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How to Be Courageous

How to Be Courageous

    What do you think of when you think of courage? Perhaps you think of a firefighter running into a burning building to save someone. Maybe you think of a person facing a battle with cancer or a parent fighting for their disabled child’s rights. While those are great examples, I don’t think that strength and courage are always as as noble or rare as that.

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    For someone struggling with depression, getting out of bed in the morning is courage. For someone successful in their career, striking out on their own is strong and courageous. For those of us who like to put our best foot forward — don’t we all? — it’s simply this:

    True courage is risking being uncomfortable.

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    I am a volunteer firefighter, and do you know what the hardest thing is about fire fighting? Showing up. Just getting out of bed when the pager goes off at 1 a.m. to face an unknown situation. We never have very many details of the call we are responding to. We rarely have an indication of whether we will be gone an hour or eight. I don’t know if I am going to be asked to do something I’ve never done on a real scene before, something I’ve only done in practice. Even just going to practices takes strength and courage. I never know what new skills we will be taught, or if we will do a scenario which tests our ability to act as well as problem-solve. And I never know if I might end up looking foolish.

    That’s really what it boils down to, doesn’t it? None of us likes to look foolish. Sometimes, if we are in a comfortable rut in our lives, we can end up too concerned with appearances. We end up paralyzed or we maintain the status quo, thinking that we’re doing really well holding our own. We’re not losing ground, so we must be growing, right? Wrong. True personal growth only happens when we move forward, and that only happens when we have strength and courage and face our fears. Usually, it is nothing more than being willing to risk being uncomfortable or looking foolish. Going to practices at the fire hall, I have to be willing to get way outside my comfort zone, do my best to learn a new skill, and risk looking foolish the first time I do it.

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    Here are four tactics you can try to become more courageous:

    • Be willing to go. Start out by just being willing to do that difficult thing, even if you aren’t actually doing anything yet. In cases where the difficult task to face has been thrust on you, like being diagnosed with cancer, being willing can be a tough thing; think of it more as being willing to accept that you are where you are, and stepping forward into each moment with the most serenity you can maintain.
    • Watch how you talk to yourself. Focus on how others have done it, how maybe it won’t be as hard as you think, or how it really is just about being uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable never killed anyone, and although the thing you need strength and courage to do may be tough, it won’t kill you either. If you are facing a serious illness, talk about why you want to be well, and talk as little as possible about your actual condition.
    • Practice on small things. If you have a really big situation you’re facing, practice on smaller uncomfortable things and then apply that success to boost your confidence to take on the big thing. I didn’t start out at the fire hall driving fire trucks. I started out putting my gear on, washing trucks, and laying down hoses.
    • Take a deep breath and do it. I hate to tell you this, but firefighters aren’t all that courageous. Our courage comes when we sign up for the job, and after that, it’s all just taking a deep breath and doing what we’re trained to do.

    (Photo credit: Singe Firefighter via Shutterstock)

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    Teresa Griffith

    Teresa is a passionate writer who shares about productivity tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2020

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

    Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

    1. Exercise Daily

    It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

    If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

    Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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    If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

    2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

    Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

    One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

    This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

    3. Acknowledge Your Limits

    Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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    Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

    Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

    4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

    Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

    The basic nutritional advice includes:

    • Eat unprocessed foods
    • Eat more veggies
    • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
    • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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    Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

      5. Watch Out for Travel

      Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

      This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

      If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

      6. Start Slow

      Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

      If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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      7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

      Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

      My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

      If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

      I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

      Final Thoughts

      Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

      Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

      More Tips on Getting in Shape

      Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

      Reference

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