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Comfortably Uncomfortable

(If you needed any motivation to get in the gym...)

At 12, my toothpick arms and spaghetti legs made serving a volleyball impossible. Really--I could send the ball everywhere but over the net. So, somewhere between tears and out-of-bounds balls, I was introduced to exercise (yes, we go way back).

My first workouts were simple, and I was religious about them---my sweetly juvenile 30 sit ups, 15 lunge jumps, 12 burpees, and 10 pushups. Over a few months, I not only gained enough muscle for an overhand serve, but enough passion for a new commitment.

At 15, I brought my "beginner gains" to the weight room. The confines of crunches and ladder drills were then broken--I could squat, jump, push, press, pull, run, sprint… suddenly, I could fly. Exercise was simultaneously like nothing I’d ever known, and everything I’d ever loved. It provided routine with infinite room for improvement. Having a new space in which I could push myself was cathartic.

Four years later, I still struggle to pinpoint all of the value exercise continues to give me. There is more to it than the form I learned in the dusty Doral weight room or plates I added in the open Coconut Grove air. It isn’t stretching to avoid injury, or the camaraderie of encouraging a partner. The benefits for my body often feel like a bonus, and the athleticism a happy coincidence.

Exercise shows me the power of consistent discomfort… and it’s beautiful and useful and demanding all at once. Though we tend to believe our ability to depend on the body, it’s much more about the mind… to add weight each time I consider dropping, or go for one more minute when I stopping is all I can think about.

The only way we get stronger is by doing what we believe impossible, uncomfortable, or inconvenient (cliché, but true). And then, somehow, the exercise makes its way into our academics, relationships, passions, and careers before even reaching our bodies.

Years after learning to serve a volleyball...


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