I love to give about 72% effort when I am exercising.

You should have seen me in IntenSati class today. I just couldn’t quite get it up to get down. What I mean is, my squats didn’t bring me low enough to the ground to touch it with my hands, like the people in the front row of class. I am justified in doing, or should I say not doing, this. I’m just “listening to what my body needs.” (You’ve heard that one, right?) I always think I am intelligently conserving. I think I am being wisely self-protecting of my body. But, that’s not really true.

A relevant memory: A few years back, my life coach came with me to this type of exercise class and stood behind me. At the end, she made fun of me for not being as sweaty as she was. After explaining my lineage of non-sweater (we glow), I blurted out the first (bad) theory to pop into my head: if I push too hard, I’ll get hurt. She thought that was pretty hilarious, and convenient. Funny, I didn’t mention how I liked the easy way out. I made it noble: self-protection.

Suddenly, I could feel a long line of women in my lineage whispering to me, “Hold back, Laurie, don’t get hurt.” I pictured my foremothers (could it be they weren’t sweating on purpose?), and I knew I did not invent this strategy, but I was willingly aligning with it and not just holding back in my workouts, but many other places in my life. How you do anything is how you do everything, right?

It was a few moments later that my life coach pointed out that pushing harder actually builds strength and confidence and that this will actually reduce the risk of injury. That was a fascinating new perspective for both my exercise class and my life.

Avoiding pain or effort never actually works. We think it will protect us, but it actually insures that we never feel real alignment with our dreams, and that’s real pain. Not feeling fully alive is worse pain than a deep squat. I had forgotten I learned this lesson once before.

When I caught myself in class today, I was able to switch my thinking (again) and decided to go all out in the squats. I started to touch the ground fully. Oddly enough, once I decided to go 100%, it got easier, and the ground turned out to be a comforting re-stabilzer, giving me lift to jump back up. Now I looked like the gals in the front row who seemed to be getting the best workout, having the most fun, and the most proud of themselves.

I thought giving 100% would feel good, but I didn’t know it would also be easier than holding back.

So there is a hidden resource in digging a little deeper that can’t be uncovered without taking the risk of giving 100%. I am convinced this lesson is not just for the gym. How deep will you dig for your workout today? For your intimacy? For your aliveness at work or with your kids. Report back the hidden resources you discover once you are fully committed. Let’s all cheer each other on!

As President of Handel Group® Life Coaching and a Senior Coach, Laurie Gerber’s personal and professional mission is to better the world by teaching people to tell the truth and pursue their dreams. Her ability to strip away psychological and emotional burdens has been showcased on radio, TV, the blogosphere, and in a wide variety of live events. Laurie leads events at Kripalu, Esalen, Menla, Equinox, and more. Her growing TV career includes MTV’s True Life Special: I’m Getting A Second Chance and an upcoming pilot for A&E. Follow Laurie on Facebook and Twitter.

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*Featured image by drewgstephens.