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How to conquer your health and fitness fears

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I used to be a systems analyst and mathematician, admittedly more nerd than jock. As it turns out, I spend way more time geeking out on fitness, health and nutrition than I ever did on math or computers.

Over the years, I’ve learned tons about fitness, what types of exercises work best, how to properly do those exercises, how to assess and screen athletes and how to make them faster, stronger, better. However, the most important thing I learned about fitness in 2012 had very little to do with physical training. The most important thing I learned about fitness in 2012 is that the single biggest obstacle to overcome on the path to health and fitness is fear.

Sometimes we’re afraid of starting a fitness program, afraid that it will be too difficult or that it won’t be fun. Sometimes, we are afraid we might get hurt or that we simply won’t get the results we want. But mostly, we’re just afraid of what others will think. We fear that we might embarrass ourselves or that we might not live up to expectations.  

Fear is the main reason we procrastinate when starting up a fitness regime but it also plays a huge part in performance for higher-level athletes. Fear is simply an internal reaction to what is happening around us but these feelings of anxiety are quite real to us and they can easily crowd out every other emotion and take over our lives.

The best way to deal with fear is to first talk about it, then face it head on. If you are considering starting a new group fitness program, start by talking to others who recently started the program, and then dive right in. If you are considering a team sport but are anxious about how you can contribute to the team, talk to your fellow athletes. You might find that they are more worried about their own performance than yours.

Life is too short to live in fear. Every single day, every single moment, could be your last. If you don’t start today, you will go to bed tonight with regrets. You will wake up one day and realize that you never did all those things you always wanted to do, that you never became the person you always wanted to be. You can be that person, you can have that life, but first, you have to decide you are ready.

Once you let go of fear, self consciousness becomes self awareness. Once you face your fears, anxiety becomes confidence. Once you stop worrying about what people think, you can finally be yourself. Once you are able to detach yourself from the outcome of the workout, you are able to reap the benefits of that workout.

Tania Tetrault Vrga is owner and head trainer at CrossFit Winnipeg. Send questions to her at www.crossfitwinnipeg.com.

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