I love a good routine. As I write this, I’m sitting on our back patio with a cup of coffee (steamed almond milk and a dash of honey per usual) and my laptop, having completed my skincare routine, popped my vitamins, and done a quick meditation. Just like I do every single morning. Studies have shown that creating healthy habits is one of the best ways we can stick to our wellness goals, and as someone who is naturally attracted to routine, I’ve easily embraced the idea. The only problem is that when I always wake up at the same time every day, do the same workouts, and down my go-to green smoothie, the days start to blend together and suddenly I can wake up feeling like I’ve fallen into a rut. When I had a birthday a few weeks ago, I decided I needed to shake things up and introduce some variety in my life… and why not start by conquering a few items on this list that I created for myself when I turned 30? I went right to the top and decided it was finally time to learn how to surf, and since NLand Surf Park recently opened in Austin, it meant that I didn’t have to book a trip to a far flung locale to take a few lessons. Keep reading to see what happened when Adam and I picked up surf boards for the first time, plus a few of the benefits of getting outside your comfort zone and trying something new.
*photos by Ryan Magsino
Adam and I showed up to NLand bright and early for our first of three lessons with Ion, the coolest (and most patient) surfer from San Sebastien who moved here to run the surf school at NLand. We donned our rashguards and, as we did at every lesson, started with a dry land training where we learned skills like paddling and how to pop up. Then it was time to hit the waves.
You guys, this place is truly incredible. NLand partnered with Spanish engineering firm Wavegarden to create real waves just like in the ocean, with areas of the lagoon that are perfect for newbies like me all the way up to the “reef wave” that is a challenge to my friends who are diehard surfers. After a couple of wipeouts, I suddenly caught my third wave and felt the exhilaration of riding it a few yards – along with the thrill of a totally new adventure.
I walked out of our first coaching session feeling so happy and full of energy, and suddenly feeling braver than usual, I found myself thinking about what other new experiences we could try. After diving into some of the research, I found out there are some legit reasons, both physically and emotionally, for seeking out new adventures in our day-to-day life. Keep reading for a few of my favorites:
1 – Expand your horizons.
Trying something you’ve never done before is one of the best ways to challenge your mind, shift your perspective, and spark ideas about even seemingly unrelated topics. Studies have shown that people who regularly put themselves in new situations tend to think in more innovative ways; the simple act of learning something new can spark creativity.
One bonus benefit of trying a new hobby is that it’s a great way to expand your network and meet new people. We already have a dinner date on the calendar with new surf friends, and several acquaintances who I rarely get to hang out with have already said they want to meet up for a surf date.
2 – Overcoming fear helps it lose its power over you.
There’s no doubt that getting outside your comfort zone can be scary. We all have those insecurities like “Will I look dumb? Will everyone else be really good? Can I even do this?” But over time, allowing fear to control us can be a major knock to our self-confidence. Observe these thoughts, reframe them, then leave the negativity behind because it’s not serving you. I’m so happy that I didn’t let the fear of the unknown stop me from trying to do something I’ve always wanted to do.
3 – The adrenaline rush of a new experience.
I was unprepared for how amazing I’d feel after that first session: I left NLand with a huge smile on my face that lasted all day. There’s a satisfaction that comes from achieving something you’ve never tried before, especially when it’s something that scared you. As humans, we’re hardwired to crave some level of novelty, and the thrill of a new experience will feed your soul with an energy like no other.
4 – Mixing up your fitness routine keeps you motivated.
I love to workout, but it’s easy to stick with what I know (spin class, running, barre class) and not even consider all the other great forms of exercise out there. Not only was surfing an incredible workout that challenged muscles I didn’t even know I had (hello, back!); the newness of the sport felt more like play than work, and I found myself bounding out of bed the minute my alarm went off for our coaching sessions. If you feel like you’re stuck in a fitness rut, it might be time to challenge yourself in a new way.
On our third and final coaching session, I was catching waves, popping up, and I even turned my board to catch a backside wave that I rode all the way (so excited I almost fell off the board.) Ion gave us full reports on our progress so we’ll know what techniques to work on during our next trip out, and as I sipped my green smoothie from NLand’s juice bar and watched the next round of surfers head out to the waves, I dreamed about what beach we were going to hit up first to try out our newfound surf skills.
Bottom line: learning to surf reminded me that trying new things is an essential part of living life to the fullest. Instead of coasting through life on auto-pilot, why not jump right in the waves and discover a new passion to feed your soul?