In November, a friend proposed a challenge for the month of December. Her proposal: commit to a 31-day exercise challenge. The premise is simple. Any woman who accepted the challenge threw $10 into the pot. Everyone does a sweat-inducing 30-minute workout each day in the month of December. If you miss a day, for whatever reason, you forfeit your $10. We’re going by the honesty system. The women who complete the challenge at the end of December split the pot.
My first reaction was no way. That’s impossible during December. There are school parties, board meetings, cold temperatures, Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, trips planned, etc. The list of excuses is seemingly unending for me. The more I thought about it, the more my excuses came back to one thing. I don’t value myself enough to make time on any given day to spend 30 minutes on just me. There are no manicures, massages or coffee dates on my schedule. My days are driven by the needs of others. I’m excellent at taking care of the other five people in my home but lackluster at making time for me.
One hour before the deadline to enter the challenge, I replied back in the affirmative. Game on.
It’s day 10 today. I believe seven women have dropped out of the 21 who began the 31-day exercise challenge. I’m not judging anyone who misses a day and forfeits their money. Life gets in the way sometimes, no matter our best intentions. There are a couple days on the horizon where I’ll be working out at 10 p.m. There’s a very realistic chance that I just won’t want to do that. No harm done if that’s the case. These first 10 days I’ve gotten up at 5:45 a.m. during the week and 6:30 a.m. on the weekend to insure I get 30 minutes in. If me time isn’t done before everyone else wakes up, it’s not happening until everyone is asleep. This I know about myself.
While it’s nice to have a competitive edge to the challenge and a little money at the end, that’s not my motivator. I told myself I would do it, and I will. Being held accountable is a great motivator for me in all arenas. If there wasn’t a challenge, I would have only gotten in five workouts so far this month. The other five wouldn’t have happened. It’s not about losing weight or fitting into a holiday dress, I want to make taking care of me important.
This challenge hasn’t been easy. It feels much longer than 10 days, and I’m not even halfway done. The weather and the lack of a gym membership have me using the elliptical in our basement or doing an Insanity video when I’d much rather be hiking a trail outside. I’m worn out by the idea of 21 more days of dragging myself from bed and really would like to just cross exercising off my ever growing to-do list. I won’t though because I promised myself I could do this for me. I’ve learned to better prioritize my to-do list and weed-out what aren’t essential tasks. The world hasn’t ended because some things are still on my list at the end of the day. I’ve been in bed before midnight, not a small task for me, because I know I’ll be waking early. I’m learning to take care of me which is a giant step toward a happy and healthy mama.
Update: The challenge is over…hallelujah! I exercised for at least 35 minutes for 31 days straight. Most of the workouts were closer to 40 minutes of cardio plus pushups, situps and free weights. The hardest part, for me, was forcing myself out of bed early on the weekends to get the exercise in. We traveled during the 31 days, which forced me to do something other than what I would do at home. I don’t exercise when we travel (unless we’re incorporating hiking into our plans). It was beneficial to prove to myself that traveling is not an excuse to sit on my rump!