Kathy Whelan

Posted on September 17, 2019

I was painfully reminded last week of how hard it is to try new things. I’m not talking about taking a bite of a new food. I’m talking about things that can make you look and feel foolish.

I’d been thinking of trying a new kind of exercise ever since my daughter-in-law asked, after doing my Pilates DVD with me, “Do you think she made this video in the 90s?” It hadn’t been that long since I’d switched up my exercise routine, but it had been long enough. I suspected that out of the hundreds of muscles in my body, I’d been using just a few and letting the rest off easy. I had tried Zumba once before with friends, but that was a long time ago. And now here I was, in a new place without a friend, ready to try it again.

It began well enough. I did my best to move with the music and follow the instructor, but she kept disappearing behind pillars and dancing to the other side of the room. I quickly identified a woman in front of me who seemed to know what she was doing, and I mimicked her movements as best I could. It wasn’t until I realized I was way into someone else’s personal space that I became really self-conscious. And it went south from there.

Aerobically, I was fine, thanks to my brisk, daily walks. But my mind was on a downhill slide and wasn’t stopping. I started watching the clock and willing its hands to move faster. I considered waving bye-bye to the teacher and ducking out as if I had an appointment. And I might have done that if I hadn’t remembered that the course description warned against leaving early without cooling down. I thought about my being a health coach and how inconsistent that was with my escapist impulses. The more my thoughts wandered, the less attention I paid to my movements. I caught myself just before colliding with one of the aforementioned pillars.

Then it hit me. How many times had I had that vulnerable feeling of stepping outside my comfort zone? I’d certainly felt it when, at a rather advanced age, I began scuba diving and even later when I applied to Duke to become a health coach. I felt it again when I decided to go to the next level in my coaching training and when I opened my own business. I used to feel it every time I waited on my conference line for a client to join in. I’ve definitely felt it in the days and hours leading up to a presentation. And I still feel it every time I publish one of these blog articles.

What I’ve discovered, and briefly forgot during my Zumba class, is that the times when I’ve put myself out in the world in a new way are always filled with this type of fear. And yet these are the times I’ve learned the most and gained the most confidence afterward. When my clients embark on a new challenge, I often work with them to acknowledge and then let go of the self-limiting thoughts that are holding them hostage.

When I remembered all this, I felt a little embarrassed that something as simple as a Zumba class could set me back this way, causing me to forget what I’d learned about challenges and ignore the guidance I give my clients. One last look at the clock told me I had ten minutes left to do the best I could and be proud of myself for trying. I did it. And I plan to do it again this week.

Have you been thinking of making a change to improve your health? Are you hesitating because it feels uncomfortable, scary even? If so, please consider contacting me for a complimentary consultation. Having a guide by your side might be just what you need to help you step out of your comfort zone and achieve your goals.

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