Self Doubt

Dave Brown, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer

A few months ago I was running at Flying J and at the usual spot, about 3 miles in, my legs started protesting. This is pretty typical, as running never comes easy and I start to get bored at about 3 miles. This got me thinking about self-doubt and how it can be so pervasive. Especially when we take on something new or we push things to a new level.

For many this is when our brain plays tricks on us and we say things to ourselves like, ‘I can’t do it’, ‘Why bother, I’ve tried before and failed’ or ‘This is just too hard, I give up’. Think about it, this aligns well with Newton’s First Law; A body at rest remains at rest and a body in motion continues to move at a constant velocity unless acted upon by an external force. We get comfortable at a state of rest and are resistant to change. This could be due to fear of failure, fear of being judged or something as simple as not knowing where to start. Conversely, when we get into a groove working out, we become the body in motion. Even when we’re in a groove there are so many things along our journey that cause self-doubt and become the external force that can stop us in our tracks and cause us to lose motivation.

The important takeaway is that it’s normal for change to be hard. Entering February, many have already given up on their New Year’s resolutions and some are still wondering if this will be the year. The key is to get started and make changes gradually. Don’t try to change everything at once, as this generally causes us to become overwhelmed. When we get overwhelmed from trying to change too much too quickly, it’s easy for self-doubt to rear it’s ugly head. Whenever we start a new client, we always progress their workout slowly so we can assess their fitness level, both physically and mentally. We’ve learned over years of experience that this method is critical for long term success.

So how do you put this into practice? Figure out where you want to go. Maybe you want to lose 30lbs, be in overall better health, or want to be less stressed. This is where goals come in. I still believe in goals as they provide not only the destination, they also provide the steps to get to the destination. It’s great to set the long range goal, but remember to set short-term (weekly) goals for each long range goal. This will allow for many small successes along the way and can also keep us from getting overwhelmed. When we get overwhelmed, self-doubt comes back for a visit. Understand that things won’t go perfectly and that there will be setbacks. Look back to see what you could have done differently, make adjustments and then move forward. Just don’t give up! It’s never easy, but know the reward is well worth it.

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