This past weekend, I challenged myself and took on the task of preparing a meal that was out of my comfort zone. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a big foodie; I do not need to try the new restaurant downtown or have a desire to cook extravagant meals. I am perfectly fine snacking on raw veggies and a hardboiled egg; it satisfies my hunger, my taste buds and soul. Food does not light me up the way weight lifting, running, hitting a new PR, coffee, meditation, having meaningful conversations, laughing, etc. do.
I do however, greatly admire those who see cooking as an art, a passion, a therapeutic activity and/or an act of love and self care. Maybe I will cultivate that passion one day, but as of late I do not spend much energy or effort in meal prep. Unless I am doing the 21-Day Sugar Detox or the Whole30 where I need to plan my meals and do batch cooking, I do not experiment in the kitchen or have a craving to make and try new meals. I am content, comfortable and very satisfied with my simple, veg and protein meals.
Staying in your comfort zone, doing things that you are proficient at and avoiding tasks that make you feel like a beginner is human nature. Wanting to feel safe and secure is a valid and deep-seated primal instinct (i.e. doing tasks that you’re bad at can harm you). In fact, doubling down on your strengths and delegating your weaknesses is smart, savvy and often the key to survival in business, partnerships, etc.
So how about things and circumstances that safely (e.g. you are not throwing yourself in the deep end when you know you cannot swim) nudge you to step out of your comfort zone and provide an opportunity to grow, better yourself and learn a new skill? You give it a try and do your best; trying not to take yourself so seriously, practice self-compassion, laugh (if applicable) and enjoy the process.
When it comes to workouts, it is natural to want to perform exercises that you are good at. I know I am guilty of this; I struggle with my upper body strength (particularly, pull ups), but my lower body is strong. So I tend to neglect the former and favour lower body exercises like pistols, deadlifts and lunges. Because exercises that empower me make me feel good when I am performing them and exercises that I struggle with are not as fun; therefore I am less inclined to do them. But where is the growth in that?
The struggle provides a growth opportunity –
and you know what’s even more empowering than
performing an exercise that you are already/naturally good at?
Mastering one that did not come easily;
the one that you had to earn.
So how did my meal turn out? After three hours of prep and cook time (and help from three other sets of hands), a delicious vegetable filled pasta and baked salmon meal was enjoyed. Was I overwhelmed? The entire time. Did I feel out of place? Yes. Did I want to cry? Several times. Did I laugh at myself? A dozen times. I tried my best to not take myself so seriously, “This is just food, Jenna.” and reminded myself it will get easier and more empowering with practice.
When was the last time you challenged yourself?