Sep 182013
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So you are starting to exercise and diet and that’s great! One thing you are going to want to stay away from is saying or thinking ‘I can’t’. This type of mindset can hinder you not only from achieving your fitness goals but can affect other aspects of your life. Never say you can’t do something if it is because you are worried if others are watching you or you are afraid of criticism from others. This can cause you to have social anxiety about going to a gym.

Social anxiety (i.e., a continuous construct) is defined as anxiety that results from the prospect or presence of personal evaluation as well as fear of social failure and criticism[1]. This marked fear of social failure is intricately interwoven into one’s beliefs about himself/herself and his capabilities in social situations (self-efficacy)[2]. Without treatment, social anxiety can drastically impair one’s social, educational, and professional capacities throughout the lifespan[3].

This fear of social failure and criticism can be the cause of an individual having negative self-referent cognitions in their self-reflectiveness.  Negative self-referent cognitions can be defined as thinking or reflecting negatively about oneself (i.e.,  I am an embarrassment, they will not like me) and can have an effect on an individual’s social anxiety[4]. This is an important aspect to look at due to evidence found which suggests that a person’s self-referent cognitions may affect his beliefs in his abilities[5].

Basically what all this is saying is that if you think/speak negatively about your ability to perform exercises or what others may be thinking/saying about you while you are in the gym can negatively impact your life on a scale greater than not being buff!

So fear not! Everybody had to start somewhere when it comes to getting buff and so do you. Sure your path to a healthy lifestyle might be tough but never say you can’t do something. Get that positive mantra in your head and get in the gym and give it your all. Then start incorporating other positive mantras throughout the day to keep that positive mindset going!

Sure it may take a while to reprogram your thinking but just like your physique…you will start to see changes and live a fuller life.


[1]Schlenker, B. R., & Leary, M. R. (1982). Social anxiety and self-presentation: A conceptualization model. Psychological Bulletin, 92, 641–669.

[2][4]Rudy, B. M., Davis III, T. E., & Matthews, R. A. (2011). The relationship among self-efficacy, negative self-referent cognitions, and social anxiety in children: A multiple mediator model. Behavior Therapy.

[3]Davis III, T. E., Munson, M., & Tarzca, E. (2009).  Anxiety disorders and phobias. In J. Matson (Ed.), Social behavior and social skills in children, 219-244. New York, NY:  Springer Science and Business Media.

[5]Cieslak, R.,  Benight, C. C., & Lehman, V. C. (2008). Coping self-efficacy mediates the effects of negative cognitions on posttraumatic distress. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 46, 788–798.

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