The Pain Of Change


By Joe Bocek
Park Fitness

I’m writing this column on a beautiful Sunday morning and I’m sitting at the kitchen table, replying to emails. The aroma of coffee fills the room.

As I sit here in the same spot, I notice I want to stand up and change my body’s position to a more comfortable one. It’s funny how that works. When we first sit down, we feel relaxed and content, but after some time, our position becomes less comfortable. And finally, when that discomfort rises beyond a certain level, we feel the need to change how we are positioned.

This is an interesting phenomena sometimes referred to as the pain of change. When the pain or level of discomfort of any particular situation rises beyond what we believe the pain of change will be, we make a change.

Sitting in this comfortable chair seemed great a while ago. I was comfortable sipping coffee, and the idea of getting out of the chair seemed like something I didn’t want to do on this lazy Sunday. But as I sit here and start feeling a stiff and antsy, sitting has become a bigger “pain” than getting up.

The same could be said of cutting the cord with your cable service. One minute you have a low introductory rate, lots of channels at your fingertips, and everything you think you could ever want. The idea of getting rid of it, learning new channels or even losing channels, seems like a pain too great to endure.

But suddenly, one day, your cable bill is creeping up in price and along with the feeling that nothing good is ever on TV, it becomes a new pain. And that pain, for some, becomes greater than the pain of changing providers.

It can be like a persistent back pain. Some days it’s manageable, so we deal with it because the perceived pain of what it might take to fix it seems overwhelming. But when that back pain gets to a point where it is no longer manageable, we do something about it. Suddenly, the idea of change goes from a burden to a welcome relief.

Fitness, for many, is no different. We may delay getting started with some form of exercise for any number of reasons. Yet, ultimately, lots of people don’t get to it and that’s often because we think the change is going to be too hard. We get this idea that the pain of change is going to be too much and so we don’t move forward.

So how do we make this work in our favor? How do we take advantage of the benefits of exercise (living longer, living better, feeling better and even looking better), knowing our minds work this way? There are a few things we can do.

Shrink The Change

Change is easier if we do it in small and easy steps. Something we say often is, “How did the elephant eater eat the elephant? One bite at a time.”

Losing 30 pounds can sound like the biggest challenge. But starting with drinking more water, eating more lean protein or even eating more slowly are all smaller and, pun intended, more digestible items.

Running a 5K can seem challenging. But walking at lunch can be a great actionable step we can start today.

It’s Not Going To Be As Bad As You Think

Many of our members surprise themselves everyday by seeing how much more they can do than they ever thought possible. Whether it is an exercise, a few more reps or a little more effort, our perception of what we can do is often far below what we are capable of.

In fact, we can’t count how many people have told us they never thought of themselves as exercisers before they worked with us. Now, they couldn’t imagine not working out.

READ MORE: What Would A Healthy Person Do?

A Form Of Exercise You Enjoy

If you are like me, the idea of running for hours to just end up in the same spot you started doesn’t sound terribly enjoyable. I’d much rather do sprints on a bike, lift weights or even listen to nails on a chalkboard than do long-distance running.

If you are similar to me, joining a running group might not be the best idea. If you cannot tolerate it, it’s probably going to be a constant uphill battle.

But if you happen to enjoy swimming, for example, or at least don’t hate it, you are going to have a much easier time showing up to swim.

Find something that you do not despise, perhaps a workout where the organizers make it fun and deliver results.

A Proven System

So it has to work, as in deliver results, for most people. We may enjoy playing a video game. We may even enjoy playing soccer in a video game. But that’s probably not going to get us in shape.

And just because it worked for one person doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. But if it has worked for lots of people, chances are it can work for you too.

Look for recommendations and social proof that many people have done this form of exercise safely to get in shape. On a side note, doing something safely is also important. The fastest way to get out of shape is to get hurt.

A Support Network

Whether it’s a workout buddy, a great gym community or a proven system that makes you want to show up, a support network is paramount. Finding one that not just fits you but also gets you to show up can be a game-changer.

And there you have it: the beginning steps to minimizing the pain of change and attaining all the amazing benefits of exercise. Remember, you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great!

Now I’m off to find a more comfortable chair and more coffee.


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