The First Step Is the Hardest: Setting Aside Self Doubt

This morning’s workout included bear crawls (below), and they are such a great metaphor for a workout journey:

You have to crawl before you can walk.

Bear crawling. Raar.

Getting started is the hardest part. Whether it’s taking that first walk down the block after years of inactivity, training for your first 5K, or setting foot inside a new gym or studio, it’s more than just the movement. It’s the courage to do it. It’s telling that voice inside you, the annoying one in your head that tells you that you just can’t do it, that everyone’s going to laugh at you, that yes, you can. And you will.

And it’s also, for me at least, being willing to look silly. When I first started running three years ago, I looked like a fool when I stopped to take walk breaks. (At least, I felt like a fool.) When I first joined a gym, three and a half years ago, I felt like a bonehead. I had no idea of what to do with the machines, so I took cardio classes. I tripped over myself and hid in the back, but I stuck with it.

Now, nearly four years into my fitness journey (which began in June 2011), I’m willing to look like a complete idiot – and I’m okay with that. Bear crawling at 5:30 a.m. with a puffy, barely-brushed ponytail and sleep still in my eyes? Check. (See above.) Wearing Reebok Nanos when I don’t do CrossFit? Check. (They are the BEST for lifting, and they provide excellent support for the metabolic conditioning at the end of my workouts.) Giving it my best shot, even when I lose my balance? Check.

What I’ve learned along the way is that 99 percent of the people you meet, either outside walking or running or in the gym or studio, are supportive of your journey. They’re traveling the same path. Some may be way ahead of you, and some may be behind you, but they all started in the same place, and they all want to see you succeed. There will always be that one mean person that will laugh – and that says a lot more about the mean person than it does about you. But for the most part, you’re going to get smiles and nods and high-fives. Your coaches and teachers and trainers are going to show you proper form and how to improve. And as you get stronger and more confident, it won’t matter one bit what that mean person does.

The only person’s opinion that matters on this journey is yours.