by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA
Does fear hold you back? If you want to lose weight, gain muscle, increase your speed, or improve some areas of your life, then you must conquer fear. And you need a plan.
Whatever your goal may be, if you want to be successful you have to first believe in yourself and then follow a plan. Today I want to talk about letting go of fear.
Snow and ice athletes are a perfect example of people who overcome and channel their fear every day. My sister Jackie has won bobsled medals for her country. I have utmost respect for her love of the sport, and her ability to conquer fear. I’ve always supported her events, but standing in the crowd I could tangibly feel my fear coursing through my veins.
How to conquer fear in sports
Jackie believes that the fear of failure is the main thing that stops people from performing at their best. In her sport, there is a very real possibility of crashing at 80 mph, and the consequences could be dire. What makes my sister a champion is that she’s able to separate her fears into a concern for her safety and anxiety about failure. Jackie knows that she’s undertaken every safety precaution and has practiced, practiced, practiced.
Fear can promote a release of adrenaline into our bloodstream. To protect ourselves, the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism comes into play and our bodies prepare for action. In sports and other competitive environments, it’s not typically the fear of danger that creates this rush of adrenaline, but more a mix of anticipation and excitement.
Being prepared and having a plan of action will allow you to train your mind to overcome any negative emotions that are standing in your way. And you don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from mental training techniques.
Jackie put aside her safety fears because she had a plan and she was committed. She was determined to use her fear to make her train and compete, rather than giving in to fear and saying goodbye to the triumph she felt each time she clocked a personal best.
How to use fear to get closer to your goals
We don’t all have to hurtle down hills to face our fears. In everyday life, there are things we might want to do but don’t because the fear of failure is too great.
Making lifestyle changes, especially those that involve weight loss and health goals, often make people feel anxious and fearful. The fear of failure or a fear of the unknown can often stop people from trying something new. Try using my three simple tips to help you conquer fear and overcome any negative emotions to turn them into success.
1: Fear assessment:
Write down a list of the worst things that could happen if you fail. This will often put things into perspective and make you realize that you should just get started on your journey. We can all be guilty of having an over-active imagination, so writing down your fears will help you assess if they are in fact valid.
2: Define your goal:
Ensure that your goals are written down and use a S.M.A R.T.1 goal-setting framework. Having a clear destination and time frame in mind will help you on days you want to quit. Clear goal setting will put you in full control of your success.
3: Positivity training:
Write a positive affirmation and say it every day. The more you tell yourself that you can be successful, the more you will start to believe it’s true. An example from my old training diary from my athletic days is ‘I am strong, I am powerful I was born to compete at a world level.’ And from my days of trying to lose extra baby weight I wrote, ‘I will regain my pre-baby body, I am strong and focused.’
Many athletes will tell you that the mental side of sports is more important than the physical aspect. That constructed belief is one of the keys to making your dreams come true.
If you have found yourself starting and stopping over the years with your body composition goals, you may benefit from trying a new positive mental approach. Try not to let your fear of failure get in the way of your success. It’s better to try and fail than not try at all.
To end, here’s an inspirational quote from my sister in her new quest of getting back her pre-baby, athletic physique:
“I’m going to think myself thin. I thought my way to two Olympic games, so I’m just going to believe I have a perfect body. Of course, I’m going to stop eating unhealthy snacks and get my butt to the gym, too.”
 Specific. Measured. Agreed upon. Realistic. Time-based.
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