I just completed a 30 days challenge last month that targeted my fitness and flexibility.
Before I share what I learned, it's good to set the context first 'why' I started this challenge in the first place.
Personally, I'm someone who's very active and involved in sports. I like to play tennis, I run, I walk or hike, and sometimes I play basketball, as well. I definitely don't have any issues with being fit.
But as I age, I noticed that I'm getting less and less flexible. And based on my own research, as we get older, this is actually one of the key things that we have to maintain.
And lately, like the past few months, I also noticed that I was less active than normal. And I can always make excuses that it's because of the pandemic restrictions or that I'm busy with work. But the truth was I was just not doing it. Hence, the use of the hashtag #noexcuses.
So, with these realizations, and with my affinity with challenges (more on that in future posts). I set out to change my current state by doing a 30-day challenge.
It's also popularly known that we can create a habit in 21 days, but did you know that this is a myth? (Again, something to talk about in another blog post). But for me, as a coach, it's better to do a 21 or 30 days challenge than doing nothing at all.
And then lastly, by declaring this 30-day challenge publicly, I created accountability partners.
And, at the same time, I hoped to inspire others to be fit and more aware of their physical health.
With that, here's what I learned from working out and stretching for 30 days:
I. SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS.
This was the first thing that came to my mind when I was thinking of my learning. The days when I remembered "setting myself up for success" were the days that I had an easier time executing. It can be as simple as preparing my running clothes and shoes the night before. Or allotting 5 mins at night to plan for activities the following day.
II. GET MOVING TO OVERCOME PROCRASTINATION.
You might be thinking, "how can I move when I'm procrastinating? This doesn't make sense". And I get it, it didn't make sense to me initially too until I experienced it. And that's when I got my 'aha' moment.
One thing that we know is that procrastination happens in the mind. Whether it's because of fear or laziness, we tend to delay or postpone doing something even though we told ourselves that we are doing that.
So the key to what I experienced was to stop listeningto that procrastinating voice. Whether it was telling me "it was too hot outside" or "too early or too late to exercise" or "let's exercise tomorrow". And just do it anyway.
And when I did put on my shoes, got out, and started walking - all those voices slowly started to disappear. And I started to enjoy the activity.
III. KNOW WHAT YOU LIKE
Everybody is different. Someone might like to do yoga more than running. Someone might like to do cycling more than playing tennis. Or it can be someone who might like doing exercise every morning compared to someone who likes to do it when they want.
Whatever it is that you like, it is important to know this, so that you can sustain doing it regularly.
IV. BE COMPASSIONATE TO YOURSELF
In challenges like these, I believe that it's important to give yourself some slack from time to time. Especially if you are new. It's important so that you can overcome your mistakes or failure and continue without that self-judgment.
For me, there were days that I felt that my body was telling me to rest. And because I know that sometimes, in certain activities, I do push myself to my limits. So in those days, I felt I had to or it will just get worse.
And with this knowledge, I allowed myself and my body, to take a break and rest.During the 30-day challenge, I took 3 different days to rest. And in those days, I can be hard on myself and say that I failed in my 30 days challenge. Or I can tell myself it's okay and continue again after my rest. I chose the latter.
And this worked for me, and I highly suggest this as well for people who are highly critical of themselves.
Of course, if you can continue without any mistakes or failures, then that's even more awesome!
V. THE LIMITS YOU SET IN YOUR MIND IS NOT REAL
And to share, what I think was my biggest learning - the limits that I had about my body and what I can do was totally not real!Here's what happened:
I went cycling with some friends, and the itinerary was to cycle from Sengkang area to Sentosa and then back.
So my friend asked me if I was okay with that. Not really knowing the distance that we'll cover and just trusting myself that I can do it - I said "yes".
The first half of our journey to Sentosa, it rained and we got wet. We had to stop a couple of times as well because the rain was too strong. The second half was smoother except for the wet clothes.
By the time we reached, Siloso Beach in Sentosa, we have cycled close to 30 kilometers. But it felt like 40 km because of the wetness. Haha.
Anyway, we cycled back home and by the time we reached around 50 km my mind was already telling me I'm at my limit. "I'm tired and I need to take a break."
I planned to take a short break when I and my friends split up to go home but seeing that I looked very tired, they decided to cycle with me till I get home. Which ruined my plan. LOLs!
I felt shy telling them to take a break and I was also inspired that they can continue cycling. So I told myself, I can also do it.
I focused on my breathing and body, instead of the chatter in my head. I continued cycling. And the next thing I know, I was already at home!
I actually amazed myself for being able to overcome those limiting thoughts. And experienced my body's greater capabilities. Such an awesome realization.
In conclusion, this 30-day challenge definitely got me back to being fit and more flexible. And as an added bonus, it gave me more awareness about myself and my body; AND it broke some of my limiting thoughts and beliefs in the process.
How about you? Have you ever done a 30-day challenge before? What did you learn?