The challenge of (30-day and other) challenges

I’m a big skeptic of the 30-day (or other length) challenge.  First of all, they often get marketed to women NOT as goals for greater fitness of behavior change, but as a means to become more attractive fast– there’s the little black dress challenge, the wedding dress challenge, and of course all kinds of swimsuit season challenges.  All of you readers know this, but it bears repeating:  this sort of challenge presupposes that, sans challenge completion, we are not fit (in more ways than one) to appear in public in little black or big white dresses, bikinis, etc.  We need to shape up, whittle off pounds (what a horrible verb), tone those muscles, and fast!

So just say no to those sorts of challenges, I say.

But what about challenging ourselves to complete a goal that we care about?  I have in mind training for an event (like the Friends for Life Bike Rally that some of us are doing in July) or a triathlon, or for an active vacation with friends or family.  These are motivated by what we want for ourselves and our bodies– to be fitter, to be up to the task of exertion, motion, endurance.  To me, these sorts of challenges make sense.

But I’ve been finding challenges challenging lately.  For a bunch of reasons, I’ve been in a slump, and not able to be consistent about movement or eating that feels healthy to me.  In my head I’ve devised dozens of 30-day challenges for myself, in the interests of restarting some good exercise and eating habits for me.  But all to no avail.

My numerous attempts have felt pretty much like this:

So what’s a frustrated fitness-seeking fifty-something feminist to do?  Well, I picked a challenge that (to me) is not very challenging, but I hope will help me regain some confidence in myself to take on more challenging challenges in the weeks and months to come.  I started 1) tracking all my food intake; and 2) absolutely turning off my light and going to bed in time to get 8.5 hours of sleep (I need a lot of sleep to be a happy person).  I’ve been doing it for a week.  Yay!

In the course of the week, I’ve added in some daily yoga (from my collection of yoga videos– I love me some Rodney Yee), and it’s feeling good.

Putting together a challenge for myself at this moment in time has meant finding a not-so-challenging-to-me challenge that allows me to add on other not-so-challenging-to-me bits, feeling a sense of accomplishment, starting to yearn for more challenging challenges, and taking them on.  Out bloggers have written about kaizen, or continuous incremental improvement.  I think that’s what I’m doing.

So here’s to the not-so-challenging challenge. At least for me, for now, that seems to be the way to go.

Readers, what have your experiences been like with 30-day or other challenges?  We would love to hear from you.


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