How to Get into Fitness Even with Low Self-Esteem

Getting into shape can help you both look and feel better. For some people, getting started on the road to getting fit presents a major obstacle.

When you have low self-esteem, putting yourself out there and starting to jog or go to the gym can seem scary.

For this reason, it’s essential to try and overcome this obstacle so you can finally be your fittest, healthiest, happiest self.

Defining Low Self-Esteem

Having low self-esteem can impact many aspects of your life, but how do you know if it affects you? Low self-esteem (LSE) means you have a generally negative attitude about yourself and your life. You tend to be overly critical and leap to worst case scenarios when it comes to your choices. Having LSE doesn't only affect how you view yourself, but it can also significantly limit the things you are willing to try for the first time.

“Normal” or healthy self-esteem, on the other hand, leaves a person feeling overall positive about both their life and themselves. It sets people up to be better able to handle the challenges that life throws their way, and they are more willing to put themselves out there and try new things.

The Low Self-Esteem Test

If you are still not sure if low self-esteem is impacting your ability to get into fitness, there are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  • Do you tend to focus on your negative qualities?
  • Do you ignore your accomplishments while lingering on your failures?
  • Do you feel like you are not as good as your peers?
  • Do you talk badly about yourself? Call yourself stupid, ugly, fat, clumsy, or other names?
  • Do you talk negatively to yourself throughout the day?
  • Do you feel like people are lying when they compliment you or congratulate you on your accomplishments?
  • Do you take the full brunt of the blame when anything goes wrong in life?

low self esteem test

If the answer to many of those questions was “yes,” it may be low self-esteem that is getting in your way when it comes to getting in shape.

Low Self-Esteem and Fitness

Having low self-esteem means you live with a sort of “anti-cheerleader” who is constantly telling you that you cannot do the things you want.

If you have not exercised in a while, or are struggling with a weight problem, this voice in your head will tell you that you are wasting your time when you try to get fit. It will probably tell you that you will never look as good as him or her and you should stop embarrassing yourself.

Sometimes, people can quiet the negative voice in their head long enough to get started exercising, only to have it come back as soon as things get hard.

This form of self-sabotage can have devastating effects on your ability to stick with an exercise regime. For some people, overcoming LSE is the first and most crucial step on the road to physical fitness.

Tips for Overcoming Low Self-Esteem to Get Into Fitness

Every journey starts with a single step. There are many things you can do to help yourself build your self-esteem while also building muscle and burning fat. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you get started:

Remember that everyone at the gym is there to focus on their own fitness goals. They have better things to do than watch and judge you.

In the beginning, try to go at times when the gym is quiet. Being around this time in the gym will allow you to familiarize yourself with the equipment and get into a routine without feeling like there are too many people watching you.

fitness goals

Think about getting a personal trainer. It’ll help you eliminate any fears that you are doing things “wrong.” They can also help you see results quicker by tailoring your exercise routine to your fitness level.

Go outside. No law states that the only way to get fit is at the gym. Try going for a jog or playing sports with friends. If you have friends that you are comfortable with, you can relax and enjoy yourself while getting in shape at the same time.

Think about buying DVDs. There are several exercise programs you can buy and do in the comfort of your own home. You can do this until you are more comfortable with the idea of working out in front of other people.

Find a group class. If you can find a beginners spin or yoga class, you can be surrounded by people who are likely as unsure of what they are doing as you are. Group classes are a great way to meet new people and break out of your shell.

Having Realistic Goals

One of the most important things to keep in mind if you are trying to get fit and have low self-esteem is that these things take time. Do not fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other people. It is essential to sit down and plan out your own, personal fitness goals so that you can objectively track your progress.

When making your goals, start small. If you have not gone for a jog for years, start by going around the block. From there, you can gradually work your way up.

If you start like this, it will be easier on you, both physically and mentally because it will ensure you’ll not get discouraged and give up early on.

Surround Yourself with Positivity

One of the best ways to counteract the negative self-talk can be exposing yourself to as much positivity you can. If you are lucky enough to have friends or family that are encouraging and into fitness, listen to what they have to say. Do your best to force yourself to believe their encouraging words.

surround yourself with positivity

If you are not ready to get encouragement from others, try investing in a book or calendar that has daily positive messages. Finding one geared towards getting fit and/or improving your self-esteem would be even better. Starting your day by reading something positive can help set you up for a day of positive thinking.

Training your brain to be positive is crucial because you can and should be your own biggest cheerleader. Pay attention to when you start to think negative things about yourself and try to stop it in its tracks. Every time you find yourself being critical ask yourself if what you’re thinking is justified. You’ll likely be surprised at how many times your negative thoughts have no real basis.

Final Thoughts

Getting into fitness when you do not feel good about yourself can be very challenging, but by setting realistic goals and finding a setting that feels comfortable for you, you can really start your fitness journey. Real growth can only occur when you push yourself so be prepared to step out of your comfort zone a bit.

Being healthy and physically fit can and will positively impact almost every aspect of your life, including your low self-esteem. That is why it is worth doing whatever it takes to find and stick to a routine that can help you get physically fit.

Higher self-esteem can come from setting a goal and sticking to it. Throw in losing weight and feeling more fit, and you can easily see why getting into fitness can be especially important for someone with low self-esteem.


Author Bio: Harriet

Harriet is a writer at verygym.com. As a personal trainer, she loves helping people get fit. When she’s not helping others reach their fitness goal she enjoys spending time chasing her own.

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One comment

  1. Great post!! Very motivating, getting over that low self esteem voice in your head is a challenge I face on a daily basis – love the negative cheerleader comparison.

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