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anxiety about working out :(

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Old 08-12-2013, 05:50 PM   #1
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Unhappy anxiety about working out :(

I've never seen anyone talk about this before, but it's a real issue for me, so I'm hoping someone has some helpful advice here in this lovely forum.

I've suffered with anxiety and depression for about 15 years. Just recently (this Feb) started taking medication for it. I'm currently on 40mg of Prozac, and it does seem to be helping for social situations. For example, I find it a lot easier to talk to friends, family, and even strangers. I'm more "out of my shell" during social encounters.

However, I am having severe problems with anxiety regarding exercise. When I have to leave the house to go for a jog, for example, I freeze up. I skipped my routine all last week because of this debilitating anxiety, and that's certainly not the first time. I skip bike classes too. And if I'm really worked up, I binge eat until I feel sick.

Does anyone else suffer from this sort of thing? It's definitely exercise related, because leaving the house for other reasons is so, so easy. But for exercise, I panic.
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Old 08-12-2013, 06:00 PM   #2
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I have anxiety, and have yet to run. I was going to run, but let anxiety and fear get the best of me, and have missed out on numerous opportunities to do so.

It is not easy. Do you have a friend or a family member who could join you ?? I find it easier to go to the gym when my fiancÚ is with me. It doesn't mean my heart isn't ready to leap out of my chest and run away screaming. Just makes it easier for me.


Reward yourself maybe to motivate you enough to get outside?

It'll be ok, and you'll get through this and make it outdoors. One step at a time.
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Old 08-12-2013, 06:00 PM   #3
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I'm sorry you're going through this
Do you feel anxious because you are scared exercising in public? You could try going for a jog at night perhaps when it's darker out? You could start out slow by doing some exercise at home for starters and once you are comfortable, maybe step out more? Maybe once you start working out, you won't be dependent on the anti-depressants anymore because your body will release all these happy hormones and you will only feel positive!! So take it slow, one thing at a time and if it helps wear dark glasses when you go out for a jog during the day to pretend as if you are invisible. --> I read this advice on this very forum from an ex-chickie and it might sound silly but it works!
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Old 08-12-2013, 06:15 PM   #4
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Aww thank you guys so much for the kind words of advice.

Well, the issue is that so far, nothing has helped. But I haven't always been anxious about exercising. I started losing weight a few years ago and I'm at a fairly comfortable weight now (need to lose about 15-20 more pounds to be considered "normal weight" according to BMI, which is a huge deal, since I used to be obese!). I've been jogging in 5ks for about a year and am training for a 10k on Labor Day weekend and then a 1/2 Marathon in January.

So I can't exactly stay home. I noticed that I was having anxiety about going out starting sometime last year. It would be painful to leave the house to exercise, then it'd be fine, then painful, etc.

Now, I'm to the point where every time I want to leave to exercise, it's painful. Once I get out there, I'm okay most of the time. It's the getting out that's become the biggest hurdle for me. I go with my partner, who's very, very supportive and helpful, but even that no longer seems to help. In fact, it usually makes me feel worse, because I know she's not having trouble leaving the house, so it automatically makes me feel like a loser. I know that's not the case, rationally, but anxiety is so awful. The thoughts it produces are just the worst.
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Old 08-12-2013, 07:40 PM   #5
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I wish I had sound advice or tips to offer. All I can say is that I am super amazed at your strength in facing the anxiety, and if it's okay to say this as a stranger, am super proud of you for battling with these feelings.

I wonder where the anxiety stems from or what it's about.. Maybe starting with this would help pinpoint some effective coping strategies?
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Old 08-12-2013, 11:46 PM   #6
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I don't have any advice specific for you.

However, I do have certain rituals, around working out.

Certain outfit, my MP3, pedometer, specific bra, shoes, and so on.

The rituals put me in MY zone.

The rituals aside, no one is really watching. Most of us are so time limited, we don't have time to worry what anyone else is doing.
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Old 08-13-2013, 12:04 AM   #7
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You've done brilliantly so far, so give yourself credit for that.

I would suggest maybe looking at NLP (neuro linguistic programming) which can help you visualise going outside to exercise and not panicking - it helps you set up positive rituals and routines to enable you to succeed. There's plenty of free resources online if you google it. I used a book on NLP and weightloss to start me off in March and it was really helpful.
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Old 08-13-2013, 01:20 AM   #8
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I've had to deal with this a lot, and it started for me in high school. I ran track and I was constantly worried about what everyone on the team thought about my performance. I was a freshman, bullied constantly and always afraid of negative attention. I even stopped playing soccer and lacrosse because the girls were so mean and I didn't have any friends on either team. The best I ever felt was on the track team because a senior track girl stopped me one day and gave me the best advise. She told me to stop stressing about what other people think because the only thing that matters is myself. That as long as I know I was doing my best each day, that is what counted. Funny thing, I felt more accepted with the track girls, when track is an individual sport, than I ever did on my soccer and lax team.

I still get major anxiety over working out, and sometimes I won't go to the gym or if I do and there are a lot of people I get really uncomfortable. In those times I remember the senior that helped me and I just get out of my own head and just get it done.

Instead of worrying about training just go for a walk. Find a trail you've never been to and just enjoy a day away from everything that is stressing you out. Hope this helps!
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Old 09-30-2013, 10:38 AM   #9
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I also have an abnormally strong feeling of anxiety about exercise. It is getting started that is the hardest for me. Once I start exercising, I usually feel okay and continue for at least 20-30 minutes, but I avoid getting started so often that I have been rarely exercising lately. It is so frustrating!!! I, too, have battled anxiety and depression for a long time ~ and I'm on several meds for both. The meds make weight loss much harder, but I am determined to lose this weight! Having said that, why is it so darn hard and anxiety-provoking to GET STARTED eating healthy and exercising consistently?!? For me, it seems to be FEAR..... both the fear of failure and the fear of success. I fear that, if I fail ~ again ~ I will end up giving up all hope. At the same time, I fear that, if I succeed, the positive change will bring with it too much pressure and expectation (from myself and others) to maintain and continue on with my positive changes. I also have a FEAR of success because I know that at some level I have convinced myself that the extra weight protects me (from unwanted sexual attention; intimacy ~ both emotional and physical; etc.) ~ even though I know in my head that it does not. I want to be attractive, but at some level (because of past issues and events) it scares the heck out of me! I have been in therapy for lots of years exploring all of these issues, but I still can't quite make the breakthrough I've been hoping and praying for in my weight loss.

I wish you the best in your weight loss journey! Let's do our best to bypass our anxiety about exercise and JUST DO IT!!! We deserve to be happy and healthy, too!
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Old 10-07-2013, 04:55 AM   #10
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It's normal to have a certain amount of anxiety but really, most people don't really care when you're out jogging. Most of the time, there is some kind of mutual respect involved amongst joggers - the same when it comes to cycling, etc. I do tend to go jogging a bit later anyway. Where I live some people taunted me but I just ran past them and didn't pay them any attention. That's all they want.
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Old 10-07-2013, 12:23 PM   #11
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A lot of people have anxiety about exercise ... it's a vulnerable time. My face turns red, my exercise clothes are ratty, and I'm not very good at it.

At my rec center though, there is a stationary bike hidden away in a quiet corner and that is where I work out. Sure, the runners come by periodically, but for the most part I am alone and ignored. Even if that bike is taken and I have to be in the central area, everyone is very intent on their own workouts and no one even glances at me.

I would love to take a class, but I am scared right now, scared I won't be good enough. And I walk outside, but not run, again because I'm embarrassed and ashamed. But some day I will do those things, and it will be soon, I can feel it! I'm getting more confident everyday!

So for you, work out at home first. Then, when you are ready, find a quiet time and place at your rec center or gym. Work up to classes and being on the running trail.
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Old 10-08-2013, 06:31 PM   #12
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I have anxiety when I feel I HAVE to do things. So I make it so I don't HAVE to, but make it so that I'm doing it because I like it. It's taken some time I avoid classes of all kind - but have a gym membership that offers drop in classes if I feel like being spontaneous (sometimes I do )

I also use the "just one minute" or "just one" technique - just one pushup before I brush my teeth, etc. usually I end up doing more, if I can just start
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Old 10-16-2013, 11:28 PM   #13
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So i know you originally posted a couple months ago and I hope things have gotten better since then. I struggle with the same problem and wanted to share what has been working for me.

For a long time I didn't get why I felt so anxious about the gym. One time my roommates were all going but I lied and said I lost my ID so I had an excuse not to go because I was so tense. Eventually I realized I hate going so much because it just makes me think of my 'failure' to not go before and let myself get into this state. I've been slowly talking myself out of this line of thought and even just being aware of it helps a lot. I still can't go to the gym though--I just bought some minor equipment for my apartment until I feel comfortable enough.

I know this sounds a little simplistic but it really helped me to just think through what was causing the anxiety and deal with that. Good luck
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Old 10-17-2013, 08:43 AM   #14
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I have anxiety....it took my 8 years to be comfortable enough to exercise in front of my husband...the same man who seems me naked and in compromising positions just about daily. And going to the gym? Only in the wee hours of the night when no one is around who can see me. Nine times out of ten, I end up leaving the second someone else walks in the door...and if they grab the machine next to me, yep, all over, I am out the door!

But, like a previous poster mentioned, having a ritual helps. I like to run. So, I spent a few weeks stalking trails learning what times they are the emptiest. What ones are usually free of people. Then, I make sure to wear the same thing each and every time. I make sure I MP3 player is charged. I wear a ball cap (I HATE ball caps BTW) to cover as much of my face as possible, and I head out. It is easier if I can't hear them, if they can't get a good look at my face, and if I am wearing an outfit that demands to be exercised in. And if I pass someone while running? I speed the F*** up so they can't tell who I am and even if they could, they would not be able to pass judgement about how slow I am.

Maybe I am more paranoid than anxious :|
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Old 10-22-2013, 03:30 PM   #15
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Oh wow you have put my feelings of exercise into words and even some of the reasons. I hate working out if I know someone might see me no matter how comfortable I am with the person seeing me. But I find it painful to do most anything out of my ordinary routine. I find it helpful if someone is waiting on me to workout because I hate to let people down but finding someone can be tough. I recently got a personal trainer and knowing I will have to hear him go on and on about missing has helped some what but like this morning all my clothes were not in the right spot I panicked and did not make it to workout instead ended up bawling my eyes out.
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