30 DAY CHALLENGE: MARCH - IN LIKE A LION
Updated: Mar 16, 2019
The month of the reset. Committing for a month, and changing the year.
It's surprising how fast you can fall out of routine. A matter of 3 months ago I was at the tail end of a year of non-stop clean eating and exercising regularly, pushing myself in my workouts, and resisting all the sweets at work (sugar and wine are my weakness). Then - I decided to give myself a little break from the intensity of it all. I was still packing most of my meals for work, or making healthy choices when I'm buying lunch, but...I found myself indulging in the goodies brought in by colleagues a little too much, and well, I wasn't allowed to drink while I was training for my fitness show last year, so I tried to make up for that by extending happy hours. But it's been fun! Part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle involves a little bit of letting go too - we are human after all, and falling off the wagon a little, won't be detrimental - but staying off of it - well that's another story.
So - I'm getting back into the routine today! March - in like a lion! I'm starting a 30 day challenge - won't you join me? It doesn't matter what the month holds, travel, work deadlines, family obligations - I'm committing to myself that I will schedule in a minimum of 25 minutes of 'breaking a sweat' exercise everyday for 30 days. That's it! Think about 25 minutes you waste everyday - watching netfllix, scrolling on instagram, catching up on Game of Thrones before the final season is released (am I right?). The key is to schedule it in. Tell yourself you actually finish work an hour later than you do, because right after the day you're heading to the gym, get it over with. Or wake up 30 minutes earlier and do a HIIT workout at home - you can find a ton of 30 minute workout on youtube these days! Put it in your calendar like you do your doctor's appointment - or a dinner reservation.
While I want you guys to join me for 30 days of breaking a sweat - I'm going to be switching up my diet a bit too. I'm cutting out alcohol and sugar for the month. I know what you're thinking - but sugar is in everything! Yes, it appears on a lot of ingredients lists - but, if you make most of your own meals, you can avoid it, and if you buy food or go out to eat, restaurants are more accommodating than you think. When I was training last year, with a strict diet, I could easily order salads and ask for olive oil and grilled chicken on the side (and I would request there was no marinade or sauce). Olive oil, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar with some pink salt and pepper is all the seasoning you need for a tasty salad if you want to do a bit of a reset. For me this also means I won't have fruit this month - you don't have to do this, just sharing my plan with you. Finally I'll be having 2-3 L of water everyday, you should do this too.
Here are my tips for sticking to the diet and exercise for 30 days - one of the most important things is that you have someone, or a group to keep you accountable (so help me help you - and join my challenge, keep me honest, I'll keep you honest)
Sticking to the workouts:
1. Plan it: Decide what your workout is going to be each day for the week, and schedule it, in your phone, in your day book. Sign up for the class - put the money down so your less likely to skip. If your schedule is unpredictable - have a contingency plan in place - (ie. if you have to work later than expected, or head out of town - know what your work around will be)
2. Do something you enjoy: If you absolutely despise the treadmill - don't start this challenge by saying - I'm going to run 25 minutes a day. That's stupid, you won't do it. Choose something you enjoy or you wanted to try. You'll be more likely to stick to it. Do you like Pilates? Yoga? Boxing? Spin? choose something you enjoy.
3. Don't overthink: Just do it. Honestly. If you start thinking, oh well I'm a little tired, now I'll go in a half hour, or I'll just double up tomorrow morning - you'll lose your momentum. Just set your timer and start doing sets of jumping jacks, squats, pushups, crunches, lunges - you get the picture. Just get active for 25 minutes before you have time to convince yourself that today is not the day.
4. Involve family and friends: If you know you need the extra push - ask your partner, or BFF or a colleague to do it with you! Or join an online challenge ;) Having to check in with people regularly who genuinely want you to reach your goal is sometimes all the encouragement you need to get off your butt.
5. Plan a reward for yourself: A reservation at your favourite restaurant. A shopping trip. An actual trip..? A night out to celebrate. That pair of shoes you've been dreaming about. Only if you hit the challenge can you reward yourself. I want you to feel bad if you skip out on a work out - if you associate a negative feeling with not working out and a positive feeling that you've accomplished something after working out... then guess what you are more likely to do! We all like to feel good about ourselves. You owe yourself this.
Sticking to the diet:
1. Get rid of it: If you're like me, having the food around is a killer. Yes, you can't control all environments (ie. hey everyone there's timbits by the breaking news desk!) - but you have some control on what goes into your home. Do your best to clear out the bad stuff - so you're not tempted.
2. Make it easy: I'm a diner of convenience. Is it easy to make or ready to eat without time or effort? I'm in. So - baby carrots, all chopped and ready in a bag, love them. Spend an hour washing and chopping up veggies and put them in a container so it's easier to snack on. Have some grilled chicken ready at home, cook in bulk - this is what I do. We all make bad decisions when we're hungry - if a healthy option appears to involve too much effort.
3. Do the math: If you're out or at work and there's a plate full of treats, or fries, or whatever your kryptonite happens to be - before reaching out your hand... do a little calculation. We've all got our phones with us. Google how many calories, fat, sugar is in that food item. Google how many minutes on a treadmill to burn off a serving.... sometimes that second thought is all you need to get back on track.
4. Drink water: Yes you've heard it before, and I'll say it again. Sometimes you're not hungry, you're just dehydrated. Carry a water bottle with you, and polish it off before you eat something bad. It'll help you hit that 3L a day target for H2O intake, and it'll curb your cravings. Have sparkling water instead of wine after work - I put mine in a wine glass sometimes - because I like to - LOL.
5. Let yourself be human: Ok - you're cravings are driving you crazy - you really really want a side of fries. Make a decision that this will be your cheat meal. That's it, and that's it for at least the rest of the week. I'm not unreasonable with myself. If I'm dying for something. I'll have it, but I set a limit. If you can avoid a cheat - avoid it, but if you need it, don't let it throw you off course. Just recognize it, and move forward.
Ok guys here we go! March - In like a lion :)
UPDATE - HALF WAY MARK- MARCH 15
Half way there!
15 days in - how do you feel?
Part of the reason I try to do 30 day challenges, is because it's a great way to develop the habit again. Some old research showed it took 21 days of repeating an activity to develop a habit, newer research suggests 66 days. What can you do in 30 days then? Well you're on the right track! You're finding ways to squeeze workouts into your schedule no matter what, and you're making them a priority. For some, that's part of the problem! That their excusers are louder than their actions, the "I cant's" so much louder than the "I cans!" Hopefully 2 weeks in, you are realizing, you can wake up a little earlier, meet up with people a little later after work, or get moving while watching Netflix, and getting a minimum of 25 minutes of exercise in, is only as complicated as you make it.
Aside how you are feeling about the challenge mentally - a few people have messaged about the physical feat of working out daily. Yes, it can be taxing whether you are, or aren't working out frequently. So here are some of the tips I use to make sure I keep going, and to get some good recovery in.
1. Don't forget to stretch! You never stretch? Are you kidding me? You absolutely have to before and after doing your workout. Doing this with alleviate the amount of muscle pain/tension you feel in the days after the workout.
2. Go easy: If you're doing really intense workouts daily, your body will definitely ask you to calm down. So listen to your body! Walk on an incline on the treadmill, use a stationary bike on low-resistance for 30 minutes. A lighter yoga class. Whatever you do, don't over push yourself - you will get injured, and then....you'll have to take a break, and then rebuild the awesome habit you're developing right now!
3. Go to bed! Sleep is so important to weight loss, and recovery. Not getting quality sleep means your muscles won't have the adequate amount of time to properly rest, and it also sometimes means you will try to fuel your tired-self through the day with too much coffee and other sugary foods that are working against you.
I love the podcast - "Trained" by Nike.
In particular - the episode with Dr. Matthew Walker on sleep was super helpful.
We're halfway there - keep going!