Thirty Day Challenge
In the early fall, I had a series of events that caused me to become quite lethargic. Most significantly, I contracted pneumonia, and the illness stayed for me for a solid three weeks. When I started riding my bike again, at first, my lungs burned in agony. Even after the illness cleared though, I still wasn’t very active beyond my weekday cycling commutes. I’d gotten out of the habit, and the lethargy held on. At Hallowe’en, I realized that I had a problem, and I needed to do something to shake myself out of my funk.
At the beginning of November, I started counting my calories again, and I decided to embark on a 30 day activity challenge. I set a goal to do something active every day for 30 days, and I gave myself certain parameters. Bike rides counted, going for walks didn’t. And while bike rides counted, I still wanted to challenge myself to try to do something more than ride on most weekdays (there ended up being only four weekdays where cycling was my only activity). I started the challenge right after daylight savings time, as I decided that I wanted to leverage “fall back” to help me get up and swim or work out in the mornings.
The challenge turned out to be exactly what I needed. Giving myself a set time to achieve something meant that I didn’t let myself make excuses. Thirty days is also a manageable amount of time, small enough that you can tackle it, but big enough that it feels significant. There was really only one day where I didn’t want to do anything, and I texted my accountability buddy and she said “while rest is important, I don’t want you to fail on your challenge”, and it pushed me to be active.
Doing a 30 day challenge is a fantastic way to build a habit. My challenge allowed me to reset so that I got used to being active again and to having it be a primary focus of my life. While I don’t need to do 7 days a week on an ongoing basis, I do hope for five. When I got back into the swing of things after Christmas, my routine and habit were there, and it was easy to get going again.
The other great thing was that I really worked on ways to integrate exercise into my life in such a way that it didn’t prevent me from living it the way that I want to. I knew that Monday mornings were always going to be a non-starter for me, so on Mondays, I rode my bike, and did stairs at the office for an extra burn. Tuesdays-Thursdays, I woke up early to swim or do a p90x3 workout. Fridays, I biked and did stairs again, and Saturdays and Sundays I went for longer swims. I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to sleep in on Fridays and Mondays, and I always will be. This routine gave me a balance that allowed me to maintain and achieve my goals.
At the beginning of the challenge, I weighed in, but I didn’t set a weight loss goal; I didn’t want to make that the point. The point was activity, and re-setting my body and my mind. Part way through, I decided that I hoped to lose 8 lbs. I weighed in and recorded my weight every Wednesday, because that was the day of the week that I started the challenge. Also, “Weigh-in Wednesday” is fun to say. At one point during the challenge, I got down to 7.4lbs lost, but at my last weigh-in Wednesday, it was only 7lbs lost.
Back during round one of my weight loss, I did everything to the extreme, and I saw extreme results. Not achieving the weight loss goal that I had set was momentarily disappointing, but I decided to celebrate my accomplishment, which was huge for me! During those 30 active days, I lived my life. Yes, I tried to be healthy, and I counted my calories, but sometimes, those calories included pizza, beer, jelly beans, and the most epic 10 course meal of my entire life. In 30 days, I lost 7 lbs while not sacrificing the life that I want to live. On reflection, I saw that this is what sustainable weight loss looks like.
Five days after the end of my 30 day challenge, I continued with my weigh-in Wednesday tradition, and was pleased to see that I had hit 8.2 lbs of weight loss, meeting my goal a few days late, but meeting it nonetheless. I’m continuing on my path, but I always remember that the weight is a goal post, not the goal. I am happy, healthy, active and strong, and I am empowered to keep going!