I’ve always said I don’t like being comfortable. The thought process being that it is usually upon getting outside of one’s comfort zone that you are able to grow. But the truth is; doing new stuff can be pretty terrifying.
I don’t like to be the new guy. It’s hard to “put yourself out there” in a way you haven’t before because you could fall flat on your face. Being a person who has on countless occasions, literally fallen on my face, the concept of making an ass of myself is something with which I am quite familiar. My oldest friends like to recount such stories to me. One in particular where an old man punked me saying, “have a nice trip little lady?” I may have even forgotten all about this particular offense if my friends hadn’t been so kind to bring it up so many times over the years. If you are a regular reader or have known me for any length of time then I don’t have to tell you my astounding athleticism has never been.
For me, being overweight came with a disconnect from my body. This is not to say that had I been smaller I would have been a phenomenal athlete. But it is difficult to push your body or focus on a physical task when you are overwhelmed with thoughts about how you are looking in athletic gear or just generally terrified you might be horrible at it. I don’t know what is going through a professional athletes mind when the big play relies on their performance, but I imagine how flattering their uniform is isn’t in the forefront of thier minds. Having been used to people making pig noises at me and making rude comments about my physique, these thoughts were hard to escape.
That’s really sad. When I look at the words I just typed it makes me a little sad. I want to throw in here now for good measure that my life didn’t suck really bad before I lost weight. I have been blessed with amazing friends, opportunities, experiences and a supportive family (both given and found) that would do anything for me. It’s not as though I spent my life until now in a room with rude people putting me down and emerged after spending some time with a taebo dvd a changed woman. I am the same… but I’m having a hell of a lot more fun.
When I started on this journey I was never sure of the end result. I knew I wanted to be healthier. I simply wanted to feel better and be physically able to do more. One of my “wake up call” moments came after I walked up the one flight of stairs at my job and had to stop because I was winded. I remember thinking, “I am 26, I should be able to walk up a flight of stairs without having to catch my breath.” But in order make changes/to be different, I had to do different things. New things. Things that might make me feel like a fish out of water.
For the last two years I have been slowly moving forward. I started walking around the block. Then I added a few hills. Gradually I began to jog, then run, then sprint, then I ran a half marathon. To start lifting weights I watched dvds and practiced the form. I lost the first 80 lbs in my neighborhood and my living room with new shoes and 5lb dumbbells that had been collecting dust in my possession for years. And then I moved to the gym and from my comfort zone on the elliptical machine to the free weight room where the big boys and “big boy” weights are found. All of these things use to be intimidating to me. I read every book in the local library about women and fitness. I was thankful to find the library has a self check out as having to walk up to an actual person with a book like “strength training for dummies” might have been enough to make me put it back on the shelf.
Doing new stuff is hard. It’s easier to do all the old stuff. The stuff you know you’re good at or at least are comfortable with. For me that was waking up at the last minute, going to work and coming home to make dinner and eat it with my husband on the couch. But feeling different and being different physically and otherwise- requires doing different stuff!
Starting this business was a huge new thing for me. Writing stuff like this for knowing that you, my mother-in-law and the paperboy could all possibly read it; and subsequently know all about my feelings and insecurities can be a tad daunting. But here’s the cool part. Once you start something it just keeps getting easier and easier. Because of that particular leap out of my comfort zone I am now doing something I love and am passionate about. It’s like my little “Oprah” moment over here. I’m doing what I love and it just so happens to be something I never in a million lifetimes would have thought I was capable of or would have the balls to do.
So today was a new step out of my comfort zone.
I have always had some semblance of an interest in boxing. Aside from a few failed attempts at attending classes in high school I have never entertained the idea of pursuing it. That would fall about as near to my comfort zone as Egypt is to where I sit. But tonight I trained with a local boxing club.
I had all of those familiar feelings (so familiar as they have come so often in the last few years). I wanted to give myself an excuse not to go. I wanted to fake illness. I wanted to turn around at the door and go home. If I didn’t have the adult sensibilities that tell me not to act completely crazy even when I feel like it, I would have thrown myself on the mat and had a temper tantrum more than once over the course of the two hour session. One of the women working out tonight was a national championship winning fighter. She stood, awaiting her turn and watched me doing burpees across the room. It is likely that she didn’t actually watch me, but if you’ve ever done burpees across a room in front of people then you know it does feel a little like you are on the spot.
But I did it. I showed up and gave it my best. It is entirely possible that I looked like a complete moron. But failure is just a goal waiting to happen, so I hope to be slightly better next time. At the end of all this I may find that for whatever reason boxing isn’t for me. But I know that if it isn’t I will keep finding new challenges to pursue. And there will be another first day, a chance to look silly and an opportunity to grow.
If you want to improve your physical fitness or hell, just the shape of your butt, you have to try doing something different than you currently do. Silence the inner temper tantrum and just go for it. Most people won’t judge you for looking silly trying something new but know that the ones who do are just insecure themselves. And bear in mind that excellence is a habit. We are what we repeatedly do, so if you want to become something new, you just have to repeatedly do it.
Have you huffed and puffed up your last stair case? What is your boxing? The sooner you start moving slowly in the direction of your dreams the closer you will always be to reaching them.
So here’s to sticking your neck out!
Here’s to falling on your face!
Here’s to risking making a complete ass of yourself!
You might grow in ways you never thought imaginable. You could even fall in love. Or you may just fall on your face to have your friends remind you of it for the next few years– but the worse fate would be to never have tried.