10 Ways to Push Your Body Out of Its Comfort Zone

Joshua Smith | @fortitudenutritioncoaching by Joshua Smith | @fortitudenutritioncoaching 4 September 2018

It’s survival of the fittest as Nutrition Coach Josh Smith explores how to push past personal boundaries to become stronger

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10 Ways to Push Your Body Out of Its Comfort Zone

‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone’ - Neale Donald Walsch.

In order to promote change, our body and mind need to adapt as a response to a stimulus. We learn, grow and develop as a physiological response that is engrained within us throughout evolution. Survival of the fittest.

As a result of the stressors we put on our body through training and dieting, our body adapts by building muscle, burning fat and increasing range of motion etc. as a response survival mechanism. Our bodies get used to these stressors and ‘get comfortable’ with the activities, therefore, to promote great change, we must keep the body guessing. Lift more weights, go faster, heavier, under greater tensions, practise fasting, increase/decrease calories, hold poses for longer. Our practices must change in order to push the body out of its comfort zone.

 

Here are 10 ways you could push your body out of its comfort zone:

1) Don’t snooze your alarm – wake up, get up
2) Try one new fruit or vegetable per month
3) Train at a different time of the day
4) Have a cold shower
5) Practise intermittent fasting
6) Read one book per month
7) Change up one of your meals each fortnight
8) Push back your morning coffee
9) Try a new training program
10) Try a new recipe each month

 

1) Don’t snooze your alarm – wake up, get up

Most sleep researchers suggest that snoozing the morning alarm won’t make you feel more rested but will, in fact, make it harder to get up and get going. Even though those nine minutes of sleep can often feel magical and endless, you are in the beginning of your sleep cycle again, which is the worst time to be woken up as it can leave you feeling as if you slept poorly in the first place.

We also train our brains to change our response to the alarm from ‘get up’ to ‘just a little longer’. We create a sense of sleep inertia, a state of impaired cognitive and sensory-motor performance when our brain asks: ‘am I getting up or not?’, throwing off your internal body clock. Sleep scientists suggest setting your alarm for the time you must get up and to wake up at the same time every day. You will eventually feel fresher in the morning and throughout the day and will start to feel naturally sleepy around the same time each night.

 

2) Try one new fruit or vegetable per month

Not only do our bodies change in order to adapt, but so do our taste buds. If you asked my 12-year-old self if I’d love Brussel Sprouts in my 30s, I’d laugh at you. Today they are a staple of my grocery shop. Our palate likes to experience new tastes to keep healthy eating fresh and exciting. If we eat the same three vegetables each week our palate may become stagnant and bored, leading to indulging in less ideal food options.

Another reason it is important to consume a range of fruits and vegetables is that they all provide us with different micronutrients. By consuming different colour foods we are ensuring we get a vast array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Aiming to eat the rainbow (not Skittles!) each day is a way to add a little insurance on our health.

How can you put this into practice? By rotating your fruits and veg each week. Have a one in, one out policy. Also, try and include a new fruit and vegetable each month. If you don’t like it, no harm done. If you do, then you’ve got a new tool to add to your meal prep.

 

3) Train at a different time of day

Training at a different time of the day can be beneficial for a number of reasons. Apart from just shocking the body into exerting and burning energy when it is normally in a state of rest, shifting your training time may feel like a completely different experience. If you follow group fitness classes you may interact socially with people you normally wouldn’t and forge new connections. You may get coached by someone new who provides you with a different technique cue to work on. However, if you are training at a different time ensure that your nutrient timing strategies change appropriately. Remember to consume your protein and carbs around training, aiming to avoid fats within the two-hour window either side of exercise.

 

4) Have a cold shower

I know what you’re thinking, cold showers are for psychopaths! However, the cold water has a range of proven health benefits and could be the kickstart you need.

Starting the day with a cold shower is a sure-fire way to increase your alertness and provides the body with a natural dose of energy by increasing oxygen production to keep warm. Cold showers also assist with fat loss, speeding up recovery and reducing muscle soreness. Build up your tolerance to the cold by practising hot/cold intervals. Start with a warm shower then switch to cold for 30 seconds, then back to warm. Once you’re confident with that, increase the cold intervals and reduce the warm. Build up until you can have a completely cold shower.

 

5) Practise intermittent fasting

Aside from the numerous physiological benefits associated with fasting, learning to recognise real hunger and pushing past initial hunger signals is a life-long skill that can be learnt through this practice.

We often give in to the first grumble in our stomach and respond by eating. The initial ‘hunger’ sensation may be dehydration, boredom or a response to an environmental trigger. Real hunger can lead to a lack of concentration and physical weakness. Finding a happy medium between the two points is a skill that can be used when looking to improve body composition and to curb overeating. Intermittent fasting is a process of having a greater fasting window than the window of consumption. Example: Fasting for 14 hours (including sleep) – consuming for 10 hours. Benefits of intermittent fasting include:

- Reduction in insulin levels
- Increase in growth hormone
- Cellular repair
- Metabolism boost
- Lower blood sugar levels
- Reduce inflammation
- Boost brain health

When putting intermittent fasting into practice, it is recommended not to jump in at the deep end. Dip your toe in and work your way up slowly. Aim to extend your fasting by one hour each fortnight or month until you find a comfortable fasting window that balances out the benefits as well as your physical performance.

 

6) Read one book per month

We all need downtime after a busy few days of working, training or studying. However, quite often we can waste hours scrolling through social media or watching TV. Aim to put some of that downtime to something more mindful such as reading a book. Apart from being mentally stimulating, reading can reduce stress, increase knowledge, expand vocabulary, and improve memory and concentration.

Set yourself the task of reading one book per month, potentially alternating between fiction and non-fiction in different genres and writing styles. If you choose to read on a Kindle, then be sure to have low levels of blue light to avoid affecting your sleep quality.

 

7) Change up one of your meals each fortnight

As per tip number two, changing your meals up adds variety to your weekly menu whilst keeping your taste buds interested. Simple changes you can implement to create new meals are:
- Use different protein sources (chicken, turkey, fish, beef, lamb, pork, tofu)
- Switch up your carbohydrates (rice, quinoa, sweet potato, couscous)
- Flavour your meals with different spices and rubs (aim to avoid sauces)
- Rotate between salad or fibrous vegetables

 

8) Push back your morning coffee

Give your body a chance to naturally produce the energy it needs to conquer the day. Coffee is an amazing tool with a range of health benefits, however, if we become dependent on it, we lose those benefits. If you consume too much coffee you can become caffeine-resistant. You won’t reap the perks of caffeine and often resort to double or triple doses to make up for it. This can lead to problems such as adrenal fatigue. One strategy is to try and put off your morning coffee by one hour. Replace it with a large glass of lemon water with Greens powder or a green tea with lemon. You may find that when you finally get that heavenly sip of coffee, it will feel like you’ve received a caffeine hit for the very first time.

 

9) Try a new training program

When following the same training program week in, week out there can often be a plateau in physiological gains or improvement. Not only that, but motivation can fade. A way to keep your health and fitness journey fresh and exciting is to try a new program. Perhaps try something completely different that you haven’t done before and learn new skills. If you do resistance training, try gymnastics. If you do a lot of cardio, give yoga a try. Put the body under a different type of positive stress and into positions you never thought you could. You may activate different muscle groups in the process and even ignite a fire in the belly that motivates you further into your health and fitness journey.


10) Try a new recipe each month

 

This can be used in conjunction with tips two and seven. Research new recipes and find one you can implement in a way that is aligned with your health and fitness goals. Find healthy alternatives to some of your favourite dishes. Cook them for yourself, for friends or family. If it works well, add it to your weekly meal prep recipes. You’ve got nothing to lose!

 

 

These are just 10 of many ways you can push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Don’t rush and try to do all 10 at once. Pick one that resonates with you and give it a go. Alternatively, pick one that scares you and give that a go. You don’t know what your body is capable of until you push it a little bit harder or further than you thought possible.

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IMPORTANT INFORMATION: all content provided here is of a general nature only and is not a substitute for individualised professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and reliance should not be placed on it. For personalised medical or nutrition advice, please make an appointment with your doctor, dietitian or qualified health care professional.

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