Wednesday, June 9

Stepping out of your comfort zone...

Let's talk about those invisible boundaries we set for ourselves. Why do we have these lines we try to stay within?
Because it feels safe, and for some of the time, that's a good thing. Humans tend to do very well with routines.

But...guess what I've come to realize? (Don't laugh at me if you'd already figured this out by the 5th grade - I'm a late bloomer!)

Almost all of the most amazing opportunities we'll come upon are found outside of our comfort zone. Neat, huh? Scary? OK...for me, the thought of leaving my comfort zone is always daunting, but I do it anyway, fairly often. I do it because I want to live up to my potential, and I found that being comfy didn't cut it in that department. You know what they say, "big risks equal big rewards."

In 2003 my mom died a very sudden and tragic death. I was devastated and slipped into a very dark place. There was a lot of intensely emotional history between us. I seemed to lose my mom over and over again. She walked away from my dad and me when I was 12, but we reconnected when I was an older teenager. Then I had the accident that left me a paraplegic and she just was not emotionally capable at the time to deal with it, so again, I lost her for a while. After I married and had a child though, she really bloomed into a beautiful grandma to my son, and she and I became very close again...the way we'd been when I was very young. So you can probably see why losing her for good, at least in this lifetime, was so difficult for me.

Looking back, I can see how my descent happened, but at the time, it wasn't so clear. I slept too much, ate too much, stayed home too much...and before long, I'd gained 40 pounds and developed high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. When I was sitting in the doctors office and it all hit me, I was mortified. He said I'd have to begin taking medications, but I pleaded with him to give me 6 months...I promised him I would get healthy without pills. He was very skeptical, but reluctantly agreed to give me a chance.

It was time to step outside of my comfort zone.

Being a woman in a wheelchair, the thought of joining a gym was a little overwhelming. I'd done it before in the past, but it was a tiny gym, rarely crowded and I never became a regular. The irony here (is it irony? I'm always a little unsure if I use that term correctly, even after researching it) is that before the accident that left me a paraplegic, I worked as a weight trainer and aerobics instructor for a chain of health clubs popular in the 80's called "Spa Lady."

So, I knew there was a gorgeous new gym in town...strangely enough, I knew because, prior to opening, the director had asked me to test a piece of equipment made specifically for people with mobility impairments. I knew the gym was there and was incredibly universal in design, meaning, it was user-friendly for people of all abilities, yet I was reluctant to join. As confident of a woman as I usually am, being in a gym environment, especially one as popular as this one, made me think about looking out of place...not only was I in a wheelchair, but now I was overweight.

I bit the bullet, and joined. I've been a "regular" ever since. I've lost the 40 pounds and then some, and kept it off. I have perfect blood pressure, perfect blood sugar levels, and awesome muscles! Also, rather than stare at me, most people seemed fascinated in a positive way, asking what happened, or telling me that they've been inspired to keep plucking along, despite being frustrated, when they see me working so hard. I've made some great friends, and even a few lucrative business connections. Best of all, I'm healthy and my doctor was pleasantly surprised. He says it's not very often that people put their money where their mouth is when it comes to matters like this.

Where would I be if I hadn't stepped outside of my comfort zone? I shudder to think about it.

So, if you're contemplating a move like this, go ahead, don't just put your toe over the line, jump in with both feet.

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

I totally believe in coming out of your comfort zone!