220 in 2020 · fitness

Three year-long workout challenges: any lessons learned?

This is my third year in a Facebook workout challenge group. The group, 220 Workouts in 2020 (whose members include Sam and Cate, among others) started up with 216 workouts in 2016. I joined the party on Jan 1, 2018, for 218 workouts. I hung in there for 219 workouts in 2019. And now, on November 29, 2020, I’m 30 workouts away from my goal. With persistence, I’ll hit 220 by Dec 31.

So I got to wondering, what have I learned from being in this group for 3 years now?

Luckily, I’ve posted about the group a bunch, so looking over them has jarred my memory.

In 2018, I finished just in time, on Dec. 31. I credited my completion (in this post) to the following:

  1. I just committed to documenting what I did, not looking too far down the road, but just doing what I was doing.
  2. I successfully incorporated at-home yoga into my life.
  3. I internalized the view that the perfect is the enemy of the good. Just doing some purposeful movement that I scheduled and carried out that day was the plan.
  4. I decided to let what I counted as a workout be relativized to my physical/mental state, my schedule, and what was within my grasp for that day.

Here’s a bit of what I said at the end of 2019:

Finishing things is generally hard– at least it’s hard for me. I tend to run out of steam/time/interest before the end, so it feels like a giant slog to complete big projects. However, this case is different for a couple of reasons: 1) I’ve made it so that any physical activity I decide to do counts, so I have oodles of options; 2) I’m not alone in this challenge– I’m in a FB group where others are doing their thing and supporting each other.

Now here we are, at the end of November, in the weird, strange year which is 2020. What have I learned that’s new?

First: Regular exercise has been hard for me these past few years. There have been different reasons: illness; injury; and this year, COVID-induced paralysis and despondence. This is my real challenge, moving forward– developing increased capacities for maintaining schedules and the clarity to own what my priorities are, which includes movement.

Second: If I want to move more, I have to do less in other parts of my life. Maybe less work, maybe less social planning– that’s not clear yet. But the fact is, I’ve been squeezing in workouts rather than letting myself block off the time to do them. Just making a schedule isn’t the answer for me. I think the answer has to do with letting myself NOT do some things so that I can do others.

Third: Yoga is my best friend among all of my movement acquaintances. It is there, in my living room, and its possibilities are endless. And even when it doesn’t feel good, it feels good to do it. I’m always happier having done it.

Fourth: I want to renew my close friendship with cycling in 2021. The relationship will be different: I’ll likely be riding shorter distances, on the lookout for scenic and kinder, gentler routes. And an e-bike is probably in my future too. But I miss it– I miss riding in every season, riding and feeling good on the bike, riding and feeling bad on the bike (but riding anyway), riding with friends and by myself. Again, if I want to make this a priority, it will demand some of my time. And that will have to come from somewhere.

Fifth: I continue to love sharing my activities with a group, and reading about their daily activities. It’s impressive, humbling, sometimes amusing, and inspiring (in the best way).

Sixth, and finally: I want to continue posting workouts and reading about workouts as long as I’ve got the oomph in me. So, sign me up for 221 workouts in 2021, folks!

Readers, how do you feel about workout groups you’re a part of? Have you enjoyed them? Dreaded them? Left them? Started your own group? I’d love to hear from you.

2 thoughts on “Three year-long workout challenges: any lessons learned?

  1. Thanks for sharing. I’m hoping your experience and the FB page will give me the push I need to consistently do more exercise. I think I’m perimenopausal so there are a whole lot of other issues starting to distract me! It’s easier at the moment to sit on the couch after work than to get going. I know what I’m supposed to be doing, and we are pretty active already but I could do a lot more if I didn’t procrastinate.

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