Overcoming mental obstacles
Are you putting off starting your fitness journey with excuses like ‘I need to lose weight before I can hit the gym’? Jesse Akister from Shero says there’s no time like the present… and shares a few tips on overcoming that first barrier.
Waiting until the New Year, until we fit into a certain size of gym wear, until we’ve finished that tough project at work… If the excuses we make for not making time for fitness were kilometres on the road, we’d all have run marathons by now!
The mental obstacles we set ourselves are often a lot harder to overcome than the actual physical ones we keep putting off, but as community-builder, ex-CrossFit athlete and fitness expert Jesse Akister points out, everyone has to start somewhere.
“Any time we start something new, we can have these mental blocks that tell us it is hard and it can seem easier to stay in a place of safety than to try the thing that is new. But once you try the new thing, it isn’t as scary. The first step is scary.”
Breaking down a seemingly impossible task or superhuman challenge into small, manageable steps, is key to embarking on a sustainable journey.
“If you have never worked out, rather than saying I will train five days a week, commit to doing 10,000 steps a day. The problem with over-committing is you set yourself up to fail instead of succeed,” says Jesse.
Once the steps feel like a ‘normal’ part of your routine, you can increase your goals. “The first step shouldn’t feel overwhelming at all. It should be attainable, and a foundation to build on.”
“There is a great book by author James Clear called Atomic Habits,” says Jesse. “In the book he writes about what stops us going to the gym. And it’s the actual getting out of the door once the alarm clock goes off. He suggests getting out of bed, getting dressed and aiming simply to turn up at the gym. That breaks down the goal into chunks and once you are there, you will find it easier to commit to the workout – because you’ve already overcome the mental obstacle of getting out of bed!”
Choose a welcoming environment
Although there is more widespread awareness of body positivity and inclusivity in the fitness world, some gyms still have a very male-dominated vibe. It’s ok not to seek to fit into these, says Jesse. Instead, look to connect with a trainer or class that makes you feel comfortable. You do not need to battle feeling self-conscious – it is perfectly possible to feel welcomed, safe and happy during your workout!
“Something that is really great to see is the growing number of female-owned gyms and fitness businesses. Tweak is owned and designed by a woman, which makes it a brand that women love, because it’s designed with the innate understanding of a female’s requirements for comfort. From the soft bamboo fabric to the sweat-wicking properties and cool colours, the affinity is there from the very beginning.”
Find your tribe
Women do better when other women support them. If you are alone in your social circle in terms of having an interest in fitness, there are ways to connect with women who are already on the journey and can give you real-life support and insights. Group classes are good way to meet like-minded women and often have a mix of all abilities, so there will be someone who you can buddy up with. Connecting through social media is another way. “Shero Life is an online community that includes training programs, exercise videos and expert contributions from women skilled in health, coaching and business,” says Jesse.
Enjoy the learning!
“We have worked with Tweak for many years, as well as with functional medicine doctors who have shone a light on female health issues such as recurring UTIs and have linked these to causes including underlying gut microbe issues. Natural fibres, such as the bamboo fibres found in Tweak, can be really helpful in combating issues like this,” says Jesse. “Taking the first steps into fitness isn’t just about moving your body, it’s an opportunity to learn about so many things connected to your mental and physical health too, and it is all part of the journey.”