Monday, March 2, 2009

Getting Comfortable With Discomfort Or Committing to Transform Distress to Success

Just a week ago, I was talking about how training our Puppy Yeats to get through her frustration was a tact I thought I could use myself—whoever was supposed to train me in this failed! So I guess it was having this thought in mind that made the essay by Mike Martinez on Sandrelle’s site Keeping the Pounds Off so eye-catching to me.

In his essay, Why Haven’t You Reached Your Goals? (scroll down past the bookshelf, Sandrelle has a lot of core stuff that never moves at the top of her site) Martinez expands on the concept of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. I think it’s a concept I must master to succeed at eating healthfully and exercising.

He posits: Anything can be achieved if the proper steps are taken. And the kicker is that many times we are fully aware of the necessary steps, yet we don’t take them. He claims the reason is that we fear being uncomfortable—that with each goal, comes a point of uncertainty and distress. Because in the process of doing things haven’t done, we have have to get through feeling uncomfortable. His solution?

. . . we have two directions in which we may go. You can move forward and exercise your will, withstanding the feelings
of discomfort. Or you can abandon the action, thereby stepping back into your comfort zone.
. . .The key to realize here is that those uncomfortable feels are only temporary. In some cases they may be quick flashes of distress. . .Your ability to push through, to continue on beyond those feelings is the deciding factor on whether you reach
your goal or you stay where you are.

It's like what I was talking about in trying to ride a bike again after a long time, it's awkward! But as Martinez points out, once you see it, your best choice is to move forward because as he explains: The paradox is that your current comfort zone is not all that comfortable.

So we have to choose--discomfort with our current fat selves, or a a temporary discomfort to get us to our goals. He concludes: Commit to transform distress into success. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and your results in life will exceed your wildest imagination.

I got more inspiration from reading an article about Liza Minnelli in the Parade magazine this weekend. A callout on the page read, "I was taught never to give up." I thought that was interesting coming from a woman whose mom committed suicide.

But in the essay, she talks about recovering from a serious illness and having doctors tell her that she would probably never walk again and she thought to herself 'Liza, what do you best?' And the answer came: rehearse! And so, I literally rehearsed my way back. I looked on my recovery as a performance--the performance of my life, which it literally was."

She advises us to banish fear and shame from our lives. And she lives by not allowing herself to think about problems with addiction as a moral failure. I find that inspiring.

I, like my dad, have always kind of always shunned the disease model of obesity and alcoholism. Caling them diseases can lead people to remove all self-responsibility. But there is a sometimes a fine line between taking responsibility and completely demeaning yourself for your problem.

And on that idea of the the total angst and powerlessness and self-hatred that our problems can lead us to feel, I must recommend you read the recent poem at Stages of Change; it's very heartfelt and powerful. (If you are squeamish about the "f" word, you probably shouldn't go and you should stop now before reading my comment below.)

Here's the comment I left him about one of my favorite lines.

Many times right before I overeat, I hear this voice saying (or am I saying the words?)--fuck it. Fuck them. I never know who I am speaking to. I just feel annoyed or spent or somehow powerless. People have told me food has no power; cannot chase me or hold me down. But I love your lines: The want for you clouds my need to act.Desires to move and change crumble in your hands Why not personify it? I'm going to try it out. . . try saying it--fuck you Food--and turn my head. . I'm going to try it.


  1. This is a great post. One I will come back to and re read to get all the good bits out of.

    I loved that poem/post over at Stages of Change. He was so very real with his feelings. Gosh, this obesity thing is hard.

  2. No problemo with the occasional f-bomb - especially as it relates to the weight issues.

    Discomfort and pushing through it is so key to growing - even after we've achieved adulthood. In the past couple of years I realized that if I didn't move from my comfort zone I'd have many regrets in my golden years. Things worth having and achieving aren't just handed to us - we must make our own dreams come true. Good post.


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