Have you ever been afraid to try something—working out in a gym, for example—because of what other people in the gym might think of you? Do you stop yourself from doing something (read: exercising) because you’re afraid you won’t get it right the first time? Do you compare yourself to others and figure you’ll never be able to be that weight, wear those clothes, do that exercise, be that fit, so why bother?
Wouldn’t it be great to overcome those tendencies and fears and go after what you really want—a healthy body, plenty of energy, and feeling good on a daily basis about who you are and the magnificent body you call home?
If any of this resonates with you, you may be a good candidate to work with ace Transition Coach Barbara Robitaille, who can help you overcome the fears that are holding you back from living the life you desire. Full disclosure: I have the extremely good fortune to be married to Barbara and experience the benefits of her wisdom daily. Yes, I am biased. But, in addition to my own experience, my bias is based on watching her develop practices and techniques over the years that truly help people overcome their fears and make the transition into living life fully.
Barbara works with people going through any of a number of transitions: Often, they feel like they are missing something in their lives, they are unhappy, they are at a crossroads and they don’t know which way to go, afraid to take the next step, make a mistake, or even unsure of what the next step is. Here are some common transitions she often addresses: empty nest, illness, divorce, job loss, retirement, death of a loved one, coming out, people who simply want to take time out of their lives to really look at where they are—mentally, emotionally, physically or spiritually—and, yes, health and vitality.
I asked Barbara how she would respond to someone who wants to get past the gym door but feels stuck.
Q&A With Barbara Robitaille
Go Well: How would you go about helping someone get over his or her barriers to exercise?
Barbara: Fears hold us back from doing things we want, that we know are in our own best interests. I help my clients identify the fears that are keeping them stuck. We put their fears on the table, have a look at the facts behind the fears and then work to release those fears. The act of identifying or naming the fears often holds the key to overcoming them. In the case of going to the gym, the fears may come from bad experiences in middle school PE, or something someone said years ago at a class reunion, criticism from a family member, or what they imagine other people are thinking about them. What’s true is that these fears are based on past experience or have no basis in the present, and can certainly be released through intention, strategy and adopting some simple, practical tools for change.
Go Well: What sort of practical tools for change would you recommend for someone who has gym–phobia?
Barbara: This depends on the fear(s) that specific person carries, but I can give you some general guidelines I use in my practice.
- Determine where you are now versus where you want to be and discern how big that gap is. Then, rather than trying to leap the gap all in one jump, create stepping stones to help you get there. In the case of getting into the gym, it might be something as simple as getting the proper clothes, going with a friend or asking for help from the staff.
- Make sure you enjoy the process. Goals have a tendency to blind us from opportunities. If, for example, you are determined to drop two dress sizes or get a 32-inch waist in a month, you may be setting yourself up for unnecessary stress, injury or—surprise—failure. Why not create a process that you enjoy, that feels good, that moves you in the direction you want to go with less focus on outcome and more focus on enjoying the benefits of the process? Strategize for successful living.
- Embrace change. The degree to which you are able to change is directly related to how well you are able to tolerate feeling uncomfortable. Change isn’t necessarily comfortable. It’s simple to identify what needs to change, but not easy to change.
Here are some other relevant tips from my conversation with Barbara:
- Make confident choices based on what really matters to you, and then jump in with both feet.
- Stop thinking everything is a competition.
- Stop thinking you have to get it right the first time.
- Acknowledge it’s okay to not know how to do something.
And one of my favorites:
- People are going to judge you no matter what, so you might as well do what you want.
If you are ready to make a transition and work toward a healthier body but are feeling stuck, Barbara Robitaille can help you strategize for success.
You can reach Barbara at www.barbararobitaille.com
Next week: The positive influence Gearing Up has on your behavior and how it will improve your relationship with the gym.
Until then, Go Well!