Get Uncomfortable

I love my Peloton bike. My husband bought me one for Mother’s Day because he loves how happy and energized I am after a great spin workout. When I get off the bike, I feel what runners describe as a “high.” It is an inexplicable experience of anxiety slipping away, time standing still, a sense that all things are possible, and a gentle quietness in my soul. While this may sound overly dramatic or just plain crazy, it is a real for me.

The intensity of the workout is key to the overall experience. A spin workout is intense. Even though you don’t actually go anywhere, you will shed buckets of sweat as if you have just finished a hill climb segment of the Tour de France. Honestly, if you have never tried one before, then give it a go! Even if you don’t fall in love with it like I have, I guarantee you will enjoy a great workout.

Indoor spin cycles of all brands put you in control of the experience. There is a “red knob” that allows you to add resistance to the wheel, creating a demand for your leg muscles to work harder. How much harder is completely up to you. Maybe you also have taken a spin class where it is clear that some of our fellow riders don’t have much resistance on the wheel, bouncing in the seat and enjoying a nice cruise through the workout. There is no judgment, of course, because we all start somewhere and sometimes we need to take it easy to nurse an injury or catch our breath. When I recovered from heart surgery, I couldn’t wait to get back on the bike! The exercise was great for my recovery. Although in the past I was cranking through intense resistance, post surgery I was working hard to regain my strength with that red knob turned solidly to the left.

Now I am fully recovered and back to a normal exercise routine, including my beloved spin workouts. One of the Peloton instructors that I follow is Matt Wilpurs. He leads a great workout through a variety of training techniques that are guaranteed to increase your overall fitness level. I freely admit that I don’t fixate on output goals, I am not training for anything, and I completely ignore the “leaderboard” that charts your riff against all the other people taking the same class. What I do care about is working hard enough during the ride to experience that exercise “high.”

Matt loves to talk about his training experience. He runs, he swims, he competes in all sorts of events from marathons to triathalons. And since he has anywhere from 30-90 minutes to fill as he leads the class (your choice how long you want to ride!), he shares his experience to encourage you on your way. During a particularly challenging interval set, Matt named the importance of “getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.” We all know that in physical fitness, strength increases only when the stress of weight is put on the muscles. Our cardiovascular capacity increases only when we increase the amount of oxygen our body needs through intensity. Our mind has to decide to push our bodies through the feeling of being uncomfortable.

Pursuing your life goals also requires that you get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Every Life Design process will immediately put in you a position of choosing between ineffective familiarity and effective unfamiliarity. In other words, there are patterns and habits that you have developed in your life that are familiar to you. However, they are not necessarily supporting you in effectively achieving your goals. Maybe you turn on the television after dinner instead of writing a few pages of the book you dream to publish. Maybe you hit the snooze button until it is too late to get that workout in before you leave for work. Maybe you get lost on Instagram or Facebook instead of taking that 15 minute walk. There are lots of patterns and habits that can be described as ineffective familiarity.

Moving to effective unfamiliarity is challenging. Doing something new, before we have the muscles built to support it, is uncomfortable. Our family has moved several times to a new community. The first few months are really tiring because everything has to be relearned. The simple things, like how to get to the grocery store and learning where on the shelves to find bread and milk, takes great energy. The most simple and rote tasks are no longer on autopilot. Instead, they drain us of energy. And there is only so much energy to draw on in a given day. When you begin to map the way forward to the person you are called to be and the dreams you long to fulfill it will feel like a hill climb.

The new patterns and disciplines you name and begin to exercise will become the effective unfamiliarity that generates breakthrough. The first time you begin pushing up a hill on a spin ride, if you are anything like me, you immediately start to look for the relief. When are we going to reach the virtual top and coast down the other side? I am alone in my basement. No one is going to notice if I just turn that knob to the left and make it a bit easier. Water is really important; maybe this is a good time to take a break and hydrate. It is human to look for ways to decrease discomfort. That is the value of a trainer. When the Peloton instructor counts down the time, I am reminded this won’t last forever. The leaderboard reminds me that there are plenty of other people who are powering through this temporary discomfort, which ignites the competitor in me to keep going. Thinking forward to the scoop of ice cream that I enjoy each night after dinner motivates me to finish strong.

Just as a trainer in a physical workout keeps you focused and on track, Leslie and I are here to encourage you and to remind you of the goal you have that is worth the effort. Just like the scoop of ice cream that is even more delicious after a hard workout, your precious dream will be relished because of the work you put into achieving it. Effectiveness requires effort to get through the unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

Get uncomfortable. You can move past preferring the discomfort of what you know to the discomfort of change. There is no way to enjoy the beauty and thrill of the mountaintop experience without the hill climb. No question it will hurt on the way up. But we can learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable, redirecting the work from anxiety to productivity. Our effort will turn into steps toward the dream we have for our lives. We get stronger, more confident, and healthier from the effort.

Send me your stories of getting uncomfortable and the growth you are experiencing at #getuncomfortable

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