We've all got our 'comfort zone', and it's a nice place to be. Mine usually looks like a lay in, followed by a steaming black americano, with a Portugese custard tart, a warm cosy knit jumper and a magazine. I'm content in that zone. It's 'comfortable'. This has however lead me down a pretty self indulgent path, that is all well and good sometimes, but my body certainly isn't thanking me. I've never been skinny, but there was a time in my teens where I trimmed down, enjoyed running, wore bikinis and drank slim fast like it was going out of fashion. When I look back now I think "damn I was HOT!", but I didn't feel it. I'm about 6 sizes bigger than I was back then, and still struggling with the old self-esteem, but I like myself now, and I guess growing older means you start to give yourself a bit more self praise.
So today I smashed my comfort zone and joined my local sports centre. It has a gym, a pool, classes, pumping dance music, fit people...standard. Definitely NOT my comfort zone. I don't wear trainers, or sports bras, or lycra, and I don't like sweating unless I'm on a beach with a book and can jump in the sea to cool off. But there I was, being talked through how to use a treadmill by a personal trainer, in trainers, a sports bra (these puppies need strapping down!), lycra and sweating. He left me once he'd shown me how to hike up the resistance on every cardio machine in the building, and I sheepishly got my ipod out of my bag and started 'warming up' on the cross trainer. My 'gym goddess' playlist took some serious time to put together, but I pressed play and started cross training. I decided on an interval programme, pushing myself hard for one minute and slowing down a bit for another minute, until my heart was pumping, sweat was collecting on top lip and I was bloody doing it! I'm out of my comfort zone but I'm actually liking it! I didn't want to go too mad, so I did 30 minutes and burned 350 calories, deciding that if I killed myself today I'd never go back! I even stretched afterwards! I walked out that building feeling like a total legend, telling the personal trainer I'd see him tomorrow!
My point is, our comfort zone is a pretty mundane place to be all of the time, and sometimes you've got to mess up your zones and do something that intimidates or scares you a bit. It makes the comfort zone a place you appreciate more, but also broadens your horizons and gives your life some variety, which is important if you don't want to end up bored and frustrated. Smashing your comfort zone and achieving something different gives you a natural high; a boost of satisfaction that you can ride for the rest of the day, or even months and years down the line. It also powers your confidence to try other things you never thought you'd be comfortable doing, but have always wished you could. I don't plan to become a fitness fanatic, with abs and stuff, but if I can continue to push myself physically, I know my physical and mental health is going to benefit massively, and I might be more willing to do something else I'm not yet comfortable with, like wearing sleeveless tops (I've got wobbly bits!).
So how about spending today thinking about what your comfort zone looks like, and what ways you could smash that to pieces! Leave me a comment and tell me about it, or let me know how you've got on with with a previous attempt at broadening your horizons. I'd love to hear your stories!