Life isn’t supposed to be comfortable. The same goes for exercise.
Whether you have five or 50 kilograms to lose, however you’re training right now, it’s probably in your comfort zone.
Maybe it’s the same group fitness class you’ve been doing for a few years, or your regular five-kilometre jogging track.
Whatever it is, let me ask you this: how’s that working for you?
I don’t mean that in a condescending or sarcastic way – really honestly ask yourself.
If you’re continuing to grow stronger or are consistently getting faster times on that 5km, then congratulations – you’ve probably got this sorted.
But my guess is, for most people, it’s not working that well at all.
A first-class upgrade excluded, no good comes from being too comfortable. During exercise, you’re putting your body under stress – which is a good thing. This stress is what causes you to build muscle, lose weight and get fit. But before long, your body adapts to that stress, unless you keep challenging it in new ways.
Stop challenging it and you’ll stop progressing, which means falling into an exercise rut, aka, your comfort zone.
Think about the times in life you got uncomfortable and challenged yourself, and it paid off. Your health and fitness are no different.
A recent episode of Catalyst on ABC1 showed how just six minutes of high-intensity training a week can significantly increase weight loss and VO2 max – the ultimate measurement of aerobic fitness.
It works by increasing the amount of mitochondria (organelles that power our cells) our bodies produce. These little powerhouses help us move, think and stave off serious illness. The more we have, the better our VO2 max and the lower our risk is of developing heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Knowing we can get all those incredible benefits by going full throttle for just six minutes a week – without changing anything else in our lives – why is it that most of us would still be more motivated for our usual hour-long walk instead?
Because those six minutes will be hard – and definitely require exiting that comfort zone.
Plus, when trying something new, there’s always the potential for failure.
My friend is a great example of this. Because she won’t immediately be “good” at [insert challenging workout here], she won’t even try. She’s waiting until she’s fit enough before starting. Sorry, but that’s called stalling.
Making any kind of change in life – exercise or otherwise – often means having to face up to some “stuff”. It’s better the devil you know in your comfort zone, even if the devil is the same, old treadmill run, uninspiring strength workout or uncomfortable waist size.
It might be tough to hear, but hard work is exactly what’s needed to succeed with change. It’s something we readily accept when it comes to getting ahead at work, so why is our mindset different with nutrition and exercise?
I could give you all the clichéd exercise tips you’ve already read a hundred times before, but if they worked you wouldn’t be reading this.
Instead, I want to remind you of this saying:
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
So why not try something different with your exercise routine? It doesn’t matter what, just make sure it gets you right out of your comfort zone.
You only need to do it for six minutes a week.
Get uncomfortable for those six minutes and once you start feeling and seeing the pay-off, I have no doubt that six will gradually become 60 – and eventually more.
Then ask yourself: how is this working for me?
This yarn originally appeared on ABC News Online
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