Body image and self-esteem are two broad concepts that have always intrigued me, especially when it comes to women.  Now, after just finishing my exam for Advanced Exercise Psychology, let me tell you, I am more fascinated than ever and I can say that this will only be the first of many other posts related to these ideas.

Before we get started, I just want to remind all of my readers that I am not neglecting the male population in this article; I am focusing on females.  Any of the issues I discuss can very well be related to men and the pressures they experience, (I am just saving that for a later date!)

As many of you know I work for Nike and they recently shared a 1 minute video, entitled Better For It-Inner Thoughts, introducing the hashtag #betterforit.  Despite the fact that I strut the streets with Nike swag and some would think I have to support this campaign, I choose to support it because of the realistic portrayal of what women, myself included, go through when trying something new or pushing our boundaries in a physical sense.  My personal motto is usually, “if I am not good at it then I am not doing it because I definitely am not going to embarrass or humiliate myself in front of others”.  Anyone else ever thought that?  Why do we think that? I believe everyone is afraid to fail, hurt their egos, step outside their comfort zone, and take risks when exercising.  Now, I don’t mean risk taking and failure in an injured sense but more in a challenge yourself to see what you are capable of type of way.  Sometimes we need to take that last step into the gym or fitness class and go for it! We never know what we can do if we choose to let those opportunities pass.

I know, I know, easier said than done.  Although I enjoy exercising there are still some things that terrify me too.  For example: yoga.  I am far too high strung, stressed out and lack flexibility for that style of class and often get very nervous ahead of time.  I am that person looking around the room at everyone else when the instructor tells everyone to close their eyes, just checking out the ‘competition’ and to see where I size up in the class.  But, once I remind myself I am here for self-improvement, I relax, focus in on my breath and always feel better upon finishing the class.  Before ever starting, yoga was something I was afraid would hurt my self-esteem because I didn’t think I would be good at it. Now, it turns into a successful moment whenever I am done because I feel accomplished and proud of what I was capable of.

Body image is another issue women experience daily from all of the media influences.  As discussed last week with calorie counting, the media can skew our own thoughts of what we have to look like.  Body image is comprised of our body reality, our actual physical characteristics, and our body ideal, how we believe our body should look.  Girls often question their own body image when in an exercise setting because they are surrounded by other people, usually lots of other females, who maybe fall into one’s own ideal body category.  No wonder you may feel insecure; there is that girl standing in front of you in the class looking exactly how you picture yourself to be.  

Often times, these are what turn women away from the work out scene but today I want to provide you with three tips to use next time you are feeling unsure about being at the gym or in a fitness class:

  1. Bring a friend.  Friends always make everything so much more fun! Having someone there to squash your insecurities and motivate you will do wonders! I find that my most successful workouts are when I have someone pushing me along to that next km on my run or to finish out the 40 seconds of push-ups we have to complete.  Friends go a long way in making you realize your potential and maybe even going beyond.
  2. Stop comparing yourself to others.  Of course I notice other women too when I am in the gym or in a class but I choose to not let that effect how I go about what I am doing.  Remember from last week’s post, we are not all going to look the same EVER so there is no need for the comparison.  If anything, compliment her because chances are she too is feeling insecure about someone else being in the room.  We need to build each other up and create a positive community where everyone, regardless of age or experience level, wants to be.  
  3. As cheesy as this sounds, just do it! I often catch myself expelling the famous Nike phrase but it is true. I try to think less and do more.  If we think too much before jumping into a challenge, we give ourselves too much time to try to convince ourselves otherwise and talk us out of the activity.  Trust me, just do it, and you won’t regret the way you feel afterwards when you have accomplished something great.

So where does this leave all of you now?  I am challenging all of my readers today! Let’s take this #betterforit campaign and challenge ourselves to step outside our comfort zones and do what we think is impossible.  Chances are things will work out much better than you thought!

Here is what you will do:  1) Pick a challenge, with friends or on your own.  2) Upon completion, include #betterforit and #yourqueendomchallenge. 3) Post it, and tag me via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or comment below with your success.  Let’s start our own Queendom #betterforit accomplishments.  We can do this!

Be fierce. Be strong. Be vibrant.