Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Roughly two years ago, the company that I work for began a “Commit-to-Fit” challenge. The goal of this workplace-wellness challenge was to provide our team with the opportunity to enhance their overall health and well-being through proper nutrition and regular exercise [CrossFit workouts – 3x a week] – amazing, right!?

When the initial communication came through with regards to this fitness challenge, to say I was hesitant to join is an understatement. Although fitness has always played a massive part in my life and is a true passion of mine, CrossFit intimidated me, on many different levels – I always told myself, “CrossFit just isn’t for me. I can’t lift heavy weights – I am just not strong enough to fit into the community. “

After days of going back and forth about whether or not to join the Commit-to-Fit challenge, I had one colleague/friend [Matt] who truly became my driving force to join. He would say to me, “its important to step outside of your comfort zone and to try something that is unfamiliar/challenging – this is the only way you will continue to grow”. He was right, it was time to put all of my preconceived notions aside about CrossFit and to truly know what it is like to grow personally in an uncomfortable situation; from that moment on, my fitness and wellness journey changed forever. Not only did I enjoy CrossFit and the amazing CrossFit Vortex community I got to know and love, I finally began committing myself to a regular/consistent fitness routine, proper nutrition and began to find that spark [that once was lit] for my passion of everything health + wellness.

Matt does not know this yet [hey Matt! – if you are reading this] but he truly continues to inspire me on a daily basis. He is someone who wholeheartedly committed himself to not only this workplace-wellness challenge, he also made the personal commitment to change his life around via living a healthy lifestyle through proper nutrition and consistent exercise. Matt is the epitome of how challenging yourself by facing the unknown can honestly change your life in the most positive and beautiful way!

With the hopes to inspire someone else to let go of the familiar and embrace the new, here is Matt’s story on how his health and wellness journey has changed his life:

My Health + Wellness Journey| Matt Courtemanche

How did your health an wellness journey begin?

My health and wellness journey began on December 27th, 2015 at the back end of Christmas.  At that point, I didn’t really know where to start.  So, with baby steps, I started to work on controlling food portions and what I was drinking.  With drinks, I chose to stay away from pop, juice and alcohol.  The healthier choices I made were carbonated water and regular water.  For food, I started with CICO (Calories In, Calories Out) and went with around 1600 calories per day.

For me, my fitness journey became a lot about momentum.  Once I saw results, I just kept going.  Had to change clothes twice and I started to cook more which also became a passion of mine.  Three months after this, I joined a workout class twice a week with co-workers and got a membership at a gym, which I went to six times a week.  From there, I found CrossFit and I fell in love with it.

Overall, I’m not different from anyone else, I have my hobbies, passions and the stuff I dislike.  I just try to take it one day at time.

Lets talk, mental wellness and what it means to you.

Mental wellness has always been difficult for me.  I’ve had bouts of depression on and off for about 18 years.  However, I hit a real low about 8 years ago when I couldn’t really see hope in anything that I did.  My weight increased, I was unhappy and hated myself and I stay away from everything with the exceptions of a couple of friends and a few family members.  I started realizing that many of the problems I was having was due to me and only me.  I started to try and find out why I felt depressed and started to take measures to properly take control of my life.  Even to this day, I still have bad days but now I’m better equipped to understand when they are happening and how to control it.  I have listened to podcasts, read books, and watched many videos.  However, the main key has been to talk with people that are close to me.  Whether it has been an issue on a situation, a life-style choice or something that I just needed to get off my chest, this was the best decision I ever made.  Mental wellness is so important to everyone and I try to manage it as best I can because it can definitely take you off the road that you want to travel on.

How did you get into CrossFit and how has it changed your life?

CrossFit means the world to me.  It was synchronistic on how I ended up there.  There was a poll for co-workers to select a new workout routine and CrossFit was one of the options.  Thankfully, everyone selected it.  I don’t think that I could have ended up at a better affiliate than CrossFit Vortex.  Kristi as the owner has brought more to my life than just working out.  They have taught me about nutrition, mindset, doing things the right the first time and to fight through hard things everyday.  They make me laugh, give me a kick in butt, a pat on the back and many times, a wise word.  The mindset training has helped in having a new outlook on difficult situations and it helps reduce my stress levels daily.  Also, CrossFit brings together many people from different aspects of life and it is really cool to meet and hang out with new people daily.  Plus, you’re all in the trenches, slogging through the daily WOD and you get to become friends with others.  Sometimes, CrossFit gets a bad rap from social media but it truly works for me. I think that when it comes to getting healthier, you have to do what works for you and stick by it.   I have fallen in love with this sport and it is privilege to get to do it everyday.

I wouldn’t go out and say that my lifestyle is still the healthiest.  However, I cannot stress how much better than it was before.  When I was at my heaviest, I couldn’t stay awake, had no energy and was always running out of breath.  When I did exercise, I was sore for three days and I felt like many days, I was not going to get out of bed.  Now with exercising and eating healthier, I have energy all the time and I feel like I can do any exercise at the drop of a hat.  It also helps me to be able to help others.  I can help team members around the office with lifting heavy items, I can help do things for my family that I wasn’t able to do before.  It falls in with the old adage “You need to help yourself first, before you help others”.  I feel like many days, I can take on the world.

What inspires you to continue your health and wellness jounrey?

I didn’t really have a fitness inspiration at first.  I think that I was more motivated to try not to die before I was forty.  Obviously, we can never prepare for that but I wanted to give myself a way better chance.  Oddly enough, the more I started discussing healthy living with people, the more I became inspired.  I learned about different eating and workout plans and found out about resources that helped others.   The biggest tool that I have used is Instagram.  However, you need to be able to tell the difference between an account that is trying to sell fitness and an account that is trying to promote healthy living.  Now, my inspiration is drawn to many everyday people who are living their fitness goals and dreams.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own journy?

My advice to anyone that is starting out is that the first step is always the hardest.  To take that step, you are going to have to step out of your comfort zone and examine some uncharted territory.  However, it will be the best thing that you can do.  Being out of your comfort zone will help you to grow as an individual and it will help you to be better in the long run.  Also, you are not going to build fitness in one day.  This is crucial as sometimes you will plateau with results and your perseverance on those days with get you through.  This is not a diet, not a three-week plan.  It needs to be a lifestyle change.

Cheers to embracing the uncertainty and to new health + wellness beginnings – after all, life begins at the end off your comfort zone.

Lots of love,

Sara Locke – XOXO