When I originally created the November Fitness Challenge, I did so as a way to hold myself accountable. I knew that maintaining fitness motivation after the New York City Marathon would be much more challenging. Working out seems much less rewarding when there isn’t a box to check or workout to cross off each day. So, in an effort to combat this time of uncertainty after the race, I created a new goal for myself. This fitness challenge would provide me with flexibility, yet still create enough of a challenge that I would have to work to complete it.
November has now come to a close, and as December begins, I can’t help but reflect back on the previous month. I learned a great deal from this challenge, more so than I originally expected. My goal in November was to complete 1,000 minutes of exercise of any type. All I needed to do was record the total time I spent exercising each day, but the workouts were up to me.
I have completed many different workout plans in the past few years, but never truly completed a fitness challenge. This fitness challenge was unique in the fact that there were no set workouts each day. There was no specified amount of time required for activity each day, and this challenge left it up to me. I could complete all of the time in one day if I really wanted, or spread it out evenly.
This fitness challenge really surprised me with what it taught me. Heading into November, I expected this challenge to provide me with a way to keep track of exercise. I thought the goal would be easy to complete, and I wouldn’t have to do much other my usual routine. I naively expected that things would just magically fall into place.
To some extent, those things did happen. But mostly, I was surprised each week with unexpected challenges. Challenges not just from struggles to meet the fitness goal, but mental struggles as well.
As I reflect on this past month and the fitness I maintained, gained and lost, there are a few things that stick out to me the most.
What I Learned form Completing a Fitness Challenge
- Consistency is key. It is much harder to find your motivation after a long break than it is to continue accomplishing little bits every day. Once you establish a routine, the daily act of fitness becomes so much easier to complete. Your brain and body know what to expect, and knowing that it worked every day beforehand help keep you motivated. Getting started exercising again after taking a full week of rest after the marathon was so hard. If I’d stuck with my routine and completed active recovery days instead of rest, it would have been much easier.
- Alternate hard and easy days. When trying to create a routine or increase the time you spend exercising, it’s so important to alternate easy and hard days. I often found myself pinched for time and knew I would only be able to work out on certain days. These days were often right in a row, and I’d usually complete my most intense workouts to get the most out of my time. This left my body feeling even more sore, and I wound up needing to take more rest days to recover. Your body needs those easier days in between to recover and get the most out of that next hard workout.
- Every little bit counts. It was often easier to exercise for shorter, more frequent periods of time than completing one long session. Rather than trying to get in a full hour workout, I would do a 10 minute ab workout at lunch, 15 minutes of HIIT moves just before dinner, or 10 minutes of yoga in the morning. In the end, little bits of exercise add up to more than if I tried to workout all at once.
- Accountability works wonders when trying to accomplish something. This fitness challenge really reinforced just how beneficial it is to be accountable for something. Recovering from this marathon was the most successful yet, and I attribute that all to this fitness challenge. When I’m trying to accomplish a goal of any kind, I need to make sure to hold myself accountable. Whether it’s creating a checklist, recording my progress or telling a friend, staying accountable keeps me so much more motivated.
- There is no right or wrong way to achieve your goal. This fitness challenge reminded me that no two people are alike. While some may spend 1,000 minutes walking, others may spend 1,000 minutes lifting weights at the gym. There is no one right way to achieve 1,000 minutes. This fitness challenge reinforced the fact that fitness comes in all different shapes and sizes. Everyone is different, and finding a way to stay active that is enjoyable for YOU is so important for success.