A former star athlete sits parked outside the local fitness center, afraid to walk in and find he can no longer bench press what he used to.
A retired school teacher’s heart sinks after hearing the news that after years of devoting his life to helping others, he now faces severe health challenges due to not taking care of himself. He must now start a fitness regimen and thinks, “I’m too old to start now.”
A mother, who for years shuttled her children to soccer and basketball games, now finds herself with time to exercise but is hindered by her own insecurities and comments made by others: “I saw you out walking the other day; are you trying to lose weight?” and “You’re not the ‘athlete’ in the family; why are you out running?”
A young teen, plagued by insults from her schoolmates, decides it’s time to lose weight. Not knowing much about health and fitness, she turns to the images she sees online and decides the only way to look like the runway models is to give up food altogether and exercise all day. She now has an eating disorder.
These are all stories that I’m familiar with, and the people have two things in common: They want to be fit and healthy, but have insecurities making it difficult to reach that goal.
Overcoming these insecurities is the first step toward living a healthy lifestyle, but doing so is easier said than done. As one who has had to overcome many of her own insecurities, I’d like to offer some advice that I hope will help.
To the former star athlete: Your fear of not being able to perform the way you used to is a valid one. However, you know how it feels to be at the top of your game and what it takes to get there. Have confidence in your athleticism and be patient with yourself. It will come if you work at it.
To the retiree who worries he is too old to begin a fitness regimen: The body is a remarkable thing, and you will be amazed what it can conquer at any age. It is never too late to begin a fitness program and to excel at it. Just ask the 67-year-old man who beat me at my latest trail race.
To the mother who worries what others are saying: People say dumb things, and they always will. You have put in the time to take care of your children, and now it is your time. Walk, run, dance or swim like it’s nobody’s business because it’s really not.
Finally, to the teen who is bullied by her peers: Being healthy and fit is so much more than what you see in magazines. There is a good chance that the girl you are trying to emulate is not healthy herself. Healthy people eat and exercise in moderation. More importantly, be fit because you want to and not to impress others. You are beautiful because you are you, and always remember that.
(Arianne Brown is a mother of six young children. Contact her at email@example.com, search her Facebook page, “A Mother’s Write,” or follow her on Twitter at arimom6.)