Inspired by the myriad posts on Pinterest, I decided to do one of those “30 Day Challenges” during the month of January. I found one that started off doing 50 squats and 20 crunches, and by the 30th day I would be doing 250 squats and 150 crunches. The challenge I was following can be found here.
I figured squats and crunches were a good place to start, because they are moves that can be squeezed in before bed if I ran out of time during the day. Plus, they’re moves I’m comfortable doing. It was starting easy and working my way up. I had doubts as to whether I’d actually finish, but I taped that challenge to my bedroom wall where I would see it every day and I proudly checked off each day as it went by.
There were days that I didn’t feel like it. I felt exhausted and the thought of doing 100 squats did not sound appealing at all. But I would do it anyway. I would trudge through, squatting and crunching and usually doing some extra stretches or exercises just to keep up the momentum.
Some nights I would have to stay up a little later just to get them done. Some nights I would do them while watching an episode of Dexter or The Office just so I didn’t get bored. My son learned that it was my routine, and he knew that while I was doing my squats and crunches I shouldn’t be bothered. Mostly because then I would lose count. He would patiently wait for me to be done before asking me any questions.
I wrote a post for Write on Edge about what I could learn about my writing goals from this challenge, and I stand by it. I have taken to writing in my journal every night, even if it’s just a few sentences about what I did that day. Writing has become a daily habit, just as the squats and crunches have.
I’ve now committed myself to a 30 day plank challenge, and I’m feeling hesitant. I can do a 30-second plank, so the first two days will be simple (starts with 20 seconds on the first day, 30 on the second). But I’ll be working up to five minutes of planking. It’s intimidating. But all I can do is commit myself to trying every single day.
I’m not just doing planks every day in February. I’m also doing a NO SPEND challenge, where I cut out all unnecessary and extraneous spending for the month. I’ve already done a pantry inventory so I can use up all the extra stuff I have before my next shopping trip. There will be no eating out or ordering in. No restaurants, no fast food, no quick snacks at the corner store near my work. I won’t buy any clothes, movies, books, or anything else deemed unnecessary.
I feel like these challenges are forcing me to make small changes that can become habits. Exercise is now a daily habit. Writing is now something I find time for every day. I might stop doing squats and crunches every day, but I won’t stop getting in some sort of exercise every day. By doing a NO SPEND challenge, I’ll be training myself to place more focus on every decision when I take out my debit card. These habits will last long past the 30 days. Small changes lead to bigger changes later on.
Thirty days of squats and crunches didn’t lead to a huge change when I stepped on the scale at the end of the month, but even that small difference gave me hope. If I keep this up, exercising every day and eating healthier, then the bigger changes will come. I’m making changes that will last my lifetime, not just a few months. I don’t want to diet and lose a bunch of weight, only to gain it back again when I stop dieting. I want to live healthier, end of story. And this is how I’m doing it. One little challenge at a time.
Have you ever done a 30 day challenge? Which one, and what were your results?