Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

I’ve mentioned here a few times how awesome our bodies are at taking care of themselves. I feel the same way when I think about its ability to compensate for the stresses we put on it, which is how we grow stronger when we exercise. Think about times when you’ve experienced this before. Have you ever been put to a physical challenge, pushed past comfort, and felt your body overcome it and become stronger because of it? Isn’t that an amazing feeling? It’s a feeling athletes and regular exercisers get that makes them feel addicted to working out. You MUST get out of your comfort zone in order to grow – physically, emotionally, intellectually, and professionally.

I remember feeling physically weaker than I expected after I delivered my first child. I’ve always 
been pretty good at doing push-ups and other upper body exercises that are difficult for many women. I stopped most of my workouts during my last trimester of pregnancy. The first time I worked out after childbirth, I couldn’t do push-ups! Twenty-one years later, that’s the one thing that stands out in my memory about the changes in my body after childbirth – my inability to do push-ups. Obviously, it bothered me, so I set out to prove to myself that it wasn't a permanent set-back. I started out by doing as many push-ups against the wall as I could do. After several days of that, I moved to the floor and did as many as I could from my knees. Once those became easier, I moved to full push-ups from my toes. At each level, I truly did push-ups until it was physically impossible to do even half of one more. During rest, my body got stronger to compensate for the stress I was putting on it.

Bottom line: you have to push yourself past your comfort zone in order to get stronger. This can be true for many areas of your life. It’s tough, but it’s worth it to reach your goals. Exercising is always good and is necessary to maintain good health. To get stronger, your exercise needs to be a bit uncomfortable. Notice, I said uncomfortable, not painful. Pain is your body’s signal that something is wrong. Always pay attention and listen to your body, but don’t be afraid to test the limits of your comfort zone. The discomfort doesn’t have to last a long time. Just push farther than you thought you could and then back off. Then rest. Each time you do that, you become stronger because of it. Simply:

  • To maintain, stay comfortable
  • To grow stronger, briefly push past comfort to nearly impossible, then rest

I’ve had other experiences of pushing myself beyond what I thought was possible, the most intense being my eleven weeks in Marine Corps boot camp when I was 18 years old. Talk about pushing past   
my comfort zone! I found out I could do things I never imagined I would ever do: pull-ups, push-ups, forced marches carrying packs as heavy as my own body weight, climbing a 15 foot rope, competing with men in obstacle courses, and enduring extremely intimidating drill instructors shouting and pushing me past limits I never envisioned, much less thought I’d bust through.

Our minds and bodies are much more powerful than we give them credit for. With motivation, determination and commitment, they can be trained to be as strong as necessary to handle what we ask them to.

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