Tuesday, June 26, 2012

But comfort zones are so... comfy!

Comfort zones are called just that for a reason: because they are the places where we feel safe, secure, and calm. They are the easy places, the places where we are sheltered and protected, the places where we just float along with the gently bobbing current. It’s so simple to get into an area where we are comfortable and just stay there, for days or weeks or years even. It happens in all facets of life – family, friendships, fitness, careers, hobbies. We find the things that we like that come naturally to us, and we hunker down. I, most definitely, am guilty of this. I am a creature of habit and comfort. Hell, I prefer “comfort” everything: comfort zones, comfort clothes, comfort foods… I just like to be comfy!

Every now and then, I have to give myself a little kick in the rear and force my way out of those safe places that I find. It isn’t easy. It makes me look long and hard at myself, and really evaluate the situation, and it forces internal honesty that sometimes makes me uncomfortable. But it is so necessary. It is so important to get outside of comfort zones, and find the amazing things that lie around you that you may never otherwise see (there is a possibility that I am just trying to convince myself of this, but I'm pretty sure it's true).

An easy current example of this is my fitness comfort zone. I have found routines and workouts that I like. I do the same mix of things week in and week out – I take the same classes, go for runs in the same areas, and stick to the same basic schedule. I like what I do. I’ve seen results from what I do. I still work really, really hard, and find myself out of breath and sore and sweaty – it’s not that my comfort zones are simple, they’re just my habits. And I forget sometimes to push myself just as hard in other directions. Sometimes I need a good shove.

In the last couple of weeks, I was coerced attended not one, but two new group fitness classes: Body Attack & Body Combat. And they were hard. It was pretty much as bad as I imagined, even hiding in the back of the room. I was uncoordinated. I didn’t know the moves. I was sweating like crazy and working muscle groups that I’d forgotten that I don’t necessarily work all the time. Let me tell you, I figured that out, because the day after Body Combat, I was so sore that it literally hurt to brush my teeth. I work those muscle groups (shoulders, arms, back) regularly – but not like that. It was such an eye-opener for me. Attending both of those classes reminded me about muscle memory – that even though I’m regularly working my muscles and my body hard, it’s necessary to throw myself for a loop sometimes, just to recharge and reactivate the muscles that get lazy and comfortable in their very own comfort zones. Besides, I actually really enjoyed both classes, which I’ve always previously said were “not my thing.” Maybe they are my thing, after all!

I’m currently out of my comfort zone in my professional life as well, and it’s not by choice, but it is necessary. I’m trying very hard to see it as a positive thing, and keep telling myself that perhaps this is the universe kicking me in the pants. Perhaps this is life’s way of pushing me out of the very comfortable spot I’ve been in for the last few months. After all, growth and learning do not occur if everything always stays the same. Change is necessary. Sometimes you find yourself in a big black hole, and it’s really scary – but if you walk a little farther, you realize that it isn’t a hole at all; it’s actually a tunnel, and you just hadn’t gotten far enough before to see the light. I had a serious talk with myself last night (not uncommon, apparently) and came to the conclusion that I can do this. Comfort zone, schmomfort zone. I feel like breaking into some sort of inspiring song and dance. Or hugging someone. Or at least high-fiving? YEAH. Hooray for pep talks!

Moral of the story: do the scary things. Do the hard things. Do the things that are “not your thing.” Get yourself out of your comfort zone, and grow a little, in ways you hadn’t even imagined. Annnnnd I’m off to take my own advice… (in my comfy clothes. Some things do not change.)


caityrogo said...

Heyyy what body attack class do you go to?? I loooove it but haven't been able to go to the Tuesday night ones anymore... ahem. Let me know when you go and I'll tag along!!

Lindsay said...

I went to the Saturday 8 AM class in Lorton - Suzann teaches it (hence the coercion, not my own great idea!). Most of the other times are not so good for me. Not sure how I feel about 8 AM on Saturdays as a reg thing though.... zzzzz

Ianni said...

I have a favorite quote that applies here: "A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for."

I try to live with that in mind. That is why I joined the Marines despite having a great job I loved. Pushing boundaries makes me feel alive like nothing else.

Lindsay said...

That's one of my favorite quotes. Says so much!

You are inspiring, Ianni. So proud of you for doing what you've done!

Katie said...

I couldn't agree with you more Lindsay! The classes that force me out of my comfort zone are cycling and any type of aqua classes!

Lindsay said...

I have never done either of those types of classes... the cycling classes at my gym are SO intense! Talk about scary. Aqua classes aren't offered, so I've never even investigated that... could be fun though!