Creativity. Adventure. Wholehearted Living.

Fear Of Failure With Exercise

I did a thing yesterday. Personally, it was a pretty big thing. And although for most, this isn't a big deal at all, if I share with you some of my context, you'll understand how yesterday I achieved something I've been struggling with for years!

I've decided to blog about it for two reasons, one - I believe it will be encouraging to read, even if just for one person. And two - any struggle that we keep in the dark or silence will hold a lot more power over us than those we chat about! So here is me casting a struggle into the light, hoping that in turn the truth will scream out way louder than the lies!

So for the sake of influencing your perspective, here is the context;

In March 2015, yes - I remember the exact moment, I picked up a very silly fear that became more real with every passing month. It ended up being paralyzing as it robbed me of so much joy and freedom! More detail than that I don't feel is necessary, so for the sake of simplicity, I'll summarize it as this:

I was no longer able to do something that I loved. And that something was exercise.

Whenever I tried to run, workout or simply do some yoga in my room - a mental battle began. This fear would manifest itself in mild panic attacks and anxious thoughts flooded my mind whenever I went to put my trainers or workout gear on. Thankfully, for a while I had surfing which was far more social than it was serious, but it was an activity I loved and brought me so much joy! Until it didn't... A couple of months ago the anxious thoughts and moments of panic followed me in to the water. This is when I realized the grip that this fear had on me was something that needed to be addressed.

For many years I loved exercise. Well... "love" is a loose word here! But it was a really big part of my life, from consistent gym or jogs on the promenade in school days, to the bootcamps and gym classes with friends while I was at uni! Mentally and physically I am someone who has no choice but to be active! Yet, as much as I knew the truth was that exercise was my friend, that I loved it and that it made me feel good, there was a lie in the drivers seat. And it was keeping me from living the life I had always imagined.

At the beginning of this year I started researching this idea of 'self love'. I am not particularly a fan of the terminology... Loving yourself, although important, shouldn't be the main focus. Loving others, that is the goal. And I find in my personal journey, when I am loving others well, I automatically love myself well too. There is so much good to be found in loving others, truly and genuinely loving others will inspire you to honour and take care of yourself. (This thought is so hard to explain in a 100 words on a blog post, so maybe shoot me a message if  you want to chat about it some more?)

But back to my point is that after almost 6 months of prayer and more specific attention to this struggle of mine, I took a small step and decided to join Fitness Wild here in Falmouth. And before I even attended my first session, I decided on a couple things;

  1.  To put aside thoughts like, 'you'll never be able to do it', 'people will laugh at you for being so weak', 'you'll never stick to it so why bother!' - It took me nearly six months to acknowledge that these thoughts were just lies. No one is thinking these things except for me. And if they are it really shouldn't bother me. However, I will be the first to admit, this step doesn't happen overnight. Past victories have shown me that the bigger the struggle, the deeper it is rooted, the harder it is to overcome. And the more important thing to mention here is that 'hard' doesn't mean 'not worth it', it means it will without-a-doubt be worth so much more!
  2. I made the choice to go 4 sessions a week. A pre-decision that I am specifically grateful for today as it is currently pouring with rain, my body is aching like mad from yesterday and I have about 1 hour before the session starts... But since thanks to this pre-deciding, contemplating right now whether to go or not isn't even an option. This feels like an easier way to make choices for sure! And might just be my new favourite way to be my most productive self!
  3. I decided that it was going to be the best thing for me. It was going to make me happy and even more healthy. I decided to quit was not an option, and so long as I was living in Falmouth (so for the next 6 weeks) I will be there.
  4. The last, and most crucial decision I made was accepting that this wasn't a battle I would win on my own. I decided to invite God along to every session. That before, during and after I would accept His grace and strength to carry me forward. God gave us a weapon in his word, so I thought this would be a good time to learn how to fully engage with this weapon and took Justin Bieber's favourite song to heart; 'let the Devil know not today' . "Take courage. Be strong." (Daniel 10:18) "God is strong, and he wants you strong." (Ephesians 6:10).... In all of this I also opened up to a close friend who has walked this journey with me for the past 3 or 4 years, she has been a great encouragement and help when processing all of this. (sidenote: Community. Is. RAD!)

So back to yesterday and my "big win".

I went to my first session and although I was bad (not terrible as I considered not throwing up or passing out a major success) I did not have one moment of panic or anxious thought. Can I get a hallelujah?! I mean... I could barely do a pull up on the olympic rings and I nearly killed one of my friends when I flipped a tire that rolled at great speed towards her - instead of lying flat on the ground ready for another flip. So in case anyone was wondering, tire burns look way worse than carpet burns! (Bee, if you're reading this, I'm still incredibly sorry! xx) ha! but besides the incidents that make for a good story, my first session was a total success!

And all the while I was in fact rather 'bad', if I can stick with my 4 "pre-decisions" I will eventually be good... Right? So with every squat in the next 6 weeks, I am going to choose to scream absolute truth over every negative lie that might come to mind.

If you've read to the end of this ramble, thank you! But more importantly, I hope you have found some kind of encouragement to face a struggle in your life! We all have them! So whatever your greatest struggle, that 'one thing' that perhaps in the same way it was for me didn't even seem like a struggle anymore because I had lived with it for so long, it deserves to be conquered! Throw it into the light and see what happens. Share it with a friend or simply present it to God in prayer. Meditate and spend some time in the quiet, wait for an impression that gives you some clarity on what to do next! And if you do decide to join me and face the big thing, hold on to grace in every stage and decision! Know that as I attempt to do a press up tonight, I'll be praying for your success!

And on that note, may you never lose your wander! Ash xxx


Ps. If you're in Falmouth, Cornwall and are looking for an alternative work out to gym- look up Fitness Wild and come join me! It is all outside and with great views! The team that runs it are awesome too, very encouraging and supportive!