Sunday, April 21, 2013

In which it's good to be bad

A couple of weeks ago, I posted the above on my Lifetime Loser Facebook page.

I was gently - and rightly - chastised by commenters for thinking that I suck.

Funny that "I suck" was my first reaction to an endeavor I hadn't done in quite a while. If a friend that posted that, I would have been one of the first to say, "Are you nuts? You haven't ridden in forever. Give yourself a break. You're a beginner."

Yet, did I extend that kindness and latitude to myself? Nope. I went straight to "You're terrible. You're doing a duathlon? In May? Are you high?"

I find it really hard to ditch those old feelings of "You can't do this" because for years, well, decades, that's exactly what I thought about most everything. I was firmly ensconced in my comfort zone and I was not budging, no way, no how.

I didn't want to try anything because I might fail or embarrass myself. And when you're overweight, you can feel like life is a daily reminder that you're a failure. The last thing you want to do is call attention to yourself by making a spectacle of yourself. I'll just sit over here, in the corner, in my tiny comfort zone, thanks. And, would you pass the chips?

When you're overweight, the world is full of "can't." One of the best things I learned while losing weight is that the world is actually full of can. You can do anything, you just have to give yourself the right time, equipment and instruction.

You lose weight and you gain confidence. You starting dipping a toe outside of that comfort zone. Then you venture out a little farther. And you realize: No one is watching you, hoping you'll fail. It's all in your head.

So you start trying things and, yeah, you stink when you start because you're a beginner. Just harken back to any of my early posts on running and bootcamp and you'll see.

But, you just keep trying and, what do you know, you get better.

It's funny, I'm almost having the opposite problem these days. I've been running for a few years now and just passed my 2-year anniversary at bootcamp. (And, really, if you read this post, who'd have thought I'd still be doing it now?)

Anyway, I've been doing relatively the same thing for years and I'm comfortable in those environments. Cycling and swimming? Not so much. It's jolting to be thrown back into absolute beginner status, but thinking about it, it's wonderful.

First, it takes me down a peg or two in the whole ego department and that's good for me. It reminds me that just because I can run and do squats that doesn't signify I will kick ass right off the bat at every activity.

Most importantly, it has reminded me that true growth - the best growth - comes outside that comfort zone and just because my comfort zone is larger and more accomplished than before, that doesn't make hiding in it any more acceptable.

So, here's to abandoning my comfort zone once again - on wheels and in water.

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