Is Your Comfort Zone Holding You Back from Your Health Goals?
It’s safe to say that in 2019 life is extremely comfortable for the vast majority of us. We have access to shelter, heating, clean water and a range of machines and gadgets that generally make life so much easier than it ever was for previous generations. Yes, there are still plenty of things that stress us, but in terms of basic comforts, life is pretty good!
So how might this work against us?
The snack market in the UK is huge (almost £3bn each year). For years, we’ve been encouraged to eat little and often, and marketing would lead us to believe that snacks are essential. But are they?
In a previous blog I’ve talked about sticking to three meals a day
and I’m generally not a fan of the concept of grazing – even the really healthy snack foods!
My general guide is that if you’re really hungry and you have over an hour until your next meal, then having a healthy snack to sustain you can be a good idea. Otherwise, mild hunger is a good, healthy and normal state for us to be in. Mild hunger usually means we’re burning fat, giving our digestive system a break and it sensitises the taste buds for our next meal.
Unfortunately, most of us have been convinced (by ourselves or otherwise) that any level of hunger is completely intolerable. As a result, we can often end up eating more than we should during the day, struggling to lose or maintain our weight and maybe even contributing to digestive issues.
Be honest. Are you genuinely worried about where your next meal is coming from? Assuming no one reading this has genuine concerns about starvation, leaving a solid 4-5 hours between meals should not cause anxiety.
Anyone who has read or listened to any of David Goggins’ books or social media will no doubt have heard his rule that “when your mind is telling you that you’re done, you’re only 40% done”. If you’re familiar with his physical achievements, they are incredible and result from a mindset that seems as if it’s on another level!
Whilst we don’t all need to run 100-mile ultramarathons or break world records for pull ups, there’s so much to learn from him. In fact, I recommend his audio book “Can’t Hurt Me” to nearly everyone trying to pursue a goal of any kind.
Of course, pushing things too far could lead to injury, especially if you are untrained or working around an existing injury; but let’s be realistic, most of us stop way before that line is even in sight.
Think about your own training. Is there someone pushing you to make progress? If you don’t challenge yourself enough, then you won’t change yourself. As much as we push ourselves, sometimes it helps to have another voice telling us to go for those extra reps or set.
Come Rain or Shine…
Central heating, air conditioning etc all make life easier, but the downside (aside from the ecological impact) is that they have made us soft.
Running, training or walking out in the rain, cold and mud may not always be the most pleasant experience in the world, but if you have a hot shower, a warm home and good food to return to, then that can make your workout even more rewarding. You can feel as if you’ve conquered the elements!
As for outdoor bootcamps, bad weather can give a heightened sense of camaraderie and boost those feel good training endorphins even more!
And as for snow, it’s a perfect opportunity to recreate your own Rocky IV montage!
The Comfort Muscle
I like to think of your comfort zone as another muscle that can be gently stretched and manipulated.
You can start by taking small steps to stretch this muscle. For example, as I mentioned in my blog on morning rituals
, I’m a big fan of a morning cold shower. As well as waking you up, this is a fantastic way to set your mind into resilience mode for the day.
As Billy Connolly said, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing, so get yourself a waterproof and warm hoodie, gilet, hat, cap or whatever you need to get outside. Even if you’re not training, make an effort to get yourself outside during the day in the winter months.
I like to give myself bench marks. For example, when in Thailand part of our training at the Muay Thai camp, included running in 36C heat and high humidity. Knowing I could do that (regardless of how long ago it was) means that anything less than that doesn’t count as an excuse! Same thing with cold weather. Running or training in a downpour? Capture a little video on your phone and watch it when you start to make excuses. Even better – try and beat it with an even bigger one next time!
Time for a Review
Reviewing your training programme regularly or working with someone else can be a great way to up your game, especially if you’re getting too comfortable with your routine.
If you’re looking to lose or maintain weight, or are concerned with digestive health, which most of us should be, then gradually reduce the snacks between each meal. After the initial discomfort it will start to feel much more normal, and then maybe at another stage, try the occasional 16-18 hour or even 24-hour fast.You might just be tougher than you think!