Expand your comfort zone

Spring has definitely sprung and with the advent of daylight savings we find ourselves with an extra couple of hours in the day that we’ve sorely missed over the winter months. It is the perfect time to look at all the options available to you over the summer months and try something completely new and exciting!
There are many fun ways that you can get fit and stay active here in this wonderful country of ours over the next few months, the hardest thing is usually deciding on what it is you want to do and how to go about starting it. Often all that is required is a little imagination, deciding on a goal that you personally want to achieve, and joining in with a group of like-minded people that can motivate and support each other, and have some fun.
Your goal might be to try an activity you’ve never tried before, to lose a few kilos before you don a swimsuit and hit the beach, or simply to increase your vitality and preventative health and wellbeing by getting outside after work and breathing deeply in the sunshine and fresh air.
We are fortunate here in New Zealand that there are many events on the health and fitness calendar that anyone can enter and train for, each one having a variety of levels to choose from and often many fabulous training tips that can help get you started and motivate you along the way.
Summer activities usually revolve around being outside in the elements and can range from meeting a good friend before or after work to go for a brisk walk around the block, pumping up the tyres on your mountain bike and heading out to the forest with some mates, or donning a swimsuit and finding an outdoor pool to swim laps in the late afternoon sunshine.
At the end of the day, we all work well with a little structure and focus to our exercise regime and choosing an event or activity to work towards gives you a framework in which to measure your progress. When you break down your long term goals (LTG) into smaller, more manageable chunks of short term goals (STG) you can easily see progress, and reward yourself along the way.
1. Step One – Write your goal down and give it a timeframe. Put it somewhere where you will see it EVERY day, and tell people what it is. 
2. Step Two – Break it down into ‘bite-sized’ pieces that are slightly more manageable and will build to create your long term goal. As a friend of mine says ‘A 42 km marathon is really just eight 5 km runs.’
3. Step Three - Visualise yourself achieving your goal – whether it be crossing the finish line, looking stunning in your wedding dress, or knowing that you’ve made some positive changes to your lifestyle that will keep you healthy and happy during the years to come.
If you are interested in perhaps giving a duathalon (swim/run) or triathalon (swim/bike/run) a go, two great magazines to look out for are ‘VO2 max’ and ‘NZ Multisport’, both published bi-monthly. Each has a calendar of events located in the back pages, and gives you entry and contact details for easy reference.
A few good websites to visit are:
If multisport events and regular, focused training sessions aren’t quite your ‘thing’ there are also many fun activities that you can do easily anytime, anywhere that may take you outside your current comfort zone.  Have you ever thought of:
Rock climbing – a problem-solving based sport that is great for legs and butt strength, plus giving you an injection of adrenalin that comes from scaling up a vertical wall attached by merely a rope and pulley? Check out your local indoor climbing wall for introduction session times.
Mountain biking – a cardio ride that is guaranteed to lift your spirits and increase both your lower and upper body strength, as well as taking you out of the city and into the forests surrounding most of the main centres.
Pilates/Yoga classes – great for toning, flexibility and stress relief, both Pilates and Yoga can be done one to one, in small groups or in classes at a variety of gyms and/or small studios nationwide. Often good to use as cross training alongside other sports to ensure that you get a good stretch after your workout!
Bush walks – often forgotten as a valid form of exercise, you can’t beat the energy infusion of a good, brisk bush walk armed with a picnic blanket and a packed lunch to indulge in along the way.
Group energy can really help to get the ball rolling so why not enlist a friend, or inspire a group of friends to commit to being more active over the coming months and arrange to meet up for training sessions, or try different activities together each week. On the days you may feel like skipping a workout, tell each other it is going to boost your energy and enhance your day. Talk yourselves into doing just 10 minutes of activity (walk, bike, swim etc), and you’ll be surprised at how easily it can turn into an hour.
On other days you may have to listen to what your body is telling you, and if you are really exhausted it’s best to give yourself the day off, have a healthy meal and an early night. It’s days where you are fatigued and push yourself too far that injuries can easily happen if your focus shifts from the activity at hand.
It is the small changes in what you do each and every day that makes the biggest difference to how you feel, and it’s amazing how pushing your boundaries a little can expand your comfort zone when it comes to exercising. 
You can also apply this approach to other aspects of your life. Working through a physical challenge can give you the greatest high and can then help you work though difficult situations like that uncomfortable conversation you have to have with your boss, or dealing with challenging customers or stressful situations. It can empower you, and give you a sense of accomplishment and completion, as well as bringing the mind and the body into a state of balance. The Latin quote ‘Mens sana in corpore sano’ means having a healthy mind in a healthy body, and then allowing this to flow over into a healthy, happy life.
Remember that there are no ‘instant fixes’ and that achieving what you’ve set out to do takes focus, determination, commitment, time, energy and sometimes plain ole’ hard work! But it will all be worth it in the end, when you look back at the journey you’ve taken, and start to plan the next one.
• Choose an activity/event
• Sign up or commit to trying one new activity this summer
• Set a routine/ encourage others to
join in
• Reward yourself with each short term goal (STG) that you meet
• Aim high, expand your comfort zone, and have fun!
‘Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic and power within it. Begin it now’

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