I have a friend on Facebook who recently started selling… you know what? I’m not going to mention the product by name because I’m really not interested in advertising for them. But you know the sort of thing I’m talking about. Pre-packaged powdered meals, super intense workout videos, incredibly enthusiastic salespeople who constantly tag thirty of their friends in the posts about “amazing results” after “just one week!” Yeah, that product.
It’s been a little over a month now since she started hawking this stuff and the hourly posts have slowed down to daily. The over-the-top gushing is starting to wane. I have to imagine the weight loss has also taken a bit of a nose-dive as the reality of living a clean-eating, daily-exercising lifestyle has truly set in. It’s just not as easy as the salespeople want you to believe.
A few months ago, I had quite a few friends (again, on Facebook) take part in a 30-day Ab Challenge. I’ve seen lots of these social media challenges – sometimes it’s abs, sometimes it’s a plank, sometimes it’s squats or pushups or burpees, and sometimes it’s a ban on sugar or other “bad” foods. They all seem to go the same way: the first few days everyone is gung-ho and posting photos of their dinner plates or sweaty shirts. By the second week, there are only a few mentions of the challenge, and maybe something about how much harder this is than they initially thought. The third week almost always brings radio silence or possibly an admission that they’ve fallen off the Ab wagon. I don’t think I’ve met anybody who has completed an entire 30-day challenge.
Oh, wait! I completed one! One time. There was a “Get Inverted Every Day” headstand/handstand challenge on Instagram last December that I loved and actually participated in for the entire month. It was awesome and I swore up and down that I would continue with it. In fact, I even set up my own challenge in January to work on pull-ups and inversions every day for the month. And… then I didn’t. It’s August and I haven’t done a pull-up in about seven and a half months. I did do a handstand recently – but just one.
The thing is, most of these 30-day challenges are, by their nature, impossible to sustain. The likelihood of doing 100 burpees every day for the rest of your life is literally zero. And for some people, maybe that’s the appeal, to do something they’ve never done before and only be responsible for doing it a short and finite amount of time. That’s cool. But if you’re looking for lasting results, you’re not going to find them from a shaker bottle of protein powder or a 100 squat challenge.
In a world where we are constantly bombarded with “quick” and “easy” solutions, the reality is that making real changes in your life is slow and takes some serious, dedicated, daily work. If you’re looking to lose weight and stay fit, you are going to need to make healthy decisions for the rest of your life, not just the next thirty days.
If you really feel the need to “jump-start” your fitness, or “cleanse” your diet, try doing this instead: start small and aim low. Drink more water. Choose a lower calorie option. Go for a walk. Get enough sleep. Add a fruit or a vegetable to your meal. Try a short, moderate intensity workout. Those small, daily decisions will add up over time, and eventually they’ll turn into bigger decisions, like ditching junk food or signing up for a 5K. I know it doesn’t feel exciting and you’re not going to lose 10 pounds this week, but you’ll do something even better – you’ll win the ultimate challenge, the lifelong one.
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