Outside Your Comfort Zone

Comfort….. a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint.

Zone…. this has many definitions but the one that may be suitable here is a region or area set off as distinct from surrounding or adjoining parts.

Welcome to todays word dialog and discussion boys and girls. Today we are talking about that invisible boundary in our life often referred to as our comfort zone.

If we combine our above definitions for the purpose of this post we could say our comfort zone is a area or distinct part of our life where we maintain a state of physical ease and discomfort. It is a zone where we can comfortably abide in our daily lives and activities without feeling pain or constraint.

I hope that’s a good working definition for this post…

I did find an example that calls it like this: A comfort zone is a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person and they are at ease and in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress. In this zone, a steady level of performance is possible.

So with those thoughts firmly in hand let’s begin our discussion of this invisible place we all know and have in our lives.

Don’t get me wrong. There are lots of ways I love my comfort zone.

Normal daily life activities that can be boring, yet are also comforting and familiar.

The consistency of daily tasks that need done.

The routine and rhythm of daily life. The things we know and understand need to be done.

All those things that make up life, when they are rolling along , keep us in that zone, right?

Let some rough times and bumps come along and we get jostled out of it. we don’t like it. We want that soothing and comfortable place back.

That level of our comfort zone is security and safety and we all need that.

But then…..

As we move through our lives we have things like jobs, education, skills, hobbies and other activities we do that challenge us and if we’re willing to learn and grow we can be pressed out of our comfort zone.

Remember, that state of physical ease I mentioned a bit ago? If we are going to grow and become more we must be willing to be pressed out of that zone of ease.

That idea was strong in my mind yesterday morning as I geared up to get on my bike. As I clicked and locked my cycling shoes into place it gave me that “all business” feeling. It’s knowing and understanding what I was about to do, slipping into my mental mindset as much as I was slipping into my cycling shoes.

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Locking down my cycling shoes, is a mental preparation as well as physical.

 

Out on the road, as the miles went by, I made intentional choices in things I did. To push a little more, to turn those pedals a little faster, to know and understand that I needed to get to the point where I started to feel it, where the work felt harder, to more effort.

You see in running or cycling or really anything physical I have my own comfort zone. These are areas I can operate in easily. I know what it takes to maintain that level and it’s not really “hard”.

On the other hand I also know that if I want to continue to grow, get faster, stronger and more powerful at what I do I have to be willing to get out of my comfort zone, that area of ease.  I  need to get into that place that makes me work harder, that makes my lungs burn and keeps my heart rate in the red zone for awhile. I need to get comfortable being uncomfortable if I want growth and improvement as an athlete.

Pushing outside our comfort zone isn’t always easy, and really, it shouldn’t be.  And the weird thing about pushing out of our comfort zone, you begin to get comfortable eventually in that new place that once seemed hard and then, well, you gotta push out of it again.

I’ve talked before about the mental aspect of our comfort zone. Your mind is a very formidable opponent and you need to be able to overcome the self defeating thoughts it can churn out. And believe me, when you are pushing yourself and your body is in a place that it’s not used to, those thoughts can come.

Your mental muscle needs to be as strong as your body, if not more so I believe. when you push out of your zone of “ease and lack of pain.”

I’ve learned so much as an athlete what it means to get out of my comfort zone. I’ve done more than I would’ve ever *intellectually* thought I could do.

Of course this applies to anything in our lives that challenges us. I’ve taught myself new things that seemed a bit out of my range.  Sometimes it’s kinda that “sink or swim” mentality in doing stuff.

I’m not sure, but maybe being a bit fearless sometimes helps too haha

Our comfort zone can cripple our dreams..

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Anytime we prefer to stay within our comfort zone, we risk not growing . We risk not learning new things or taking on new adventures. We potentially let our dreams go if we can’t or are unwillingly to get out of our level of comfort and ease and sameness that we know.

Any of my major athletic events I took on, initially scared me. Not in the sense of being frightened but more that healthy respectful fear of knowing I was going up against something I had no previous experience in. It does seem daunting when I’m considering a 50k race ( 31.7 miles) or a multi sport event as in the duathlon I did last year.

What scared me more was backing off because then I’d always wonder if I could’ve done it or if I had what it took. Or worse yet, hating myself for not having the strength to stand up and do it, for quitting before I started.

All of those things seemed worse than just jumping off the deep end and doing it.

And I did. I’ll never be the fastest or most impressive runner or cyclist or monkey juggler.

What will set me apart is that I didn’t make excuses, I was willing to get uncomfortable and in doing so, I accomplished things I never thought I’d do.

There is nothing.. that feels better… nothing.

What about you?

Are you more comfortable staying in your comfort zone? Are you comfortable staying where you feel safe?

Maybe you are a risk taker and know what it takes to reach new goals or see dreams realized and you know getting out of your comfort zone is how it happens.

No matter what goals or dreams you have, there will be continual times you are pressing out of your comfort zone, and then you’ll be pressing out of it again.

It’s an ongoing cycle if we want continued growth and want to achieve our goals and dreams.

Don’t be afraid of leaving your comfort zone behind, there’s only new adventures in front of you and those can be exciting places to go to.

Tell me, are there specific times you’ve left your comfort zone? What did you accomplish doing so? How did that change future new ideas/ adventures you encountered?

I Don’t Feel Like Working Out

exercise motivation

Happy Weekend boys and girls =)

I shared this on my Facebook page yesterday and decided that maybe you, my 1.5 readers in blog world, might occasionally suffer with this problem too.

And the problem is?  You get hit with the “I don’t feel like doing my workout” bug …. the following is how it went down….

Workout done.  Soooo…..what’s new you think? You’re always working out…big deal.
Flat out… I didn’t feel like it…at all.

A restless night, up earlier than usual to get kid to first day of work, and a creepy, yucky morning had all the makings of me wanting to crawl in clothes two times to big, get a huge cup of coffee and watch mindless morning tv.

I think it’s important you know I have occasional times where I wrestle with wanting to make excuses to not get my fitness time in. I don’t always feel like being the Energizer Bunny.

Given todays weather I had decided it was strength training day. Then the ancient cd player I use out in my “gym” decided it didn’t want to spin discs  which almost seemed FURTHER confirmation maybe I should be lazy…but no…

’cause now I was just …mad…. and that is definitely fire to move me.

Fine … I’ll take it in the house where I can use my Ipod.

Give me 30 minutes, my body, 35 lb weights and I will kill it. Add the fire of being super annoyed already…. hello sweat fest and a good ( fast) solid body workout.

And it’s done. There are ( occasional and appropriate times) where a workout just might not happen…. it’s life.

I gave up years ago making excuses to…. just…not do it… based on random feelings. Sometimes your mental muscle has to kick in and take over your body and determine you are going to go get the job done.

When I feel an excuse coming on it’s even more compelling for me to push through it and make it happen.

I know I will feel better afterwards mentally and physically. And I do. I feel amazing and am so grateful I did do it.

So will you. Don’t let excuses hamper you from positive forward movement.

If you have made exercise a habit in your life, do you have times you wrestle with doing a workout? How do you talk yourself through it? How do you feel when you’re done ?

I’m An Athlete

So I’ll confess I had a different title for this blog… then I saw this statement on a t-shirt a friend was wearing… and decided it would be my new title.

I told him I needed that shirt… he said he could get me one…  I think… that would be wicked cool.

I guess that statement resonated with me ’cause I haven’t always thought of myself as an athlete.

For years I was this middle aged woman out for walks to help knock some weight off. Even as I eased into running and picked up working with weights a little, I was still just a middle aged woman doing some exercise.

And that’s fine… I mean really… I didn’t give it a thought. I just did my thing.

Besides, weren’t athletes professionals who made a lot of money for their sport and were on cereal boxes ?

I cooked along in my own little happy exercise zone until one day, about a year or two back, someone asked me if I had run that morning.

I told him yes, yes I did, just 5 miles.

His response? “You eat 5 miles for breakfast. You run before some people are out of bed. You run more miles at once than most people ever will. You are the only athlete I know !”

That kinda brought me up short. I mean in the last couple years my running has certainly geared up a lot, my cross training has deepened and I’ve tried to add more cycling in. My nutrition has definitely come into line with my athletic endeavors…. my training more dialed in to what I was doing… but it all just felt normal to me.

Like… you know…  a middle aged woman starting to get some things… right…..

Yet he referred to me as an athlete.

I'm an athlete
I don’t currently rock a mustache 😉

It was the first time someone had specifically referred to me that way and when I shared that with others their response was… “of course you are!”

I guess I was slow accepting something I thought was only set aside for the elite….. the famous….those….were athletes.

However, in these last couple years, I’ve allowed that description to settle on me… to define me somewhat.

Why? Because I got that I was, that I am.

Perhaps I began to understand that being an athlete in it’s truest sense is a lifestyle, a way of living, covering everything from physical activity, to nutrition, rest, recovery and caring for your body in a very intentional way. You think like one which carries over into actions and attitudes in ALL of your life.

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When you begin to think like this… you’re moving that way to getting it.

It’s taking on a sport and learning all you can and striving to be the best you can be in it, regardless if you get paid or if you’re ever really known for anything.

After this past year with some amazing new personal goals conquered, I’m ok with wearing that statement on my chest.

As an athlete, I’m learning to deal with my body during peak training, and off season. Running a zillion miles a week keeps me super lean, off season as I’m finding out this year, I’m adding more muscle ( now all those calories can go to muscle building and not just getting burned off as fuel 😉

It is a change I have to be able to roll with.  A change that is relatively new to me. I physically can’t train at a high level year round, no one can. I probably need to enjoy it ’cause once I start back to serious training in a few months, my body will once again, go through a changing process.

This is what it is to be an athlete. Hard work…discipline…..change. Repeat.

A lifestyle. A choice to pursue your athletic goals with passion. Learning to embrace every aspect of what you do.

I’ve also found the same dedication, focus, perseverance, strength, sacrifice, mental strength, and commitment needed as an athlete carries over into all aspects of my life and that’s not a bad thing.

So, I’ll just remind you, as you pursue your passion and learn to live, train, and breathe what you do, you too are an athlete.

How do you view your physical activities? Is it a hobby to you? Just some exercise?  Or do you consider yourself an athlete?