Thinking of Joining USA Triathlon?

Be a part of our 550,000 member community of multisport athletes. Membership benefits include a subscription to the quarterly USA Triathlon magazine, discounts from USA Triathlon partners, inclusion in the national rankings, excess accident insurance at events, and savings at races. To see why you should join or renew today, visit the membership benefits page. Already a member? Login below.

Forgot Password | Help Renew Membership Become a Member

Move out of Your Comfort Zone

By Marni Sumbal

I absolutely love this Brian Tracy quote:  “Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”

fuelI think we are all guilty of feeling too comfortable in our comfort zones sometimes. Although we don't recognize the need to change right at a given moment, when we are open to the idea of change (whether it is necessary or not) we find it easier to learn more about what we are capable of achieving. Not everything works out perfectly when you try something new, but the ability to not fear change is so very powerful.

Over the past few years, I have worked with athletes and fitness enthusiasts of all ages, levels of fitness and with all types of personal health, fitness and diet goals. I love my job because no two individuals are alike. 

One thing I have learned is that a small change can make a big impact on how a person lives, makes choices and acts. It can be hard to approach training or diets as anything but "black or white" or all-or-none because everyone wants a quick fix. However, I believe in making small changes and not changing everything at once. In reviewing the many success stories of athletes and fitness enthusiasts I have worked with, it has been small, consistent changes that have allowed individuals to move closer to reaching their personal goals.

I have seen a lot of different styles of eating and training and of course, my first thought is "a lot needs to be changed." But that is not my approach to helping a person change their lifestyle. If a lot needs to be changed, I start with a few small changes that are practical, realistic and meaningful. Changes that can be felt and acknowledged. Changes that can impact how a person feels so they are more inclined to keep that change and to want to make other changes to feel just as good.

Here are a few simple changes you may want to try in your daily routine. These are changes I have helped others with and they have noticed dramatic results in how they live, eat and train/exercise.

Instead of pre-packaged flavored oatmeal, use 1/2 cup plain oatmeal and add your own berries, healthy fat (examples include peanut butter, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, oil, nuts, seeds) and your choice of protein (powder, milk, yogurt).

Add a salad to your lunch meal. If you currently eat a salad for lunch, be sure it is a satisfying meal.

Add intervals into your exercise/training routine.

Ask yourself how much time you have a day to train for an athletic event after you factor in meal prep, work, sleep, commuting, family/friends time, etc. There is no "perfect" number of hours/miles you need to train per week.

Train for time, not miles. 

Aim for 20-30g of protein per meal.

Don't forget to include a healthy fat in your meal to help keep you satisfied.

Honor your hunger; don't watch the clock.

Fuel frequently during workouts and recognize when your body needs fuel (be proactive) instead of waiting until x-minutes or x-miles passing by.

If your spouse or significant other doesn't understand your active lifestyle, keep in mind that we can have similar lifestyles but different passions. Not everyone has to be a triathlete, runner, etc.

Don't lecture others about food. Inspire with your choices and actions.

Set goals for yourself in the areas of life, exercise and diet.

Add variety with your meal choices every 2-3 days.

Add more color to your diet.

Replace, not eliminate. Focus on more nutrient-dense, whole foods.

Enjoy your occasional treats - make them count and feel better after you eat them than before.

Don't be afraid to cook.

Make time for meal-prep.

If it isn't in the house you can't eat it (this goes for cookies and for dark leafy greens).

Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N works as a Clinical Dietitian at Baptist Medical Center Beaches, and is the owner of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC, providing one-on-one consulting in the Jacksonville, Fla., area. Marni is a Registered Dietitian, holding a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, and is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN). As an elite endurance athlete, she is also a USA Triathlon Level I Coach and a 5x Ironman finisher. Marni is a 110% Play Harder, Brooks ID, Hammer Nutrition and Oakley Women brand ambassador. She enjoys public speaking and writing, and she has several published articles in Fitness Magazine, Bicycling Magazine, The Florida Times-Union Shorelines, Lava Magazine, Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes to IronGirl.com and Ironman online in addition to USA Triathlon.

To contact Marni, email trimarnicoaching@gmail.com, visit her blog trimarniblogspot.com or her website trimarnicoach.com.

Active.com