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Is your Inner child holding you back?

Is your Inner child holding you back?
June 26, 2009 Charli Wall


For many of us exercise can seem like a chore – there is a desire (somewhere!) to ‘get fit’ and ‘tone up’ all in the pursuit  of a healthier lifestyle but often the inner dialogue that goes on leads to an argument and  the chocolate bar inevitably wins!

I include myself in being a victim of this common inner battle and I believe that a large number of us who have trouble committing to some kind of physical activity have developed an emotional resistance to exercise.

My particular resistance began at school, when playing together for fun turned into picking teams for sports. Despite having sporty parents I was fairly podgy and goofy (good combination!) and thus often picked last for team games. This became a negative experience for me and one which led to a hatred of all things physical. If there was an excuse to be invented I would think of it!

There are lots of common childhood events that can change a persons’ perception of exercise – my clients have spoken about negative experiences with coaches, team sports, the ‘being picked last’ syndrome or well meaning family members who nagged about exercise.

These emotional blocks to exercise can be extremely hard to beat. We often tell ourselves that ‘I am no good at exercise’ and this feeling can be so strong that it will prevent you from even looking at your options. It is important for us to recognise this inner child, acknowledge him/her and then move forward.  These emotional issues are blocks that can hold you back from huge benefits that can be gained from getting fitter and engaging in physical activity.

Interestingly what I observe as a coach is that emotional issues always accompany changes in our bodies – weight loss can affect our body image and sense of identity and can make us ask the question – “Well, who am I?”.  Weight loss can also have an impact on our social relationships. I have heard female clients say to me that despite informing friends that they were cleaning their eating up, these friends would offer them ‘that’ piece of cake or biscuit. There will always be people that try to sabotage your efforts, because it means that they may have to look at their own lifestyle choices. If you begin to look happier and healthier it could challenge your friends and families perception of you. They may have an emotional investment in you remaining the same  ie. Being overweight  can and does often  symbolise – friendliness, comforting, happy, non-threatening and protective etc. If others laugh at our efforts to get fitter or make jokes at our expense this can seriously knock your confidence and bring you right back to that 7yr old waiting to be picked for a team.

I ask you not to let these past events define who you are now. Try to remember back to when ‘exercise’ was playing and you had fun. Allow yourself to feel the enjoyment of getting stronger and of achieving your goals. Have the belief that you will do it and that you CAN do it. Don’t fear the change that you obviously long for, as embracing this change will make you emotionally stronger.

As for me, I occasionally have those days where the chocolate bar wins but for the most part I allow myself to have fun when I exercise. I am a grown woman who has changed her outlook and her body to something I am proud of. I am not talking about being uber thin here, just healthy, and if losing a few inches is a by-product of that, then that has to be a good thing right?

Let your inner child go – You deserve to be happy and healthy, and not confined forever in a box labelled ‘Chubby, unsporty, clumsy child’.

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world” Budha.

If you are interested in exploring these issues further I am holding a work-shop on Tuesday the 30th June with Maria Varallo of www.aspace2b.co.uk . The work-shop will look to explore your motivation around Exercise and Nutrition. It will be held at the David Lloyd gym on Coldhams Lane in Cambridge at 7.30pm.

Charlotte Wall



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