If you’re unhappy with your weight, fitness level, appearance or health, you need to take action. To do that, you have to step out of your comfort zone and change direction. You need to challenge yourself by doing the unfamiliar. If what you’ve been doing, or not doing, isn’t working – that is, it’s not getting you the results you desire – it doesn’t mean the results are unattainable. It means you need to rethink your strategies and refocus.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is not as frightening as you might think. But it does require courage and conviction to change and stick with it. When you begin to change, you’ll realize that you’re capable of more than you anticipated.
When I worked for nearly two decades in the technology sector, I was in development or management positions. My team and I provided products and services. I didn’t have to sell to prospective clients. The sales team did that. Sales were never something I wanted to do. I tried sales as a teenager, but quit after a few weeks because I didn’t believe in the products or sales tactics, and felt like I was bothering people. But promoting my book, Personal Best, has required me to step out of my comfort zone and sell not just my book, but its important message.
I’ve come to accept that not everyone I reach out to will be receptive and amenable. However, with risks come rewards, and the majority of people I’ve reached out to have been supportive. Pushing myself to go where I’ve not gone before has given me some unexpected opportunities, such as appearing on TV and radio shows.
I even got to meet and share my story with Chris Powell, the handsome celebrity personal trainer and host of the American TV show Extreme Weight Loss. Admittedly, it took some chutzpah for me to run over to Chris at the Activate Health and Fitness Expo where I was selling my book. I gave him a copy and excitedly blurted out the gist of my transformation. I told him I feel better and am more fit now at age 50 than I was at 30, which is true!
During his keynote speech, Powell stepped out of his comfort zone by sharing his personal journey with prescription drug addiction and the related financial fallout. He didn’t have to reveal that part of his life. He could have limited the subject of his talk to his successes. By opening up, he exposed his vulnerable side and showed that he, too, is fallible. That’s what made his story most compelling and inspirational.
Powell also spoke about how he receives thousands of letters from “desperate people” seeking help for their obesity. He admitted that during his addiction he had many of the same feelings of hopelessness and self-hatred. At the time, he was a local TV personality in Arizona. He was helping people while hiding his problems. He lived in shame and allowed his ego to prevent him from seeking help or helping himself. Once he acknowledged his addiction and committed to change, he was able to conquer his problems. Not long after getting clean, he became a national TV star and has since used his show as a platform to help thousands of people improve their health.
The salient points of Powell’s talk were: 1) Life will get worse, if you don’t change for the better; 2) Transformation is about promise-keeping. Make a promise to yourself and keep it as if it were a promise to someone else; 3) Love yourself; 4) Start with small, achievable steps, for example, just five minutes of exercise per day. From there you can build; 5) Nobody’s perfect. If you mess up, “confess, reassess and recommit.”
I’m proud to say that my health and wellness philosophies – which took me decades to discover and embrace – are aligned with Powell’s. And stepping out of my comfort zone to share my personal challenges in my book has made me stronger too.
Each of us is on a unique journey. I hope you step out of your comfort zone and create your own success story.
Gloria Schwartz is a personal trainer at the Soloway JCC and the author of Personal Best: Train Your Brain and Transform Your Body for Life.