Something I used to hear a lot (and still hear from time to time) is people saying they don't want to start working with a trainer until they get fit first. I just never understood this mindset! Helping people get fit is why we exist! Why would you want to do it on your own first, when we're the experts on it? Wouldn't that make the whole process harder on you?
When I would dig a little deeper with people who felt this way, I found that most often the hesitation was linked with embarrassment. People were either embarrassed of how they looked, or of how "out of shape" they felt they were. I would say things like "don't be silly!" or "don't worry about that" but in hindsight, that wasn't helpful.
The reality was, they didn't want a fit trainer judging them on their "unfit-ness." I would tell them that they just needed to try and they would understand it wouldn't be as bad as they were making it out to be. I could tell them all day that I wouldn't judge them and that they shouldn't be embarrassed, but it never seemed to help. What I'm realizing now is that the missing statement from all of my attempts at easing their fears, was, "I get it."
And the truth is, up until this year, I don't think I REALLY got it. I truly just felt like it was a matter of explaining it better or helping them to see that I wouldn't judge them. But until they felt heard, all of my attempts would fall on deaf ears.
So, here's why I finally get it.
A couple months ago, one of our coaches at Achieve Fitness, Sarah, decided to sign up for a powerlifting meet. Since I got into the fitness industry 10 years ago, I always wanted to do a meet but never felt like it was the right time. I was always training for other things, focusing on coaching, etc. However, for the past 10 years I have incorporated the main powerlifting lifts into my routine consistently. At the StrongFirst Lifter certification 2 years ago, I was able to bench press 135lbs, deadlift 265lbs, and squat 205lbs. It wasn't a meet, but it gave me an idea of where I might fall if I did ever compete.
Flash forward to 2016. In February I broke my hand, had to have surgery, and was in a cast for 2 months. When I got my cast off, I could hardly grip a 10lb dumbbell, so I spent a couple months re-training my grip and getting my wrist mobility back. By the time I was finally able to get back to some heavier lifting, it was time for my wedding and 2 week honeymoon, where let's just say I wasn't taking my training too seriously outside of just making sure I was being active! Throughout the rest of the fall, I maintained a healthy lifestyle and trained 3-4 times a week, but most of my focus was on kettlebell and advanced bodyweight training. All of this to say, there just wasn't a whole lot of powerlifting for me in 2016.
When Sarah convinced me to sign up for the meet with her, I had no initial reservations. It was something I always wanted to do, so why not! But then I started to see where I was at with my lifts...
Let's just say it was a reality check. A 95lb bench press attempt got stuck on my chest, and picking up 165lbs off the floor (100lbs less than my deadlift max 2 years ago) felt really hard.
And here are the things that immediately began running through my head:
"I should have never signed up when I'm this weak."
"It's going to be so embarrassing to only be able to lift __x__"
"People will expect me to be stronger than I am."
"I wish I waited to sign up for a later meet so I had more time to train."
But then I had to sit down and ask myself why I signed up for this meet in the first place. It certainly wasn't because I wanted to win, and I definitely wasn't trying to break any world records! I just wanted to have the experience of actually competing in a powerlifting meet. I wanted to get myself out of my comfort zone. By doing this meet, I will be accomplishing those things, yet I continuously second guess my decision, out of embarrassment.
So, I get it.
Feeling embarrassed about my own abilities almost made me almost pull myself out of the meet. I thought about e-mailing the organization to ask about postponing my registration to a later date. It wasn't until I thought about all the people who had told me they wanted to postpone training until they felt fit enough, that I saw the parallels. Being embarrassed of our own abilities can be so limiting. It can hold us back from doing things that could have a profound impact on us. Letting go of the high standards we hold ourselves to, and just allowing ourselves to live each moment as we are right now, will be the only way to actually progress and move toward where we want to go.
So the next time you second guess yourself about doing something you want to do out of embarrassment or shame, remind yourself that everyone goes through that. Even people who you might think have it all together. And then tell that voice in your head that it can't overpower you, and you will prevail!