Exercise is a fantastic way to build confidence, appreciation, and connection with your body, but let’s face it: the gym setting can be a tough place to find self-love. So many mirrors, so many people to compare yourself to, so many workout styles and so many fitness “rules” – it’s an inner critic field day. But know that whether you’re new to the gym environment or an experienced regular – hell, even if you’re a fitness professional, everyone feels insecure sometimes at the gym. But the only important thing here is whether you will let those insecurities become limitations, or you will actively work to overcome them. Here are 5 tips for self-love and body-positivity while you’re in the process:
Avoid thinking negative thoughts about anyone else there. The judgements you make towards others are a reflection of the judgements you make about yourself, and when you think harsh things about those around you, you encourage that same negativity towards yourself. The things you think about others are most likely pointing out some of your own insecurities. What are your comments towards others telling you about how you see yourself?
Instead of giving in to negative thoughts, find something positive to note about individuals. How does it feel to recognize the good in others? How does your mental state change when your thoughts are focused on the positive? When you see the good in others, you can see the good in yourself.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Every single body is biologically unique: no person’s body was built or adapts exactly the same way as another’s. What is physically easy for one person could be incredibly challenging for another. Every single individual is unique: everyone has a different and significant, story, experience, lifestyle, struggle, value system, and LIFE. Respect that. Honor that in others and especially in yourself. How do you recognize and honor your uniqueness? What makes you different, significant, and beautiful?
Dress in a way that makes you feel awesome. You know that feeling when you get a new outfit, new shoes, or new haircut? You can’t help but feel like a rockstar who just entered the room! Channel that feeling into your workouts by dressing in a way that makes you feel comfortable and confident. If your current exercise apparel has you feeling frumpy, too hot, too constricted, or over-exposed, then swap it out for something you feel great moving in! Look good, Feel Good. Feel good, do Good.
Fuel well. Providing your body with adequate nutrition prior to exercise will give you the energy it needs for a great workout and set the foundation for a happy recovery. Choose a pre-workout snack that is energizing, satisfying, and makes you feel good. An easily digestible snack including protein and carbohydrate is a good guideline to build off from. Experiment, taste test, try new things and find the snack that makes you feel like a champion. Fuel good, feel good…. You know the rest.
Plan ahead. Set yourself up for success by having a game plan. Knowing what you intend to do for a workout before you get to the gym will help you stay focused, and more sure of yourself while you’re exercising. Planning ahead also provides a sense of accomplishment when you complete what you intended to do. New to the gym setting? Unsure of how to create a workout for yourself? Grab a friend, find a gym buddy, sign up for group classes, or hire a professional. A certified personal trainer can help you get comfortable with gym equipment, teach proper form and technique, and help you get started with some programming. Check out the Body Positive Fitness Alliance for affiliated professionals trained to promote body positive workouts and fitness environments.
Get fit, have fun, take care of yourself, and enjoy the gift that is being you!