Lisa Van Loo Of LVL it Up On How to Grow Beyond Your Comfort Zone to Grow Both Personally and Professionally

An Interview With Maria Angelova


Embrace the Messy — When you’re doing things you’ve never done, it might be messy, and you’ll make mistakes. Be ok with being imperfect and take inspired action anyways. When I started LVL it UP, it was a blog, I was a terrible writer, and I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew the direction I wanted to go. It was confusing, embarrassing, and awkward, but every time I wrote, I got better. Every time I got on social media, I gained confidence.

It feels most comfortable to stick with what we are familiar with. But anyone who has achieved great success will tell you that true growth comes from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. What are some ways that influential people have pushed themselves out of their comfort zone to grow both personally and professionally? As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Van Loo.

Lisa is an ICF Certified Dating & Mindset Coach who has built a following on social media, helping women level up. Lisa coaches from a background in Adult Learning, HR, and personal experience after living/working in New York for a decade and recently marrying. Lisa pushes herself and her clients outside of their comfort zone, believing personal development and mindset are critical to success.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Of course! I am the middle child of three raised in Olathe, Kansas. As a kid, I was pretty shy but interested in dance, comedy, and fashion. I was quite the “good girl” up until I experienced sexual assault at the age of 16. That experience pushed me into some rebellious years and a lot of confusion about dating, love, and sex. It was a challenging period for me with a profound impact which is part of why I coach today. I went into my twenties with a very negative mindset lacking in self-worth and confidence. When I discovered personal development, I realized only I was in charge of my happiness and success, so it pushed me to change my thinking and focus on healing.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My first therapist said to me, “Be Kind to Yourself” it’s simple, but it’s how she would end all of our sessions when we started our work together. I was so hard on myself, not offering myself much grace or love, and it’s become a personal mantra. I think the bully in your head can often be worse than any we would ever face in the real world, and it’s essential to learn to treat yourself like someone you love. Knowing this has drastically improved my self-love and acceptance.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Yes! The first personal development book I read was “You are a Badass” by Jenn Sincero, which completely changed my life. Jenn is so real and relatable; I could see myself in her story. She spent much of her life sarcastic, pessimistic, and down on herself, which was precisely how I treated myself. However, her approach to personal development was honest and exactly what I needed to start taking accountability for my own life and experiences. I read that book about ten years ago and have gone back to it multiple times. It was my gateway into personal development and completely shifted my mindset.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Let’s start with a basic definition so that all of us are on the same page. What does “getting outside of your comfort zone” mean?

It is breaking patterns, habits, or those creature comforts that aren’t helping you reach your goals. Your comfort zone is where you’ve spent most of your time, it feels safe, but it’s holding you back.

Can you help articulate a few reasons why it is important to get out of your comfort zone?

We build our comfort zones to do just that, keep us comfortable. If you are too comfortable, you’re no longer learning or growing; you’re staying the same. If you want to move toward your goals, you must try new things, challenge yourself, and put yourself out there. To get something different, you must do something different.

Is it possible to grow without leaving your comfort zone? Can you explain what you mean?

As a learning professional, I like to think you can learn no matter what, but growth comes from challenging yourself to apply something you’ve learned, which would be something new or different. I believe this is why coaching has become so woven into learning because you can understand a concept but applying it takes leaving the comfort zone. Sometimes you need some reinforcement or accountability to do that. Personal growth comes when you challenge yourself to do something you’ve never done; that’s how you gain experience and confidence.

Can you share some anecdotes from your personal experience? Can you share a story about a time when you stepped out of your comfort zone and how it helped you grow? How does it feel to take those first difficult steps?

Yes! I’ve experienced this a few times in my life. The first was moving to New York City from Kansas in my twenties. I had only visited twice and had no clue what I was getting myself into, but I knew I had to take a risk to build the life I wanted. The first year in New York City was terrifying but pushed me to evolve. I was so far from home I couldn’t rely on anyone else but myself and the network I built around me, so I had to change in every single way. I’ve had a few of these crossroads in my life, and I’ve challenged myself to make risky choices because I know that’s the most significant growth opportunity. It usually stirs up a lot of angst or anxiety, but you learn more from doing something you’ve never done vs. a path you’ve already followed.

Here is the central question of our discussion. What are your “five ways to push past your comfort zone, to grow both personally and professionally”?

  1. Do it, Now. — Whatever you want to do in life stop waiting for the right time, the right circumstances, or to feel motivated. Quit with the someday or I’ll do it when…and do whatever it is now. Buy the course, take the trip, go to the networking event, talk to your boss, go on the date, just do something. You won’t always have a clear path to what you want but doing something is going to get you one step closer to your goals. You create momentum when you start moving so even if you’re unsure it’s the “right” move it can create a chain of events. Like when I moved to New York, I had no idea if it was going to work out. I was broke, working as an assistant manager in retail and I could barely afford to pay my rent but I just kept doing.
  2. Take Risks — You’re going to have to take risks to reap the biggest rewards. Things aren’t going to be handed to you, you’re going to have to go after them and sometimes that means leaving something safe or secure. Your choices may go against the grain and not make sense to other people like leaving a stable job or changing careers but forging your own path is about what you want, no one else. In my career I made some risky choices that didn’t make sense to other people but I didn’t want to sit back and wonder, what if. I wanted to try my hand at different things and had I not done that I don’t believe I’d be where I am today.
  3. Embrace the Messy — When you’re doing things you’ve never done, it might be messy, and you’ll make mistakes. Be ok with being imperfect and take inspired action anyways. When I started LVL it UP, it was a blog, I was a terrible writer, and I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew the direction I wanted to go. It was confusing, embarrassing, and awkward, but every time I wrote, I got better. Every time I got on social media, I gained confidence.
  4. Lean into Discomfort — Getting out of your comfort zone means you probably won’t be comfortable. Doing different things may drum up some anxiety, fear, and worry or even trigger some unhealed parts of yourself, but that’s your indication you should do it. Facing those uncomfortable feelings will push you past them and allow you to conquer your fears. I know if something is stirring up anxiety for me, it’s a deep-seated fear, and I need to push myself to face it so I can get over that challenge and level up to the next.
  5. Believe in Your Ability to Figure it out — To grow personally and professionally, you will have to learn a lot and no one is going to hand you a manual. It can feel daunting when you start because you won’t know what you’re doing. Most people don’t, but you can learn everything you need to become successful, starting with believing you can. You will have to learn new skills or tackle new challenges, and that’s where you’ll grow exponentially. When I decided I wanted to work as a coach, I had no clue what I was doing, but I was confident I could learn. I took courses, found mentors, and researched as much as possible. That ability to figure it out is all you need; it will take you out of your comfort zone once you start to put your research into action.

From your experience or perspective, what are some of the common barriers that keep someone from pushing out of their comfort zone?

Fear, rejection, failure, and even success can be some of the most significant barriers people face. First, the unknown is scary, so until you try something and build confidence, even the smallest tasks out of your comfort zone can be challenging. Rejection holds people back in many ways, from finding love, going after a dream, or trying something new because we are hardwired to want love and acceptance. Lastly, fear or failure can keep people from taking risks or trying something unknown because of that fear it won’t work out, and fear of success will make you afraid of what would happen if you succeed. You will be ahead of most if you can move past these barriers.

There is a well-known quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt that says, “Do something that scares you every day”. What exactly does this mean to you? Is there inherent value in doing something that pushes you out of your comfort zone, even if it does not relate to personal or professional growth? For example, if one is uncomfortable about walking alone at night should they purposely push themselves to do it often for the sake of going beyond their comfort zone? Can you please explain what you mean?

Yes, even if something doesn’t tie to a goal or your intentional growth, pushing yourself to do things that make you uncomfortable will force you to face those feelings. Personal development is about understanding yourself, healing your wounds, and challenging yourself to change, and it all starts with a mindset. Doing something that pushes you in any way will change your patterns, thought process, and beliefs and hopefully dismantle your fears. I think this means don’t fall into a pattern of sameness. To keep growing and evolving as a person, do something different every day.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I started LVL it Up because when you focus on improving yourself and your mindset, you can create a ripple effect and impact those around you. If we all do this, the influence can affect the masses, and we become wiser, more mindful, and emotionally intelligent as a collective.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

Chelsea Handler has always been a bit of a mentor of mine. Her confidence to be her true self, her humor, and her own journey with personal development has been inspiring to me.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can find me at or @lvl_it_up on Instagram or Tik Tok

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

About The Interviewer: Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl. As a disruptor, Maria is on a mission to change the face of the wellness industry by shifting the self-care mindset for consumers and providers alike. As a mind-body coach, Maria’s superpower is alignment which helps clients create a strong body and a calm mind so they can live a life of freedom, happiness and fulfillment. Prior to founding Rebellious Intl, Maria was a Finance Director and a professional with 17+ years of progressive corporate experience in the Telecommunications, Finance, and Insurance industries. Born in Bulgaria, Maria moved to the United States in 1992. She graduated summa cum laude from both Georgia State University (MBA, Finance) and the University of Georgia (BBA, Finance). Maria’s favorite job is being a mom. Maria enjoys learning, coaching, creating authentic connections, working out, Latin dancing, traveling, and spending time with her tribe. To contact Maria, email her at To schedule a free consultation, click here.



Maria Angelova, CEO of Rebellious Intl.
Authority Magazine

Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl.