Sorry to break this to you, but sometimes exercising is uncomfortable.

Sometimes you have to get sweaty; sometimes you have to push through your comfort zone; sometimes it’s a little hard to breathe … yes, sometimes it’s uncomfortable.

I’m not saying you need to be in pain. I’m not saying you need to make yourself ill. I am saying that it is absolutely not “a walk in the park”.

When you are doing cardiovascular activity to improve your heart function, to burn off calories or to lose weight, it is hard, it is sweaty, you will be short of breath, but able to answer if asked a question.

When you are weight training, the weight you are are using should not be light: it should be a weight that is uncomfortable to lift, but does not strain you to lift it.

It is this uncomfortable medium that you would like to find. Once you are comfortable in that new zone, that is the time when you need to step it up a notch by increasing the intensity or the weight.

Once something gets easy, you make it harder. That’s how we improve. Do not confuse this feeling of being uncomfortable with being unsafe.

When weight training, pick a zone of say 10 to 12 repetitions when you are lifting and when you reach repetitions 9, 10 and 11, they should be difficult to lift to the point where you may not be able to complete repetition 12 properly. This weight is perfect. Once you are able to complete repetitions 12 and 13, this is when you up your weight.

Start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable with your workouts. This is the time when you will start to see improvement.

Same rules apply with your diet.

On those mentally hard days when everything feels stressful and you start to reach for your comfort foods, pull away. Ask yourself why you are reaching for the cookies and the ice cream.

Are you eating emotionally because you are feeling uncomfortable with the thoughts and feelings you are having? Stop and allow yourself to feel uncomfortable. Find another way to deal with those feelings.

Eating is not going to make the stress go away. Do you “deserve the cheesecake”? Then you deserve the weight and issues that come with it, so you better have a plan to deal with it afterwards.

Hit the stress head-on and deal with the issues. Then, go work out, go for a walk, have a bath, go for a hike, read a book, do your favourite activity.

I have a rule: Try something new every year.

The reason I have this rule is to challenge myself physically and mentally. It is very uncomfortable to try something new. I like being good at things; I do not like feeling like I am bad at something. But I believe this helps me grow as a person.

So far I have learned to snowboard, taken adult swim lessons, tried a triathlon, done fitness competitions, learned tennis, learned to dance and this year I am taking gymnastics lessons for the first time in my life.

Out of all of those things I have tried, I have had some feeling of success and a lot of uncomfortable moments, but they have all helped me grow as a person and have made me stronger mentally and physically.

This spring, I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone, lift a little heavier, push a little harder, try something new. You never know how far you can go unless you try.

Remember, I am here to help!

This column is provided by Peak Fitness. Mrs. Lee Randell is an ACE-certified personal trainer. Contact information and past articles are available at www.pkfitness.yk.ca/Clients. Anyone who wants to begin an exercise program should consult their physician first.

This column is provided by Mrs. Lee Randell, independent fitness consultant, who is an ACE certified advanced health and fitness specialist and personal trainer. You can reach her at www.mrsleerandell.com.