Yes, this is a common fear for a lot of women.
If you go running outside, cars drive by and the people inside those cars can SEE YOU running.
If you go to a gym outside your home, other gym-goers can SEE YOU.
If you go to a race, other runners will SEE YOU and they'll see your race results too.
It can be terrifying especially if you've experienced someone saying something about your body in the past or if you've experienced bullying or body shaming in the past.
Being self-conscious = being highly conscious of yourself.
You're constantly thinking about yourself, your body, your actions...
It's good to be aware of yourself, but it turns into a not so great thing when it runs your life.
What if someone makes fun of my running form?
What if someone drives by and laughs at how slow and how big I am?
What if all the other younger women at the gym are making fun of me? I bet they're making fun of me.
What if I run the race and I am the last person to finish the race?
What if I don't even finish the race? OMG. How embarrasing.
What if I am the worst person in class?
What if everyone else can do the move but I am the only one who can't do the move?
These thoughts pop in the heads of everyone. The CBT definition of anxiety explained so much to me.
Anxiety asks a "what if" question.
If you continue to listen to these "what if" questions, the action you take is staying home, and then the anxiety can actually increase.
This comes from my interview with Nita Sweeney who wrote the book Depression Hates a Moving Target!
Nita said that when she realizes she is falling down a rabbit hole of thoughts, she literally says, "Oh! I am doing that thing again! I am getting wrapped up in my thoughts again! Thank you thoughts for trying to keep me safe, but I am going to go do the thing!"
You might be spending a ton of time thinking about all the negative "what if" questions, but have you ever spent time thinking about positive "what if" questions?
"What if I go to the gym and it's actually a really cool space with really positive people?"
"What if I go running and cars drive by and nothing happens? They're driving. I'm running. What if I get to feel good during the run?"
"What if I get out of my head where I spend hours and hours mapping out horrific stories and instead spend some time in my body and go do the thing?"
If you're currently not running because you're self-conscious, don't sign up for a race right away.
Get comfortable running just around your neighborhood block where there's not a ton of cars and you feel safe in your space.
And then get comfortable running on main roads where there might be cars and people who can see you.
And THEN sign up for a race.
If you're currently not going to gyms, don't sign up for a gym where they wear fancy clothes. Get comfortable working out in your living room and being in your body and moving in your body.
And THEN scope out a gym where you feel comfortable.
A to B. A to B. A to B and not A to Z.
I recently joined a running group and was a little nervous that maybe I wouldn't be able to keep up with the other runners. I emailed the group leader and asked what the paces were and if there would be anyone to run with me. She assured me I would have someone to run with, and if there wasn't anyone, she would run with me.
In 2019, I was looking for a gym to join to be around other people. I looked at 2 different Crossfit gyms. One gym had paleo cookbooks everywhere and told me they'd have me get on a scale before starting so they could give me a weight loss plan. Yuck. It wasn't for me.
The other gym told me to come in for a free class so I could see what things were like during a class! It was a non-competitive community where people got together to lift heavy things and cheer each other one. Yep! That's the one I picked!
This has come up a lot! The first time I ran a marathon, Paul was a bit ahead of me, and I started running with a gal who was the same pace as me. I told her I just didn't want to be last, and she said she didn't care if she was last because someone had to be, but at least she was out there running and not at home on the couch. DAMN. Lesson learned.
It's okay to be mediocre. You're still doing the thing. And doing the thing and being mediocre is better than not doing the thing.
Even at my Crossfit class, I am usually the worst there, but I am still there! I'm usually the last to finish. I usually have the lightest weights. I just let the self-conscious stuff go because I am there to get stronger and not to make myself feel like shit.
Allllso there was a great article about Seth Rogen and his pottery. People were being assholes about it being just adequate when dang, an adult was just trying out a new hobby! Can that just be okay?
"As I’ve written before, we're living in an age when it can feel incredibly daunting to pick up a hobby, as Rogen did. It’s no longer enough to leisurely pursue running or cooking or knitting. It can feel impossible or pointless to do something just for fun, in a mediocre way. We’re pressured to accomplish milestones, hone our skills, and document the progress on Instagram. Because of this, it’s difficult to wrap our minds around the idea of making art that’s not 'good.' But you don’t have to master painting or pottery or any other hobby to reap the benefits of practicing it."
I interviewed Patti a few years ago about being visible.
I met Patti at my co-working office for just a few minutes literally days before she ran the Chicago Marathon, and then I randomly found her on race day amongst thousands of runners!
Patti is a queer and trans endurance athlete who has had to deal with a lot of shit. When I interviewed her and heard her story, I was like yeah, if she is nervous about being seen but also knows how important it is to be seen, then I can too.
You can too!
You're not in competition with other people you see. Everyone is just trying to exist and be happy. You can create community everywhere you go by being there.
When you show up, it gives others permission to show up.
Take a brave mini step and go do the thing!
Lifting weights helps you get physically and mentally strong. Jumping around and doing a HIIT workout is cool for a minute or two, but bench pressing and squatting 3 digits is empowering AF.
If you feel self-conscious in your body, focus on getting out of your head and into your strong AF body. Lift. Heavy. Weights. When you lift heavy weights, you learn nothing can stop you and you can overcome even the hardest of things.
Lifting heavy weights helps you get strong physically and mentally! And it helps you stop focusing on being the tiniest person and helps you start focusing on being a strong person.
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