As you might know, I’ve gone through a few changes this year.

One of them is opening a new fitness studio. 

Now, I wasn’t ever sure I was going to open a studio. But then things started to happen, making opening the studio seem like a no-brainer.

  • I found a location (although it feels more like it found me).
  • I got some great deals on equipment.
  • Resources seemed to open up for me, unbidden.
  • Clients and friends were incredibly encouraging and supportive.
  • I found some even greater deals on more equipment.
  • There’s more, but you get the idea.

I was feeling really great about everything. It was almost as if the venture was enchanted.

And then, all of a sudden, I wasn’t feeling so great. Problems started erupting. I got some flak from unexpected sources. I felt a little overwhelmed.

I wondered, what does this mean? Is this a sign I’ve made a mistake? (Check that, maybe I didn’t wonder that – I might actually have whined it instead.)

And then it hit me, what was going on.

Change is hard. 

Change is uncomfortable and scary and even though I used to be a change-seeker (move to a new city? a new country? yes please!), apparently now I’m not a fan of it. 

With change comes challenge – expecting to escape those challenges is magical thinking.

And then this hit me:

I had moved out of my comfort zone.

Hello, discomfort zone. 

And I knew that even though it sucked and I was feeling nervous and stressed, that ultimately I had to hang out here, firmly in discomfort, because I’d outgrown my old comfort zone – being back there kind of sucked, too.

Basically, I was screwed – I couldn’t go back, and I had to keep moving forward.

And to make an already long story longer, both of these realizations hit me as I was driving down South Main Street in Brewer, after

  1. getting some bad news and
  2. coming off a migraine headache.

This migraine was probably the result of drinking a blood orange martini the night before, which I had ordered after getting some other bad news. 

And all of this – the migraine, the double-whammy bad news, and the realizations – made me feel even more kinship with my clients.

Because … yes …

Change happens outside the comfort zone.

Living In The Discomfort ZoneAnd it can be scary and sucky and messy. It goes with the territory.

But I think we forget that. 

We’re used to seeing the “before” and “after” pictures on reality shows and infomercials, without seeing the real struggle in between. Or if we do see the struggle, it’s often made more glamorous, without the migraines.

Because when you get down to it, here’s how real world change usually happens:

When we first start out, we’re excited. We’re looking forward to the results of our efforts – losing weight, getting in shape, feeling better.

Maybe we’ve gotten some new foods to try, some supplements, a trainer or a workout program, or some new kicks.

And for a little while, it’s so much fun we wonder why we waited so long.

And … stuff happens

But then our legs get sore, or we get hungry, or someone eats pizza and cake in front of us.

Maybe our husband/wife resents us spending time at the gym or making new “healthy” foods, or we have to pick up the kids after school/sports/whatever, or we’re just plain tired.

And then losing those pounds is harder than we thought.

Or maybe the pounds come off but we end up getting attention we aren’t sure we want, and we kind of liked the way it was before.

And we want to give up.

Don’t go back.

Look at this discomfort as a sign you’re making progress. 

Live in it a while. Ride it out.

They’re a sign changes are happening. The old you is rebelling against these new habits that are going to change you and/or your life in the way that you’d hoped. 

Embrace that discomfort, even though it’s a prickly and mean thing. 

It’s your friend.

My discomfort ended … for a while.

But I know it’ll be back, because I have things I want to do.

I plan to ride it out.

You know, like that terrible moment the roller coaster crests the top of the incline and is about to speed straight down toward the ground.

I’m gonna hang on.

There may be some yelling and screaming, but I’m in it for the duration.

How ’bout you?

Wendy Watkins is the author of the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Losing 20 Pounds in 2 months. Her writing has appeared in Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, The Washington Post, and more. She is a personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist, fitness coach, and the owner of Thrive Fitness Studio in Bangor, Maine.