Many of us out there struggle daily with the image we see in the mirror. We stand there for too many minutes picking apart the flaws and tiny imperfections we see. Shoulders are too broad, thighs are too thick, or those stretch marks are just too visible to the naked eye. The longer you stand in front of the mirror, the longer your list of imperfections grows and the more your self-confidence diminishes. And that has to change. Our body image perceptions have to change. But how? Building confidence is no easy feat.
Meanwhile, many of us have fitness goals we would love to achieve but we are held back because of self-doubt and fear. Is there a way to marry these two challenges–both of which exist due to paralyzing mental outlooks–and find a solution that hits two birds with one stone? That’s what I set out to uncover.
Here’s my theory.
I don’t know about you, but after a killer workout my confidence skyrockets. I’ve always thought there was a correlation between working out and self-confidence, but I’d never tested it out until now.
I struggled with motivating myself to work out in the past. I frequently started weekly workout routines and would find myself unmotivated and ready to quit by day two. So this year, I committed to working out and actually sticking to my weekly plan. In doing this, I have been able to test out my theory that one way you can improve your self-confidence is through fitness.
Six months later…
So far, we’re six months into this calendar year. This week is week #22 of my fitness journey and I’m beyond proud to say that I have not skipped a single week. At first staying motivated was terribly difficult but then I began seeing progress.
I noticed that I was able to up the number of reps I could do and then I saw the muscles I’d gained in my upper back and shoulders. It was enough to keep me going. Weeks passed and I could feel my muscles strengthening. Today, I’m able to tolerate more difficult workouts, perform a higher number of reps, and can wholeheartedly say I am happy with the places my fitness journey has taken me thus far.
I once thought that it meant everything to be skinny–that every flaw would disappear once you were skinny. Throughout these 22 weeks, I’ve learned that being skinny should never be the goal. You ultimate goal should be to gain strength and fall in love with your flaws because they won’t just disappear. That is exactly what I have been learning to do.
Source: Happily Grey
I decided to take it one step further and reached out to a professional to hear her opinions on my theory.
I talked with my friend Dominique Sottile, an Online Personal Trainer, Zumba Instructor, and Bikini Competitor at the young age of 20. In the past year, Dominique has launched a YouTube Channel, showcasing fitness and training vlogs, and focused her energy on helping others obtain their fitness goals.
Thanks to her willingness, I was able to fire a round of questions her way and gain some more perspective on building confidence through fitness.
What do you feel is the most rewarding part of working out?
Working out comes with so many benefits. The most rewarding part is when you see your body changing. Looking in the mirror and knowing that your body has changed because of all the hard work you’ve put in is the best feeling. When I see a new muscle, or I see definition somewhere it wasn’t before, it makes me so proud of myself. It makes me feel stronger and I know I’m getting better every day. It inspires me to keep going because I love those changes, it gives me more motivation.
Do you believe your workouts influence your self-confidence? If so, how?
There is no doubt in my mind that working out makes you feel more confident. I’ve never felt as confident in my life as I am right now. Working out has overall changed me into a more happy, self-loving person. When I look at myself in the mirror I am overwhelmed with excitement and confidence. Seeing your body change for the better makes you feel better. I used to be scared of wearing a tight t-shirt, a tank top or even shorts that’d show my legs. But now I rock whatever outfit I want to wear.
I’ve come to love my muscular legs and my shoulder boulders. I’ve come to be proud of the body that I’m working on. For the first time in forever I feel confident working out with just a sports bra on. Not only has working out made me feel more confident about my body but also confident while I’m in the gym. The gym I workout at has a downstairs area where mostly guys work out. Before, you’d never find me down there because I was always embarrassed and intimidated by them. Now that’s the only place I workout.
My mindset has changed to “do you and don’t worry who’s watching” and that’s exactly what I do. I workout wherever I want to and I worry about myself. I used to spend so much time thinking about what others would do or say about me working out but now that I’m confident in myself, I worry about me and only me. Working out has made my life so much better and I overall feel stronger, happier and have so much love for my body and flaws.
What do you love about working with individuals who are at all different points in their fitness journey?
I’ve learned that nobody is the same. Some people’s bodies can be slow and sluggish. They don’t react well to a workout that to another person would react perfectly. It shows me that we all start at different points and can still achieve the same goal. So many individuals think they can start a intense fitness program and believe it’ll do wonders for them but they don’t realize that their body is not on that program’s level.
Not knowing where to start and starting too strong can actually do damage to the body. Putting so much stress on the body all at once can cause weight gain, bloating and will make you constantly overtired. That’s why it’s important to start slow. I think it’s amazing that my clients can be on different journeys and levels but can still achieve their goals. It’s heart warming seeing clients push themselves daily to achieve what they want.
I never knew the importance of starting slow until I had finished my NASM (Personal Trainer Certification) program. During this time, I learned the importance of starting where the client is and not where you are personally. My training is based on your body, your goals, and your physical ability. We all start in different places, but that doesn’t define who we are.
Who cares if your faster, stronger, or skinnier? All that truly matters is that you’ve begun and you’re determined enough to reach your goal. Knowing I am helping them change their lives makes me feel that I’m doing good in the world. Helping someone else feel more confident and happy fills my heart with warmth. Helping other people is what my life is about and that’s all I strive for. I give my clients the workouts and advice, but it’s up to them to do those workouts and take that advice. I’m a proud coach and I’m speechless about how far many of my clients have come.
Source: A Southern Drawl
What type of workout would you recommend to someone who wants a kick-ass workout that will help them reach their personal goals and feel more confident?
One of the best exercises I offer in my training programs is a HIIT workout. HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. HIIT workouts do not have rests in between exercises, so one exercise is immediately followed by the next one, which makes you work harder and sweat more. If your looking to burn off fat, then this is the exercise for you. Since there is no rest in between workouts, it gets your heart rate up and stay up which helps you burn off more fat. The best thing about HIIT workouts is you only have to do it for 20 minutes to get an intense, calorie burning, and sweaty workout.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting or struggling through their fitness journey?
I recommend starting slow and easy. Always look up the correct form of exercises online before attempting to perform them. That way you don’t risk injuring yourself. Also if you are just starting out, remind yourself that next week you’ll be stronger & better then you were the first week.
For someone struggling, I always remind them of why they started and I’ll remind them of their end goal. Tell yourself, “if I give up now I’ll never get there.” If one of my clients is struggling, I try to change their workouts around in an attempt to make it fun. I also make all of my clients take progress pictures because those can really show the changes. Because you see your body everyday, you might not notice the slight changes in your body. Pictures can really capture your improvement.
Have you seen a difference in the self confidence levels of the individuals you work with from the beginning to now?
I have seen my clients become much more confident. I see them enjoying exercising and they’re not intimidated by others around them. Many have said they’re happier and feel better about themselves. Many clients are doing exercises now that they could not do when they began working out. I see so many physical and mental changes as their journey continues because they’ve become stronger, happier and healthier which makes them all around more confident.
Any tips for our readers who have a busy work/school schedule to work around but still want to get fit and achieve their goals?
No matter how busy you are if you’re truly motivated you will make time out of your day to get a workout in. You do not need to workout for a full hour. 30 minutes will do the job. They key is to take 30 minutes out of your day to do something good for your body.
What do you find the biggest misconception between the number on the scale and the amount of personal progress someone is making?
Many people think that the number on the scale defines your progress but that’s not true at all. I tell my clients not to rely on the scale. When you workout you lose fat and gain muscle. Since muscle weighs more than fat, your weight may actually increase. That has happened to me and it still happens to me. I’m the fittest I’ve ever been in my life and I’m the heaviest I’ve been, but I’ve never felt better in my life.
The scale shows a number that doesn’t matter. What matters is if your getting stronger, faster, and improving your physical wellbeing. You’ve made progress if you can do ten more minutes of cardio or an extra pushup. You’ve made progress if you now are excited to workout, so don’t let the weight define your progress.
In your videos, you talk a lot about how gaining strength and muscle definition is a process that can only be achieved through hard work. How do you feel when you can see yourself gaining definition and growing stronger?
Gaining strength and muscle definition takes a lot of time and effort. It doesn’t happen over night, but over weeks and months. That’s why you have to keep going and stay consistent. When I see a new muscle or my body changes, it motivates me even more. It makes me want to keep going, and it makes me want to try harder. Knowing that hard work pays off truly makes you never want to stop.
Is there any mantra you like to remind yourself of to keep your motivation up throughout your workout?
While working out I say to myself, “Push yourself now because it’ll be worth it tomorrow.” Then, I’ll remind myself why I’m at the gym and how close I am to my goal. I will never leave the gym without sweat dripping down my face. That’s my rule.
What are your top five songs to work out that boost your confidence and keep you motivated?
- “Humble” by Kendrick Lamar
- “Slide” by Calvin Harris
- “Bad and Boujee” by Migos
- “The Motto” by Drake
- “Broccoli” by DRAM
How can someone contact you or keep up with your fitness journey if they wished to?
Youtube: Dominique Sottile YouTube Channel
Facebook: Domi Sottile