It’s hardwired in us: We exit when suddenly things become uncomfortable. In school, I remember how we cower in unison when suddenly the teacher asks to solve something on the board.
Planking for 30 seconds with three rounds has been my norm. I can stop from there because that level, I believe, is acceptable for toning my small physique.
One afternoon, however, something in me shifted.
I thought push-ups, a new exercise, was a good overall exercise, and it seemed easy. Days into it with no success in sight, heaving against gravity, just when I was about to surrender to the ground, something piqued me: not yet.
Positioning myself back to planking, I slowly counted to 30. Breathing hard, then passing the celebratory threshold, I allowed my body to react. How hard can it be? I started to shake. I waited and sat with the pain in my arms, torso and legs. Aside from a possible injury, I realized, pain was a good indicator of having reached a new limit.
Of course it’s difficult to push through in discomfort. But we can train our minds and launch ourselves to a higher level by adapting this mantra: When it is not yet, it is bring it on. The unpleasant can only propel us to see what’s worth doing again.