My favorite quote of all time:
Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable.
Meaning, in the quickest explanation possible, that nothing can be achieved within your comfort zone. If you’re uncomfortable, embrace that, because it means something great is on the horizon.
In this 3 part series we will talk about what it means to get comfortable being uncomfortable in 3 different areas of your life. Your health and fitness, your relationships, and your life and lifestyle in general.
What makes us most uncomfortable in each area? Do we avoid whatever makes us uncomfortable because we don’t know how to handle it? Are we staying stagnant and going through monotonous efforts because we don’t know how to step outside of our comfort zone? More importantly, because we don’t know why we should step outside of our comfort zones?
The easiest and most obvious comfort zones that we can identify nowadays are those related to your health and fitness journey, which is why that is Part 1 of this series. Those comfort zones are what keep people from achieving their goals that they’ve had for a long time. The goals that they’ve written down at the beginning of each new year, resolving to finally achieve them, but don’t.
In order to step out of these comfort zones and launch ourselves on this great health and fitness journey, we first need to pin-point the areas that are holding ourselves back.
Generally, these are the areas where we feel the slightest ping of discomfort and we go running for the covers. Hiding from what could be. They can be broken down into physical and mental barriers.
When your body actually feels, oh I don’t know, the actual effects of exercise
This one kind of baffles me. So many people go to the gym, yet they don’t push themselves to the points they need to. When was the last time you’ve gone outside of your routine in the gym (that is if you’ve been actually going to the gym)? It’s hard for people to feel levels of well, pain.
But here’s the truth:
The last few reps of your sets should be hard. If they’re not then you simply are not working hard enough. Put those 5 lb weights away that you’ve been using for the past year and pick up something heavier. But wait, that is where people lose it. When they get to rep 8 out of 10 in a set of bicep curls and their muscles are burning. It’s weird, so they stop at that 8th rep and drop their weight the next set they do. Wait what?!? That is not helping you grow, at all. It’s actually teaching yourself to accept failure. You let that feeling of discomfort win over you.
No my friend, those last few reps of each set should be challenging. Aim for the last 2-4 reps, depending on how many reps total you’re doing (the more reps total, the more challenging reps you’ll feel). Because if you find that the reps are getting challenging, it means you are challenging yourself. Get comfortable with that. That is where the magic happens.
And when doing cardio? You need to get comfortable with the feeling of your lungs burning. If you hop on the elliptical day after day and only break a light sweat, then you haven’t challenged your body to a new stimulus. Therefore, you will not improve, and your fitness goals will always be dangling in front of you – just out of reach. Try incorporating HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) into your workout. There will be points where you can’t speak more than a few sentences, that’s normal, don’t let that scare you. And when you really amp it up, there will be points where you can’t speak more than a few words. Again, that’s normal. All of the above (including some steady state such as the elliptical), need to be worked into your workout in a balanced format. Try doing some intervals – on a cardio machine, or with bodyweight cardio exercises. To program a HIIT workout, you can use the formats below, in order of beginner to advanced:
1:1 ratio= equal work and rest time
2:1 ratio= 2X the amount of challenging work to rest time
4:1 ratio= 4X the amount of challenging work to rest time
The above ratios can be seen in formats such as:
60:60 = 60 seconds of challenging work followed by 60 seconds of rest
60:30= 60 seconds of challenging work, followed by 30 seconds of rest.
60:15= 60 seconds of challenging work, followed by 15 seconds of rest.
or 30:30, 30:15, 30:10, 20:20, 20:10, and so on. As long as you have rest periods on there, you are working in a HIIT format.
In addition to creating your own HIIT workouts, you can also try publicly known workout programs such as Orangetheory Fitness, first class free!
*p.s. this is not an Orangetheory sponsored Ad, but I know first hand the amazing effects that can come out of it, in true HIIT fashion. Not to mention I’ve seen it first hand help people overcome every single one of the barriers listed in this blog 😉
And lastly, if your muscles are shaking, that isn’t a BAD thing! Shaking muscles while holding a plank or a wall sit? Yeah, your muscles are under constant contraction, and this is okay, as long as you are keeping good and proper form!
“I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know where to start. I am probably the only person in this gym who hasn’t worked out before”.
You’re scared? Good. Use that and let it ignite the flame. Don’t use is as an excuse to turn towards the door and run. You’ve already paid the gym membership, you’re already at the grocery store. So don’t waste your money, or your time. Finish what you came to start.
If we all let our feelings of being scared dictate the ending of each situation we’re in, then we all would have walked into a job, felt scared, and turned right back around. We’d let that happen over and over again until we’re all unemployed and living under a bridge.
But what do you actually do when you’re scared and nervous on your first day at a new job? You run with it! You let it fuel you. You focus in on learning as if your life depends on it, because it kind of does. You are open to trying new things. And most importantly, you COMMIT to it.
So you’re scared as you walk into the gym? Let it fuel you. Let it help you learn new things. Let it open your mind (and body) to trying new things. Let it allow you to COMMIT.
Scared is a feeling of discomfort. But that’s what we’re looking for here aren’t we? Yes. So go run with it. Get comfortable with using your feelings of fright to launch you into something new.
“I’m not good enough”
I’m sorry, but good enough for what? The images you have in your head because social media has pounded them there? Yeah, okay, let’s stop that.
Let’s allow feelings of discomfort to come in for a moment to squash those images. I know, that’s a hard thing to do. Because you want to cling to those images to allow yourself to keep telling yourself you’re not good enough. Because with that, at least you have an excuse.
Not today Satan.
So go ahead, squash them. And then when you’re left with a clean slate. One where you can draw ANY image of yourself you want. Make it one you are proud of. And let me tell you, THAT can be one of the most uncomfortable things. Talking ourselves up, hyping ourselves up and dreaming big. But do it friend. The world needs more self-hype.
“I don’t know how to do it correctly”
This one can fall under both physical and mental, and it is the most logical barrier out of all of them. Bad form can indeed bring your fitness journey to a screeching halt. But what makes people the most uncomfortable is asking for help. But here’s the secret- ask for help! You don’t have to commit to hiring a personal trainer 4X a week, but every single gym [should*] have qualified professionals who can help you! In my years of working in a gym it has surprised me by how little people actually ask for help. I mean sometimes people don’t even ask how to turn on a machine. If it’s not on, it won’t work, and therefore- neither will you.
I think the biggest barrier here is that you might feel embarrassed for helping. But let me remind you that every single fitness professional, and every single long-term gym member all WERE BEGINNERS. None of us just “poofed” into the gym knowing how to use it all. We all had to learn. We all had those moments where we felt uncomfortable too. But the difference between your repeated efforts and repeated resolutions to telling yourself that “this is the year I go to the gym!” is that we actually sought out help. We learned. And now, we’re here to HELP YOU TOO! And if you find that someone is an asshole and not willing to help, politely tell them to fuck off, and then go ask someone more friendly (there’s always one asshole or one un-knowledgable person who only got the job because their mom is screwing the manager in each gym. I wish there wasn’t, but if you find them on the first try, just move onto to the next employee or a friendly well-versed member and ask for help!)
When it comes down to it, it’s talking to yourself and telling yourself that you are bigger than even your BIGGEST barrier. Mind > matter.
What’s your biggest barrier in actually going for your health and fitness goals? Identify it and read the paragraph corresponding to it above. And if you’ve identified a barrier that isn’t listed above (because had I listed out all barriers, you’d be here reading this for the next year) then reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org OR on Instagram at lifeofcarlyb_ and I’d be glad to help you find ways around those barriers.
But spoiler alert:
The first thing I’m going to tell you to do is….
Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable.
Your true abilities don’t lie within those comfort zones.
They’re somewhere out there, behind each lie you tell yourself and each excuse, just waiting for you to grab them.
Just like how the juiciest apples could be sitting at the top of the tree, but no one wants to climb to get them.
Your greatest abilities could be sitting up there too, just out of reach if you stay in your comfort zone.
So go grab that apple friend.
Go grab it.
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