#QuestionsWithKim Series 3: Body Confidence and Wellbeing
Our third #QuestionsWithKim is here! In this episode Kim has been answering all your ‘Body Confidence and Wellbeing’ questions from anxiety to getting back in to a routine after an injury.
Q: As a plus size, I often find it embarrassing exercising in front of people. How do I build the confidence to work out in a gym?! #BodyConfidence
A: Ahh such a good question and thank you for asking it.
Firstly I think it’s important to be proud of yourself for starting to exercise & remember that nearly everyone feels nervous about going into a gym, for a variety of different reasons. To start to feel confident about going try this before you even get there. Write down how you want to feel, ‘take’ a word with you, like confidence, strength or courage and focus on breathing this in and breathing out and embarrassment. Make sure you choose clothes & trainers that you feel comfortable in, but are also supportive, breathable and help you train happily in the gym. Choosing colours you like can really help you when getting ready. Then work out what you are going to do before, is it a class or a workout, write it down and then be brave, and head to the gym.
There’s a million reasons to talk yourself out of it, but think about the one big reason why you want to go, and go for it! Each session you do imagine your embarrassment reducing a tiny bit, and your confidence growing a tiny bit. If you like to talk to people, start speaking to the trainers or other people when waiting for a class and say you are nervous, they will be really supportive and helpful, and you may find they are nervous too! If you don’t want to talk to people, get some really good music and podcasts on your ipod, link with a FitBit App and find other rewarding ways to boost your motivation and progress.
I remember when I started training in a gym, I felt embarrassed because I felt I should be a certain way as a trainer, and did I ‘look good enough’. I now aim to chat with everyone who looks like they could do with a friendly smile or boost of confidence, as it is a funny environment. Sometimes I know I can look serious with my headphones in and working hard, but as a trainer, I know I go to the gym to grow my confidence as a main reason, and it’s my happy environment. For you, maybe a pub or music gig is your happy place, so bring some of those confidence vibes along to the gym and go be awesomely you, and proud of your plus size, wonderful self.
Q: What piece of exercise equipment would you recommend as being the best for all over body? Need to lose 1.5 stone, want my #BodyConfidence back, having a huge bust, running or treadmills are uncomfortable, could do with something with minimum bounce! Thanks in advance.
A: It’s really important with a large bust to get the right sports bra to offer you the best support, honestly it will really make a difference to your wellbeing, posture and enjoyment of the session. Have a look at the Shock range, and do ask them if you are unsure which is suitable. They do take a little bit of time to tweak and play around with to feel comfortable, and remember they are for working out, so won’t feel comfortable just sitting in.
Once you have a bra sorted and kit to help you feel good, I would recommend a mixture of different exercises to work your body differently and wake up your muscles. So if you have time to do three workouts a week (they only need to be 20mins or so, with a warm up and cool down) you will really feel a difference and start to notice a change in shape.
I would go with one session of cardio, the cross trainer, rower and bike should all be comfortable, with this you can do intervals or hill climbs to boost your heart rate, get a bit sweaty and more towards your goal. The second session would be a overall body weight, TRX or dumbbell session, depending on your knowledge and strength, mixing squats, lunges, press up, lateral pull down etc to work all the muscles in the body. I would start with 1-3 sets of endurance reps (15+) and then adapt after 6 weeks, pop a message over if you are unsure. The third day would be a HIIT 10min boost followed by good core (front and back) exercises and yoga/stretching to really work on your posture and breathing, this will strengthen and lengthen everything, improving your confidence.
In between sessions aim to get your 10,000 steps in each day, and as you walk, think about all the things that matter to you, think about positive images, thoughts and people to move towards growing your body confidence again. Imagine with each walk you are getting fitter and stronger and letting go of any limits. Go for it!
Look forward to hearing how you get on.
Q: I have zero confidence I look in the mirror and all I can see are the faults and not how far I’ve come. I exercise a lot and vary it s good deal but cannot get a grip on my eating help.
A: Ahh this is such a good question and thank you for asking it, as it’s brave to even ask it, so well done! There’s a book by Louise Hay which is the 22 Day Mirror Challenge, it’s super helpful and really works on growing your body confidence each day. I recommend to many clients, and I find it needs to be done three times, once with just the mirror exercises, once with the journaling and then finally to reinforce the mirror exercises. Do google and find it, as I think it could really help.
Then, as you exercise a lot, start to keep a body confidence growth journal… or a starting to learn to like myself. So each day write down something, however tiny it is, that made you feel good in the day. Listen to your own language, so when you start to tell yourself you are not good enough (or whatever it is you say), pause and start to stop the story.
It is super tough and challenging, but if you gradually notice what you are saying, and start to edit it from not good enough, to maybe I am okay, to I am okay, to I am a kind, happy person (or whatever you want to feel) you will start to move away from what you don’t want, and towards what you do. What most people do is put themselves under pressure to go from bot good enough to amazing…. Or fear that if they like themselves, it will be arrogant. Remember, you can choose how you want to behave when you like yourself, yet be patient and notice the patterns that trigger your self doubt so you can start to move away from them.
Do let me know how you get on, see it as an exciting but challenging journey from now. With your nutrition, really listen to your body and start to become your own ‘feel good’ detective with your nutrition and thoughts. What do you eat and say that is helpful and you want to do more of, and what do you eat and say that you would like to do less off and move away from.
Finally, surround yourself with quotes, thoughts and people who motivate you to believe you can change things gradually, with support and consistency. It’s breaking a habit, and I know you can do it. Big support Kim
Q: What do you do when the desire to workout and gain #BodyConfidence is outweighed by lack of motivation and the desire to do nothing but hide due to either a) anxiety or b) *that* week of the month Or c) both at the same time?
A: Firstly I would ask myself if it’s that time of the month, when my body is doing a ‘job’ with my period and my hormones maybe out of balance slightly, would it be helpful to exercise right now? Or would it be more helpful to do some light core and body weight training at home, and make sure I have moved my body for 10,000 steps. This will help to balance the hormones and mood, without stressing the body further. I also find women often reduce their calories as they are not working out during their period, whereas you often need a few more good ones, so extra complex carbs, like sweet potatoes and plenty of organic (if you can) white meats or fish, and loads of veggies. These will all help your energy and motivation, combined with lots of sleep and rest. It’s a balance that is a challenge to work out, but if you record each month and tweak things you should be able to spot a pattern with your cycle and mood. Then I plan with clients, two weeks hard training, one week easy endurance and one week core, recovery, nutrition tweaking and fun. This helps them to keep their motivation, reduce their anxiety and enjoy their training. Let me know how you go with this, and if you have any other period/hormones questions.
For the anxiety, using the breathing technique mentioned in the earlier questions, so breathing in what you would like to feel, and breathing out what you don’t want can really help. Also, focusing on the outcome of the session, so how you will feel at the end, rather than how you are going to get through the session. And finally knowing that 20mins working out is going to make a difference, over nothing or one mega long session ‘catching up’. Anxiety is often brought through stress and pressure too, so it’s working out if the gym will be helpful and reduce this, or would add additional stress and a lighter session maybe beneficial. Write it down for a month, and then check back in, you can usually see a pattern with work, sleep and hormones, and if you are unsure just let me know.
Q: I’m a new runner and been training for a 10k. 1 week before the run I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my foot. 68 weeks no running but I’ve lost total confidence in running again. I’m so scared training again that it’s going to happen again. I trained so carefully and absolutely gutted I can’t run.
A: Ah I really feel for you, and well done with the training. It’s usual to doubt yourself with an injury, I work with my clients on how can we work together during the rehab time to help you come back feeling stronger and more confident.
So to start with I would work on developing really good core strength, gluteal strength and functional leg strength (so both leg’s equally strong doing lunges, squats and step ups). These would be staged based on what you can comfortably do. I would get you really working with the foam roller, stability discus and bands, there are some good exercises coming out in Women’s Running Magazine to reduce the risk of these types of injuries which maybe worth a look. Combined with this, challenge yourself to improve your plank strength, press up’s and other mini goals which will help boost your confidence, return to run strength and overall confidence.
Once you can run pain free it would be worth getting your trainers checked, sometimes the right type, say neutral is correct for you, but the brand cushioning system may not suit you, so changing the brand can work too. Then progressing your run training, with a structured walk run plan is key. It is super frustrating, but you then have a bench mark, to move forwards and back along if you have any pain as you increase the miles. Cross training with walking (when ready), cycling and swimming can help to reduce the load on the joint, yet still improve your cardio fitness.
Outside of this, if it keeps recurring and you are doing everything ‘right’ and changing what you did last time slightly, to try a different approach I would also check your nutrition. Sometimes with women a deficiency in a micro nutrient, of something can by a contributing factor. Personally I have found the DNAFit Testing to be invaluable and offer this service now, perhaps something that you may wish to explore.
Overall an injury is a sign that something in the muscle chains or body is not quite right, so try and think about how you will become stronger and wiser from it, and if you take 6 weeks off running, it will take 6-12 weeks to grow your strength back up. Massive patience, but a little longer, with other goals around it, really makes a difference. Building a vision board for healing, inspiration, motivation and focus can really help too. You may like my TEDx Bristol Nov 2015 talk with some tips on there too.
Let me know how you get on, and big support to you.
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