5 methods to beat imposter syndrome (to get in form)

Maybe you felt like this: it's only a matter of time before someone storms through the door yelling "fake".

Then you will be jailed as a cheater … or thrown into space as a cheater:

Feeling like a fraud is a real thing, and we've found it to be quite common among our coaching clients.

Fortunately, we've learned some strategies for overcoming Imposter Syndrome, particularly when it comes to fitness. Today we're also sharing our tips and tricks with you.

We assign fun missions to our coaching clients to help them improve their mindset! Click here to learn more.

Here's what we're going to cover today:

Let's get in right away!

What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome occurs when a person has doubts about their skills, talents, or performance despite external evidence of their competence.

Those with imposter syndrome feel they do not deserve all they have accomplished and mistakenly attribute their success to a combination of luck and deception.

There is also generally an ongoing fear of being viewed as a “fraud” that someone, somewhere, will reveal them for who they really are.

This is cheat syndrome.

If you ever feel that you don't deserve your job or accomplishments, you are not alone. It is estimated that 70% of the general population (evenly divided between men and women) have at some point felt the effects of imposter syndrome. (1)

Dr. Valerie Young, an expert on imposter syndrome, explains: (2)

Impostor syndrome goes beyond a mere lack of confidence. People who feel like scammers adhere to an unrealistic and unsustainable standard of competence. Falling below this standard then creates shame.

Thats not good.

How do we get there?

Well, it varies from person to person, but there are some similarities.

Dr. Young identifies five common characteristics of people who, despite evidence to the contrary, generally feel like a fake.

The five types of scammers are:

  • The perfectionist
  • The expert
  • The soloist
  • The natural genius
  • The superwoman / superman

It is important for us to understand each of these problems so that we can determine some tools and strategies to overcome these problems.

So let's tackle each of these five types of self-diagnosed "scammers" and how they can affect your fitness journey.

How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome Part 1: The Perfectionist

What's wrong with the perfectionist?

The perfectionist believes that their work must be 100% perfect, 100%.

You set insanely high goals that often turn out to be unattainable.

Even when the perfectionist has clearly accomplished a task, he often feels that he should have done better. Then self-doubt creeps in.

There are some advantages and disadvantages here:

  • On the one hand, it's good to aim high. This shows a lot of internal motivation.
  • However, if the goals are so lofty as to paralyze you mentally, they are not serving you well.

How is that related to fitness?

The perfectionist often takes an "all or nothing" approach. If they can't train for an hour, they won't even care.

This is not a good thing because the "perfect" time to exercise rarely comes.

What should be done instead?

Change your fitness expectations.

Yes, an hour of training would be great. But even a five-minute training session is better than "no training".

As Theodore Roosevelt put it:

Do what you can with what you have where you are.

With that in mind, here's a simple 5 minute routine you can do:

  • Minute 1: 20 seconds from pushups, 10 seconds rest, 20 seconds push-ups, 10 seconds rest.
  • Minute 2: 20 seconds from Squats, 10 second rest, 20 second squat, 10 second rest.
  • 3rd minute: Plank as long as you can, then rest until the end of the minute.
  • 4th minute: 20 seconds from LungesRest 10 seconds, lunges 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds.
  • 5th minute: 20 seconds push-ups, 10 seconds rest, 20 seconds push-ups, 10 seconds rest. (unless you have access to Pull-up bar or alternative, then Do pull-ups)

If that seems too easy for you, you can too Tabata workoutwhat makes you do High intensity interval training in just a few minutes.

The most important thing is to hug "well enough".

How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome Part 2: The Superwoman / Superman

What's wrong with the Superwoman / Superman?

The superwoman / superman feels that they should excel in every role they play.

  • Great Spouse? Check.
  • Mother / father of the year? You bet!
  • Amazing colleague? Guess who's working overtime!

The superwoman / superman is addicted to this validation, so they are externally motivated.

Here, too, we have some advantages and disadvantages:

  • On the one hand, it's great that they want to contribute to the team.
  • On the other hand, if there is no one to praise them, things may not get done.

How is that related to fitness?

The superwoman / superman often needs an external event to prepare for like a 5K. Or maybe they want to get ready for a wedding or a reunion.

Without such an event, they may not feel sufficiently validated to get to work.

What should be done instead?

External motivation is a good kickstart, but try to build internal motivation by doing something even when nobody else knows about it. Do the task for its own sake.

To build internal motivation, ask yourself: how do you feel In front, while, and after a workout?

By constantly reminding yourself of the positive feelings, you can help build internal motivation. This strategy can help you keep yourself from being solely driven by external forces.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome Part 3: The Natural Genius

What's wrong with the natural genius?

The natural genius believes that everything in life should be easy for them. They judge their competence based on the ease and speed of their efforts.

When it takes them a long time to complete a task, just assume they are sucking. Then they are ashamed.

Some pros and cons of natural genius:

  • On the one hand, it's great to have a lot of success in different areas of life. There is nothing to feel guilty about!
  • On the other hand, that feeling of shame could keep you from growing in new areas.

How is that related to fitness?

When natural genius isn't good at something right away, brush it aside:

  • I can't bend like that, so I throw the yoga mat away.
  • I never catch anything so I finish Ultimate Frisbee.
  • Everyone is faster than me, so I don't show myself up to the 5K run.

What should be done instead?

Remember, being bad at something is the first step in being okay at something.


To help here, look for evidence of something else in your life that was difficult – but you got it through and achieved anyway.

It could be something big, like a college degree, or something small, like building a bird house.

The most important thing to ask: How did you feel afterwards?

Also understand that the work is necessary. You will never be good at ALL. Instead, enjoy the process and learning curve ahead!

How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome Part 4: The Soloist

What's wrong with the soloist?

The soloist believes that they have to do everything themselves.

If anyone ever helps them, it is a failure as they can no longer appreciate its success.

Even if the soloist gets into trouble, he will not achieve and prefer to fight alone.

You will often hear the soloist say things like "I don't need anyone's help".

As with all of our "scammers", there are some pros and cons:

  • On the one hand, it's great to want to be self-sufficient
  • On the other hand, it can cause unnecessary stress.

How is that related to fitness?

When the soloist encounters health or fitness issues, communication around the topic is often cut off.

Ironically, we see this in ours from time to time 1-to-1 online coaching program. A client will do great things with their training and diet and will communicate with their coach on a daily basis. But the second they encounter any stumbling blocks, they disappear, almost as if …

What should be done instead?

Know when to switch to "Hermit Mode" and proactively reach out to others!

To be honest, the best time to do this is actually In front You get in trouble.

Look, things will come:

  • The work is going crazy.
  • A tire goes flat.
  • Your child is getting sick.

One of the best things to do when you're having trouble (in fitness or anywhere else) is to reach out to someone.

  • First, they might have some advice.
  • Second, having an open ear can be helpful when things are not going well.

That's why we actually encourage everyone who joins Nerd Fitness Prime to reach our private Facebook or Discord group. Everyone there is on a similar journey. So when things go bad, the community can relate to it.

Someone there might even know what to do.

Whether through the Nerd Fitness Rebellion, work, or some other group, finding an "accountabuddy" can really help in trying to get in shape.

Have a look around and if you see someone who is also on a similar path, say "Hey, let's do this together !!!"

We have the most supportive community in the galaxy. Find out more here.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome Part 5: The Expert

What's wrong with the expert?

The expert defines himself by what or how much he knows.

They believe that if they don't know something they will look stupid and they look for more information. And more. The expert researches a topic endlessly and has to absorb more and more.

Ironically, the expert doesn't see himself as an "expert" either, but remembers his ignorance.

There are also strengths and weaknesses here:

  • On the one hand, it's great to be curious.
  • On the other hand, constantly searching for more information can be a form of procrastination.

Or as Morpheus Neo teaches:

How is that related to fitness?

We actually have a term for it around nerd fitness: Panties collector.

It's from a South Park episode in which the underpants gnomes steal people's underwear to make "profit".

The problem is, they don't know what to do do with all the underwear they stole

That makes a little more sense if you can watch the episode. Something.

The moral of our South Park Tangent: be sure to gather a ton of information and then don't do anything with it.

Trying and failing and learning from past mistakes is more valuable than spending extra time researching and then trying nothing.

What should be done instead?

Here is another term we use for nerd fitness: Use 20 seconds of courage.

It's difficult, but if you can suck it up and pull the trigger to act, the momentum of that initial decision will propel you forward.

Yes, it's scary to act and less scary to read more. But acting really makes you an expert.

Getting Rid of Imposter Syndrome (Next Steps)

Perhaps you saw yourself in one of these "cheat" subgroups.

It could be in your fitness and non-fitness words and actions.

As we discussed earlier, every “cheater” has certain strengths. But there are also weaknesses.

If you are feeling like a scam, try one of the strategies we covered today:

  • Re-evaluate your expectations for "perfect".
  • Find internal motivation for the work you need to do.
  • Remember, it's okay to "vacuum" things every now and then.
  • When you run into trouble, it's okay to ask for help.
  • Wonder if you really need to read another internet article or if it is time to act.

If you need help with acting, I have three next steps for you to take.

Next Step 1) Our Online Coaching Program: If you are having problems as a soloist, it may be time to seek help.

You can schedule a free call with our team so we can get to know you and see if our coaching program is right for you. Just click the image below for more information:

Our coaching program changes your life. Learn how!

Next step number 2) If you need a trigger to get into "action" read NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app will help you exercise more, eat healthier, and (literally) improve your life.

You can access this app through Nerd Fitness Prime.

Learn more about Nerd Fitness Prime!

Next step number 3) Join the rebellion! We need good people like you in our community, the Nerd Fitness Rebellion. It's the best place to find an account buddy.

Sign up in the box below to sign up and receive ours Rebel starter kitThis includes all of our home training guides, the Nerd Fitness Diet Cheat Sheet and much more!

Get your Nerd Fitness Starter Kit

  • The 15 mistakes you don't want to make.
  • Complete Guide to Most Effective Diets and Why They Work.
  • Complete and track your first workout today, no gym required.

Okay I want to hear from you:

Do you see yourself as a cheat or a cheat on occasion?

Which of the subgroups do you recognize in yourself?

Any Tips Or Tricks To Overcome Imposter Syndrome?

Let me know in the comments!


PS: We thank Dr. Valerie Young for helping overcome Imposter Syndrome. Young does good things in the world.


Photo source: Between us, Clean room, Andriy Popov © 123RF.com, Maxim Maksutov © 123RF.com, bennymarty © 123RF.com, sunset, Roosevelt quote.

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