Trying New Things And The Recipe For Success

As you may or may not know by now, I am definitely a creature of habit. I get comfortable in my routine, and have difficulty changing things up. While it’s good to be willing to try new things and be flexible, I think there is also something to be said for having a routine. I feel the most calm and in control when I know what to expect and have a clear plan. Also, I function my best when I am doing things that I am comfortable and confident in doing.

My preferred way to start the morning

My preferred way to start the morning

 As I mentioned the other day, I have been trying to swim as a way to maintain some fitness while I am recovering. Swimming is definitely NOT something that I find comfortable and I am certainly not confident in my abilities. To make matters worse, I have to go to different gyms to use indoor pools. Talk about a change in routine!

pool view

I am very confident with laying next to the pool

So the easy thing for me to do is to give up on the whole swimming thing. Trust me, I considered it and actually put off even attempting to swim for weeks in hopes that I would find something else that I could do while I’m not running! Finally, I put on my big girl panties and said that I would do what makes me uncomfortable, knowing that after it became a habit I would gain some level of comfort. 

On Tuesday morning I made my second attempt at swimming this week. I went to a gym I had never been to before (and got lost driving there in the process!) It’s like a mile away from where I live but in an area of the city I never go to and one that I wouldn’t feel comfortable running around in the dark. When I finally found the gym and got inside I had to ask the lady at the desk to show me where the locker rooms and pool were. Turns out they were in completely opposite directions! Like seriously, I’m supposed to walk through the gym where people are working out on machines in my wet bathing suit to get back to the locker room? Ughh. 


So anyway, there were only 3 lanes and they were super small but luckily there was a lane free when I got there and I didn’t have to share. I am so scared to share a lane with someone because I would really worry about swimming into them or kicking them or spitting water on them or something. I’m not exaggerating at all.

And can we just talk about how intimidating it is to have a lifeguard staring at you the whole time? You can’t try to tell me that they’re not judging- I mean how could you not? What else are you supposed to do while you’re sitting there?

I survived my 30 minutes in the pool and made my way back to the locker room (after getting lost walking through the gym….nothing is ever easy…) and took a quick shower before heading home to get ready for work. The other thing about going to these other gyms is that I need to be done early in order to avoid rush-hour traffic, because it could literally take me 20 minutes to drive that one mile once traffic starts. (Sorry- I feel like I am always complaining about weather or traffic- I guess you know my pet peeves). 

Not to totally get off topic- but can I just say that we are supposed to get snow on Friday?!? How is this happening…

when I checked this morning it said "1-3 inches"

when I checked this morning it said “1-3 inches”

Anyway, back to the point of this rant. I made it through two swimming sessions and nothing catastrophic happened. I may have dealt with traffic and gotten lost a few times but lessons were learned and hopefully that won’t happen again. And I am now more experienced swimmer by 60 minutes more than last week. 

I was thinking alot this week about how and why we develop a love for the things we do- like running or yoga or swimming or whatever it is and find ways to be successful at those things, even if they don’t come naturally to us. I don’t know of many people who developed a love for an activity when they were forced to do it. 

I hated running when my field hockey coach told me I had to do it.

I didn’t like ballet but in order to compete in other dance programs it was required that I take it.

I’m pretty sure I only loved gymnastics when I was 12 because I was “cut” from the middle school team that I had half-heartedly tried out for. 

But then I realized I wanted to be a better field hockey player, so I took my running a bit more seriously and realized it wasn’t so bad, and eventually learned that it was a great activity that I could do to stay in shape without needing a gym membership.

field hockeyI realized that I wanted to better in all areas of dance, so put more work into ballet, and learned it wasn’t so bad. Especially when my dance teacher told me that I was at an advanced enough level that I could start doing pointe.


And as for the gymnastics, I never quite recovered from being cut from the team, but I guess you can say that I am making up for it now by working on inversions in yoga.

But look! I can do a split! (Not even close anymore...)

But look! I can do a split! (Not even close anymore…)

So just like I learned my lessons the hard way growing up, I’m hoping I will gain that intrinsic motivation to swim, in the process of being “forced” to do it while I am not running. One day I will look back and know that it only helped me to be a more well-rounded athlete and take the time I need to recover and get back to running safely. 

We also gain confidence by trying new things that make us nervous. As Michele explained the other day, we need to learn how to fall, and then be able to rise after falling or failing

Hm, maybe I was never really able to fall well because I never got that chance to do gymnastics. At least now there is no pressure to make a team- talk about adding more stress to the already difficult teenage years! But my point is, these things never came “easy” to me, but a little effort can make all the difference. The recipe for success seems to be the appropriate amount of motivation, effort, and confidence. Skill is helpful, but not required.

Are there areas of your life where you had to develop intrinsic motivation for an activity before you could truly put a solid effort into it?

Do you have a fear of of trying new and/or challenging thing?

What was the last new activity you tried? How did it go?

thinking out loud

Thanks Amanda!

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61 thoughts on “Trying New Things And The Recipe For Success

  1. This is a great post! I’m the same as you- Im nervous on new athletic Ventures. If I had someone with me, it wouldn’t be nearly as bad, though. I think it’s great that you braved the new gym and swam -all on your
    Own!!! I didn’t even know the were lifeguards at adult gyms! Ah!! That would freak me out too.
    Nicole@TheGirlWhoRanEverywhere recently posted…Fantastic is….My Profile

    • Yep, they need to be at pools for legal reasons I guess. It’s very awkward! I would have definitely felt better if I had someone with me!

    • I am really hoping that the snow isn’t actually what they say it will be…I mean its been pretty warm lately so maybe it won’t stick.

  2. Fear of change is a huge motivator and “rut-ifier” if you will. There is a psychological construct that very simply states that those things that we have to convince ourselves that we like by coming back to them time and again we often have the closest bond with because we have had to justify our return to it. Part of it is the repetition and almost bonding with whatever it is, but sometimes? we just gotta fight for it!
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Social Media Motivation + Nike Training Club ChicagoMy Profile

  3. I can’t believe you had to walk thru the gym to get to the pool! You know I’m right there with you on this swimming thing. Being injured during a Boston training cycle is what forced me to take up pool running in the first place. That’s how I acclimated to the pool environment in the first place. Now that I shoved myself out of my comfy zone for this tri, I feel you on the lifeguard and sharing a lane (still not doing it) and everything else. I guess the positive is although I’m not enjoying it (at all) I am sticking with it and making progress. I’m glad you’re staying positive about your injury and recognize that there is a silver lining. : )
    Marcia recently posted…Stuff I Didn’t Know About Riding a BikeMy Profile

    • I want to try pool running, but I read that you need to do it in water than is deep, and I keep getting stuck in 4 foot lanes! Was that a problem for you at all? At one of my gyms the entire pool is only 4 feet. I think there are some deeper lanes at my other pool but most are 4 feet as well.

  4. I love this post, but I also admire your dedication and determination with swimming. I think its great that you are working so hard at it!! It will come so much easier to you the more you practice!

    I am going on vacation in a few weeks and I decided that I am going to do swimming as my cardio, thanks to you!
    Kelly @ The Fit Skool recently posted…Reader FeedbackMy Profile

    • Thank you! And that’s awesome that you are gonna do some swimming! I hate that most of the time it takes an injury to push people to start swimming, and it kind of gets a bad rap because of that, I think.

  5. Great post, Lisa! All of the things you mentioned about the pool are why I just do laps in the pool at my apartment complex when no one else is in there. I mean, you just know the lifeguard is judging you, and I would feel terrible if I kicked another swimmer or someone got caught behind me. You’re tackling that head on though and some will probably be one of those graceful swimmers that everyone else is intimidated by at the pool!

    Also, look at that split!!!
    Kristina recently posted…Celebrating TWO YEARS!My Profile

    • That is great that you have the option to swim at your apartment! That sounds way less intimidating. Some of the swimmers at my pool looked so advanced!
      Ha- I don’t think anyone will ever describe my swimming as “graceful”!

  6. I can SO relate to this! I’m the same way with swimming especially. It really intimidates me and I get so self conscious about it! It’s weird, I mean I technically know how to swim, I’m just not good at it because I never do it, and so I actually get a great workout when I do. Swimming is one of those things for me where it’s never the “right time” to do it. Such an excuse! I wish I could practice swimming alone to get rid of the self conscious factor.
    Michele @ paleorunningmomma recently posted…Thinking Out Loud – Throwback!My Profile

    • I really wish there was a way to practice swimming without doing it in front of others! I think that is what makes it so intimidating.

    • Exactly! Usually if we stick with the things that make us uncomfortable we learn to appreciate them in some way.

  7. Great post, Lisa! I totally believe effort makes all the difference, not just in sport but in life. I’m trying to start a freelance writing career and there are so many times that determination alone is what keeps me going.
    Good for you for sticking with swimming! The idea of sharing laps terrifies me also, and so weird that the locker rooms are so far away from the pool!
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…The Benefits of Coffee for RunnersMy Profile

    • This definitely applies to life as well! We need to have a desire and determination, otherwise we will never make progress.

  8. I can’t agree more with this post! I think it is human nature to seek habit. Ladies fight over their “spot” or “bike” in my classes. I seek comfort in doing the same things…it isn’t until I force myself or am forced to step outside of my comfort zone that I try something new. (BTW…I hate when gyms are setup to make you walk through the gym before and after swimming…a man had to have designed that!). I have been swimming also, because it is all I am allowed to do. I am embarrassed to admit that before I was limited to swimming, I would carry my swimsuit, goggles, and swim cap in my gym bag every day with intentions to swim. I think at the beginning of each week I made the goal of swimming at least 2 x that week. Every day, I would end up on the stairmaster, or on the spin bike, or doing HIIT instead.

    Stepping outside of what you normally do is so crucial in life and especially in fitness. I love this post! <3<3
    Stacy @ SweatingTulipz recently posted…Increase your Colon Cancer Awareness by Loving your Butt with this WorkoutMy Profile

    • Thanks! Yes, I agree that it is human nature to do what we are comfortable with. But I have learned that when I step out of my comfort zone I am almost always glad that i did! There may be setbacks or struggles but no matter what, you did something different and learned from it.

  9. I love this! I had a similar experience with running…I hated it when my softball or basketball coach made us run. But when I willingly put in the effort and decided I wanted to improve, I didn’t dread it as much. I’m also the same way when it comes to trying new things, swimming being one of them. I can swim to save my life but other than that, nothing about my form or ability is impressive. I always come up with excuses but I know one day I need to bite the bullet and try it for real.
    Emily @My Healthyish Life recently posted…Exercise Should Be Hard…SometimesMy Profile

    • You’re right- it’s all about putting in the effort and wanting to get better at something! I was always using excuses as to why I couldn’t swim…I still use them but hopefully as I get a little more comfortable I will find myself making it more of a routine.

  10. Good luck with the swimming! I’ve had stress fractures and used swimming and pool running to stay in shape, but swimming is definitely outside of my comfort zone. It felt good to improve, and I actually really enjoyed pool running- it can be a great workout!

    I think it’s been too long since I’ve tried a new workout…any suggestions?
    Chelsea @ runner’s table recently posted…Asparagus with Jalapeno and OrangeMy Profile

    • My next step is to try pool running, but I am having trouble finding water deep enough! Most of the lanes I have been to are only 4 feet, and the deeper lanes weren’t free.
      Hm as for a new workout- have you tried barre? That’s a new one that I have liked recently!

    • Haha, not sure about the triathlon! I haven’t biked outdoors since I was like 10! And I don’t own a bike, so there’s that…

  11. You’re getting more SNOW?!?!?! NOOOOOOO!!! At this point, I wouldn’t blame you one bit if you switched completely from running to swimming and gymnastics! Such cute pics of you when you were younger! Love it.
    Suzy recently posted…Woozy Wednesday: RootsMy Profile

    • Ha! I don’t think I will be switching to swimming anytime soon. And as for gymnastics, I’ve totally lost my edge. Being upside down makes me nervous now and my flexibility has disappeared.

  12. I really love this post of yours because I can definitely relate. When I started running, I didn’t really enjoy it – it was just a form of exercise for me. Once I started seeing progress from doing it more consistently, it actually became more enjoyable! I think this can be said about a lot of activities. If it becomes important enough for you to want to do it, you have to keep ‘practicing’ until it becomes more fun and natural. I LOVE that you’re trying something new and you’re choosing to put your all into it even though it’s out of your comfort zone. But really – what gym puts a locker room on the opposite end of the building as the pool?! That makes no sense!
    Charissa recently posted…Marathon Training Week 2 (3/9 – 3/15)My Profile

    • Thanks! And yes, pretty crazy about the locker room thing. But I have realized I need to put my excuses aside and see what happens. It’s so true that we often start doing something because it feels like a “chore” but eventually it becomes something we enjoy and want to do!

  13. Well, Lisa. I must admit, I’m not much of a swimmer, and the thought of getting in a pool in the early morning with others around just makes me cringe. I’m so impressed you’ve done it twice. And you never know, you may grow to love it! I’ve been going through an ongoing struggle to get better at yoga for a long time, and I would LOVE to try some more advanced inversions, but am not quite there yet. I hope to be a little more brave and try some new ones soon. Happy Thursday! :)
    Ashley @ A Lady Goes West recently posted…Just you and me: Let’s have a chat over coffeeMy Profile

    • I get really nervous about inversions too! I have practiced up against a wall a bit and that has given me some confidence. It’s such a great feeling when you get into those tougher balancing poses for the first time!

    • Thank you! I do feel like I got past the biggest hurdle, because each time I go is a little less scary.

    • I had a free 30 min session with a lifeguard last summer and that was great to learn the basics about how to breathe, which is my problem. Now at least I know what I am supposed to do- even though I haven’t actually been able to do it correctly yet!

    • I always forget about pistol squats but that is a great addition to your workouts!

  14. When I was in NZ, they wanted me to bungee jump and sky dive. Yeahhhh NO! I will NEVER EVER EVER do those things. They’re not on my bucket list, so I really don’t care! LOL! I do want to continue to explore new places though, I am sooooo ready to travel again, I totally have the travel BUG!
    GiGi Eats recently posted…Notsa CarbonaraMy Profile

    • I actually went skydiving when I was in Switzerland! I was like 20 and if you asked me now I would say NO WAY! Haha…I think I have lost my edge over the years. I still love to travel, but I am not nearly as adventurous as I once was.

  15. My thing that I just had to gut out was definitely running-the early years ha. I despised it. I was so sick of coming in last for races, which shouldn’t have surprised me because I was barely running like a half mile a day broken up into walking and running. But then the competitive side of me took over and I knew I didn’t want to quit no matter how slow I was. Then when I got injured in college, it was pool running. Gah I hated it at first. We had this thing in the athletic training room called a SwimEx and basically it looked like an underwater treadmill, but with no belt and there were buttons to adjust the drag of the water and it was super hard and embarrassing because hello a room full of injured athletes and everyone’s looking at you struggling in the next room that’s surrounded by clear windows haha. I know swimming will make you physically and mentally strong for running by pushing you out of your comfort zone :). And props to you for going so early in the morning! Eek I don’t know if I could get in a pool if I lived anywhere colder than Arizona in the winter… indoors or not!
    Hailey recently posted…Running fears, an app, and your brainMy Profile

    • It’s pretty strange getting into a pool when it’s cold out! That swim ex sounds kind of cool. I think it would be easier if I had someone telling me what to do for pool rehab, but I feel like I’m out on my own and have no clue what I am doing!

  16. There are a lot of things I can relate to in this post. I find gyms generally intimidating, and it’s even worse in the areas where I’m less experienced, like the weight room or the pool. I think you can be proud of yourself for sticking with it and not throwing in the towel just from dealing with having to go to different gyms and the whole walking through the gym to get to the locker room thing. Seriously, I don’t know that I would have stuck it out.

    I swam when I was dealing with a running injury a few years ago and I wanted nothing more than to fall in love with swimming so that I could start doing triathlons (I love cycling). It hasn’t happened yet, but I did see huge improvements in my swimming by sticking with it for about 4 months. I’m sure you will too, so maybe that will help get you through this awkward phase, and who knows? Maybe you will end up with a new routine.
    Lizzy recently posted…2015 LA Marathon race reportMy Profile

    • That is good to know- I hope that I can make some improvements with my swimming as well! I feel like it would be good to continue using as cross training while I am running so that I always have it as an option for times when I can’t run.

    • That’s terrible that your field hockey team was cut from the budget! I liked soccer but we didn’t have that in middle/high school so I did FH instead. Track was only to stay in shape during the off-season:)

  17. Okay, who puts a locker room on the opposite side of the pool? That makes no sense whatsoever. I can totally relate to the lifeguard comment. When I swim, I have to get to the pool when it opens at 5:30am so I have time to shower and get ready before work. I’m the first person there and it is so awkward to be alone with the lifeguard… and I used to be a lifeguard when I was younger! I always feel like they’re bummed when I come down because it means they have to watch the pool.
    Sam @ Grapefruit & Granola recently posted…Knee Surgery: Week 2 RecapMy Profile

    • I have been trying to go to the pool right when it opens but somehow I am never the first one in there! I think others have the same idea as me.

  18. This is all so true. It’s hilarious how much I hated running/claimed I couldn’t run as a kid when I was forced to do so. I had to fall in love with it on my own. I have so much less fear of trying new things now than I used to in the past because I finally realized that new opportunities are so much more apt to happen if you step outside your comfort zone. I still don’t know about swimming though. :)

    As for this snow. No. Just no.
    Salt recently posted…Spring Has Sprung! {The Friday Five}My Profile

    • I think that in a way ClassPass got me more comfortable with going to different gyms! So maybe that was what sparked the courage to try new gyms this week…but swimming is still a very intimidating activity!

  19. What a great post. I think it’s “easy” to do the things that come naturally to us and that we are good at but we become much better overall when we push ourselves out of our comfort zone and do the things we aren’t as good at or haven’t done before. Great job with the swimming–I am not a good swimmer and being in a lane with someone else would scare me too!
    Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles recently posted…Friday Five: The Spring EditionMy Profile

    • Exactly! I have found that each time I push myself out of my comfort zone I gain more confidence. Swimming can be so intimidating!

  20. Like you, I am most certainly a creature of habit. Sadly, ALL my habits are bad. But I’m going to try something new tomorrow – for sure. Not positive what it is just yet. Maybe I need a glass of wine for inspiration!
    Have a nice weekend

    • Good for you! I have found that the things I keep thinking about trying are the things I should really just go ahead and do already:)

  21. I’m so with you on the swimming thing! It doesn’t come naturally to me at all. Not to mention I find it kind of boring…I know it’s so good for you but man, working out with no sound, no music, no talking, nothing? That drives me crazy!

    In life, though, so many things are challenging at first. I’ve had SO many jobs (more than I can count on two hands haha) and every single time those first few days/weeks are SO SCARY! But eventually you get over the challenge and it feels like home :)
    Lauren @ ihadabiglunch recently posted…Bea’s Bran MuffinsMy Profile

    • I found this waterproof mp3 player on amazon that Im gonna try out. I was going bored out of my mind on Saturday when I spent an hour in the pool and there was nothing to distract me!
      Yes, many things are so scary and intimidating at first, but I have also learned that with time you feel more comfortable and confident!

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