Low self esteem

  • WolfInSpace

    Posts: 13

    Jun 23, 2013 10:51 AM GMT
    Hey guys,

    I'm a little hesitant to post about this as it's very personal, but I'm hoping some people can identify and share similar experiences.

    The main reason I'd like to get fit is to become a more confident person. I've had issues with confidence all my life and I think taking pride in one's health is something I admire in other men.

    But the problem is, because I lack confidence, I really dislike hitting weights at the gym. Especially when it's busy, as I'd have to share equipment. Being around more experienced and bulky guys makes me shy and uncomfortable. I always imagine other guys thinking, "what does this pussy think he's doing?" I suppose it's a lot about masculinity and being gay, too.

    Can anyone relate? It's a vicious cycle, and the only way I'm going to become more confident is to successfully go to the gym. But how can I go to the gym if I have low self esteem?

    Ryan
  • Rene_Aensland

    Posts: 2495

    Jun 23, 2013 10:59 AM GMT
    You're already doing a great job and got yourself hitting the gym. =]
    That step is tough!

    Do you wear headphones? Or earphones?
    Blow your ears out if you have to distract yourself and keep doing your thing, that's what I do.

    I tell myself, everyone is there to improve themselves, they're not going to think any less of you.
    =]
  • WolfInSpace

    Posts: 13

    Jun 23, 2013 11:04 AM GMT
    Thanks, that's awesome advice! icon_biggrin.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 23, 2013 12:42 PM GMT
    Low self esteem is common among gays because we see we don't fit in long before we realize why.
    But that's another story.
    You're a good looking guy so youre already superior to the superficial world.
    It was hard for me to start the gym. I actually walked in THREEE times before I had the nerve to ask about signing up.
    I wish I started at your age. Go now while you've got WAY too much testosterone and get easier results.
    If there are too many huge guys at your gym and it's making you self conscious, then switch gyms.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 23, 2013 1:59 PM GMT
    When I started using the gym I used to only use machines because I was intimidated by the big guys in the weight room. Eventually I realized that the big guys got big because they focus on their own workouts and aren't bothered by other people.

    So relax. As long as you're not doing anything stupid/dangerous nobody worth worrying about will think less of you in the gym. Most guys will just respect that you're working towards a goal.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 23, 2013 2:04 PM GMT
    True.
    The only thing people will laugh at you (or anyone)
    for is bad form or maybe too skimpy a w/o outfit. icon_razz.gif
  • MikeW

    Posts: 6061

    Jun 23, 2013 3:56 PM GMT
    Low self-esteem is a huge issue for many of us. I agree that working out can do a lot to enhance that (as can several other things). As JohnSpotter said, it is good that you're starting now. Young people get better results faster. Even so, be aware that it is a 'long term' commitment (think 'years'), which is not a bad thing. In fact, it is a good thing. Just don't expect instant transformation. It might take two to three years to see dramatic results. The trick is just to keep at it and gradually work harder and harder.

    I didn't start working out seriously until I was 63 years old! Worse, the gym I go to is on a college campus which means *most* (but thankfully not all) of the gym members are younger than you are. Worse yet, many of them are true jocks and have been training one way or another since high school. And at times the gym is extremely busy! Talk about intimidating! icon_eek.gif

    However, I was and still am determined.

    You've been given a couple good tips. Rene_Aensland's suggestion is a good one. I have a play list on my iPod of music that gets me moving and I keep it turned up. But there is way more to this than just that.

    *I know what I'm doing*. I know when I walk into the gym what I'm going to do that day. I have a log sheet already prepared so I can keep track of how many sets and reps and what weights I used. I know which muscle groups I'm working that day. I've read and watched videos online so I know correct form for each of the exercises I'm doing. I know about keeping my attention focused in the muscle group I'm working. I know about agonists and antagonists, full range vs. partial range, the value of light weights and high reps and heavy weights and low reps. I know about rest periods in between sets and the advantage of varying them. I know about jacking myself up (with a pre-workout drink) and feeding my muscle and other tissues immediately after my workout. Etc., etc.

    The point of all that is, for me all this is part of my focusing and giving myself confidence before I even set foot in the weight room.

    Consequently I'm really not that worried what other people think.

    Fact #1: I don't know what they think unless they tell me or show me in some way.

    Fact #2: Most people only think about themselves, especially in the gym (which is a good thing).

    Fact #3: I know more about what I'm doing than anyone else.

    Fact #4: I'm not there to compete with anyone other than myself.

    Fact #5: I'm not there to win anyone else's approval or praise.

    I'm there to do my workout, period. True, people do look at one another. But why waist energy worrying about what they think or whether they are judging you? I see guys at the gym that I admire A LOT. To me they are inspiration, role models. Since most are way younger, there is a certain degree of envy on my part but I keep that in check. That is water under the bridge for me.

    On the other hand, I also see guys who obviously don't know as much about form as I do. I see them doing things that I *know* can and probably will hurt them (I don't mean right then and there but over time). They've gotten away with it because they are young but one of these days their bad form, their ego or what ever, is going to catch up with them and they're going to be in a world of hurt.

    I know better. Last thing I want at my age is a workout related injury! But, because I keep logs, I *know* that I'm improving. I can see and measure the results.

    So, although I could be totally intimidated by going to my gym, it isn't like that for me at all. I love it. I look forward to it. I enjoy it. I do my workout and I even do more than my workout because I get pumped and start just doing stuff I enjoy for some extra volume.

    Find what you love to do. Do more of that. Have fun. Don't worry to much about what others 'think'. Mostly they don't. ;)
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 23, 2013 3:58 PM GMT
    Maybe this will help, OP:

    eah.gif

    But yeah - what everyone else said. The only person paying attention to you at the gym is YOU. Unless you have like a knife in your back or something...icon_wink.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 23, 2013 4:26 PM GMT
    For me self-acceptance was the key to boosting my self esteem. I couldn't accept my limitations and I hated myself as a result of it. I used to go to the gym 4 days a week and I was building muscle, but I still wasn't happy with the way I looked and I wasn't happy with the person I was becoming. I believe you should work on yourself from the inside out instead of the outside in. If you do that and you start loving yourself, what everyone else thinks of you at the gym isn't going to matter to you. You'll be able to hit the gym and enjoy the health benefits of working out instead of being miserable and working out to boost your self-esteem and to impress other guys. If your self-esteem is based on the way you look, what's going to happen to you when you're old and you start losing your muscle? Self-acceptance and self-love takes a long time to build, but it's much more rewarding than building a good physique. You also have to understand that some of the biggest guys in the gym also have the lowest self-esteem in the gym. They have a condition called muscle dysmorphia (this obviously isn't the case for everyone who has a good physique) so you really shouldn't be afraid to work out next to those guys since they are probably in worse shape than you as far as self-esteem is concerned.
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    Jun 23, 2013 4:33 PM GMT
    I completely understand... I signed up for a gym membership a couple years ago, but ended up only going and using the treadmill because I was too self conscious to go and use any of the machines or weights... I eventually just stopped going. I work out at home using no equipment. I figure if I can get a solid base, then maybe I'll feel more confident walking into a gym. Best of luck icon_smile.gif
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    Jun 23, 2013 4:36 PM GMT
    In terms of weightlifting, the headphones thing is so true. They will help you zone out, but others also zone out so they are likely not paying attention to you even if they look your way. Don't be afraid to pay for a personal trainer session or an intro to weight training session. Literally, 30%-50% of the meatheads have improper technique and form.

    As for the sharing equipment/"what does this pussy think he's doing"... Try a different perspective... You are in the gym to build muscle and confidence. Find a guy who has a reasonable body-type that you think you could attain someday and let that be your motivation. You are in your "before" phase and you deserve the same opportunity to use that equipment to build your muscle too. You really will feel more confident and you have a great frame to work with already. Good luck.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 23, 2013 4:42 PM GMT
    Nearly every guy I know at the gym does not think any less of someone starting out. Everyone had to start somewhere and we are all there for the same reason.

    You'll find that most people are more focused on their workout than you. Also, you'll feel like you fit in once you start seeing the results.

    Best of luck to you.
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    Jun 23, 2013 4:46 PM GMT
    don't worrry most ripped dudes in the gym are far too self absorbed to notice anyone else at all.
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    Jun 23, 2013 5:04 PM GMT
    As other guys have said here, I would not worry about what other people are thinking - everyone at the gym started somewhere and they will respect you for coming to the gym and putting in all the hard work.

    I would say I think self-esteem does not come from packing on the muscle itself. You can be massive with a huge inferiority complex - if you measure your self-esteem by the size of your biceps it is likely that you will never have biceps big enough or defined enough.

    Instead, I think self-esteem comes from the process - setting yourself goals and working with the necessary discipline to achieve them. It is the process rather than the end product that will give you your confidence booster.

    Good luck and enjoy the gym.

  • camfer

    Posts: 892

    Jun 23, 2013 5:05 PM GMT
    Getting a trainer to help you develop a program to follow is a good idea. Then you just follow the program no matter what your head is telling you.

    Working out at off hours when the gym is less crowded could also help you.

    Getting some dumbbells for a home workout can boost both your strength and self confidence.

    Do you have a friend who also wants to start working out? You can support each other in this new endeavor.

    It's okay to feel a little awkward when you start something new. Eventually you become familiar in what you're doing, and then it gets comfortable and much easier.

    There's plenty of people with big muscles and low self esteem, so you might have to work on the self esteem issue even after you reach your fitness goals.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 23, 2013 5:07 PM GMT
    You paid your membership just like everyone else,
    You have the right to be there..

    If you want to put a 5-pound weight on your head and river dance.. It's your business!

    ..You are a work in progress..just like everyone else!


    .. If you focus on what everyone else thinks..you'll never accomplish what you need to. icon_smile.gif

  • selim

    Posts: 158

    Jun 23, 2013 5:10 PM GMT
    well, since i know no one was born muscular and fit, i used to "play around" in the gym and work out a little without worrying about being menacingly laughed at.

    i failed because i lacked perseverance, the other pathetic reason is: it´s really hard for me to gain weight no matter how much food i´ve consumed.icon_neutral.gif

    i think you´re promising, go for it.icon_idea.gif
  • Destinharbor

    Posts: 4435

    Jun 23, 2013 5:18 PM GMT
    JohnSpotter saidTrue.
    The only thing people will laugh at you (or anyone)
    for is bad form or maybe too skimpy a w/o outfit. icon_razz.gif

    True. The big, buff guys got that way by working hard for years. Don't think for a minute they don't remember being a beginner. If you are working hard, they have absolute respect for what you're doing. Except maybe the loud grunters, loud talkers, weight throwers, droppers. They are screaming for attention and will resent anyone who isn't watching them. Ignore them and concentrate on the good guys. Concentrate on yourself.
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    Jun 23, 2013 5:28 PM GMT
    As others have said, we all started somewhere. I personally don't mind helping out someone new if they have a question or are unsure how to use something. Just don't ask me when I'm in the middle of a set!
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    Jun 23, 2013 5:32 PM GMT
    One option is to get a home gym. At least until you feel comfortable going to the gym.

    But honestly, I think you are overthinking things. When you go to the gym, unless you are making a spectacle of yourself, I don't anyone would even give you a second look.

    I have low self-esteem, so I know what you mean, but most of it is just in your mind. You have made a decision, so you should stick to it. Who cares what anyone else thinks?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 23, 2013 7:56 PM GMT
    Hey mate,

    I hope you are well. You have already taken the first big step, in going to the gym. I have to tell you that I was a lot like you in college. I was afraid of joining a gym, seeing that I thought that all there was, were buff men. I was very skinny in college, and was ashamed of the way I looked. When I joined, I realised that everyone was like me. There were people of all shapes and sizes. Then I started feeling comfortable. Don't worry what others think.

    I have to say that you are really gorgeous! You should be a lot closer to me... icon_smile.gif Keep your head high, and if it helps, look in the mirror and say to yourself, "I am beautiful." When I'm at the gym, I have my Bose IE2 headphones in my ears playing my favourite stations on Pandora. I have no regard for what anyone else is thinking.

    Take some time and focus on you.

    xoxo,

    Sean
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 23, 2013 8:43 PM GMT
    Ryan -- Really good ideas here from lots of guys.

    You can only feel intimidatd if you let yourself feel intimidated.

    Go to it, man, and become a shredded ripped muscle freak!! icon_wink.gif

    And then help some newbie do the same!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 23, 2013 8:58 PM GMT
    You just have to keep at it, you'll soon realise that people aren't looking at you and are there to improve themselves, which is also why you're there.

    Perhaps consider going with a friend initially? I found that it helped me massively when I started off.
  • BLDGbloc

    Posts: 11

    Jun 23, 2013 9:28 PM GMT
    I have the exact same problem, Ryan. Two things have helped me:

    1) Join a smaller gym.
    There are fewer people even when it's busy and they are usually slower at night. I work out in the late evening and am often the only person there. Even if I'm not the only person there, in a smaller gym I can keep an eye on the handful of others who are to verify that they are in fact not laughing at me. ;)

    Smaller gyms, in my experience, are also less cruisy. I hated feeling like I was on display/being evaluated at larger gyms, but the lack of big locker rooms and open showers means that those interested in hookups and dick pics are probably going to look elsewhere. The typical small-gym-goer is strictly business.

    2) Get a personal trainer.
    Not forever, just once a week for 6 weeks or so. It's a great way to get introduced to the relevant equipment and develop a basic repertoire of exercises that you can continue to build on. You'll also have someone to motivate you through those first few weeks of soreness and anxiety.

    If you're like me, someone else using the machine that you were going to use next can also be panic-inducing. I have my headphones in, blasting Kelly Clarkson "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger" and I DO NOT want to interact with anyone. A personal trainer helped by teaching me multiple exercises to work the same muscle groups, so I could quickly shift gears and continue my workout. Crisis averted.

    Honestly it's still a struggle, but these two things have helped me overcome most of the anxiety. Now it's just a matter of motivating myself to go since I no longer have a trainer.

    Hope this helps icon_smile.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 23, 2013 9:33 PM GMT
    WolfInSpace saidHey guys,

    I'm a little hesitant to post about this as it's very personal, but I'm hoping some people can identify and share similar experiences.

    The main reason I'd like to get fit is to become a more confident person. I've had issues with confidence all my life and I think taking pride in one's health is something I admire in other men.

    But the problem is, because I lack confidence, I really dislike hitting weights at the gym. Especially when it's busy, as I'd have to share equipment. Being around more experienced and bulky guys makes me shy and uncomfortable. I always imagine other guys thinking, "what does this pussy think he's doing?" I suppose it's a lot about masculinity and being gay, too.

    Can anyone relate? It's a vicious cycle, and the only way I'm going to become more confident is to successfully go to the gym. But how can I go to the gym if I have low self esteem?

    Ryan


    Read the book "SOS: Help for Emotions".

    Most things worth doing are hard, whether in the professional, or personal, world. Focus less on yourself, and more on your goal, then, walk into, through, above, and beyond whatever that goal might be.

    That's what the military teaches young men: how to do things they thought weren't possible, like jumping out of a plane, or learning to think with the front part of their brain instead of the base of it.

    Whether it's being in broadcast news, walking on a bodybuilding stage, or driving a tank...practice your craft...and that will give you confidence...knowing you are getting it down. In the meantime, stop making yourself the center of The Universe. You aren't. Folks at the gym could give a rat's tiny behind about you. You are freaking yourself out with a plan for failure, excuses, self imposed, and irrational fear. Instead, just go to do. Sure, sometimes, things are uncomfortable, but, when do them for the end game. Most things in life worth doing are like that.

    Put on your big boy pants, and get going. Remember: nobody gives a shit about you at the gym. Once you get that through your head, and focus on the goal, rather than a plan for failure, you can, and will, incrementally, work to achieve that goal. That applies to just about everything in life.

    "Make it so" Quit being so self-centered and get going.

    Just last week, I had a triple CABG (open heart surgery). Did / does it hurt? Sure. Did I do it? Sure, because I'll be the better off for having done it. You going to the gym pales in comparison. Time to grow up, and face your challenges.

    When I decide to do a show, I don't fill myself with negative thoughts. Instead, I define a plan, execute it, revise it as I go along with various milestones, and complete it. Whether it's on the job, or in your personal life, you need to learn the value of courage, patience, discipline, focus, patience, and persistence. Most successful people (whatever they do) / beautiful people are that way by design. By executing incrementally on a plan.

    Give yourself permission to like yourself. State your mission, and execute, but, don't focus on yourself. Focus on your mission. Don't be a 12 year old who is all self-conscious. In a world of 7 billion folks you really don't matter to those other folks at the gym. Once you accept that, it'll be much easier for you to have that tiny bit of courage to walk in the door.