We as humans are designed to avoid pain and pursue pleasure. Because of this we often find ourselves perpetually behaving in ways that don’t lead us towards our larger goals or vision. We are focused on the current moment and how to achieve either of those two things. This is true of any area of life and we often see it in health and fitness endeavors.
We follow the path of least resistance. Instead of asking ourselves “how can I challenge myself in this moment?” we move towards things we feel safe, comfortable, confident or familiar with. For example, we may avoid doing another rep, adding load and moving faster because that will be difficult, uncomfortable, or unfamiliar so we stay at the same pace and intensity that we are confident we can handle.
The problem with this is when we stay comfortable we don’t grow. Comfort is the enemy of progress. It’s driven by fear and convinces us our doubts are a reality. We continue to find ourselves frustrated with our lack of progress in the gym when we avoid pain, pursue pleasure and follow the path of least resistance.
I too often hear in my classes, “I can’t” before an attempt is even made. Why are we so quick to sell ourselves short? When we say “I can’t” we’ve already made a decision that the endeavor before us isn’t possible before we even start. You then fast forward months later and you still can’t because you have convinced yourself so.
FYI you are probably gonna suck at something when you first try it, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid the pain of being bad at it. The pleasure that comes with comfort is momentary because later you will find yourself disappointed that you still can’t do something. Acting out of fear will always limit your growth, progress, success and possibilities.
We must get uncomfortable. We must choose the path that creates discomfort physically and emotionally if we want to improve our health, fitness and lives. There is no magic formula to make things that seem difficult easier so you are more comfortable trying them. You simply have to “just do it”.
There are so many things in life I pursued that made me uncomfortable. I can share countless stories of how I started off not having a clue how to do something, but did it anyways. None of my personal, professional and training success were born out of doing what felt safe and comfortable. Everything pushed me to the edge and made me overcome fears, doubts and self-limiting thinking. I had to move towards the discomfort and resistance. I had to leave my comfort zone behind.
I have been training for a LONG time, almost 20 years of my adult life. I have learned a lot in that time and had to push myself to get REALLY uncomfortable many times (fighting an opponent in the ring is a bit anxiety provoking). While I don’t train for competition purposes anymore, I still push myself to get uncomfortable when I train. I test myself when I add more weight to a lift and have to talk myself up mentally for certain exercises. I try to do exercises that I initially suck at, but work to get better at them.
And recently I hired a new coach to help me with improving my form/mechanics and strength, along with helping me accomplish my latest endeavor. I am working towards getting StrongFirst Kettlebell certified and it’s a no joke killer physical test to get certified. I am going through the experience of being a beginner at some things and the feelings of knowing someone is critiquing my form. I have to suck or not be very good at things right now if I expect to get better, stronger and get my SFG cert.
Having a coach again puts me out of my comfort zone. It’s easy for me to stay in my little KO bubble training myself and not have any outside feedback. Now working with a coach, I am testing myself, making myself vulnerable and being evaluated. It’s a journey that will only make me a better athlete, coach and improve my health & fitness. If I choose to stay in my comfy little world, I would never know what my true potential and abilities are.
So moral of the story, step out of your comfort zone with your training. Push yourself to be a little better everyday. Don’t say “I can’t”. Embrace the beginner mentality and get comfortable not being good at things. When you can learn to get yourself uncomfortable and no longer following the path of least resistance in the gym, you will be blown away how that transfers into confidence and courage outside of the gym.