I talk a lot about how humans are hard-wired for survival. If you haven’t yet, read my Blog on weight loss here. I talk about how we are designed to survive, and as part of that instinct, we are also hard-wired for comfort. We truly are hedonists. Not because we are lazy, but because comfort and ease mean that we don’t have to exert ourselves. And exertion means a threat to a body’s homeostasis. The human body is designed for incredible levels of work. We really are built to run, jump, play, push and strive. However, our survival mechanism pipes in as a little voice and tempts us with a nice nap, a cookie, or a movie instead of a workout.
But, we’ve all heard it before: Progress does not come from comfort.
“Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone”
It’s a quote that I refer to alllllll the time because it applies to so many facets of life. I’m also a bit lazy, so I have to remind myself of this every day. I had a very, very difficult year last year. I know many of you can relate, it sounds like we all had tough times. For me, it was one of those phases that was relentless, that pummeled me down to the ground. I honestly thought it would never end, but then one day I started noticing that I was living my life differently. I started to notice that I had new perspectives on life, new definitions, and a peaceful sense of clarity. Each day got a little bit better and today I am writing this from a mountaintop on Maui overlooking the ocean. I am here with a client whom I adore, getting to provide a service to him that I believe in. Could it get any better? I’m not sure I would have appreciated this as deeply as I do today had I not been beaten up last year. This progress came only after a phase of discomfort.
This same concept applies to fitness. You will only inspire changes in your body by challenging it beyond its current ability. In order to become stronger, fitter, faster or leaner, you must work through some discomfort to create change. If you are going about your weekly workouts with the same effort or intensity, you are not going to see improvements in your fitness level. Your efforts must be a teeeeeeeny bit harder than what your inner hedonist would prefer. It is called a WORKout, right? One question I get asked very frequently is “How do I know if I am working hard enough?” Ask yourself this question: “At this very moment during my workout, do I feel like I’m working?” Be honest with yourself and see what the answer is. The answer needs to be a definitive “Yes!” If the answer is “I think so” or “Ohhh, I could probably work a little harder”…then you NEED TO WORK A LITTLE HARDER!
Now, I know you better than you think. You are one of two kinds of people:
The kind who pushes themselves relentlessly.
The kind that prefers a nap.
(I’m the kind that prefers a nap. Seriously. Naps are awesome, right?)
What’s really key here is to understand that your body will respond best and fastest if you push it 10-20% beyond its current ability. Some of you push too hard, and need to back off a little bit. The majority of you – like me – need to push just a touch more. Think of this in very general terms: on a scale from 1-10, rate the effort level of your workout at any given moment. Ask yourself: “How hard am I working?” Don’t overthink it, just let your gut make a snap decision and pick a number on the scale. For most workouts, you need to be around a 7-8 effort level on that scale. Most of you are currently working around a 5-6 effort level. So step it up! Work a bit harder. Walk a little faster; lift a little heavier; dance with more enthusiasm. And when it gets a bit uncomfortable, remember this:
Have the courage to embrace your discomfort.
When I was in high school I had braces on my teeth. Every month I would be so excited for my visit when the dentist would tighten my braces. Afterward, my teeth would hurt like hell. And I loved it. Why? Because I knew that the more my teeth hurt from the adjustment, the better they were going to look when the braces came off. In some twisted way, I was able to associate discomfort with progress.
This week, I want you to try and embrace discomfort. Actually embrace it. When you get uncomfortable in your workout, give yourself a hug and welcome it. It takes some practice, but I promise you, it is a magical key to unlocking all of the potential that I know is inside of you. You are sitting on a massive amount of potential in all aspects of your life. You have the ability to create a strong, fit, resilient body. You just need to make friends with discomfort, and remember that your inner hedonist might pipe in from time to time. Discomfort is scary and no fun! But if you pay attention to it, it’s the roadmap to a tremendous amount of progress.
We all do better when we are accountable to our goals. Right now, in the Comments below, share with me your commitment to stepping up your workouts this week. Tell me how you are going to challenge yourself 10-20%. Which workout this week is going to contend with your inner badass? Be brave, embrace the discomfort and watch the magic unfold.
Posted by Holly Perkins on February 4, 2014 at 10:29 pm | Comments: 4 |