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From 10 Minutes a Day To Competing at the World Championships, Part Two

By , SparkPeople Employee
Paul is one of our behind-the-scenes tech “gurus” here at SparkPeople. We asked him to share his story in the hopes that it will inspire others to take risks and challenge themselves. Click here to read Part One of his story.    

Roughly one year after taking on SparkGuy's 100-day fitness challenge, I found myself in Las Vegas, ready to take on my next challenge at the IBJJF World Championship.

The event itself was totally outside my comfort zone. It was held at a convention center in Las Vegas that was bursting at the seams with people. There were cameras streaming the event on the Internet. There were professional photographers and famous athletes. The energy inside was electric.

For my teammates, I was happy to see them perform and do their best. I didn’t think they had to feel badly about anything if they were to lose their match. For myself, though, deep down I didn’t believe it was okay for me to lose.

Spoiler alert: I did not win.



My opponent was from Brazil (kind of intimidating when the competition is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) and, despite my nerves, I went out on the mat and actively engaged him right from the start. We made it to the final seconds of the match with our scores being zero to zero. In the final seconds, we both attempted some techniques which got us into a scramble and I managed to get very close to achieving a position which would have given me the win. I missed the position, however, and my opponent received points that ultimately gave him the win. He went on to win the bronze medal at the event. He shook my hand and hugged me both before and after the match.

But there is, of course, a silver lining. In addition to learning a lot and improving as a practitioner of this art, I was also able to be a good teammate to the men who I helped prepare for the event.

Not only that, but this unique and challenging experience forced me to push myself and attempt something far outside my comfort zone. I improved as a result of that push. I also found that there were people around me at every turn who were willing to help and support me. I shouldn’t have been surprised by this, but in some ways, I was! My advice is that if you have something in your life you want to attempt or accomplish--do it! You might find more support and more cheerleaders than you ever expected. Witnessing such fervent support from family and friends alike was probably my favorite part of the whole experience.

Even though I lost my match, I don’t feel like I failed. Or, maybe I should say it this way--in certain situations, failing is not the worst thing. It might even be necessary for future successes. At the competition, I was unduly worried and frightened by the possibility of failure. My brain thought that some catastrophe would come along with failing. But it didn’t. I didn’t win my match. That’s all. For everyone else, I was able to watch them compete and say, “Good job! You got out there and you did it. You didn’t win this time, but who cares? Be proud.” While it wasn't easy to get in that mindset at the time, I am getting closer to being able to say those same things to myself.

I wanted to do the training and competition to feel proud of myself and so I could make people close to me (my wife, my kids, training partners, etc.) proud of me as well. In the end, the first part of that is a great goal. It was worth the hard work to do something difficult and feel proud of it, even with a loss. As for the second part of making other people proud of me, upon reflection I recognize that the people close to me are already proud of me, and I doubt a world championship would alter that too much.

As an aside, my 10 minutes of fitness or more per day streak is alive and well. As of this writing, I’m up to 383 days. 

So this is my message--get out of your comfort zone and try for something you want. The trying is worth it. You will gain something whether or not you succeed, because sometimes failures are not the worst thing. Think about it--what could you accomplish in just one year?

Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone to try something new? How did it go? Share your experience in the comments below!

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I stepped out of my comfort zone when I started saying "I can't eat that." "I have Type II, and control it with food and exercise." Report
Very inspirational! Thank you. Report
Awesome story! Thank you for sharing this part of your Life Journey with us. God Bless you! Report
Beautiful story! Thank you for sharing! Report
You ARE a total winner with that attitude! Well done!!! Report
If you lose to someone that won a medal - you didn't lose. Report
Thanks for sharing your story, it way very inspiring! It gives me hope! I still have a chance. The only person I have to motivate me is my BGF! All my Family is either dead or many states away.. Keep up the good work! Even if you lost this time, I'm sure you'll try again! Have a Marvelous & Blessed Monday! Report
Thank you for sharing your story with us! It has inspired me to keep up my exercise streak and to find ways to step outside of my comfort zone. Failing at something only leads to growth in the end as long as you don't let it deter you. Congrats on your accomplishments! Report
Great story, way to go! It's been a long time since I stepped dramatically out of my comfort zone. When I was kind of a lost soul not happy with first college experience so took time off to work for a family friends store, one of the son's there asked me to go sky diving with him. I intended to only go as friend support and learn and watch, but once we were there and I learned I would not get any money back for not completing a jump the Bohemian in my couldn't waste the money and opportunity. It was both the scariest moments of my life and the most fulfilling, exciting, peaceful, meaningful and soul expanding. It's a memory I look back to that I am so glad I didn't pass on even though I was afraid I'd have more terror than strength and your story and recalling this that I haven't done in a while reminds me I can find more strength from within and I have to get my butt moving. Report
Well done! What an inspiring story! Congrats! Report
Congratulations! You and Spark People have inspired me to go back to school. Every journey begins with a single step. Thank you! Report
Very inspiring! Thanks for sharing! Report
Congratulations on your success. You are an inspiration and motivator for all of us! Thank you for sharing your journey! Report
Congrats on all that you have accomplished. You are an inspiration. Report
Awesome! Thanks for your sharing, it inspires others to achieve more than they think they are capable of doing. I stepped outside my comfort zone by committing to cycle across the US. Since I was 10 yrs old I had dreamed of traveling slowly across the US and then someone that I knew cycled across. That got me to thinking that maybe I could do it too. A year later in 2011, I did it with the assistance of my husband; 2,901 miles in 71 days -- one mile, one day & one week after another. When I was done, I just wanted to keep going... I knew I could do anything, if I just kept moving forward. Report
What a great, inspiring, success story. It's amazing how the 10 min theory really works and changes so many aspects you don't expect, and still works for me now. When I made my vision collage, years ago,I had a long term goal to climb a mountain, Chimney rock, NC. I was 250 lbs at that time and not very confident that I would ever succeed. After I started moving more, at least just 10 mins. daily, adding more cardio, and built up stamina, I decided to make the mountain climb a short term goal. Why wait until I reach all of my goals, particularly my weight loss goal? I could at least try and try again later if I didn't make it. I exceeded my goals. I made it to the Chimney and learned there were more trails to climb. We made it! That was amazing for both of us. We used sit at the base of the mountain eating hamburgers and French fries, watching people climb. I wanted to be one of those people, but never thought I could be in shape enough for something so strenuous. I know I can do whatever I put my mind to. It's not about winning or losing. It's about being a winner because you put yourself to the test. Everything along the journey, makes YOU a winner!! Report
A very inspiring story. Thank you for sharing. Report
Very motivational. Thank you for sharing Report
Amazing story, thanks for sharing Report
This was such a good blog! It has a great message for all! The planning and preparation and doing the footwork can be such a character builder!
Paul you did great! Congrats! Report
I wanted my nephew to have the experience of trying martial arts, so when a free tae kwon do class started at our local gym I signed him. To keep him from getting out of hand at home, I took the classes with him (no previous experience except a couple tai chi classes).To my surprise, I liked it and thrived in it, going on to earn my second degree black belt before moving on to other things. Learned a lot about myself, including that I am in control of what I choose to do or not to do. Report
Great article! I to have stepped out of my comfort zone and although I don't have a perfect streak, I am up to exercising three days a week for one hour at water aerobics. One month ago I was just sitting on the couch feeling miserable. Now I am down 8 pounds and feeling so much better. Report
Amazing story! Report
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us!
"-in certain situations, failing is not the worst thing. It might even be necessary for future successes."

Wise words! Report
Way to go! Great accomplishment, and I love the picture of your girls. Report
Well done! After much procrastination and nerves I went out to take bridge lessons. I had heard they were clicky snobs and that you needed a partner to get a game, so going by myself was way out of my comfort zone being very shy. I ended up becoming a bridge life master in the shortest amount of time they had ever seen and eventually even became the club manager, another big stretch as I had to public speak and meet and greet people and troubleshoot problems, something a hermit like me never would have thought possible Report
This is so inspiring to me. I often self-talk myself to death. Thanks. Report
too cool. And I bet you're finding you've expanded your skills and expectations, curiosity and desire in other non-fitness areas of your life. When we grow - we grow as complete humans!

congratulations! Report
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