Is anyone out there totally self-confident in every regard all of the time? I think not. We could all probably take a bit more of that right? More than anything else I’ve ever done regularly working out has boosted my self confidence immensely. But it’s not really just self confidence that simplifies it just a bit too much. I know lots of people are looking to the new year right now to make some lifestyle changes get fit and maybe even be more confident so I thought this would be the perfect time to dig into exactly what you can expect.
I’m taking here about being confident that you can perform a particular task which really does lead to more fun. Once you establish yourself in a fitness routine you’ll get stronger and healthier and be physically able to do things you couldn’t before. It’s sort of like being 5-7% superhero which is to say you’ll feel way more confident. I spend a lot of time in ‘a strong man’s world’ and I am in no way as strong as the guys around me. But I am still really, really strong and not just for a girl. The guys I hang with every day are used to my abilities but it catches the odd customer or tradesman off guard which feels pretty neat when it happens. But that’s not really that useful beyond that right the ability to pick things up and put them down somewhere else right? Nope, it actually opens up a world of possibilities. If I couldn’t load my 47 pound paddle board up onto the roof of my car I would have to just paddle at home or where honey wanted to hang out for hours while I was exploring so probably just at home. Since I can do it by myself I can go wherever I want. So way more adventures. That also makes me way more independent than a lot of wives out there. I literally never need honey to come with me shopping just to get things in the car even when it’s for pressure treated 8×8’s.
Getting fit can also make you more mobile and help to minimize the effects of certain medical conditions and disabilities. Losing weight and strengthening your muscles can help fix sore knees, backs and other joints giving you back abilities you haven’t had in years. It can help your balance and endurance for day to day activities and give you the confidence to tackle lots of things you might have thought hard about previously.
Even if people don’t realize it or admit it totally I think this is why most of us start out on a fitness journey. In the end though it might be the least important confidence you end up gaining though. Not to say it’s not important or super great, it is, actually it’s amazing! We often start out wanting to look great for a certain occasion, great in a bathing suit or be as hot as we used to be. Usually this includes having specific targets like lose 20 pounds or be a size 6 and getting fit really is a great way to lose some weight if you want. Whether or not you actually drop a dress size your body will change and that will make you feel on top of the world. There is a lot of body shaming that goes on out there, big boned, skinny fat, thigh gaps and hip dips are all useless notions that we internalize none the less.
Whether you lose weight or stay the same your body will look better and you’ll feel so much better in it. During a long fitness break in grad school I did gain some wight reaching a very healthy BMI of 24.2. But I felt like I looked terrible. I didn’t wear certain outfits anymore, dressing for someone’s wedding filled me with dread and I did not feel sexy or hot anymore, ever! That’s why I wanted to get back to fitness as first, at least it was a major motivation. But the problem wasn’t my weight or my non-flat stomach it was a lack of movement overall and a lack of health. When my mom started running one of her main motivations was to lose weight too although we were both in the same healthy BMI range at the time.
Here’s the thing though whether or not you lose weight your body will change for the better. Things will look tighter, more toned and those little bits that drive you nuts like love handles or muffin tops, or curvy tummies that nag at you will change too. I did lose about 20 lbs making over my lifestyle and that included getting fit. As you go the number of the scale or the dress tag matters less and less. You feel better about how you look and look better too! I would NEVER EVER, have appeared on my own lawn let alone in public in a sports bra or even a tight sweater at the time but once I felt better in my body what I wear now I never give a second thought to even if I should be. Back then I had a long, long list of hates. My tummy, flabby arms, thick thighs, muffin top and was my neck shrinking? Those thoughts ran constantly and made me feel like crap everyday. Now that list of body complaints includes my sometimes sore knee, currently sore foot and I still do hate looking at my stomach when it’s really bloated but I care WAY less about it. My mom (in her mid 60’s BTW) had a similar experience even though she wanted to lose some weight at the start a year later she really didn’t but she doesn’t care about that anymore. Instead of the number on the scale going down the just had a whole lot of positive changes. She too is so much happier with her body now she doesn’t really even care now what the scale says. That folks is the definition of body positivity.
Confidence in your health
Making healthier choices and getting fit can prevent a myriad of health issues like diabetes, heart disease and many cancers. But it can also help to reverse a lot of others. Things like heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, asthma, insomnia and so many more. In fact I would argue the conditions not improved by exercise are few and far between. When I was way less active every twinge or niggle had me googling or freaking out. Was it indigestion or heart pain? Just being pretty fit now makes me freak out a whole lot less makes me way more confident that a particular pain is just part of being human and not a reason to freak out. No amount of working out or any specific workout will keep you perfectly healthy forever but knowing you are doing what’s best for your body on the regular helps you feel way more confident in your health going forward.
Being fit maybe even has more benefits for your mental health. Regular vigorous exercise 4-5 times a week is as effective as medication in treating depression and anxiety. That doesn’t mean you should stop taking your meds but it’s a pretty cheap and easy way to improve even serious diagnosed mental health issues. Feeling good in your body and minimizing bad feelings is sure to make anyone’s mood better day to day but it’s more than that. Getting moving is a great way to relieve stress and a great time to work out your problems built into your week. It’s also time that’s just for you to do something you love which is the perfect kind of real self care. I know for me if I feel a bit edgy, depressed, anxious, mad or pretty much any not so great emotion running for an hour makes it almost 100% better. It’s no coincidence that people who workout will often do more of it when going through a tough time like a divorce or death in the family. It’s because they need it right then. The combination of the reliable mental health boost and knowing how to reliably get it when you need it means you feel more confident in your mental health overall. PS I have a few more posts planned on mental health and exercise so follow or stay tuned for that if it sounds interesting to you.
Confidence to overcome obstacles
What ever your sport you probably sucked at it when you first started compared to now. The first time I got on my mountain bike it scared me and I couldn’t run from lamppost to lamppost when I first started running. Now it seems I do a half marathon a year! Overcoming those challenges is physical but it’s largely mental too. Having done things that at one point never seemed possible for you makes a new challenge that pops up seem like not such a bit deal. Plus after a while you’ll suffer a set back or two. It might be an injury, coming back from a break or just plain old life getting in the way once you get past a couple of those things new setbacks seem all the more temporary. I used to be a serious worrier, maybe I still am on some level, but as the only person in my head I can tell you it’s less than 20% of what it was before. Age and running have taught me that things will come up forever and ever and just like in the past I’ll likely get over those things too. Physically it’s also made me actually seek out things that scare me at first. No matter what your do to stay fit getting better at it and moving past barriers will give you confidence to face challenges head on in all areas of your life.
Is/was confidence a motivating factor in your desire to get fit? Is is just body confidence you’re after or does it go deeper than that? What type of confidence gain surprised you the most when you got fit?