How to Overcome Your Fear of Change
Explore these tips on How to Overcome Your Fear of Change, so that you can continue to make progress with your health and fitness goals! Fear of change is natural, but acknowledging our fears and establishing whether or not we’d like to overcome them can be a step in the right direction for making change.
“Change”, as it relates to health and fitness, isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. When we finally feel like making a change, it comes with ups and downs, trials and tribulations, and ultimately: feeling like the situation is a challenge. No wonder why almost all of us avoid it at some point! Change is uncomfortable, and it’s so easy to go back to our old ways of living/eating/thinking.
One of the things I find so interesting about personal training is that as as trainer, I interact with many different types of people. As in, people who are in various stages of change:
Stage 1: Precontemplation
Precontemplation is the stage in which someone is not even considering taking on a workout program. He/she is sedentary and does not see or understand the value of introducing exercise into the daily routine.
State 2: Contemplation
We begin to consider the idea of being physically active.We may still be sedentary, but have started to think about how a sedentary lifestyle is negatively affecting our health. Someone in this stage is not ready to make a change, but is starting to think about it.
Stage 3: Preparation
Woohoo! Someone in this stage is no longer sedentary. He/she has started to engage in some form of physical activity but there is no consistency or commitment.
Stage 4: Action
Action is the stage where we are engaging in regular physical activity for less than six months.
Stage 5: Maintenance
Although we can “flow” in and out of all of these stages, maintenance is where we might want to be more often: engaged in a regular physical-activity program for more than six months. We’re maintaining healthy habits most of the time.
How This Can Help You
…Why on earth am I telling you about the transtheoretical model? Understanding WHY we do certain things can help us take action and overcome our barriers to ______ (balanced eating, getting past a plateau, working out regularly, etc.). At my first personal training gym, I worked out in a small group with one of my mentors/co-workers once a week. Before committing to personal training sessions, I was hesitant – and yep, I would even say “fearful”! I knew my own workouts were meh – AKA not that effective – but I was nervous about what he’d have us do. I knew it would be hard, and why choose “hard” when I could be comfortable with what has been easy?
In an e-mail newsletter survey that I sent out at the end of 2016, I asked subscribers what they struggle with in terms of their health and fitness. Multiple readers asked how they can “get past a workout plateau”, and I think this post will help you get past it! [I hope to send post a blog survey next quarter so I can keep delivering content that you want to see!]
Overcome Your Fear of Change
Going back to my time as the trainee (instead of the trainer): I was able to build significantly more strength and do my first pull-up (ever. Like, in my entire life) because I committed to working out with a personal trainer. What gave? I acknowledged my fear and reservations, and wanted to move past them. I also had an awesome support system (the trainer and two other co-workers that worked out with me), and realized that at any time, I could say “no” to the training – I was in control.
If you’re ready to overcome your fear of change, try one – or all – of these tips! Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist, nor am I trying to prescribe a specific method for overcoming fear of change. These are tips that have helped me, and I’m sharing my experiences. Please reach out to your physician or medical professional if you are looking for a program that is tailored to your needs!
Figure Out if You Actually Want to Overcome Your Fears
The biggest step I took when committing to workouts with my mentor/personal trainer was actually deciding that I WANTED to overcome my fears. I was ready to get out of the comfort zone that was my personal, lackluster workouts. Once I could acknowledge that I was ready to stop being fearful, I could take steps to overcome it.
If you’re trying to make a change in your life, but have reservations, ask yourself: are you truly ready, or do you need more time? Not being ready for change is not necessarily a “bad” thing, and it’s up to you to figure that out.
Understand Why You are Fearful of Change
I could have easily stopped with the personal training sessions because a) it was challenging, b) it took me out of my comfort zone, and c) I didn’t know what to expect. All things that are awesome about personal training, right? Oh, the irony of wanting to avoid personal training sessions…as a personal trainer. The fears I had were not to be concerned about, because I knew that GOOD things would happen if I committed to being a client. If your fear of change is “simply” because it’s hard, then maybe it’s time to acknowledge that and overcome your fear!
Connect With Your Support System
Two other co-workers joined me in the weekly (awesome) torture that was personal training, and they were my support system when I felt tired or didn’t feel like exercising! By connecting with others whom we can lean on, we are more likely to stick with our changes. Our support systems hold us accountable, and can encourage us when we feel reluctant to change.
Ultimately, You Are in Control
Making a change can be incredibly difficult, and it will almost always be easier to default to old ways. Old habits are comforting, and our minds will resist change if it’s too far out of our comfort zone. However, reminding ourselves that WE’RE in control can help us overcome fear of change.
In general, no one is forcing us to act a certain way (unless you’re a patient with a medical issue and need to make a change, per your doctor’s recommendations). Change, or don’t change –> it’s up to you. If you took a step that was too far out of your comfort zone, maybe it’s appropriate to dial back until you feel that comfort zone widen. And then take another baby step outside of it. And then another, and then another. Then, ba-bam! Success.
Change is Constant
When it comes to overcoming our fear of change, keep in mind that it’s constant and fluid. Sometimes we feel like making a change, and other times we won’t. There will be days when we feel incredibly ready to tackle our fears of change, and days where we want to revert to our old habits. The transtheoretical model applies here – we flow in and out of each stage of change, at different times in our lives.
To overcome our fear of change, a number of things need to happen:
- We must ask ourselves: do we really want change?
- We need to understand why we are fearful of change
- Connection with our support systems is crucial
- We have to remember that, ultimately, we are in control
The above tips helped me get over my fear of working out with a personal trainer, and has helped me connect with my clients over the years – especially as they transition between stages of change. I hope it can help you overcome your fears, too!