Do you consider yourself a risk-taker, or the type of person who hangs out in the safety zone? Taking a risk can be scary and absolutely the wrong course of action, or it can be the best thing that you have ever done. There are many ways to take a risk, including financial, in a relationship, business, and yes, with physical exercise.
Why Take A Risk?
As I was reading this article recently, I kept thinking about how each of their 5 reasons that you ought to take a risk applies perfectly to fitness.
- Risk gets you noticed
- Risk creates change
- Risk makes you feel alive
- Risk creates a higher standard
- Risk teaches you more about yourself
Let’s look closely at each of the 5 reasons in the article and how they apply to fitness. I have rearranged them in the order of greater to lesser significance to fitness.
Risk Creates Changes
Without change, you eventually stagnate. Are you willing to try new weight lifting methods, or jump into that Zumba class, even though you feel totally uncoordinated? What is holding you back, if not?
For many people it feels too risky to do something new. What the heck are they risking? Maybe the weight lifter is risking a little discomfort at not knowing the new method? Or they think that they might get hurt. The Zumba person might be risking feeling like a total dork and embarrassing themselves in front of the class. So what?
I have been that person in the back of the Zumba class. I was way out of my comfort zone at first, but after a couple of weeks, I had not only fit right in, but I had started training my body in a whole new way and totally boosted my coordination confidence level. Believe me, when it came to dancing, it needed a boost.
Hiring a personal trainer can feel very risky. You are committing to exercising under the guidance of this person, pushing your body in new ways, and showing up to your appointments. It can be expensive. What if you don’t like it but you have spent all of that money? Suck it up, because any kind of change is going to take some risk.
Time to change your diet? What risks are you taking? You risk choosing the “wrong” diet, not losing weight at all, or even creating conflict with family members over meals. You risk being miserable (or so you think) not eating those comfort foods that you grew up with. Is it worth the risk? I sure think so.
Personal growth happens with allowing change.
Risk Makes You Feel Alive
When is the last time that you went for a big hike, or kayaked out in open water where there were occasional boats creating swells? Maybe a big hike doesn’t seem risky at all to you, but summiting a peak in the Rockies does? When is the last time that you hopped onto a stand-up paddleboard in 53 degree (F) water? If you fell in, you would definitely feel the shock of the cold water and probably not like that feeling very much.
Taking these risks makes you feel alive. You tingle with the thrill of taking the risk.
I remember the days when I skied religiously (it almost was a religion for me back in my 20’s and 30’s). While I might very well be the type of person who needs an occasional adrenaline rush, skiing the steep and deep slopes, especially in the back-country, was very risk-taking yet made me feel very much alive!
Let’s look at signing up for a half- or full-marathon. No matter what level of runner you are, you are putting yourself out there to undertake a major accomplishment. Whether you simply want to complete it, or want to get your personal best, you are taking the risk of it not happening. Chances are, after all of the training, long runs, and mental preparation, you will feel alive with energy for days afterwards, whether or not you make it to your goal. That is what taking a risk does when it is for something like this.
Some people are “sensation-seekers”, which predisposes them to being risk-takers. When expressed physically, a sensation-seeker will seek out the rush or thrill of a sport such as hang-gliding, mountaineering, rock-climbing, mountain biking, etc. These are the people that you read about in “Outside Magazine”. I am not advocating that you go and jump off a cliff with a hang-glider, or scale a 2000 foot rock wall, but understanding their motivation for doing some extreme physical activities can be helpful when it comes to looking inwardly at your own motivation for pushing yourself physically. This brings us to the next section.
Risk Teaches You More about Yourself
I have learned so much about myself through the risks that I have taken physically. I have learned that I am scared to death of exposed heights, yet love to be 100 feet underwater scuba diving on a wreck.
I have learned that I can set my goals towards completing a half marathon and achieve it. I might not get exactly the finishing time of my dreams, but I take the risk of trying, and feel so much more confident and proud of myself for even doing it than if I were to shy away from it because of a lack of confidence.
I have always needed to feel that adrenaline rush with physical activities. For me, it looks more like running a half marathon, or scuba diving, or challenging myself to do pullups.
What about you? Did you start exercising to lose weight and then over time, realize that you actually love to be physically fit and have muscle definition? Did that surprise you? Learning that being fit and strong is of value to you can really define who you are. You will be more likely to make decisions about your lifestyle that are aligned with that value.
Kids that participate in sports growing up learn a lot about themselves. Many gain self-confidence that rolls over into other aspects of their lives, such as careers, or finances. Personally, once I started taking risks physically in my 20’s, my self-confidence really blossomed and I then took on more risks, such as getting a Master’s Degree in Geology and starting a job in a new city. For me, taking physical risks, like becoming a proficient back-country skier, gave me the confidence to take that next step in life.
Risk Creates a Higher Standard
Without professional athletes taking risks all of the time, the standards for what is possible to achieve in certain sports would be much lower. Take the Olympics for example. Records are set all of the time. Standards are raised.
Try something that you don’t think you can do…..when you do challenge yourself, you raise the standards for yourself. Maybe you decide to start eating healthier and clean out your cupboards and get rid of highly processed crackers, cookies, pasta, cheerios, and embrace whole grain snacks, whole foods such as nuts, fruits and veggies, and lean proteins. You just raised your standards by a huge amount.
Risk Gets You Noticed
There was a time in my life when I was a really good telemark skier, and super fit. At that time, there were not nearly as many women telemark skiers as there are now, so I stood out. I got noticed. In fact that is how I met my husband! He saw me telemark skiing and skied up to me and that was that!
Leo Babauta took all kinds of risks, and boy did he get noticed. His list is a mile long, but includes major milestones such as quitting smoking, became a runner and ran several marathons, changed his eating habits, lost 65 pounds, became financially secure, and launched a top-ranking blog. Had he not taken these risks to make these changes, he would not have gotten noticed by tons of people and provided huge opportunities for others to learn from him.
By taking risks in fitness, your circle of influence will notice you. Just take a look at Facebook for thousands of examples. People love to share their physical feats, whether it is losing 50 or more pounds to scaling peaks in Nepal. How may fitness challenges are there on social media? You know the answer. Tons. Humans have a strong need for acceptance and approval, and physically taking risks is a key avenue for this.
Please share with us how you have taken any risk regarding your fitness level and how that made you feel?
By Sue Bream yoursimplehealthylife.com