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Pain, Technique, and Tolerance

Last week Mara spoke about cramps and how they can be very painful and uncomfortable. This got me thinking about pain in general. A good friend of mine once told me that I’m good at racing because I have a high pain tolerance and can withstand being very uncomfortable, where others would limit themselves to make the pain stop. I laughed because in my head my body is still screaming at me to stop! So what is it that makes me and other people able to push through pain, while others give up when they are the slightest bit uncomfortable? I think a big part of it is the experiences we're put through in life. I am the youngest of four kids in my family, so as a child I would get beat up and picked on by my siblings. I would be punched and of course go crying to mom. But as I got older and this became a normal occurrence, I started to realize that it actually didn’t hurt that much at all. That's when I brought the pain! Hahaa. Consequently, I have a friend who is an only child and to this day, if he even stubs his toe in the slightest way, you'd think he had his entire foot cutoff! He flails around whining, complaining, and cussing for 15 minutes. Every time this happens I think “there is no way that could be that painful, get it together!” However, after working with many, many clients, I’ve learned that what may not be painful to one person, is extremely unbearable to another. This past weekend I participated in a free dive class where a group of us learned the physics of what happens to our body when it is deprived of oxygen and basically how to become “tolerant” of our bodies fight to survive. Of course some people are physiologically different and have different lung capacities and can therefore hold their breath longer; but what stood out to me most was the people who you least expected could hold their breath for a really long time! How was this possible I thought? The instructor said, that there is a lot of technique involved of course, but it ultimately comes down to a person’s willpower and how long they can withstand being in that uncomfortable situation. And let me tell you, when your body is screaming for air, it is not comfortable! So what do you do if you are a person that has a low pain tolerance? Do you succumb to always being the crybaby of the group? HELL NO! The instructor of the free dive course can hold his breathe for over 7 minutes. Yes, 7 minutes! Do you think he could always do that? No way! He has spent years practicing and mastering the technique of how to hold his breathe, how to expand his lungs, and learn how his body reacts in such situations. Now think about the things that make you feel pain and discomfort? If you learned better technique on how to run properly, practiced, and got better, do you think it would be less painful after a while? When you start to lift weights, those 10-pound dumbbells felt really heavy right? It was painful to lift them. But as you practiced your technique and got stronger, pretty soon those 10-pounders were nothing! If the nutrition is where your pain and discomfort lies, I totally understand. Hunger pangs are brutal! If you are the type of person that runs to the vending machine every time you get the slightest bit hungry, then I challenge you to fight the urges for a whole week. Your body is smart, if you have a mid-morning snack every day at 10am, then over time your body will learn that it will get food at that time. So when 9:48am comes around, it sends the signals to your brain. But do you really think you couldn’t survive without that snack? Push past it; learn what TRUE hunger feels like. I guarantee you that once 10:30 hits, your body will have moved on from the cravings and you’ll be fine until lunchtime. So this week I want you to be strong, push past the pain and discomfort. Don’t be the only child who stubbed his toe. Be the person who can withstand some pain and dive after that beautiful shell at the bottom of the ocean!

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