Going out on a bit of a limb here. Working my butt off (puns intended). Tackling the topic of exercise, body image and Activeware.
I really don’t know what I was thinking the other day. I actually hit the shops and plucked up the courage to try on some activewear (stop laughing – I’m quite serious!). I mean how can I ever consider taking advantage of the onsite gym in our apartment complex if I don’t even own a pair of joggers?
I managed to get everything I needed at Kmart & Target Kids wear – and for nix! I put it all on when I got home to desensitize myself a little; to see if I could get some confidence looking at myself in clothes that make me feel very exposed and everything but attractive. It’s been years since I’ve been dressed like this – and I mean years! I also thought I might be more likely to pluck up the courage to venture across the road and get physical if I was at least dressed for the part.
I then got to thinking about how much I struggled with buying activewear; and not for the reasons that many may be thinking. For years, I’ve worked with countless women and men who have varying but similar concerns about their bodies. By far, one of the most common reasons for seeking my help is – regardless of whether they consider themselves too big (or too small) – a lack of confidence in their clothing choices and learning how they can best cover up their perceived flaws.
There are many perceived degrees of body-consciousness. Most are concerned with some specific body part/s or simply how they look when they’re not covering up every inch of their body under loose clothing. The thing is, this domain is not exclusive to those who consider themselves overweight. It applies equally and in some ways, more frustratingly, to those who wish they had more flesh on their bones. More curves. Even just some muscle! Believe me, it’s actually just as soul destroying to look in a mirror and see sticks that once resembled legs. To not be able to fill your tights properly; because trust me, baggy tights are simply NOT attractive.
But how do we all overcome our body insecurities so that we can in fact get out there with confidence while we try to become a healthier version of ourselves? How do we learn to not cringe when we catch a glimpse of our less-than-perfect bodies in the gym mirror? How do we find activewear that we’re proud to be seen in in public, even if just on the way to/from our chosen place of exercise?
Top tips for choosing activewear
DO invest in the right gear… but DON’T feel you have to buy the most expensive brands or take out a second mortgage in order to look trendy. It’s one thing wanting to feel like you fit into the environment you’re in, but it’s another to feel constant pressure to be seen wearing the latest brands and labels.
Put your new gear on. All of it. Wear it around the house and get used to seeing your reflection. Not only will it be comfy-as, but the key is you will start to see yourself as one who exercises! You’ll con your body into thinking it’s used to doing this and wearing that & be less likely to cringe when you see yourself in the mirror, struggling to lift that 1kg dumbbell like me, or shakily pounding the treadmill.
#Kmart and #Target are great for kitting yourself out if you’re new to the whole gym/exercise thing (like I am!). I bought everything at these stores – including really cute socks and runners and the puffer vest and jacket mentioned above – and I didn’t even crack the $100 mark in total! How’s that for bargain-shopping? Here’s a peek at what you can find there:
Once you’re hooked or have developed an established fitness regime, treat yourself and purchase a new pair of tights, or shoes or a tank in your favourite colour – use it as a goal or reward, not a necessity for exercise.
Learn to layer to distract from perceived body flaws and draw attention to the parts you like.
Conscious of your belly? Wear a supportive cropped tank underneath and top it with a loose, airy, longer tank.
Conscious of your bum? Look for a high-low tank to layer over that support-tank and cleverly cover your toosh.
Conscious of leg lumps and bumps? Compression-tights really do work a treat and are worth the slightly more expensive investment.
In the cooler months, invest in a puffer-jacket or vest to layer over the top. It will add shape and definition and keep you warm in transit or when exercising outdoors in really cold weather.
Use colour to draw attention to the bits you’re more comfortable with, and to draw attention away from the bits you’re not. Choose dark grey, navy, charcoal or black on the bottom if you’re not a fan of your legs – brighter pops of colour up top, for example.
Don’t forget the girls. No matter how big or small, your breasts need your support! Invest in a sports bra or crop in a bright colour so it can be seen underneath tanks etc. You don’t have to cover straps – use them as a colour-accessory and have fun playing with different shades.
Try the kid’s section. I recently got a zip hoodie from Target in breathable gym-friendly fabric and a puffer-vest. Both were only $20 each instead of the $50 asking price in most other stores.
Remember, activewear isn’t a fashion parade
As self-conscious as you may be initially, no one is actually really looking at you, or judging your body. And no one is ever more critical of your body than you are. They’re more interested in how they look – probably to both themselves and you! Very few people, when they embark on a gym or exercise program, are feeling super-confident with their current shape or size. That’s partly why they’re exercising. Hopefully not the only reason, but still, it’s good to remind yourself that we all share many of the same insecurities & we’re all just doing our best to find a healthier version of us.
Once you get used to your new look, you just may become one of those people who ends up wearing your active wear even when you’re not being particularly active! If that happens to you, make sure of one thing and one thing only. That you feel confident and comfortable. If your outfits are as flattering as possible, in colours that make you feel pretty and in shapes and styles that help you feel confident, you’re more likely to keep on working towards your goal which is and always should be to simply get healthier, stronger and fitter each day.
Remember: There’s no such thing as perfection. Be kind to yourself and reward yourself for doing a great job by just being active. Any exercise is better than no exercise. Wow. As one who struggles to walk 50m, I can’t believe those words just came out of my mouth. Maybe there’s hope for me yet, inspired by my own new “Activewear, Activewear, Activewear…” Cue the video!
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