We humans have this pesky problem where we simply HATE to be a beginner at anything. And we certainly don’t want to TALK about being a beginner with anyone. Far too much ego and image to protect. Those instincts are ingrained in our DNA.
So we know deep down that we have to take steps to improve, but typically the very last desirable option is to ask others for help, even though that is the choice that is likely to have the most immediate impact on the outcomes we desire.
And so it is with fitness and health. That same genetic coding that creates the ego also seeks self-preservation and longevity. In other words, our brains want us to keep our bodies alive and well. From the biological and evolutionary standpoint, there’s no other goal more mission critical.
There are some common problems beginners face when it comes to their fitness goals, and I think it is helpful to break them down systematically to see what is real and what is a product of our imagination.
1) Information Overload
You wouldn’t need to get past the first page on Google to be overwhelmed with fitness advice, spammy “get fit quick” schemes, and the latest trend of the moment (“Just drink juice for two weeks straight and detox!”).
So we either dig further into the abyss and read on, or dismiss all of what we find as not applicable to us because it is too much to process. Neither option does much to impact your body and your health.
First time gym-goers can be intimidated by seeing others who are further along in their fitness journey. This might even have physical manifestations where your heart rate goes up, your breathing shortens, and you’re simply uncomfortable exercising next to someone who is more advanced than yourself. Conceptually we know there is no real “danger” or reason to be experiencing “fear” but that doesn’t stop the brain from pouring out adrenaline in response.
3) Getting the Wrong Information
I cringe when I see personal trainers giving their clients bad fitness instruction. Poor form, improper weight, bad range of motion, incorrect timing between sets, etc. That list could go on for some time. But as a beginner, you take these cues and internalize them into your routine because you don’t know that there may be a different way.
4) Expecting Immediate Results
Largely because of the overwhelming amount of “get fit quick” products/blogs/tips we have an expectation for when we’ll see success that simply does not match up to the basic biology taking place during exercise. For example, it is highly unlikely to gain more than a pound or two of actual lean muscle in a month. Now you might lose 10 pounds of water weight if you’re cleaning up your diet. But reprogramming the muscle tissue in your body to convert protein into new cells for growth is a slow process, and having an inaccurate set of expectations is only going to make you want to give up, or give up a method of exercise that might actually work for one that you’re lead to believe will get you there faster.
5) Social Feedback
We all know this one well. You start a new exercise routine and immediately your friends/family/coworkers are in your ear about how you’re doing it wrong or how their methods are better. This is particularly impactful for women, where perhaps the number one social queue they receive is “don’t lift weights, you’ll get too bulky.” Not only is that almost biologically impossible, it is terrible feedback from people who are supposed to support you on your journey!
So most beginners face this mountain of variables in the way of their progress. I know it well because it stands true for my own journey. It isn’t easy to know the right path to walk, which thoughts to keep and which to reject. It’s one of the reason why I believe so strongly in at-home fitness. Exercising in your home can be a great way to create habits in a vacuum, away from so many of these beginner hurdles and unnecessary complications.
When was the last time you had an impactful voice in your head, encouraging you to find fitness success on your terms? If you’ve never had someone fill that role for you, what do you imagine it might look and feel like? What is your vision for the best possible support system you could create on your fitness journey?
Let’s think differently about how we build our results, and quiet the noise. It’s just weighing you down.