I have recently begun working out after a hiatus that was way too long. For those of you who have ever started or have restarted a strength and cardio routine after a lengthy break, you know that starting up can be challenging. I have begun working out and I am struggling already. Nevertheless, I have clear fitness goals in mind and I have clear reasons for why I want to achieve these goals.
It has only been 4 days and I am in serious discomfort. My body is sore everywhere. The muscles in my forearms and biceps have never been this sore (or at least this is what I say in a whiny, internal voice). I whimper every time I have to straighten my arms. I am shuffling through the grocery store for fear that speeding up will make everything hurt more than it already does. I have been an athlete at the professional level, so I know about difficult workouts and the toll they can take on your body. Somehow though, more than 10 years later and I am sure I was never this sore before.
It occurred to me this morning, as I was jogging painfully slowly behind everyone else in the group, that this “pain” I am feeling is just simply part of the process. I should not be surprised by it. I should not allow it to affect my commitment to my goals. It is just a natural reaction to moving my body from a less healthy comfort zone to a healthier more active state. If anything, the discomfort is evidence I am on my way to accomplishing my goals.
This really isn’t any different from anything else we start up that requires work. If we are moving even slightly out of a comfort zone, we will experience discomfort. Maybe it won’t be sore muscles, but moving out of a comfort zone can cause fear, panic, anxiety, stress and frustration. Too often though, we falsely interpret this natural feedback as evidence that the work is not worth it.
We doubt our ability to achieve our goals. We resent the catalyst for leaving our comfort zone. We lose faith in the objectives outlined in our goals. We second-guess the designated plan or treatment. We itemize all the reasons why staying in our comfort zone isn’t really that bad. Many times, this kind of thinking results in stalled progress or, worse, abandoned goals.
Will I continue to be sore for a few more days? Yes. Will I become more physically fit if I persevere in spite of the discomfort? Absolutely.
Obviously, real pain, the kind associated with injury, must be taken seriously. However, the early discomfort that comes with a new rigorous workout, or a newly adopted curriculum, or a new, focused and purposeful approach to instruction should not be enough to derail our goals.
Do we want better physical fitness? Yes. Do we want materials and activities to be based on the standards? Of course. Do we want effective instruction at high levels for all students? Absolutely.