No Progress? Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone

by Suzanne Hiscock
In their struggle to lose weight and get fit, many people hide behind their comfort zone -- too afraid to push themselves that one extra step that will give them a breakthrough.

Too afraid that bad things are going to happen to them; that they’ll look stupid or get laughed at.

But staying in your comfort zone means it will take you much longer to reach your goals.  You end up being "stuck" in the same place.

Let me tell you a story...

A few years ago, I broke my wrist when I slipped on ice in the dead of winter.   Needless tos say, I'm now cautious around ice.

No, scratch that. I'm deathly afraid of ice.

Fast forward a few years later:  on a wintery day, I wanted desperately to head out to my hot yoga class.

The problem? My driveway was covered in snow and ice from a previous storm and there'd been freezing rain overnight.

Even though things had warmed up by mid-afternoon, the thought of going anywhere near my driveway made me cringe.

I decided to skip the hot yoga class, even though I knew it would make me feel good.

But after a while I thought to myself, "Am I overreacting out of fear? Is it really that bad out there?"

I decided to head out outside to see if I could figure out a way to get safely into my car, despite the queasy, "Oh no I'm going to fall and break something" feeling sitting in the pit of my stomach.

I analyzed the situation -- and then got to work with salt and an ice chopper. Before I knew it, I had a created a safe path to my car -- just in time to leave for my hot yoga class.

And the kicker?

Once I pulled out of the driveway and got to the main streets, everything was smooth sailing. I was letting one little thing stop me from heading out into the world.

Here are some of the more common situations that stop you from moving forward and out of your weight loss comfort zone:

1) You're too shy to do a group exercise class.

You’ve been wanting to join an exercise class, but you’re just too darn shy and feel some anxiety before walking into class.

One solution is to hop onto the treadmill or elliptical and do about 10 to 15 minutes of cardio before class. Not only will burn extra calories, but all those endorphins will make you feel less anxious.
Eagle Pose
 

2) You're afraid of looking stupid.

This reminds me of one beginner in my hot yoga class. The eagle pose can mess up beginners because you have to twist your right arm underneath your left arm in one swooping motion.

This woman behind me kept messing it up -- but she didn’t let that stop her. I could see her in the mirror, laughing quietly to herself and shaking her head. By the fourth try, she’d figured it out.

What you have to remember is that everybody learns new exercises in phases. Psychologist Fitts and Posner (1967) theorized that we learn something new in three specific phases.
 
  1. Cognitive Phase -- this is the beginner phase, where everything is new and you don’t know what you’re doing. You make mistakes. You just know you’re doing something wrong but you’re not sure how to do it right.
     
  2. Associative Phase -- this is the intermediate phase. You know the basics and the fundamentals. Now you can concentrate on the little things that perfect the exercise. You still make mistakes but they’re fewer.
     
  3. Autonomous Phase -- this is the advanced phase. You can perform the exercise ‘automatically’, without thinking about it. If you do something wrong, you’re aware of it on your own and can correct the movement.
     

Even the best Olympic athletes have to go through the Cognitive Phase. So, give yourself a break, don’t be so hard on yourself -- and laugh.

See: Good Exercise Workouts for Beginners

3) You don’t like sweating.

Chances are you’re going to sweat when doing exercise. You might tell yourself you’ don’t like sweating and you don’t like the feeling. But it’s just a story you’re telling yourself. Let yourself sweat and you’ll get used to it.

Is there something specific about sweating that you don’t like? Can you buy exercise clothes that wick sweat away from the body? Would wearing a headband help?

The best shower you’ll ever have is the one after you were sweating like crazy while exercising.

4) You won’t try new foods.

Changing eating habits is never easy. And if you have an aversion to fruits and vegetables, changing those habits can be even more difficult. You get tired of eating the same old foods yet you hesitate to try anything new.

Nobody says you have to make drastic changes. You can buy one fruit or one vegetable to try out. Do a bit of research first and find an easy yet tasty recipe to try.

See: How to Get More Veggies Into Your Diet

Forget your childhood food fears, too. Just because you hated vegetables when you were a kid doesn’t mean you have to hate them now. Be adventurous and try something that you hated when you were a kid.

Branch out to other cuisines and away from basic meat and potatoes. Do you know someone who likes Thai food or some other cuisine? Ask her for an easy-to-like beginner dish whose flavor is not too overpowering. Something that will give your taste buds a little excitement.
 
"Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
~Brian Tracy


The thing is, you’re never going to see improvements in your weight loss and fitness if you don’t step outside of your comfort zone. It might be scary, but if you put one foot out there, you’ll gain more and more confidence to venture outside of that zone. And there’s a whole new world out there, waiting to be explored.

So, what’s stopping you? Pick one little fear that’s keeping you in your comfort zone. What steps can you take to push yourself that one little bit so that you can gain momentum? Let me know in the comments down below!

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About the Author

Suzanne Hiscock is a PN1 Nutrition Coach, ACE-certified Health Coach, as well as an ACE-certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist. For over 16 years, she has been helping people lose weight and get fit through her website, FitWatch.com. Whether it's with one-on-one nutrition coaching, nutrition programs or courses, and tools or calculators, she can help you to eat better, move more and believe in yourself.