Overcoming your greatest obstacle: You | Erin Stern

June 21, 2016

“I would love to have your arms, but I just don’t have the time to go to the gym,” uttered a voice behind me in line at the grocery store.

“Pardon me?” I replied, as I turned around to see a slim young lady. She looked at my shoulders and arms, and then repeated what she said.

I have given quite a bit of thought to what holds us back from accomplishing our goals. I used to be that slim young lady wanting the world, but always yielding to something that would keep me stuck in the same place. After a while of half-hearted attempts at achievement, I realized that it wasn’t time, money, or lack of brainpower that stymied me, but in fact the obstacle was me! I hadn’t started competing in figure yet, and when I thought about training, I would always find a way to sabotage my progress. I think part of the reason for this was that I hadn’t taken the time to write down my objective goals. I spent a few days quietly thinking about what I wanted to achieve, and I made a list. Big goals came first, followed by smaller, more attainable mini-goals. But I still felt stuck.

So, what else could possibly be holding me back? Three things I believe are a big factor in turning yourself into your own biggest fan:

Fear. Excuses. Doubt.

None of these things are tangible; yet, the combination can have a concrete-wall feel to it. Fear, often called “false evidence appearing real,” can be paralyzing. The effects of fear on a body and mind are fascinating. Did you know that the body can’t differentiate between an imagined event and one it actually goes through? So, when you’re visualizing the worst-case scenario or stressing yourself out, your body actually goes through the same reaction as if you were really in that stressful situation! The first step to overcoming fear is to become aware of it. The next step is to identify what you’re afraid of. Is it failure, making a mistake, or not being prepared? Most of our fears are unfounded, or can be overcome with positive affirmations. Affirmations should be repeated daily. The mind is a muscle, and just like any other muscle, needs constant training to be molded into the shape we want! Write a list of your attributes or qualifications. This will boost your confidence.

People come up with hundreds of excuses as to why they can’t accomplish their goals. I used to tell myself I didn’t have time to train or that I didn’t want to spend money on a gym membership. Excuses can be quashed by worthy, objective goals! Find your “why” for doing something, and you’ll never allow an excuse to slow you down. When I outlined my goals, I found that I could block off “appointment” times for the gym. I gave training the same priority as my business goals. I also found some great training equipment at consignment shops, and made a home gym where I could work out if I had a time crunch. With your “why,” you’ll put energy into being resourceful rather than making excuses!

Doubt is similar to fear, but can loom like a giant dark cloud. After years of convincing myself that I wasn’t good enough to do certain things, I believed it. Be aware of what you tell yourself. You are capable. You are strong. And chances are you’re more than ready to accomplish your goals! Think about the doubts holding you back, and write them down. How do they stack up next to your list of attributes? I think you’ll find that your attributes outnumber and outweigh your doubts. Replace your doubts with positive affirmations. Repeat these several times a day. Repetitive thoughts brought you doubt and fear, but with work, these thoughts can be replaced with optimism and confidence.

Write down your goals, and train your brain! With work you can eliminate fear, excuses, and doubt. Step out of your own way, and start stepping towards success!! You can do it, and you deserve it!

I have been out of the gym for a couple of weeks due to an injury, but I’m back this week. I have found that BetaTOR has helped me feel less sore as I begin lifting again! I’ll be back to 100% in no time!

- Erin Stern, 2x Ms. Olympia/USATF Competitor

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