Ahhhh … sitting on my couch with my comfy pants on and remote in hand. Max is curled up half on my legs while the puppy is in a ball at my feet. I have a yummy dinner in my belly, a bowl of popcorn on my lap, and it is raining outside. Top Gun is in the DVD, and I am truly in my happy place. This is my definition of my happy place, my comfort zone. It’s easy; it’s comfortable.
What I left out is that I worked out for two hours this morning. Let’s not forget about trying to get a grumpy teenager out of bed and off to school (with his hair and teeth brushed). Laundry, dishes, and other domestic diva duties had to be done. I had a bunch of emails that needed to be answered, work on this article, and a conference call before running down to catch the 2:30p ferry. Did I mention the two-hour commute back to Connecticut for the night only to return 18 hours later (with a full agenda in between). I think you get the picture. Like everyone else, I am busy. There are endless amounts of excuses that can be used. I recognize how difficult it can be to get home after work, make dinner, execute the nighttime routines and still carve out time for yourself. I get it; I live it.
Comfort zones earned that description for a reason – it’s comfortable! They are easy and perhaps the best part of our day. After all we get accomplished during the day, don’t we deserve a break? There are no (or little) demands placed on us in our comfort zone. After I suffered the strokes, it was easy to hide in my comfort zone – I had every excuse to sit on my tush and feel sorry for myself. However, the nagging battle in my head kept me from finding peace. I knew the true reason for my lack of energy. I knew my headaches could not be solely blamed on my medical diagnosis but rather my poor nutritional choices were a major contributor. My physical aches and pains had a bonafide origin but the extra hundred pounds were only making it worse. I dreaded leaving my comfort zone, but I also knew it had to happen.
There were several nights where my exercise happened later at night. I absolutely DREADED it, and a few nights I even contemplated hanging out in the commuter parking lot around the corner from the gym for an hour. There were times when I felt beaten down. I felt like my body would not be able to keep up, and it was useless and a waste of time. Why should I even bother; it seemed like it was not making any difference at times. But I persisted.
Slowly, and I mean really slowly, I learned to look forward to my exercise time. To be more specific, I looked forward to the feeling I had when it was over. It was a feeling of accomplishment, pride, and happiness. On the days when I just wanted to climb into my comfort zone (a/k/a my bed), I reached out to a close friend who was my accountability person – the friend who would push me or remind me why this was important. Slowly I found my comfort zone was being redefined.
This article is more about me and my road to finding fitness. I hope you find yourself nodding your head with even a bit of recognition. My main goal is to help you recognize what your own comfort zone is. Recognize how easy it is to find an excuse and appreciate how difficult it is to challenge those excuses. Set your mission to redefine your comfort zone and include time for yourself. It may still include watching your favorite movie, but add some component of movement. Challenge yourself to add in some planks while the commercials come on; download your favorite author/musician and walk while listening. Google a new healthy recipe and try it out. Eliminate one cup of coffee or soda from your daily routine and substitute it with water. Boil some eggs or prepare five snack bags with vegetables on Sunday and reach for one instead of the junk food snack. Ask a trusted friend or loved one to be your accountability person. If you don’t have someone you can ask, reach out to me – I am happy to step into that role. I have walked in those shoes, and I know how valuable it can be. If you have a physical condition that prevents you from moving, schedule an appointment with the medical center. They will be able to set you on a course to reach your goals that take your limitations into consideration.
The most important thing I would like you to take away from this article is you CAN redefine your comfort zone. It will not always be easy … it will require you to get outside of what makes you comfortable. You will not always enjoy it. I absolutely promise the feelings of pride and accomplishment are real and are in your future. Look forward to the ride and make it a fun one!