There’s a real crisis happening in our world today, one that’s been decades in the making. And I find it somewhat disturbing that no one is really talking about it. It’s not making the …
175. The Comfort Crisis
My name is Patrick McGilvray, and I’m an experienced marathoner, ultra runner, Sports Nutritionist, Master Life Coach, and weight loss coach for runners. I’ve dedicated my life to helping runners just like you properly fuel your body and your mind. So you can get leaner, get stronger, run faster, and run longer than you ever thought possible. This is Running Lean.
Hey there, and welcome to episode 175 of Running Lean. My name is Patrick McGilvray, The Weight Loss Coach for Runners. And today, the comfort crisis. There’s a real crisis happening in our world today. One that’s been decades, centuries in the making.
And I find it somewhat disturbing that no one is really talking about this. It’s not making the headlines, it’s not in the news. And it doesn’t come up on our social media feeds. Well, it comes up in my social media feed, but probably not yours. But if left unchecked, if we allow this crisis to continue as is it could lead to the end of human life, at least as we know it today.
And you might be thinking I’m being a little overly dramatic here. But I promise you that I am not. In this episode of the podcast, I’m talking about the comfort crisis, and how our insatiable quest for comfort might just lead to our downfall.
But first, if you’ve been thinking about improving your diet, dialing in your nutrition plan and or losing weight, then I’ve got the perfect thing to get you started. I’m doing a free live training and coaching event. It’s called How To Start Losing Weight As A Runner. It’s going to be on May 17.
And in this live event, which I don’t do very often, by the way, but in this live event, I’m going to show you how to get started on your weight loss journey the right way. I’m going to talk about which foods to eat, which to avoid, what fuel to use if you want to lose weight and improve your running performance. How to create the right mindset to help you stay motivated so you stick with the plan, and tons tons more.
Also I am going to be answering your questions live. So be sure to show up on the live call. It’s going to be done over Zoom, and bring your questions. If you’ve been thinking about working with me, if you’ve been thinking about joining the coaching project, this is an awesome opportunity to show up, ask questions and see what coaching is all about.
You actually get some live coaching from me during this event. So if you’re ready to get leaner and stronger, and become the most badass version of yourself, then you owe it to yourself to attend this live event. You have nothing to lose, except maybe a few extra pounds, and you really have everything to gain. To sign up, just go to runningleancoaching.com/live.
All right, so let’s talk about the comfort crisis. So throughout human history, we have evolved as a species seeking comfort. We’ve always done this and it’s been a good thing. You know, seeking comfort seeking shelter from the freezing cold helped us to survive. You know, seeking foods that gave us a lot of calories, things like honey and berries helped us to survive the droughts and things when we didn’t have a lot of food available to us.
You know, putting on clothing and then learning how to like domesticate horses so that you know travel can be easier. All the things that we’ve done over the millennia to seek comfort have been mainly in the vein of comfort, safety, survival, really. So it’s kept us alive. Our seeking of comfort has kept us alive and thriving for millennia.
So we are creatures who naturally seek comfort, we’re really good at seeking comfort. And we’re constantly doing it. We’re constantly changing how we do things, especially now in the developed world, you know, to where we are experiencing so much comfort that we avoid any type of discomfort whatsoever.
Today, like most developed countries anyway, we don’t face any of the same hardships that we used to have to face back in the day, you know and we think that it’s evolution, and that it’s a good thing, you know, to always seek comfort. But I think that this might be wrong. I think that this might be something that is not causing us to thrive anymore.
I think the amount of attention and the amount of priority that we put on comfort today is actually causing our demise. It’s causing us to devolve. You know? Here’s something interesting. I came up across here back in the early or late 80s, early 90s, scientists built this research facility in Arizona, it’s called Biosphere Two.
And the biosphere was a controlled environment, it was an enclosed environment, think about it, like a big bubble city, so to speak, right? Wasn’t that big, but pretty big. So it was a closed ecological system. And it was used to kind of see like, okay, what if we build something like this on Mars, or on the moon or something, would we be able to live in here?
You know, and it had different biomes, you know, to let nature sort of happen and it had like rainforests and oceans and wetlands and desert and had people living in there, things like that, right. But something really fascinating happened.
So they had planted these trees there. And they found that with the right conditions, you know, soil and water and light and things like that, these trees would grow very quickly. But then before they could mature before they could, you know, become mature trees that could reproduce and, you know, produce more trees, the trees would all flop over. And they couldn’t understand why.
And they did all these experiments. And they were looking at the soil and looking at the structure of the trees themselves, and the root systems and all these things. And they found out that the reason the trees could not survive, and they just kept flopping over, is because there was no wind in the biosphere.
Trees need stress to survive, and to thrive, they can’t grow without it. Trees need to experience, you know, wind and that wind pushing on them. Discomfort, if you will, causes them to adapt and to grow stronger. And as a tree is growing and as it experiences more and more high winds and storms and you know, thunderstorms and hurricanes or whatever, these trees become stronger and stronger and stronger over time.
But without any wind without any adversity. Without any discomfort. The trees just flop over. And I bring this up because I think we’re doing the same thing to humans today. If we shelter ourselves from everything uncomfortable, what do we become? We’re becoming floppy trees. We can’t handle stress. We eat our feelings and become obese, we end up dying early. Because we’re not willing to be uncomfortable. We’re just choosing comfort over longevity.
Today’s children are the first generation in human history that has the same or lower life span than their parents. Meaning that this is the first time in the history of humans that our children are going to live as long or not as long as us. Why is this? And one of the big drivers of this is obesity.
It’s one of the biggest drivers of that lowering of the lifespan, as people are, you know, as the generations go on here. So this is not a good sign. This is a sign that if we keep going in this direction, what’s going to happen? You know, the average human lifespan can start to actually devolve and start going down. You know, I think right now, the average lifespan is something like 78 years old. But if we keep going in this direction, where’s it going to be? 60, 50, 40? I don’t know.
So just understand that this isn’t just some arbitrary idea I’m talking about here. This is like we’ve just become so comfortable. We’re always seeking comfort especially in the form of food, right? That it could lead to our demise.
And I talk a lot about leaning into discomfort here on the podcast and with my clients. I talk about embracing the suck, right? But are you doing it? Are you leaning into discomfort? Are you embracing the suck on a regular basis? I think for most of us, the opposite is probably true. Embracing comfort, embracing what’s easy. And I think we’re all really good at that. We’ve all become really, really good at that, too good.
In fact, I was watching Wall-e recently, the movie, the Disney movie, Wall-e, about the little robot that collects trash. And if you’re not familiar with the movie, I’m gonna probably do a terrible job of recapping it for you. But basically, the Earth has been uninhabited for 700 years. And this takes place like 800 years in the future or something like that.
And the Earth has been destroyed by too much garbage. No plants grow anymore. And all the humans have left the earth. And they’re all living on a giant space cruise ship, right. And over the last 700 years, they’ve had to do nothing themselves. All these people, all these humans on this giant cruise ship. They don’t have to walk.
First of all, they get carted around on these moveable chairs everywhere. So they’re sitting in these lounge chairs all the time. They don’t have to eat food, like with a knife and fork, everything is just like a smoothie, basically that they drink. Anytime I see somebody eating, drinking a smoothie, like with a straw, I’m like, oh, Wall-e, be careful. They’re all morbidly obese.
You know, they just, they’re just staring at screens the whole time. Everybody has their own individual screen, they’re sitting out, like by the pool, there’s thousands of these people that are all in these lounge chairs, drinking their smoothies, sitting by the pool, but they’re all staring at these little screens. Nobody’s even really talking to each other or anything like that, right.
And I see that scene and I kind of like I’m a little scared that we’re heading in that direction. Everything we do that we continually do to make our lives more and more comfortable moves us a little bit closer to a Wally reality in the future.
Think about all the ways that we choose comfort these days. Like we don’t have to hunt our own food anymore, right? We’ve done away with that a long time ago. In fact, we started growing our own food, we started becoming farmers and we would grow our own food, don’t even have to do that anymore. We can just go to the grocery store and buy all that stuff.
In fact, we don’t even have to do that anymore. We can just hit up Instacart and have all that stuff delivered right to your door. Right? In fact, you don’t even have to go to a restaurant to eat anymore. You can just have all that stuff delivered to your door, Uber Eats or whatever. You can do all your shopping from the couch.
And I ordered some protein powder the other day and an option was like same day delivery. Like I ordered it on Amazon and it was delivered here in like two hours. How is that even possible? I mean, I kind of know how it’s possible. But it’s kind of crazy, right? That’s where we are today.
Some years ago, this is like when Amazon had just started to get pretty ubiquitous and pretty huge, right? Some guy did this experiment where he lived for a year in his own house. Like without leaving his house, never went outside. He worked from home. He had all his food delivered, all his groceries delivered to him. Pretty much used Amazon for everything.
And I don’t know that he like worked out at all because you could have a treadmill and weights and stuff like that. I don’t know if he did that or not. I tried to look up some info on this guy and I couldn’t really find anything about it. I don’t think it was that big of a deal at the time.
But I just remember reading about this guy. And at the end of the year like he did it. He spent the whole year inside his house and ordered everything and just was like watching Netflix all the time or whatever. And at the end of the year he finally came out of his house and he was not happy. I think he was like overweight and out of shape and just like miserable.
But it’s like that’s the Wall-e cruise ship right there, that guy basically just did it, you know, for a year, it’s crazy. Other ways we choose comfort, like we don’t even have to walk anywhere anymore. I don’t know about where you guys live. But here in Cincinnati where I live, you know, I live in an urban area near downtown Cincinnati.
And when I go for a walk or go for a run through downtown, I have to like swerve around all the Bird scooters and Lime scooters. And if you guys have those where you are basically a scooter that you can rent and you can just hop on and zip around wherever you need to go. You don’t have to walk down the street. Oh, it was too far to walk, you know, two blocks, I’m just going to jump on this Lime scooter and just, you know, zip myself down the street.
Now I have considered using those especially after a long run and I have to run uphill on the way home. I’m like, I could just jump on this scooter right here. No, I don’t do that. What about those scooters at the grocery store? For people who you know are maybe a little more immobile or obese or you know, have injury or illness or whatever. 10, 20, 30 years ago, were those a thing? I don’t remember ever seeing those back in the day. And now there’s like, instead of being one at a store, there might be 10 or 12 or more, you know, it’s crazy.
We don’t even have to leave our couch like everything. We want all the streaming options that we want Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Disney, Apple, Amazon, all this stuff. They’re there, everything you want is there, you don’t have to leave the couch, everything you want, is just right in front of you on this big screen where you can just sit on your couch and you don’t have to like go interact with any humans.
In fact, we’ve made interacting with humans, something we don’t even have to do anymore. We just interact on social media. Instead just stare at your phone, just look at your phone, keep looking down at your phone all day. I see people in their cars who’re driving and they stop at a red light. As soon as they stopped their car, they pick up their phone and they’re scrolling and they’re seeing who liked my post, who texted me, there’s a funny cat video, whatever.
We can’t even interact with each other anymore. Most of us sit all day, which is so bad for you. And I’m guilty of this too. I sit for pretty long stretches of time during the day when I’m doing coaching calls and things like that. I have a standing desk that moves up and down like it, it can be a set standing or sitting desk. I’m actually standing right now to record this. But I’m guilty of sitting a lot as well.
But we don’t have to do manual labor. We have jobs where you know, we sit all day indoors. We never have to experience temperature changes, hot or cold, because we go from our temperature controlled house to our temperature controlled car to our temperature controlled office.
In fact, you can like lot of people can open up an app on their phone and turn on their car heat ahead of time. So you don’t even have to let your car warm up. You could just like soon as you get in your car, it’s already warm for you. There’s fast food, there’s escalators, they’re self driving cars, you don’t have to drive anymore.
There’s liposuction, like why change your habits and actually burn fat when you can just get it sucked out to you and just keep up with your terrible eating habits? All these things are, you know considered innovations, technological advances. And they’re all providing us with more comfort and more comfortable life but at what cost? What’s going to be the end result if we keep going down this path? The Wall-e cruise ship is what you want.
And listen, like I used to be someone who was always looking for comfort, like I drank alcohol all the time, smoked cigarettes, ate whatever I felt like eating. And honestly, it affected me negatively, profoundly negatively. I became really overweight. I was sick all the time. I was miserable. I could not handle stress at any time. I became one of those trees in the biosphere. I just flopped over under my own weight. I couldn’t hold myself up. No muscle mass. I wasn’t strong. I couldn’t run, couldn’t do anything.
And so I’ve chosen to choose or I’ve chosen to live my life in a different way now. I don’t do that anymore. I don’t seek comfort constantly. I mean, there’s things I do enjoy, like sleeping in a bed. I don’t need to sleep on a rock. You know, I like temperature controlled atmospheres, like that stuff’s okay.
But there’s a lot of times in my life where I choose discomfort on purpose. So I don’t end up like one of the people on the Wall-e cruise ship. And I want you to ask yourself this. Honestly, be honest about this. Who am I becoming? And I want you to play it out, roll the tape forward. What happens to you if you keep going down your current path? A floppy tree, a Wall-e cruise ship passenger? Who am I becoming? Ask yourself this and be honest.
And is that what you really want for yourself? If so, great. No problem. No judgment, no criticism, no pressure to change at all. Just do you. That’s all good. But be honest. If that’s not what you want, then what are you doing about it? What are you doing today? How can you lean into discomfort today? How can you embrace the suck today?
You’ve probably heard the saying do something every day that scares you. I like to say it, it’s a good one. It helps you to, you know, think like, oh, I gotta get out of my comfort zone. Because if I do something that scares me, that means I’m doing something that’s uncomfortable.
One of our mantras at the gym is this: do something every day that hurts. Every day experience some pain. If you’re not experiencing pain every day, you’re doing it wrong. When I go to the gym, I work out, I work out hard. It hurts. I work out until it hurts. But this is how you get stronger. This is how you grow muscle. You work out until it hurts. Your body adapts. And then you do it again. This is how you grow. You don’t grow by sitting around staring at a screen all day.
Now, if you’re listening to this, and you’re a runner, you know what I’m talking about when I say you got to embrace the suck. Because you know what? Running is hard. Running is hard and you show up and you do it anyway, you train for that 5k or that half marathon or that marathon. And you know how hard that work is.
This weekend I’m running my 10th Flying Pig marathon. That is our flagship race every year here in Cincinnati. Such a fun event if you ever get a chance to do the Flying Pig, do it. It’s a hard race. Hilly the first eight miles, pretty hilly. But it’s fun, super fun event. So I’m running my 10th one this weekend. Super fun. And the forecast calls for pain. That’s like something Mr. T would say right. And if you don’t know who Mr. T is, I’m sorry, I apologize for that. But Google it.
I’ve never run a marathon where there wasn’t pain involved at some point. Sometimes it’s mile 21. Sometimes it’s mile 15. Sometimes it’s mile 8, whatever. And one of the keys to being successful at running a marathon, especially if you want to run like a PR or qualify for Boston, if you want to run a fast marathon is being able to endure pain, being able to endure discomfort for a long period of time. And by a long period of time, I mean, like an hour or two or whatever, right. So I’m looking forward to this painful race this weekend. I know it’s temporary. I’ve done this before.
I’m not trying to PR this one. I’m not trying to qualify for Boston or anything like that. But I do know that every time I’ve run a marathon I’ve been like this pretty much sucks at some point. But I do it because it’s important to me. I do it because this is how I continue to grow. So here’s another question I want you to ask yourself, what am I going to do today that hurts? How can I experience some pain today? How can I experience some discomfort today?
Now I don’t mean to sit on a tack or like put your hand on the stove or anything like that, right? But what can you do to avoid the crisis of comfort today? What about your diet? How are you using comfort as a means of determining what you eat or when you eat or how much you eat or whatever.
I cannot tell you how many people would lose so much weight if they were willing to experience discomfort but they just won’t do it. They’re not willing to do it, they would rather be comfortable than get lean. They’d rather be comfortable and get strong, because lifting weights is uncomfortable. And I get it. Changing your eating habits is hard.
You’ve trained yourself over the decades to eat certain foods at certain times in certain ways, and to eat your feelings and all this stuff. And to change those ingrained habits means that you will be uncomfortable, you will experience discomfort. And nobody wants to do that.
Everybody wants the results. Nobody wants to do the work. Everybody wants to get leaner. Nobody wants to experience the discomfort. But the cost of success is discomfort. That’s it. Discomfort is the price you pay. If you want to change your habits, and you want to lose weight, if you’re willing to get uncomfortable, you will be successful. Period. But so many people are unwilling to do this.
They say they’re willing, I might be talking to them on a call. And they’re like, oh, yeah, Patrick, I got this, I’m willing to be uncomfortable. I’m willing to do this. You might be thinking right now, while you’re listening to this podcast, you might be saying this to yourself, like, I’m ready to be uncomfortable.
But then I promise you when your partner brings home a pizza and you smell it, and your desire goes through the roof, you start salivating? How about then? Are you going to be willing to experience the discomfort then? Because that’s when it matters. That’s when it actually happens. That is the work. Not while you’re out running and listening to this podcast, that’s great. But like, you got to sit there in that moment when you want the pizza, and you’re and you’re not going to eat the pizza and it’s uncomfortable. And you want nothing more than to just eat the pizza. And you don’t. That’s discomfort.
That’s what I’m talking about. If you’re willing to give up comfort, you can become anything you want. Are you willing to give up comfort to become your most badass self? It’s a good question. Think about that. Think about who you could become if you’re willing to embrace the suck more often? What would that look like for you? How much weight could you lose? How much healthier could you be?
How would your quality of life improve? Because to continue down the path of comfort, always seeking comfort, more and more and more comfort. That’s not working for you. I know because I’ve been there. It doesn’t work. You think you’re playing it safe, but you’re really destroying yourself.
The older you get, the weaker and more fragile you become. You become weak, your muscles atrophy, you become overweight, can’t pick up your grandkids, you can’t run in the falling down, you break a hip because your bones are so brittle. Now you can’t even get out of bed. And this scenario is not made up. It’s actually so common that it’s probably the leading, I believe it is the leading cause of death and the older and the elderly.
And it’s happening more and more as the baby boomers are getting older and needing more care and things like that. And it scares the crap out of me actually. And it should scare the crap out of you, too. I do not want that for myself. I do not want to be bed bound in my 70s or 80s or 90s. You know, I don’t want to be one of those passengers on the Wall-e cruise ship. I want to stay strong and lean and fit and athletic.
I want to have strong bones. I want to be able to lift weights and run until I’m 100. And the way I’m gonna get there is that I’m going to avoid comfort. Most of the time, I’m going to do something hard, something that hurts something uncomfortable every single day. And I’m going to do everything in my power to avoid the comfort crisis. Now, how about you, are you willing to do this with me?
Let’s do it. Alright, that’s all I got for you. Remember, join me for a free live training and coaching session called How To Start Losing Weight As A Runner. This is going to be on Wednesday, May 17, 2023. You know I’m going live. I’m going to show you how to get started the right way on your weight loss journey, I’ll be answering your questions live. So show up, bring your questions, you’ll get them answered, then you can get some coaching from me. Just go to runningleancoaching.com/live to sign up. That’s all I got. Love you all, keep on Running Lean, and I’ll talk to you soon.
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