Change it Up

Comfort and Confidence

Confidence, for me, comes from having faith in my ability to perform a particular task. How can I develop faith in my abilities? By doing something until it is easy (or at least easier than it used to be).

Unfortunately, confidence seems to lead to comfort. Once something is comfortable, you don’t want to change it. The drawback, especially when we’re talking about performing a sport, is that it can become hard to progress past the level you are at because you are comfortable.

One way to force yourself out of your comfort zone is to make a change in your equipment.

Lost Love

I love snowboarding. I can’t believe I walked away from it for so many years, but now it’s part of my life again. About a year and a half ago, I started snowboarding again. I started with my old K2 Fat Bob(162 cm), and felt awkward until I strapped on my Rad Air Tanker (182 cm).

The longer board felt more natural, my body was used to the added weight and leverage needed for turns and maneuvers. My comfort with the feelings from this board allowed me to learn quickly and push myself to rebuild my skills quickly.

During this time, I sold my Fat Bob to a friend. I spent the rest of the season riding my Tanker and having a great time. Toward the end of the season, I purchased a used snowboard off Craigslist because it had a pair of Flow’s rear-entry bindings. I thought it would be fun to experiment with this shorter board, so I took it to the slopes for a day.

Something Different

Jumping at DCSPI immediately fell in love with the rear-entry bindings (set it and forget it), but the short board freaked me out. At over 220 pounds, the 150 cm board felt squirrelly beyond belief. When I tried to carve like I did with the long board, the edges washed out and I spilled. After two runs, I was so frustrated I went back to the car and grabbed the Tanker so I could at least have fun.

After thinking about that day, I realized I was giving up too easily. I was in a rut and needed to do something different to allow my riding to be more adaptable.

I spent this most recent season riding the 150 cm board exclusively. And I learned a lot.

Size Does Matter . . . but not How You Think

Dropping the length of my board by 32 centimeters forced a significant change in my riding style. My longer board allowed me a certain amount of sloppiness in my turns. I could go really fast, and if my edges slipped a bit, there’s a lot of edge to compensate.

With a significantly shorter board, I was forced to be much more deliberate at high speeds. I learned to hold a carve with the shorter board, but the turns took much longer.

Speed was never an issue with my Tanker. At 182 cm, I went fast. All the time. Even on slopes that were barely noticeable, I could build speed almost as quickly as skiers who were skating or using their poles to get moving. The shorter board forced me to pay more attention to where the fall line really was, especially on flat sections between runs.

The shorter board made me work harder for every ounce of speed. I had to know what was coming, anticipate turns early enough to avoid problems and really embrace the quicker response of my board.

Change it Up

If you are getting bored with your sport, don’t settle for being comfortable. Find something to change up for a while. You don’t have to stick with it forever, but use it as a learning opportunity. If you go back to your previous setup, you will have developed a whole new range of skills or refined skills so you’re better than you were before.

Changing your setup can also make it easier to work on a particular skill. A shorter board forced me to finesse my turns. A longer board will force you to adapt to faster speeds and allow you to be more aggressive with your turns. Shorter boards can help you get comfortable with spinning off jumps. Wider boards can force you to pay more attention to your toeside-to-heelside transitions. The changes are infinite.

Obviously, there is a time for this. Don’t change everything up right before a competition or something where you need to be at the top of your game. But it might be just what you need to reignite your passion.

Broader Applications

Life needs to get changed up once in a while. When I get comfortable with something in my life, I am no longer challenging myself in that area. It may take a while for me to realize it, and my brain screams not to change anything. But I know I’m not happy with myself when I don’t force myself to adapt. So, even though I kick and scream about it, I try to make changes to keep life about learning and improvement.

Whether you’re just comfortable and bored or trying to improve a particular skill, keep things exciting by changing things up.

What have you changed up to force yourself to progress in your activity of choice? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Oil Change Tip

Hacking the Oil Change

Engine Oil NotesIf you change the oil in your vehicle, here’s a tip to simplify your job. I can never remember what size socket I need to remove the drain plug or exactly how much oil I need to put in the car.

I popped the hood on our vehicle and saw the previous owners had written the oil needed for a change in permanent marker on a piece of metal on top of the engine. I know this thing has a name, but I don’t know what it is (see parting thoughts below). Seeing that, I added the socket sizeĀ  for my own future reference.

Closeup Oil NotesNow I don’t have to dig around in the glove compartment when my hands are covered with oil getting everything messy and dirty, and getting in trouble because I forget to clean up my mess.

Writing on your engine. Awesome.

Parting Thoughts

I change the oil in our vehicles a little more than half the time. This procedure challenges my mechanical abilities and desire to learn about the workings of the internal combustion engine. I can take diagnose, disassemble, re-assemble, and program a computer. But cars confound me. I just want to drive them.

Many mechanics seem to have the same attitude about computers I do about cars. And, oddly enough, we all feel shame for our attitude toward the other person’s expertise. I feel guilty I don’t understand engines and they feel guilty they don’t understand computers. Let’s just learn to be proud of what we do know and call it good.

Just Relax . . .

Combination Kick Practice during classIn this episode of the Intensity for Life podcast, I talk about a lesson I tried to learn while being attacked by a black belt in tae kwon do class. And I realized it’s a lesson that would have helped my snowboarding way back in high school. And it would help just about every area of my life, if I could apply it.

What Should I Fear?

I realized that I ‘ve been afraid of the wrong things. Listen to hear about the realization I had after spending the day snowboarding and thinking about some discussions I’ve had recently with Brandy.

Podcast episodes may be short. They will only be long enough to express the thought or thoughts I want to share. Sometimes that doesn’t take much time.

If you have questions, feel free to email me at with questions, comments and feedback.

Pain and Joy

My diaphragm wouldn’t work. The pain held my chest immobile as I tried to calm my mind. “This will be temporary. It will get better.” But the pain didn’t let up. My head collapsed to the ground between my hands.

Finally, my chest started to move, painful and uncooperative. I heard a rasp of a roar of a pair of skis as someone stopped nearby. “Are you OK?”

I responded, “I think I just knocked the wind out of myself.”

“Do you need me to get someone?”

“I don’t think so.”

I heard the quiet sliding of skis head downhill. I swear it took another thirty minutes before I could stand up and finish my second run of the season. It probably took less than thirty seconds, though.

Less than two minutes prior, I had locked my feet into the bindings on my snowboard and started down the slope, watching my son and daughter. His snowboard and her skis left serpentine trails down the hill ahead of me. I followed, paying closer attention to them than where I was going. The snowboard flowed smoothly, but my new boots were stiffer than I was accustomed to.

For our first day of the season, both of them were doing great. I felt my board working to the left side of the run, following the slope’s grade. Unworried, I focused on my kids. Suddenly, I realized only shadows were below my board, and the ground anchored my toe-side edge, wrenching me forward; my body and face slammed to the ice over my arm twisted under my body.

After my recovery, I worked my way down the lone run toward the chalet. Pain pulsed through my left knee, surprising but not overwhelming. After a light snack, some water and a few minutes to gather my scattered thoughts, I walked back out to strap in and head back up the lift.

At some point, you’ll be doing something you know should command your full attention, but you take your experience for granted. The joy of letting your instincts take over lulls you into a comfortable flow. Then something reaches up and smacks you in the face.

I’ve been snowboarding since 1989, so I should know better than to think I could focus on what my kids were doing more than where I was heading. The joy of finally hitting the slopes was overwhelming, and the pain of that first wipeout reminded me of the potential for danger.

When doing something you love, pain and joy can both be part of it. The pain can teach you a lesson, while the joy will keep you going.

Don’t let pain, or even fear of pain, keep you from doing things you love.

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