As many of you may already know, I recently completed a 100-day workout challenge. While I’ve touched on my experience briefly in last week’s ab tutorial, I quickly realized that my experience deserved a more complete reflection. In paragraphs below, you’ll read about my initial approach the challenge, how I managed throughout the 100 days, and what I learned from it all. It might look like a lot, but trust me: This is the condensed version. Within minutes of brainstorming for this post, I filled four pages of notebook paper with a jungle of thoughts, feelings, and anecdotes. After lots of weeding (going to keep the plant metaphor going here), this is what I have to share. Enjoy…
I started the 100-day workout challenge on March 10th. I know the exact date because it was Thursday before spring break started, and I was on my way out the door when I overheard my mom on the phone with her friend. “Wow, a 100-day workout challenge?” she was saying. “I don’t know…but I’m in!” Don’t ask me why but suddenly, in between bites of granola bar, I found myself mouthing to my mom “I’ll do it, too.” I’d been looking to up the ante on my fitness regime for a while, and this type of challenge- with it’s defined start and end dates, not to mention a host of other people who were participating as well- seemed like the perfect way to do just that. Besides, I was on my way to a tennis lesson, so day one’s workout was already taken care of. I’d figure what the next day’s situation when the time came.
Before I go further, I should stress that this challenge presented me with more than a few hurdles. Aside from the usual issues of motivation, effort, burnout, etc., the idea of committing to 100 days of exercise also appealed to the darker side of my intense personality. As a type-A almost-perfectionist, I have tendency to go “all-in” with everything I do, from school work and blogging goals to diet and, yes, fitness. While this inner drive can be a positive thing, there have been instances in the past when this facet of my personality has wrecked havoc on both my physical and mental well-being. This time, I was determined to strike a balance between indulging my inner go-getter and enjoying the challenge without taking it too far.
How did I do that? For starters, I quickly shifted the basis of the challenge from “100 days of exercise” to “100 days of movement.” Rather than push myself to complete HIIT workouts or heart-thumping runs every single day, I instead prioritized simply getting moving. Most days, this meant following along with a workout videos or high-intensity activities like tennis or the occasional jog. Some days, this meant pampering my muscles with ten to twenty minutes of yoga stretches before bed. And that was okay. That was great! After a long, sedentary winter, I was glad to get my body moving each and everyday, no matter what that entailed.
These loose “guidelines” made it a lot easier to deal with another major hurdle the challenge presented: stress. Over the years, I’ve found that one of the best ways to manage my anxiety is to come home from school and start my homework pretty much right away. So, you can imagine how hard it was to postpone starting my English paper in favor of hitting the mat. That said, it’s true what they say about exercise: It beats stress like no other. More often than not, getting my sweat on made me feel more relaxed about tackling my agenda. There were a handful of moments, however, when the to-do list was just too daunting, and those where the times that a late-night stretch session was just what the doctor (trainer?) ordered. Again, a huge part of this challenge for me what finding balance and acceptance amidst my lofty self-standards.
Okay, at this point, I know what you’re all thinking: Self-acceptance, stress management, blah, blah, blah. It was a 100-day workout challenge, so did you get, like, super-fit?! I have to admit that, when I first entered the challenge, I was partially motivated by how awesome I’d look in a bathing suit after working out for 100 days straight. But keeping my obsessive tendencies at bay required that I squash those motivations pretty early on. I’m not going to say I didn’t think about it, because I did! I was just conscious of not allowing those thoughts to be the main reason I was waking up with the sun on a Saturday to workout before catching an early train. When I pushed through squats or geared up for another cardio blast, I tried to think about how good it felt to get my blood pumping and my muscles flexing, not how solid my quads might be after. And, real talk? Throughout the course of the challenge, my weight probably fluctuated that same as it normally does (I don’t weigh myself, so this is really just guessing). Some days I felt fit and awesome, other days not so much. If I learned one thing from this challenge, it’s that no amount of workouts can completely erase the humanity from our bodies. All we can do is move, eat, breath, and live in a way that makes us feel the best we can each day.
Looking back on the past several weeks, it’s hard to believe that only 100 hundred days stands between where I am now and where I was all the way back in March. Like I mentioned in last week’s post, a lot has happened in that short amount of time. To make a long story short, this spring taught me the value of pushing forward even when numerous setbacks make you want to lie down and quit. Things were looking skeptical for a while, but one of the reasons I wrote this post was the celebrate that fact that I made it with (most of) my sanity intact. At the risk of sounding conceited, I have to say that I’m proud of myself for what I’ve done, and all that I have left to do in the months ahead.
In conclusion? Here’s to another 100 days! 100 days of movement, 100 days of fun, 100 days of laughter, 100 days of relishing in the joy, the frustration, and all the other sensations that come with being alive. There’s really nothing like it.
P.S. As for my future fitness goals, I’ve got something brewing that I can’t wait to share in a few months. Stay tuned… 😉