Monday, November 3, 2014

30 day challenge recap

Tonight I came home with an urge to write (after some time of not feeling inspired to do so).  I am excited to start posting again and share a few updates on my life, the first being a recap of the 30 day challenge that I did with a few friends in September!

The 30 Day Challenge
In late August I shared about my plans to do a 30 day challenge with my cousin Robin (Colorado).  My friends Marianne (Seattle) and Sarah (NYC) decided to join in.  The goal was to try to get moving every day, for 30 days.  It was so much fun doing this challenge with my close girlfriends, and we all learned a lot.  I recorded all of my exercise on a laminated calendar on my fridge, which was super rewarding and motivating each time I wrote something down!  Exercising every day also made me more conscious about my diet and drinking habits, and I saw improvements there as well.

I was successful overall with the challenge minus the very last week when I had my biggest work event of the year.  This involved working until 9:00 PM every night without any breaks, which kind of nixed my exercise routine.  I was a bit disappointed that I didn't do a better job anticipating this challenge and scheduling in smaller morning workouts ahead of time, but I was proud of all I accomplished in the end.  Here were a few of my key findings:

1.  I got my strength (and butt) back!
I decided to focus primarily on strength training during the challenge, because it's what (my mind, body and spirit) was missing the most this Summer.  In addition to trying out a couple classes at my gym, I decided to join The Bar Method by taking advantage of a great new (one month) membership deal.  The classes were a completely new type of exercise for me and truly kicked my butt.  Since the studio is just blocks from my office at work, I went to morning, lunch, and after work classes regularly and loved making it a part of my routine.  After three weeks I looked in the mirror and could definitely notice the difference.  My arms were toned, my core was less poofy, and my butt finally had it's curve back (photo below)!  Pretty gratifying, if you ask me. 

In addition to The Bar Method I got in a good amount of yoga, and also went on walks with friends (instead of the usual go-to happy hour).  It was great to integrate these three practices into my routine.

2.  It feels GREAT to make your health a regular priority
I felt empowered making exercise a daily priority in September.  It was something I scheduled and looked forward to every morning.  What motivated me the most was knowing I was taking care of myself and feeling healthier each day.  The more time I spent exercising, the less stressed I was.  Exercise was "me" time that I cherished.  It allowed me time to reflect and savor peaceful moments - even during the burn!

3.  Exercise every single day may not be a sustainable plan
My one "con" of the 30 day challenge was that after it was done, I went for nearly 2 weeks without consistent exercise.  This could be related to what was going on in my life after the challenge ended, but I have been known to have an "all or nothing" type of personality and I'd rather not make excuses.  While exercising every day was/is a fabulous thing to strive for, I learned that I would rather exercise 5 days a week every week than exercise 30 days straight then go for weeks without any exercise.  I think it's best to be proactive and intentional about exercise, and not get defeated or too off track after taking a break.

4. Cardio AND Strength are key
Before starting the exercise challenge, I did a lot of cardio but was doing virtually no strength training.  During the exercise challenge, I focused so much on strength training that my cardio routines disappeared.  I know that for me to feel truly healthy and get the body shape I desire, I really need both.  So moving forward, I'm trying to be intentional about both practices!

Would I do the 30 day challenge again?  Absolutely.  I got in great shape, learned a lot about myself, and had so much fun connecting with my girlfriends each week.  Do I think that exercising every single day is a realistic plan?  No - but it's something we can certainly strive for :). 

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