Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
Updated: Oct 26, 2019
Nine brief years ago (which seems like both yesterday and a lifetime all at once) I signed up to my first health & fitness club. 'twas a large facility consisting of all the reputable bells and whistles one could possibly need for in their quest for improved fitness.
We're talking free weights, cardio equipment, fitness classes, swimming pool, sauna and of course effervescent, fit bodies positively littering the gym floor. I eagerly pried $320 out of my pocket and thrust it towards the club facilitator to get me signed up, inducted as part of the crew and swiftly on my way to a better beach bod.
Strap yourself in, session one commences and we are away: A lovely personal trainer guided me through the facility and introduced me to the concept of good gym etiquette before proceeding to walk me through my program... and just like that, I was a fully equipped with my 'gym license' and ready to drive this bad boy.
At the end of this initial experience the dopamine flushed through my system and left me feeling like a new woman, brimming with confidence and sass... You know that feel-good hit we revel in when the reward center of our brain realises we have ticked off a task? Well, combine that with the additional dose of endorphins we get from the exercise itself and #bam I was floating on cloud nine, baby!
To many this may seem like nothing. But to me, I had taken courage to step out of the cotton wool of my familiar world and into a place of absolute discomfort. Low and behold, I had not only survived this epic experience, but I positively thrived in it!
Who knew fitness could be so easy...
Session two, basically a fitpro already: Ummmm, most certainly not. As I pulled up in the car park for my second episode of awesomeness to unfold I was smacked in the face with a terrible and unexpected feeling of nerves and anxiety. I felt completely out of place and was sure that all eyes were firmly on me as everyone strongly agreed with my inner critic.
This feeling kept me clinging to a secluded treadmill for an hour where I did nothing more productive than walk for an hour. Yes, I drove to a gym... to walk on a treadmill. Then, I left.
I didn't know then what I know now. But I knew that I didn't like feeling like that so I waved farewell to my $320 and stepped back into my comfort zone... albeit feeling a little bit shitter, a little bit more discouraged... but comfortable in the old familiar discomfort of not being as fit and healthy as I desired.
The thing is comfort zones appear safe, but they are not. I honestly believe that to remain within them is detrimental to not only the realisation of our potential but also to our overall health and happiness. We are designed to grow, develop, achieve and succeed. Our physiology directly responds to this.
Your brain releases feel-good chemicals when you accomplish things, complete tasks and stimulate yourself with meaningful goals.
I never gave up on mine. It sure as sh*t was no overnight success, but bit by bit I chipped away at those shackles of comfort. Nine years on and not only do I live my life inside what used to be one hell of an uncomfortable place, but I have continued to nudge discomfort each and every day.
I'd dare you to tell that '9 years ago' version of Tiff that she would one fine day be a Personal Trainer... A Victorian amateur boxing champion... An owner of multiple fitness clubs... An online fitness coach...
My, wouldn't she have laughed at you back then. My, isn't she laughing now.