"A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there."
Comfort zones. Safe, welcoming, accepting, and familiar. As humans, we love them. We get used to things happening a certain way and begin to expect them to always happen that way. We settle into a routine and we get good at it. Really good. The more we do the task, the better be get. We get so good at doing these things that we could do them with our eyes closed. We get comfortable and confident, but also complacent. It is here that a funny thing begins to happen. Our feelings start to shift from being content and happy to stale and burned out. It's a slow process and most often creeps up over time at a pace so slow that most people are completely unaware of it until they wake up one day feeling unhappy with where they are in life not knowing why. At this point you might begin questioning different moments in your past, seeking answers as to what has led you to feel so unhappy and in a rut when nothing in your life has changed and not so long ago you can remember feeling completely happy and content. What happened? What changed? In my opinion, the answer to those questions is simple. Nothing changed. And that's the problem.
If you stop and think about it, every big accomplishment in your life happened as a result of you stepping outside of your comfort zone. It's the challenges and obstacles we face that shape and mold us into the people we are today. If you're a couch potato and want to be fit, you've got to step outside of your comfort zone of a sedentary lifestyle filled with junk and begin making better dietary choices and exercising. Maybe you're a runner but want to build some muscle. You've got to step outside of your comfort zone of running and start weight training while running less. Or maybe you've been going hard in the gym for several years and have built an impressive physique but you want to get bigger or leaner still. Again, you've got to step outside of your comfort zones of your current workouts and diet and push yourself into an uncomfortable place to reach those goals.
Don't get me wrong, comfort zones aren't all bad and can be good things. They can help keep you disciplined and maintain your desired lifestyle. Maybe you've hit your goals and just want to hit cruise control for a while because you're happy and content with where you are in your life. That's completely fine, there is nothing wrong with that! Just understand that any time you enter a comfort zone, you're also exiting a place of growth and progress. If you've been hammering out the same workout for months or years on end and you're still lifting the same weights for the same amount of reps, you're in your comfort zone and you need to get out. If you've been eating the same way for months or years on end and you're not seeing any changes in your body composition or physique, then you're in your comfort zone and you need to get out. Unless you change something, nothing will change. Again, if you're happy with where you are and that's where you want to stay, then by all means stay there and enjoy your life. But if you're living in your comfort zone and expecting big, amazing things to just happen, then you need to give yourself a reality check. You need to make some changes. Changes can be uncomfortable, but that uncomfortable world is where growth and progress happens. Don't hide from it, expect it and embrace it.
Comfort zones can hold us back in all aspects of our lives, not just fitness. The principles remain the same regardless of the situation. Maybe you're working a job that you just really don't care for, but you stay because it pays the bills and it's what's you know. It's comfortable. Maybe you're facing problems in your relationship and you don't handle them well but it's what you're used to doing. It's comfortable. Maybe you're living in a city you really don't like but it's always been your home. It's comfortable. It's time to get uncomfortable. It's time to make some changes. Train harder. Eat better. Study longer. It doesn't matter what part of your life we're talking about, if there's a comfort zone holding you back then step out of it! Take action! Get comfortable being uncomfortable!
- Andy Chapman