As humans, we are hard wired to choose situations that will give us momentary satisfaction over discomfort. It is human nature and it is embedded in our DNA. Our primal ancestors made life-and-death decisions daily. Lucky for us, modern times don’t require us to make the kinds of choices our ancestors made. We can easily jump in the car and head to the grocery store or order takeout if we don’t have anything to eat rather than risk our lives for a meal. We have modern medicine and doctors to take care of broken bones and illnesses. The internet gives us instant gratification and constant shots of dopamine. Long gone are the days of choosing between life and death or momentary satisfaction over discomfort. We can always choose life, and we can always choose instant gratification.
But just because our modern advancements took away the need to choose between satisfaction vs. discomfort in their traditional sense, these choices still arise outside of our essential needs. We don’t choose between satisfaction and discomfort when thinking about shelter, safety, and getting food to our bodies, but we CAN choose between them when we talk about the more intimate details.
The choices that you make are CRUCIAL to your long-term success and longevity in health and wellness. Choosing momentary satisfaction is okay every once in a while, (I am a firm believer in everything in moderation), but when you make it a habit, we start to see issues. Human instinct tells us to avoid discomfort, but in our modern world, discomfort is the only way we will see progress.
Choosing discomfort when deciding what to eat isn’t even discomfort. You won’t experience discomfort when you choose the broccoli over the French fries or weigh your chicken for dinner. It might not be convenient or the tastiest, but it is the better choice. The same can be said about your fitness goals. Choosing discomfort over instant gratification can be as basic as choosing to come to the gym instead of going home to sit on the couch after work. It might even be choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Neither of those choices are going to put you in any physical danger, but they WILL move you towards your goals faster than the alternative.
Choices that you make inside of the gym also walk this line. You can choose to use the same, scaled weight that you’ve always used for the thrusters in class and still have a pretty good workout, or you can choose the RX weight and challenge yourself. Neither is really “instant satisfaction”, but one choice is definitely more comfortable than the other. Are you challenging yourself and putting yourself in uncomfortable situations? Or are you maintaining the baseline and getting frustrated when you don’t see the results that everyone else is getting?
Tracking your food is the same way. Do you think it’s “inconvenient” to weigh and measure your food and log in My Fitness Pal? Did you give 70% effort to your new F5 Method numbers and call it quits because you didn’t seen results? Guess what, the same principle applies here. You’re choosing the instant gratification over challenging yourself to be a little bit uncomfortable with the newness of weighing and measuring your food.
Next time you start to get frustrated with your progress, really give yourself a hard up and down look and see if you are doing EVERYTHING you can to progress yourself forward and actively choosing discomfort.