fitness · motivation

Making Big Challenges into Small Ones

Along with Cate and Catherine and lots of others, I’m in the Facebook group in which people have committed to working out 218 times in 2018.

We’ve blogged about it lots.

Here is the official description of the group:

WHAT: The idea is simple. In 2018 there are 365 days. We are going to challenge ourselves to workout 218 times in those 365 days.

WHY: (1) Consistently doing deliberate exercise is one of the most important factors in developing good health and fitness. (2) Choosing to complete a workout or not is something we can control.

HOW: (1)Workouts are defined as any form of deliberate exercise/movement. Some examples are, lifting weights, doing gymnastics, a CrossFit WOD, a hike in the great outdoors, practising a martial art or yoga. Taking a dance class or playing rec softball with the folks from work also count. Do what inspires you to move your body. (2) Use a spreadsheet, a habit tracking app, or a notebook and give yourself a check mark for every workout you complete. (3) Share your progress with the group.

Let’s get cracking!

Image result for 218
Black text on yellow plate. Numbers “218.” Also ,a black border.

But 218 is a big number. It can all feel a bit overwhelming. Here’s the way I’ve broken it down. Instead of thinking about 218 workouts in a year, I did some math. If I worked out 20 times each month I will have definitely overshot the mark for 218. So my goal is to aim for 20 times a month, knowing that some months that might be a bit much.

So 20 times a month is roughly 5 times a week. So instead of focusing on the 218 times a year I focus instead on the 5 times a week. That gives me two rest days. I’m not sure why but it seems easier to think about than 218 times in a year.

Do you ever break down big challenges into smaller pieces? What’s an example from your life? The biggest one I can think of other than working out is dissertation writing. I advise my graduate students as well to focus on chapters rather than the entire thesis. It seems to help a bit.

3 thoughts on “Making Big Challenges into Small Ones

  1. 5 times a week sounds great to me. I’m not taking this challenge–if I get to the gym or the pool three times in a week that’s an accomplishment! After hip replacement surgery last August, I’m still having serious problems with fatigue, even though the hip itself seems to be fine (the surgeon is pleased). I’m told this is normal. I’d like to hear from other joint replacement patients about getting back to an exercise routine.
    Breaking a big challenge down into small parts is a great idea–wish I’d known more about the technique when I was writing my dissertation. It certainly works with conference papers.

  2. If you’re tracking your weight or have a weight loss (or gain) goal, I recommend the Happy Scale app. You can set a big goal, tell it how many mini-goals you want, and as you add data, it adjusts when it expects you’ll hit your next mini-goal. I’m aiming to lose 0.5lbs per week, because I know that’s possible and long-term sustainable given that I’m also working to add muscle mass at the same time. However, I’m also about 75lbs away from my ultimate goal, which is frustrating to look at when you do the math (150 weeks or 37.5 months or a little over 3 years). Today, the app told me I’m only 4 weeks away from my first goal. That’s much more rewarding and doable without getting discouraged.

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