Finding Fitness Fun that works for YOU

 Flexibility is a component of physical fitness. Flexibility of mind is also a part of the mental and emotional fitness that defines our comfort zone. Don’t just get outside your comfort zone, expand it!

Explore: Try some activities outside your norm.

An EPIC START to finding your fitness fun #1 — Explore

Exploring will help you expand.

Benefits of getting outside of your comfort zone:

– If you try it in one aspect of your life, you are more open to and able to try it in another.

– You will get some physical activity for the day.

– Increases your flexibility in mind and body.

– If you try it, you might just like it. (Do you remember Mikey?)

– If you try it and you don’t like it, you can mark it off your list and you will still get the one-time benefit of the physical activity.

It’s great to get out of your comfort zone, but how do you EXPAND your comfort zone? By trying new things and being mindful of the benefits, not just the things you don’t like about it.

First, create a brief backstory on your fitness-related experiences.  Write down the answers to these questions:  What experiences have you had with fitness and physical activity? What have you generally or specifically liked or disliked about those past fitness experiences? Some people have had truly horrific experiences in an attempt to improve the fitness of our nation’s population–myself included.  And some have had wonderful experiences–myself included.

Regardless, if you are reading this post, you are probably struggling with being or staying fit now.  And now is the time to move on, no pun intended! So answer this question as thoroughly and honestly as you can.  Creating an honest list will help you in mindfully creating new fitness experiences for yourself.  Set those answers aside. Exploring these past experiences honestly will help you in the process of expanding your comfort zone.  You might actually find a reason for disliking an activity in the past, no longer exists and you might actually try an activity again after re-trying in a new context.

Next, choose any [reasonable] activity and give it a try this week.  (If you are currently sedentary, don’t go out and try to run five miles or hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim!)  Describe your trial fitness experience in writing.  Include what you enjoyed and what you did not, and why.   For every reason you come up with to not like it, accept those reasons and then ask yourself, “What was in it for me?” Be honest in answering what you don’t like about it AND the rewards you receive from doing this new activity.

Let’s use a simple fitness example.

Your goal is to get 30 minutes of activity each day so you add WALKING to your daily schedule to improve your overall physical health, even though you’re skeptical that you could find a way to enjoy it.

So, you create a schedule of walking 15 minutes before you eat breakfast and 15 minutes when you arrive home from work. The reason you don’t like it is that you are bored doing it. Then think about how each of these benefits relate to your goals. The benefit is that you are increasing your daily movement and you know this is good for your health for many reasons, most especially your cardiovascular circulation. Do you see alignment in what you want to achieve and the benefits? Clearly 30 minutes of daily walking is in line with the cardiovascular benefit, which improves overall physical health.

Next, compare the list of reasons you are not so keen on this activity to the benefits. Do you see alignment in the reasons you “don’t like” the daily walking and your goals? The fact that you are bored during the time spent walking is unrelated to the goal of increasing overall health. However, if you also have a goal of enjoying your time spent doing physical activity, then we are talking about a relationship. And here is where the fun of exploring really begins.

Brainstorm a list of potential alterations to the 30 minutes of walking that would make the time spent walking more enjoyable. Remember, in brainstorming all ideas count and should be written down—you might even ask what other people do if you are stumbling around for ideas and thinking it will just be impossible.  Examples of changing it up:  inviting a friend, listening to music, going to a park or another neighborhood you’ve never been to, make mental notes of nature you see.

Keep an open mind. Then narrow the ideas down to 3-5 ways you might most enjoy walking more. Give them all a try and see what happens. Remember to write down your honest evaluation.

If none of those work, keep walking daily and mix in a couple of days each week trying another type of activity 9the sky is the limit, you can belly dance or take up parkour (and everything in between) and go through the same process. Make sure you give thought to what your real goals are, be honest in your comparisons, and keep trying! All the time and energy spent on looking for activities that you enjoy doing is still productive for two reasons: 1—You are getting physical activity during this trial time and 2—you are learning about yourself and how you can expand your comfort zone.

Benefits of expanding you comfort zone:

– You will get all of the above benefits, plus more!

– You are bound to stumble upon an activity that you thoroughly enjoy.

– You might “learn to like” activities you thought you would not ever enjoy.

– You are likely to meet other people and connect to improve your social health through that newfound activity.

– You have more options and variety is the spice of life. The more activities youtry, the more activities you are likely to find that you enjoy and being able to switch it up keeps you from finding yourself in a rut.

– The variety in physical activity is going to stimulate different muscles and in different ways to improve your overall physical health.

– When we try new activities it helps our brain and nervous system grow more synapses.

Physical activity in itself will help this process, but when we add the cognitive component of asking our bodies to perform coordinated tennis moves or hiking on an uneven trail instead of only walking on a flat surface day after day, we are not only developing muscles and getting the circulation flowing. There is a whole lot more going on with our nervous system, the neuromuscular connections, and the connective tissue (ligaments, tendons, and fascia).

When we explore various activities with attention to “how and why”, we are also getting to know ourselves. This something that will contribute to our overall efforts to improve our health and well-being.

More on that point later! Just know it is precisely this process of exploring these experiences honestly that will actually allow you to EXPAND your comfort zone.