (and Adam added some fancy-pants pushups and shit, of course).
My initial measurable running goal is just to get out and go everyday. It doesn’t matter how long or how far, it just needs to feel normal.
And not scary.
I have to get over the fear of working out.
If you’re wondering what sort of Fitbit I use, I bought this one from Amazon.