NO! You will not take my picture

It is time to get serious. Down to business. I need to ensure my physique is in optimal condition.

Why?

As I develop my website and business – I need to do a photo shoot.

Why?

Because I am the product I am selling. Not because I want to be – but because that is how it works.

I hate pictures

Some of the difficulty with this is that I am incredibly self-conscious. I hate pictures in general – let alone a photo shoot?!?!?? I am not concerned that the camera adds 10 pounds, but I do want to look fit. Okay I lied, I want to look ripped. But I also want to look real. So do I put on my game face or do I smile and have fun? Regardless, I am concerned with my arms looking muscular instead of fat. I want that definition. I want to present an image of a strong woman. A healthy physique but still a real woman.

Will my muscle intimidate? My mass is natural with my activity. There will be no bare stomach in my pictures – not my greatest asset. Would showing my weak spot increase my vulnerability and make me more marketable – I ask myself?

Opportunity for personal growth

Everyday is an opportunity for personal growth. Every day is an opportunity to tackle fear. Building a business – designed to guide others through personal growth – is growing me in unimaginable ways. I had not given thought to the fact that I would be marketing myself in pictures and videos. However, I believe this is a healthy step forward in my self-acceptance and breaking my self-consciousness.

How do you grow from day to day?

The bottomline

I am conquering another fear, of sorts. Along with this, I have provided myself with an amazingly powerful motivator to help me combat my desires to binge. I prefer to have something to work for – that extrinsic motivator keeps me on task.

How do you tackle fear?

What motivates you?

Response: No Gymtimidation @ Planet Fitness

If you have not seen the Planet Fitness 2013 commercials, consider yourself lucky. While I understand the marketing ploy, it saddens me. The commercials give an ugly, and inaccurate, perception of gyms. I have spent a lot of time in gyms the last 10 years. 30+ hours a week for the last 7 years. Gyms in Wisconsin, New York, Texas, and Minnesota. Small clubs, franchises, and ‘big-box’ gyms. And you know what? I might have met ONE person who fits the stereotype portrayed in these commercials.

The intimidation factor

Do not get me wrong – every gym has its fear factor. Doing anything new can be scary! But these our own fears and preconceptions of what we will experience. Own these fears as your own and then face them! Such an exaggeration of intimidation in these commercials may have a negative influence on individuals who have never physically been to a gym – and if they do not live near a Planet Fitness – now they may never go!

Further, I believe that the word intimidation is being misused.

Intimidation: to make timid or fearful; to frighten; to compel or deter by or as if by threats.
OR
intentional behavior that “would cause a person of ordinary sensibilities” fear of injury or harm

No one is outright threatening you. No one is intending to frighten you. This intimidation factor, is actually fear. And this fear is created in our own mind (sorry)! And the more we hear that something is scary, to be feared, or intimidating – the more we will believe it! Yes, mind games. Psychological manipulation. Own your fear and then conquer it!

Let us use my analogy, my gym is my church, for greater perspective. Churches are often described as intimidating. Are the members of the church threatening? Are they intending to instill fear in you? NO! They are loving. They are compassionate. Again, your own fear takes hold – leading to intense anxiety, uncertainty, hesitation – and we look for someone else to blame and point fingers at—

Excellent perks

Planet Fitness rewards and entices members with food. One of the first rules of adopting a healthy lifestyle is to avoid food rewards. As such, it is important to reduce the association and avoid eating in the same environment in which you exercise. Members are supplied pizza on the first Monday night of the month and bagels on the second Tuesday morning. Tootsie Rolls are handed out daily.

I will discuss the (research-based) issue of rewarding with food in a later post. But, do you like the idea of going to a gym to improve your health and fitness, just to have them tempt you with food items that you may be trying to avoid? Do you want to workout to the aroma of pizza or a fresh bakery? Do you like that they provide foods that will slow your metabolism and in effect undo what you are doing there in the first place? These perks – although included in a cheap rate – are setting you up for failure when you buy into them. Cheaper is not always better! In fact, in the words of a very wise man:

Only a rich man can afford cheap shoes.

NOT for bodybuilders nor powerlifters

I am not a bodybuilder. Nor am I a powerlifter. But neither am I welcome at Planet Fitness. Why? Because I grunt – and sometimes I sound like a walrus when I do it! The facilities also lack the heavy weights and much of the equipment I desire to work with, but I realize that not everyone needs these things. My point – the “Judgement Free Zone” judges me. They are judging most of my friends, too. In fact, I have friends who have been kicked out of Planet Fitness because of their workouts—

Customer service leaves much to be desired

I have talked to my fair share of Planet Fitness goers. I have many former clients who are members at Planet Fitness because of the low rates and no-contract policy. The member service representative gives you an orientation to the equipment. And if you are lucky, this individual has a no-name personal training certification. The chances are you are being taught how to use equipment by someone who has never used it and/or does not really know how to use it. If you are afraid of the gym because you are unfamiliar with the environment, the equipment, and the concept of exercise – do you have confidence that an unqualified front desk employee can put you at ease?

Please consider who you place your trust in. Very few Planet Fitness staff are truly qualified, because the job description does not require it and because the compensation does not suffice for the qualified fitness professional. Would you trust a medical receptionist to draw your blood? I did not think so!

The “Judgement Free Zone”

I have met and spoken with an endless number of individuals regarding health and fitness. I know  individuals who were afraid of photo (6)fitness classes and the idea of others watching them. Others planned to attend the gym during slow times – they feared judgement and what others thought. And you know what they eventually realized? When you are working, you are focused on yourself and no one else. And if you are focused on yourself, the chances are most of your fellow gym-goers are focused on themselves as well. If you can judge someone else at the gym, then YOU are NOT working hard enough. And if EVER someone is judging you and has the galls to say something, you tell them just that, “if you are able to judge me, then you clearly are not working hard enough.” You have my permission to do this.

The bottomline

Stop finger pointing. Intimidation is something that is done with intent. It is an intentional behavior by definition. More often than not, no one at the gym is intimidating you. The Planet Fitness commercials may be exacerbating your fear factor – a fear that is perfectly legitimate. But do not blame those of us who are already at the gym. We did not do anything – other than work hard. And very few behave like the actors in the commercial.

My grunting intimidates you? Well guess what, I have no idea that you are even there when I am working out -so how could I be intending to instill fear in you? I am focused on breathing and finishing my lifts safely. I am in my church!

With that said, am I intimidating you or are you afraid of me? 

You want to go to Planet Fitness? I am not discouraging that. I am, however, encouraging you to be smart. Avoid their perks. Seek assistance from a qualified fitness professional if you are unsure of what you are doing (meaning not the chick sitting behind the front desk). Lastly, do not let ridiculous commercials, gimmicks, ploys, or manipulative marketing strategies get between you and your goals. The journey is scary – gyms included – but your desire is stronger than fear itself.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” – 1 Peter 3:13-14

Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. – Matthew 10:26

The power of conquering fear

I didn’t learn how to rollerblade until I was 19. I remember it vividly. One day, I went rollerblading on the CE trail. I had no idea what I was in for! No one warned me about the hills. New to having wheels beneath my feet…I had yet to conquer the art of slowing down, let alone stopping. It wasn’t long into the trip that I took a huge digger while going down what seemed like a gigantic hill. I freaked out by how fast I was moving, tried to pick up my foot to break, and ended up sliding chest first down the hill. I didn’t break anything, but road rashes and bruises were enough to keep me off hills from then on. I was afraid.

I stopped rollerblading the summer of 2007 because of knee pain. A few years ago had enough confidence in my knee to muster up the galls to pull on the rollerblades again. My first attempt at hills: I was still afraid. You know what I did? I stood there at the top of that hill. Did I mention this was the same hill I originally fell down? Staring down. Palms sweaty. Heart racing. AFRAID. And then I heard others coming up behind me. Not wanting to embarrass myself, I slowly began rolling forward down the hill. Not once did I pick up my feet. I could feel my legs shaking…I was not going to risk anything at that point. But you know what? I made it to the bottom of that hill without falling! And you know what I did next? I turned around, went back up the hill, and did it again. And again. And again. I was determined to conquer this fear.

What do you fear?

We all fear something. Spiders. Heights. Embarrassment. Experts generally agree that humans have innate fears, based on basic survival instincts: loud noises, falling, and death (along with the closely related pain and injury). However, behaviorists will argue that fears are learned (Hansell & Damour, 2008). I tend to agree with the later, for there are very different kinds of situations that seem to cause fear, and very different response by different individuals to the same situations. And the truth is, most people fear the same one thing: Failure (Sagar & Stoeber, 2009). At work. At home. With life. One of the first signs of fear is someone making excuses. How many times have you heard, “I know I should workout more/eat better, but…”? That’s fear.

But what is FEAR? False Evidence Appearing Real. I first heard this many years ago and it immediately made sense. Fears are seldom rational. As with my fear of rollerblading down hills, fears can be shaped from one ‘traumatic’ experience or several aversive exposures. Reasons someone might fear working out? You hurt your knee playing basketball and you don’t want to aggravate the injury. You’ve been overweight your entire life, were always told you couldn’t do this or that because of your weight, and now you are afraid to try (i.e., fear of failure). You’ve tried time and time again, failing each time. While it feels real to you, the truth is that you can. Everyone can.

Failure is perceived as threatening, and feared, by individuals who associate it with aversive consequences. If you have ever tried something without success, what are the chances you will be trying it again? Unlikely. Who wants to continue to do something that he/she is not good at? I know I don’t! Fear of failure is the tendency to assess a threat to the likelihood of reaching personally meaningful goals. And aren’t goals the motivation to get out of bed each day?

Therapeutic exposure

Exposure therapies are often used to extinguish fears and phobias. The most widely-used is systematic desensitization, gradually increasing exposure to the feared object or situation while practicing relaxation techniques (Hansell & Damour, 2008). After developing relaxation skills, such as deep breathing and muscular release techniques, a fear hierarchy is used. This fear hierarchy begins with exposure to the least terrifying situation and works up to the most terrifying situation (Hansell & Damour, 2008). So, in my case, I would have started with small hills and gradually worked up to large ones. I didn’t do this!

My exposure was spontaneous and falls more within the realm of a form of exposure therapy known as flooding. In flooding, you are directly exposed to the feared object or situation, without working through a fear hierarchy.

There are many other methods of working through fears: Exposure and response prevention treatment, cognitive therapy, hypnosis, etc. Some methods require the assistance of a mental health professional, however many exposure therapies can be self-administered. Do you have a fear you are ready to be rid of?

Conquering fear

Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.

~ unknown

I hate to admit it, but I am still somewhat afraid of rollerblading down hills. However, my fear and anxiety are far less intense. It helps to know that I’ve successfully made it to the bottom on more than one occasion. Now I just pause at the top and this decreases my speed to a more comfortable pace. I’m all set. And with time, exposure, and the confidence I gain with each success, I know that I will eventually roll right into those hills.

The truth is, I wasn’t afraid of the hill until I lost control. Fear most often begins with a perceived, or an actual, loss of control. When it comes to your health and fitness, where have you lost control? Is it your weekend eating habits? Maybe it’s with your inability to juggle all life’s responsibilities and still find time to get your workouts in each week? You can regain control. It will be scary. But you will be doing things you never thought possible, building confidence, and conquering fears.

I’ll conclude with this real-world, workout-related example: Box Jumps. It’s common to fear our beloved box jumps. Was that ever you? I probably see one person a month conquer that fear. We begin with a short box…and in a few weeks he/she is jumping onto even higher boxes (i.e., systematic desensitization). “How does THAT make you feel?” I ask. The responses: “Great,” “fantastic,” “I feel strong”…oh, the power of conquering fear!

References

Hansell, J., & Damour, L. (2008). Abnormal Psychology. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

Sagar, S., & Stoeber, J. (2009). Perfectionism, Fear of Failure, and Affective Responses to Success and Failure: The Central Role of Fear of Experiencing Shame and Embarrassment. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 31(5), 602-627.

Much like crossing monkey bars

Monkey BarsAs quoted by C.S. Lewis, “getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars.” One of my most vivid childhood memories involves monkey bars. I was in first or second grade in a Catholic school. It was recess and I was playing on the handmade, wood playground – crossing the monkey bars. The next thing I know, I’m sitting myself up out of the woodchips, dazed and confused looking around – everyone was gone. Recess was over and everyone had gone back into class – leaving me laying there in the woodchips! Had I fallen and hit my head? That is the only logical presumption. Scarred for life? I’d say many occurrences during my tenure at this Catholic school scarred my heart.

I can’t remember playing on monkey bars again as a child. The next experience I remember with monkey bars is when we installed the incline/decline monkey bars at UFF for Tough Mudder training. There was a significant amount of anxiety preceding my first crossing. A – I wasn’t a huge fan of monkey bars. B – I’m afraid of heights. I watched several others journey across before I had the courage. And that first time, I had my spotter follow me all the way across in case I slipped. I DID IT! Then I did it again…and again. I crossed the monkey bars 4 times that day, filming the 4th!

The second half of the C.S. Lewis quote, “You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” In the case of the monkey bars, I needed to let go of fear. It took me several days, but then I just did it – but I DID NOT DO IT ALONE! I had the support of my closest friends (and physical challengers?!?!!!) and one of my most trusted friends to guide and see me across. And once I had that first successful experience, I was able to dig deep into my own strength to propel forward over the bars.

It sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? Crossing the monkey bars? You start with your full weight suspended from a bar, holding on for dear life with both hands. You must release one hand to reach for the next rung. For the duration of the crossing, you are holding onto your bodyweight with the strength and skill of one arm at a time!

We go through much of life with one hand on a rung at a time. Maybe one hand is tied behind your back, and you are overusing the other. Maybe one hand is always holding someone else up. Or maybe….that half of you is living in the past – heartbroken, bitter, resentful, angry, jealous, or more.

When do we let go so that we can reach for the next rung in life? How do we recognize that something or someone is grasping tightly to that arm, preventing us from propelling forward? I believe that sometimes we just need to reach and see what happens. I wouldn’t have crossed the monkey bars without letting go of the rungs behind me. This experience is incredibly sentimental for me (as are many other physical achievements). With each rung I released behind me I was letting go of the painful childhood memories and moving forward. Not only was I moving forward, I wanted to do it again! I had an adrenaline high.

What can you let go of while crossing the monkey bars? Maybe you visualize the monkey bars and imagine that with each release you are letting go just a little – of pain, disappointment, or anger. Or maybe you need to find a playground – most aren’t so high as to be concerned of heights. You may find this to be a therapeutic exercise…

Be stong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

False Evidence Appearing Real

Why is it so difficult to find the courage to start a blog? To open up and become VULNERABLE to the world – literally? Because it’s scary. But what is fear? Is it mind reading – assuming others will think one thing or another and that it is more than likely negative. Is is all or nothing thinking, assuming that I won’t be good at it and will therefore me absolutely terrible! I was once told that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Let’s think about this. There are 2 innate fears (some will argue this) – fear of falling and fear of loud noises. All other fears manifest out of our experiences and environment.

As a child, I developed a fear of spiders after watching the movie Arachnophobia and having my older brother place all of this rubber spiders all over my dolls when I was out of my room. I have since outgrown this fear….however now that I have moved to Texas and might encounter a scorpion…a little different than the daddy-long-legs back in Wisconsin.

1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.

Tonight I am thinking about what it is I fear. Fear of failure. Fear of never being good enough – for myself. Fear of heights. Fear of losing my mobility and ability to maintain my current level of fitness and physical activity because of my chronic and worsening ailments. I am sure there are more….that stem from insecurities that come and go. But what I ask myself is do I live in fear? No. I don’t let my physical challenges confine me to the couch – I tackle them and more often than not I succeed. I try to avoid heights without guard rails or safety precautions, but I call that smart. And that overbearing fear of failure….I am constantly reaching, stretching, learning, taking risks…attempting to grow and encouraging others to grow. I believe that my fear of failure has diminished to a healthy level. It is enough to keep me motivated, driven, and ambitious. But it is not so overwhelming that it leaves me depressed, lethargic, and unmotivated.

So I ask. What do you fear? Is it rational? Is it legitimate? Is it healthy? Is it even worthy of being real? If not, it may be time to conquer that fear, little by little, step by step, have the courage to reclaim the power the fear has claimed in your life. The first step, ask yourself the following  questions:

1) What’s the likelihood that this thing that I’m afraid of is actually happening?

2) What’s the worst that’s going to happen?

3) How would I cope with that?

Yours in Health & Love,

B Rose