The Gift of ….Discomfort

The Gift of …..Discomfort

 

Usually around this time of year I make a big batch of my “healthy” truffles (they are high fiber, high  protein, no added sugar – just the dates etc.) and roll them in various toppings like coconut, candy cane, green tea, and mocha powder and bring them for my classes and my clients…

 

No time for truffles this year….

Barely time to breath this year…

But I WILL continue to give you the gift I give year round – the gift of discomfort.

 

You may think you don’t want this gift – who wants to be uncomfortable?  But I can guarantee you that if you don’t make yourself a little uncomfortable now you will be much more uncomfortable later.

The “use it or lose it” saying is sort of old and tired but it’s true.  For pretty much every system in your body.  Your body is very efficient.  If you are not using a particular tissue (muscle tissue, bone tissue, even nervous system tissue) your body will not use any of its precious resources to build or maintain it.  So muscle wastes away, bones get brittle, and you continue to lose connections in your brain.

So when you come to class or have a session with me, I don’t expect you to feel entirely proficient.  One of my clients said to me the other day “ I tried to get my husband to come to class with me, but he wouldn’t come.  He said he didn’t think he would be good at it.  I told him – that’s the point!” Exactly!  You’re not supposed to be good at it!  It’s supposed to feel somewhat awkward and challenging!

Weights need to be heavy enough to bring the muscles to fatigue in order to stimulate the growth of new muscle tissue.  Bones have to receive either impact or tension from those same muscles to get those osteoblasts out building new bone.  Your brain needs to be exposed to new, awkward feeling movement patterns to cause the release of neurotropic growth factor.  High intensity cardio intervals not only result in a stronger heart with a higher stroke volume, a denser capillilary bed, more mitochondria, more red blood cells, and higher levels of various enzymes related to energy conversion – recent research shows it ALSO results in better memory and a larger brain volume!

I would also argue that the psychological effects of regularly practicing – and surviving – the physical discomfort of a difficult exercise routine helps you to endure the more mental discomforts and stresses of modern life.  The physical discomfort of exercise helps you build resilience….

A client asked me the other day after a particularly difficult interval – “When does it get easier?”

Answer: “Never” (Cue my big grin).

It should never get easier.  As you get stronger, you lift heavier weights.  As you become more agile, you perform more complicated foot work.  As your cardiovascular capacity increases you go faster! It never gets easier….  But you DO feel better as you do it.  Is it bad to say you get used to the discomfort?

Do you have to kill yourself on every workout? NO!  Proper rest and recovery is also important.  But you should be sure to find your limits, and push them a little bit, on a regular basis.

Speaking of – Please join me in my classes for the 400 on January 2nd  (for the uninitiated – 100 push-ups, 100 pull-ups, 100 squats, and 100 ab exercises)!

So there you go – YOUR WELCOME!

 

Happy Holidays Everybody!

Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear from you!

ellenp@tenandfit.com

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