Freytag: Be Fearless

We’re more than halfway through the SUCCESS magazine 30-Day Get Fit Challenge. In my first blog post, I said, “It’s your physical being, it’s your diet, and it’s your emotional state that intertwine together to create a healthy lifestyle.” I can suggest exercises all day, but until you break through your barriers, lose your excuses and rid yourself of your fears about exercise, you won’t be able to put the puzzle completely together. You see, when someone says, “Get more exercise,” most people hear, “Kill yourself and sweat to death!” That’s where the mental block comes in. People fear exercise. Fear is an emotion that often stops us dead in our tracks. And yet, in our current uncontrollable economy, one thing we can control is our commitment to our health. Therefore, in our quest to gain mental strength and create long-lasting habits, we need to conquer fear and face it head-on. Eleanor Roosevelt said it best: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” So, what are you afraid of? Let’s discuss the most common fears of exercise and dismiss their scary side. Once you break through some of your mental barriers, you may be surprised that your routine will fall into place. Fear of sweating: Being afraid to sweat may seem funny to those of us who drip in it on a daily basis, but this is a very common fear I hear from readers. The bottom line is that everyone sweats, and it is a perfectly natural process! Sweating is your body’s natural way of cooling its core temperature. I understand that even with this knowledge, you may still be uncomfortable with sweating. I encourage you then to invest in some workout clothes made of performance fabrics. These fabrics wick away moisture and help you feel comfortable. Cotton should not be your first choice, though, as it will stay soaked in sweat, cause chafing, and leave you feeling cold and clammy. Fear of pain: I don’t know anyone who likes pain, but the key to overcoming this fear is to start out slowly. If you are a beginner to any activity, raising your heart rate and pushing your muscles too hard too fast can indeed be painful and scary. So start slowly and work your way up, depending on your comfort level. Differentiate between muscle pain and muscle fatigue. Fatigue feels like, “Wow, I’m working hard. I can barely do another repetition.” Pain feels like, “Ouch, that doesn’t feel right.” Fear of injury: This is also a common fear, and it’s one that I have experienced from time to time. My kids love to snowboard, and for a long time I was fearful to try it because I didn’t want to get hurt. If you are afraid of injury, again, the key is to not overdo it and get some good instruction either with the right trainer or an instructional DVD. Making sure you have good form and technique will help prevent injuries and raise your comfort level. Fear of working out in public: I receive lots of e-mails about this one. Many people are cautious about letting go of their inhibitions and working out in front of others. If this is a big one for you, check out some of the smaller, more intimate clubs, or hire a trainer to come to your home to help you acclimate to exercise and gain confidence. And try to keep a sense of humor about yourself—no one achieves “perfection” in fitness. Look, I’ve fallen off a step while teaching a class, and I am supposed to be the expert! Remember, most people on the workout floor are fairly self-absorbed while at the gym; they are more than likely not paying any attention to you. They are listening to their iPods or watching TV. So rid yourself of that imaginary audience in your head and get out there! Fear of failure: I always tell my clients, “If you don’t try, you don’t know if you’ll succeed.” Many of my clients have big, important jobs, and they take on their jobs with great confidence. So the idea of possible failure in order to make progress in an exercise routine, which is then by followed by embarrassment, holds them back. I’ve always tried to live my life based on the idea there is no such thing as failure, but that everything is a learning experience. I urge you to do the same. Whether you get a positive result from something or a negative result, it is a result, and you need to look at it as a chance to move forward. You may determine that you don’t like spinning classes, and that will propel you forward into trying something else. What you may call a failure, you could instead choose to call an opportunity to try something new! I love this quote from Woody Allen: “If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” Be innovative, be curious and be active! WEEK THREE Cross-Training Tip: Use a heart monitor to keep track of your heart rate. Running long distances is a great way to burn fat and lose weight, but intensity and heart rate are still part of the equation. A heart rate monitor will keep you motivated by giving you feedback, such as the number of calories you burned and your average heart rate. It’s eye-opening sometimes to see that on interval day you burned the same amount of calories in half the time as you did during your distance run. Chris Says: On endurance days, you should try to keep your heart rate in the aerobic zone, where you are working at what I call a “comfortably hard” pace. Just because you are running or walking, though, weight loss isn’t guaranteed. You have to work hard. Keep yourself honest with data and feedback. My heart rate monitor is my motivator! Food Tip: Fill up with more fiber. Fiber can help control blood sugar levels, keeping you from those sugar highs and lows. Also, a high-fiber diet tends to make you feel full longer, keeping you from overeating the sugary carbs. Chris Says: Ditch the Frosted Toasty O’s, and go for a high-fiber breakfast cereal with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving. Fiber helps to fills you up with less wasted calories. Breakfast is critical to get your metabolism revved up for the day. Resources: From the SUCCESS store: SUCCESS fitness combo, including Move to Lose DVD by Chris Freytag, Fitness that Fits: A Realistic Way to Reshape Your Body DVD by David Kirsch and Eating for Life hardcover book by Bill Phillips


Chris Freytag has dedicated her adult life to motivating people to lead healthier lives. A contributing editor to Prevention magazine, she's also written two books, Shortcuts to Big Weight Loss, and her latest, 2-Week Total Body Turnaround. She also has appeared on NBC's Today show and MSNBC's Weekend Update.

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