Updated: Apr 18, 2020
I used to hate, I mean HATE exercise. As soon as I would become short of breath I would start to feel a panic rising within me and my body and mind would be screaming "STOP!" in unison. So I would. For years my workout routine consisted of the first five minutes of workout DVDs, maybe 2 minutes on a stationary bike, 10 seconds running....you get the idea.
I never understood how in the world some people could exercise the way they did and decided that my body just wasn't made for exercise or I wouldn't feel that way.
Well, what I didn't realize at the time was at the exact moment I felt the overwhelming need to stop was when change was starting to take place in my body. Change is uncomfortable. We don't like to be uncomfortable. It is in our nature to resist this discomfort. However, this resistance is simply a reflex that can be reprogrammed simply by becoming aware of the process.
By now we most all know how muscles tear down and build back up stronger. But there's not a lot of talk about the other type of discomfort that may cause you to stop or back off in the middle of your workout because, if you are new to exercise, you feel a scary, unfamiliar feeling. This feeling is lack of oxygen, or breathlessness.
When you push your body past its previous comfort zone, you become out of breath. The reason for this is because your body does not have enough oxygen to supply all of your muscles with the energy it needs to perform this new task. But if you push anyway, and get out of breath (if only for 30 seconds at a time) your body says "Oh crap! I better get more efficient if I'm gonna have to start doing this!" Your heart and lungs, as a result, become stronger. Your lungs are able to send more oxygen to your heart with each breath. Your heart beats slower because it is able to pump more blood with a single beat. Your cells are able to better extract oxygen from the blood. Your body becomes a more efficient machine.
This improvement happens every time you become out of breath! How exciting!
the next time you feel that panicky feeling (which will subside after time) and you think it's time to stop, just recognize that this is your body's pre-programmed response to change and that you know, at that very moment, you have started to change and improve.