5 min read

Get Comfortable with Discomfort

Kid.DiscomfortThis post is inspired by a client, who will know who they are, but I also know they will prefer anonymity, so hence forth they will be known as ‘they.’

For years now, they’ve known and we’ve joked about their steady state of ‘complaining.’

Yep, it happens nearly every session — unless there is a friend in sight during a ‘group’ session, then the rules change; funny how peer pressure works — that they will resort to ‘whining‘ of some kind.

Just in case you were thinking, you were the only one who complained about workouts…

I’m now fairly used to hearing things like:

“This is too hard Darren.”

“This is too heavy for me Darren.”

“Are you crazy? I can’t do that!”

I say whining, with sincere love and appreciation, it’s mostly a big joke between us now; no big deal.

However, for years, they’ve also been coming back and asking for more, even as my career has shifted gears in different directions.

This has shown me that they are committed, and they do enjoy it, despite the words that come out of their mouth sometimes.

This is something I respect (and you should too; there is something to be learned from this), because even though I pretty much make them uncomfortable every single session they see me, they still come back to learn more and Kaizen themselves.

Now at this point you’re probably asking yourself, “why would anyone come back and train with Darren for that long?”

Believe me, I ask myself this most days, as I still think it’s the job of any good coach to try to put themselves out of a job.

I guess the funny thing about that objective is that it’s nearly impossible, especially as long as I keep learning and getting better along with the people I work with.

Honestly, sometimes I think I have the best job on the planet.

Moving along…

Although it’s more of a joke between us, I realize that that this is actually the norm for most people, and that’s unfortunate.

It’s not that the majority of people in North America grow up being whiners, complainers or sore losers by nature, it’s a learned behavior that stems from societal perceptions on failure and your own perceptions.

And I know because I’ve been there, failure was my biggest fear up until about 6 years ago.

Nobody wants to fail at anything, ever, these days.

Not wanting to fail means that nobody wants to take risks, if you don’t take risks you can’t fail.

Even small risks like lifting 5 lbs more than you did a week ago, or eating more vegetables this week, or pushing yourself just a little bit harder today than yesterday.

Not taking risks means that a lot of people are not getting any better at anything either.

You can’t succeed without taking risks.

Which means we have a lot of people just hanging out around the water cooler with the status quo, and this mentality might be preventing you from your weight loss objectives.

The idea of failure repulses the majority of us, and the notion of perfection is seriously flawed.

Now I know it may take a while for me to beat this notion out of your head — it took me 22 or so years to beat it out of my own… 

This is a risk I’m willing to take though (pun intended).

You’ve been told about your natural talents or lack-there-of since birth, it was reinforced in grade school and solidified by high school to a point where it determined your major or lack-there-of in a post-secondary institution.

It takes a lot to remove this image of yourself, so let me try anyway.

First you need to get uncomfortable with this idea:

‘Natural Talent’ is a falsehood.

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You are not naturally uncoordinated, coordination is a learned skill.

You are not naturally socially awkward, ‘social skills‘ are learned behaviors.

You are not terrible at math, you just didn’t learn the appropriate skills.

You need to stop self-labelling yourself with inaccuracies and deeply ingrained beliefs if you are to change where you are currently for the better.

Instead, adopt an attitude that looks at ability as skill-acquisition.

If you feel you are not ‘naturally’ good at something, then spin it into a phrase like, “I may not be great at this now, but if I deliberately practice to get better, the results will come.”

For more than 8 years I’ve witnessed people come out of there physical shells, people who were constantly telling me and themselves that they were uncoordinated, not athletic, or incapable, only to discover after a year or two of practice they are surprisingly coordinated, athletic and perfectly capable.

Truthfully, you can literally learn anything with enough deliberate practice, the right kind of feedback (ya coaching!), the right method/approach/chunking, and a little bit of stumbling.

Failure is a necessity to learning skills.

Now here’s the big kicker!

Being uncomfortable is a sure-tell-sign that you on the right path of learning.

That insight, seriously changed my life.

Being uncomfortable, means that you have to work through something, you have to piece together pieces of information and form the neural circuitry that cements your skills.

Have you ever seen Picasso’s early works? or heard Mozart’s early sonata pieces?

In Picasso’s realm, you’ll notice that it often resembles the work of any other young child at first, long before his well known cubism artistry showed through.

In Mozart’s case, his early pieces were more actually rip-offs of other composers, or compositions based on his Dad’s work (the one I shared is often attributed to his Dad…).

They might not be what you expected, and it turns out that the greats, become greats because they struggled to succeed.

Struggling = Deep Practice

Deep Practice = Deep Understanding

Deep Understanding = Results

You need to fall down a little or you’re not learning, or as we say on the ski hill, ‘If you don’t fall every now and then, you’re not trying!’

Failures helps ingrain skill, because you can identify where you went wrong, you effectively chunk and improve upon small pieces of the overall ability scale and how to overcome that in future challenges.

Deliberate practice needs to be over-reaching, or you won’t learn, there is nothing to strive for. If you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always got.

To get the most out of the weight loss journey, you need to constantly be getting yourself just a little bit outside your comfort zone in the gym, in the kitchen and upstairs in that beautiful brain of yours.

A literally requirement of weight loss to be inefficient (more energy out than in).

Inefficiency within a biological context, means adaptation, and adaptation is what you want if you’re perfecting your diet or exercise regime.

Inefficiency is uncomfortable, even for the most experienced athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

So the next time something feels too hard, remind yourself that this is a good thing, and that challenges mean results.

Got a story you’d like to share about pushing through discomfort? Leave a comment below!