If you ever want to grow as a human being, you need to get out of your comfort zone. Your comfort zone is “any situation where you feel safe” or a “method of working that requires little effort and only brings acceptable results.” What does that mean exactly? Any activity that you do (usually daily) that brings low anxiety levels, such as watching TV, socializing with friends, sitting in your office doing minimal work, or avoiding difficult tasks. These are familiar situations that you feel comfortable in and usually things you can control. By always staying within your comfort zone, you will probably be able to reach a satisfactory level of results but you would be doing yourself a disservice. What happens when you don’t break out of your comfort zone? Usually people deal with issues of laziness, procrastination and/or weakness of the mind.
There is a world of great opportunities that you are avoiding, opportunities to bring you success and happiness and excitement in life. It’s not easy to get out of your comfort zone, but it’s possible and you will discover new and amazing territory once you breakthrough!
The problem is most people don’t want to be uncomfortable. But know that you don’t have to JUMP out of your comfort zone all at once. A small change here and there and facing a little feeling of discomfort everyday can help solve many problems and make you healthier, happier and stronger physically and mentally.
How does this relate to fitness?
Let’s start with examples associated with Ramadan. To some people, training while fasting during Ramadan is so far out of their comfort zone that they decided to stop their membership for this month and not come to the gym at all! They didn’t want to face a little of discomfort and completely missed the opportunity to challenge themselves. While others know that training in a fasted state will be difficult and uncomfortable, but they continue to come everyday anyways. You know what results those members are seeing? I have one of my girls telling me that this is the first Ramadan in years that she didn’t gain weight and is staying active. And then you have the girls that stuck to their diets even though they attend Ramadan social gatherings every night. It’s hard and uncomfortable to sit with your friends and have to say “no thank you” to dessert! But guess what? This other member lost 3kg of fat and gained 2kg of muscle because of a good diet and training while fasted.
How about being uncomfortable in training? Learning new movements and exercises can be difficult. For example, for a new member at a CrossFit gym it can be uncomfortable learning how to squat when they have been moving wrong their whole adult life up to now. They will feel sore, they might feel pain in places they never felt before, they will be working muscles in their body that have been inactive for so long because of prolonged sitting. But that’s okay! We are working through this discomfort and then one day squatting correctly will feel so good! Another example is getting used to pushing yourself as much as you can during a workout. There are so many thoughts that go through our mind during a workout: “I’m tired” “this is hard” “why am I doing this” “I want to go home and sleep” “my legs are shaking” “why am I breathing heavy”…and many other negative thoughts that you keep telling yourself because you are suddenly feeling uncomfortable in the workout. When you start to get tired and the discomfort becomes even more unbearable, that’s when you need to push the hardest. Most of the time, you haven’t even come close to your limit. Your body is just in shock of the discomfort that it’s telling you to slow down or stop. But the people who keep pushing and try their hardest to finish the workout, the feeling of accomplishment once it’s over is the most satisfying feeling.
So when things get difficult, most people will quit or go back to doing what made them feel comfortable. But those who have gotten used to being uncomfortable will stay on track and soon achieve the results they work hard for.
Did you know that by getting uncomfortable in training you are also training your mind to get used to being in uncomfortable situations? This will translate into your everyday life and make you a mentally stronger person ready to face challenges and ultimately live a successful and happy life.
*IMPORTANT NOTE: I just want to point out that when I say ‘discomfort’, it is doing things you are not used to doing and the discomfort is mostly mental. There is physical discomfort but mostly mental. Feeling real physical pain is NOT a time to push harder. That is how people get injured. You need to get to know your body and understand how it works, what soreness feels like, what discomfort feels like, and what actual pain feels like. There is a big difference and it’s your responsibility to be aware of your own body.
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