No Pain, No Gain is a Hoax. I used to use exercise as an avenue to beat myself up, as a way to prove that I wasn’t good enough. I’d push … push … push, never stopping to listen to my body’s cues, reflect on my experience, or enjoy the movement.
My workouts: hellish.
My body: in pain.
With all that pushing, you’d think my external results would have been amazing. With all that pain, you’d think my gain would have been incredible. Not really.
I do things differently now. And, guess what: I’ve never been happier with my body or more comfortable in my own skin.
My workouts nowadays are:
- Self-care and self-appreciation practices.
- Sacred times in my schedule where I get to enjoy the power of movement.
- Opportunities to check-in with my body and listen to the messages it’s trying to send me.
So, how do you know when your body is sending you the message, “I’m in pain, it’s time to rest?”
At first glance, that may seem like a simple question with an easy answer. However, there’s an important distinction to be made here:
Pain vs. Discomfort
When true pain shows up during a workout, it’s time to take a break, rest, stop, and/or modify an exercise. It’s absolutely not a time to push through.
Because, pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. It could be your form, an injury, or an illness. Regardless …
Pushing through true pain intensifies dysfunction.
How does true pain usually show up? In these forms:
Feeling extremely drained or fatigued
There is, however, a sensation that is worth pushing through: discomfort.
Discomfort shows up differently:
Worn out in an excited and energized sort of way
When these sensations show up, as long as you can keep your form intact, it’s not only safe, but also extremely beneficial to keep going.
Pushing through true discomfort intensifies growth and gain.
That’s because discomfort is not a cue that something’s wrong, but instead a cue that you’re pushing past your current limits. It’s simply your body relaying the message, “Oh boy, you haven’t done this before (or you don’t do it very often). I need to work harder than usual to make this happen.”
The incredible thing about gently pushing your comfort zone is then it gets bigger.
In other words, what used to be hard become easy. Things that used to confusing become simple. Things that used to take hours, take minutes. Things that used to surprising become obvious. Things that used to be frustrating become fluid.
Pushing through pain causes shrieking, shrinking, contraction, and forced rest. But, pushing through discomfort causes beautiful expansion.
Your body is an extremely adaptable machine. If you sit a lot, it adapts to that (but not in a good way). If you walk a lot, it adapts to that. If you run a lot, your endurance is high. If you do yoga a lot, you’re flexible. If you do Pilates, you’re strong.
You have the power to tell your body, “This is what I want to be able to do.” And, your body will adjust and respond. However, in the process of going from where you are, to getting to where you want to be, there’s going to be discomfort. Period. And, that’s okay.
The more comfortable you can get with discomfort, the more powerful you become and the more likely you’ll be to create the life and body you desire.
And so, with this in mind, the growth and gain process becomes simple:
Notice when messages bubble up.
Ask yourself, “Is this pain or discomfort?”
If it’s pain, consider taking a rest or modifying your practice.
If it’s discomfort, consider continuing.
Then, remind yourself:
The no pain, no gain’motto is a myth.
And, discomfort is a great thing!
To your true power & true discomfort, embraced!
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