Finding the Courage to Start

Megan Dahlman
February 2, 2016

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Starting is scary. The feeling of starting something reminds me of the feeling you get when standing at the edge of a high dive. You know it will be amazing once you jump, you know you can’t possibly turn around and climb down, and you know you will do it eventually. But oh, it’s so scary!  

Beginning a new fitness and nutrition program sometimes feels like this. You may have dabbled with various workouts and eating plans before, but never with true commitment. Never have you fully taken that jump off the high dive, knowing you’re 100% into it, with no turning back. It’s easier to simply wade into the scary zone, just dipping your toes in, knowing you can turn around and walk right out if you needed to. Minimal commitment.

But, deep down you know that for a fitness and nutrition program to really work, you have to jump off the high dive. No more dabbling and no more wading into things. You have to go big. And that takes a lot of courage.

Courage is the ability to do something that frightens you.

Courage is telling the story of who you are with your whole heart (hat tip to Brene Brown for that definition). Courage is laying it all out in the open, fully understanding your fears and shortcomings, and doing it anyway.


​Jumping into a new plan with 100% commitment is downright scary and takes a lot of courage. But as you begin, you might uncover other areas involved in the process that also require courage. 

It takes courage to decide that you are not going to play the victim anymore
It takes courage to step up and own your own journey, all of it, without blaming anything/anyone else for where you are. 
It takes courage to decide that you are done being fragile
​It takes courage to admit that you are not perfect and never will be. And you certainly don’t need to have your act together to start.

These things take courage.

So what are you afraid of?

Why have you not plunged into the deep end instead of just dipping your toes in?

Maybe you are…

…afraid of failing. What if you start a program and commit to it 100% for 6 months, but it doesn’t work? What if you do the same thing that your friends are doing, and it works for them but not you? What if you just can’t do it?

Now, let me turn it around on you, friend. What if you don’t fail? What if you blow it out of the water and succeed far more that you ever expected? What if instead of losing 15 pounds, you lose 25? What if you fall in love with the process and can’t get enough? You will never know unless you fully commit and test the waters.

…afraid of losing something. It’s very common to fear losing a lifestyle that brings you so much comfort and pleasure. “But I love my days sleeping in, lounging around the house, my light schedule, and my wine and pita chips. I don’t want to lose these things!”

But, what if you find a new lifestyle that you enjoy even more? What if being active is totally your thing? You may end up craving the feeling of your muscles working and enjoying the perfect smoothie or salad. This could be your groove, but you will never know unless you fully commit!

…afraid of getting injured. You might know what your body is able to handle right now and the thought of asking for it to do more is frightening. You feel fragile. The last thing you want is to tweak your back and be worse off.

But, what if you don’t get injured at all, and become remarkably strong? What if through the whole process you shed the fragile feeling and move into being capable and competent? How amazing would that feel? But you will never know unless you fully commit!

…afraid of discomfort and difficulty. Yes, if you completely plunge into a new regimen you will be uncomfortable at times. Your muscles might ache, you might experience hunger, you might have to say no to certain foods around certain friends, and this might be really, really hard sometimes.

But, what if you start to really enjoy the challenge? What if you learn perseverance, patience and willpower like you’ve never understood before? What if it actually gets easy after all? But you will never know unless you fully commit!

…afraid of being silly. You have never been very coordinated and the exercises look complicated. You’re not athletic and you probably can’t lift very much. You’d rather just order what everyone else is ordering because you don’t want to appear weird. This is just going to be so embarrassing.

All I have to say is so what?! Put your blinders on and do the work. Who cares if you look silly, fall over, can’t coordinate your arms and have to order something strange at the restaurant? Seriously, who cares? You do, and that’s it.

…afraid of success. This is a strange fear, but very real. What if you don’t like the results? Or what if you do like the results, but you don’t like the attention? You’d rather just stay how you are because that’s what you and everyone else is accustomed to.

But, oh friend, what if you really like the results? What if you find a new version of yourself that you never knew existed? What if in the end you discover that this goes so much deeper that how much you weigh and what size you wear? What if you are a more whole, committed, knowledgeable, wise and deeply health person than you ever were before? Wouldn’t you want to know this about yourself?

But you will never know unless you fully commit!

Courage is knowing exactly what it is that you’re afraid of and doing it anyway. Are any of these fears ringing true with you? What is holding you back from getting started, from jumping off the high dive and committing to a workout and nutrition plan 100%? ​Why are you still dabbling--on again, off again--and haven't said "This is it! I'm going for it!"?

Take a deep breath, introspect, search, pray and identify what you're afraid of. Then take another deep breath and face it head on. Courage, my friend. Let's do this!

Sometimes a giant fear that is preventing you from plunging in wholeheartedly is the fear of the unknown. Where do you even start? In Part 2 of Finding the Courage to Start I will give you practical exercise and nutrition steps to get you going. I will teach you how to start slow, steady and with a vision for longevity. We will erase the unknown and replace it with a clear plan for plunging in 100%. Stay tuned...

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Trainer, nutrition coach, and Christian mom — in a culture that’s obsessed with “gym-selfies” and a number on the scale, I’m passionate about helping moms discover what it feels like to actually love their bodies and thrive in them.
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