I know myself well enough to understand that a good personal challenge keeps me on track. A public personal challenge is even more motivating!
After a flurry of indulgent trips during the last quarter of 2016, I was “off the rails” and resolved to get back on track. At the end of December, I purchased a three-month package of small group training sessions. The group met three times a week with a personal trainer who kicked my butt. My budget allowed this splurge but I would need to keep going on my own once the sessions ended in late March. In a case of perfect timing, a friend approached me to resurrect a 100-day shape up commitment from last winter. One hundred days seemed daunting so I negotiated a 30-day April Fitness Challenge. Thirty men and women signed on to participate each day in April and posted their progress to our Facebook group.
Here’s how April went for me:
I’ve been a “gym rat” since 1990 when I purchased my first membership to a health club. For 27 years, I’ve been seeking out high-energy classes, the more crowded and loud, the better. I’ve been hooked my entire adult life and have (almost) always included a health club in my budget. Yes, I walk the walk of a careful spender but I’ll admit that I like my gym fancy and consider it an investment in my health. I lucked out with an incredible gym 3 miles away from home.
Our life plan demands that Tim and I are in good health. How are we going to walk the world otherwise? When I’m good I’m good, but when I’m bad, I can go days (or weeks) when I’m not motivated to work up a sweat. Time isn’t my issue and I really enjoy exercise so it’s a mystery why I don’t leap out of bed to do it every day. Accountability is the secret weapon that seems to get me revved up.
Challenge complete: exercised 29.5 of 30 days
Things I learned:
- Do what you love – I dread workouts on the treadmill. Group classes that engage my mind are my favorites. During April, I didn’t get on the treadmill once but did try four new classes. It was intimidating and a little scary but I didn’t let that stop me. Surprise! I enjoyed all four and have already returned to three of them. Just stand in the back and do the best you can. Everyone else is too busy to notice you. If you haven’t found exercise you like, keep looking. Several in our Facebook group posted photos of stunning outdoor scenery on hikes. Try yoga, dancing, walking, biking, volleyball, tennis, Pilates…the list is infinite.
- Find a buddy or a group – there were MANY days during the challenge when I had no interest in anything resembling exercise. Because of the challenge, I was on a roll and had committed to posting each day so it drove me. About two-thirds in, I realized I wanted to write a blog post about it so that helped as well. When I posted a note on my personal Facebook wall, I didn’t expect so many others to sign up. Put yourself out there…who knows what you’ll find.. Tim didn’t participate in the challenge but there were many days he joined me trying to reach my day’s goal. Get the help wherever you can.
- Plan for the obstacles – We had a trip to visit family for 5 days in April I knew it would be tricky ticking off the box on travel days. Plus, we’d be hanging around socializing and sitting most of the time. Several nights, Tim and I took an hour walk around the neighborhood after the others went to bed. The 1/2 day I missed was because I didn’t plan. Life happened and my workout did not.
- Be flexible – When I was employed, I had to fit workouts in wherever I could. I thought I preferred exercising at night. Turns out, mid-morning is when my energy is highest. Being an early retiree means I can plan my schedule however I’d like. Now, I avoid morning plans and complete my workout done before the day gets going.
- Mix it up – I’m not looking to burn out or hurt myself. I mixed up kickboxing, dancing and spinning with weights, yoga, and walking. Variety is as important to me in my exercise as it is in my diet.
- Push yourself – You never know what you can achieve if you’re playing it safe.
- Listen to your body – When I was younger, I didn’t eat anything before a morning workout. Now, I get light-headed if I don’t go in properly fueled.
I did not lose any weight but I do feel stronger and less flabby. I’ll take it!
For May, I’m going to take on an additional challenge. I’ll be meditating for 10-20 minutes a day in addition to exercising every day.
How can you challenge yourself to become healthier?