February 4, 2015 at 9:00 am EST | by Gerard Burley
Finding comfort in the uncomfortable
uncomfortable, gay news, Washington Blade

Exercise is finding comfort in the uncomfortable.

Before I get into my health and fitness tips for this week, I want to clarify my last article “The Company We Keep.” I received quite a few comments and concerns from readers, so I wanted to share my response:

I never meant to be insensitive. The point I wanted people to gather from my article is that when you are struggling with weight loss and adapting to a healthier lifestyle, the change is a very arduous one, one that most people are not able to adapt to and maintain on their own.

We see this in our country’s current obesity epidemic. The biggest misconception in my article was that everyone should just up and get rid of their overweight friends. When I said to get new friends I meant to say get additional friends. That said, you can encourage your friends to get healthier with you, but if they are not ready, I think it is smart to expand your circle of friends to ones who are already living a healthy lifestyle.

Once you have adopted a healthy lifestyle, you understand the balance and discipline needed to live a healthy life and your environment is less significant than at the beginning of your journey. In my experience, people who are just starting this journey have not yet mastered this process and their environment is crucial to their outcome. Overall, weight and health are sensitive issues for many because pain is connected with them and people feel attacked. At the end of the day, as much as it may hurt to hear, those closest to you could also be the main ones holding you back from achieving your goals.

Moving on, this week I want to touch on a question that I was approached with from one of my new clients: “What is exercise to you?” I’m sure my new client thought I’d say something to the effect of, “It’s about digging in and giving all that you got, to feel the endorphins in the body while pumping weights and loving the sweat.” To her surprise, my answer was short and sweet. Exercise is finding comfort in the uncomfortable.

Though my answer may sound simple, it’s more complex as you look into it deeply. When I think of finding success with health and exercise, whether it’s getting in the last five reps on a push up or committing to eating more vegetables each day, it’s really about staying comfortable in a state of discomfort. Many times, when something doesn’t feel easy, that’s the point when you are making the most impactful changes. For me, this mirrors happiness and success in life. For different people success means different things, but to me success is living your life to your fullest potential and being happy with that effort everyday. Being able to adapt and find the stillness during uncomfortable spaces in life is a skill that the most successful people have.  Mastering this skill can be a tough one, but I have two tools you can use to help break through your barriers and find comfort.

We’ve all heard the phrase “keeping it real,” and if you haven’t, please turn on Bravo for a brief education from Ms. Nene Leakes on how to use it. Most of the time people use this in reference to being fully honest and true to others. We have to also make sure we’re keeping it real with ourselves, which is keeping it really real. In the gym I see it all the time when someone tells me that they worked as hard as they could on an exercise, but we both know that they didn’t.

Did you really give it your all or did you quit the moment that it got a little uncomfortable? Did you stop when it got hard? When things get uncomfortable is where change begins to happen. When the reps are still easy, the body stays the same. In my experience with training people, I find that most people are way stronger than they think they are, both physically and mentally. It just takes time for them to learn how to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

One thing that walks hand in hand with discomfort are negative thoughts. Whether it’s doubt, fear, uncertainty, anger, etc., they all seem to pop up in our heads as soon as things get uncomfortable. How you think through uncomfortable periods usually dictates how you perform through them.

For me, breathing through exercise is very important, not only for the physical benefits of keeping the body oxygenated, but also helping me to get through the tougher parts of the exercise. When you get to that point of discomfort, stop, take a breath, and reenergize your mind with encouragement. Before letting any negative thoughts take control, tell yourself, “I can do this,” and you’re already on your way to success. It may seem corny, but what you think will happen, will happen. Remember, it’s not that those who are effective don’t face the negative thoughts that we all do, it’s that they are able to stop, breath away the negativity, and change it to a positive thought. A little breath can go a long way.

Whether in our workouts or our daily lives, we are all faced with times of discomfort. Learning how to deal with these times is pivotal to finding success and growing into a healthier, happier us. At the end of the day, your true character is shown when you are pushed outside of your comfort zone, so make sure it’s the character you want to be. Be strong, because you are!

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