Monday, January 19, 2015

I'm Going to Try a 30-Day Challenge!

Maybe you've seen my posts on Facebook -- I thought it would be a learning experience for this Regular Guy to try a 30-day challenge.

There are all sorts of 30-day challenges related to health and fitness. There's even a website out there called Maybe you've tried one like these:

Streakers: Come the winter months, many runners become streakers. Get your mind out of the gutter! They're not running naked through the snow -- they're trying to keep a daily streak going. It's usually 30 days or a month, where you run at least one mile a day.

Plank challenges: A popular fitness challenge is the plank challenge. The idea is simple: You do a plank every day for 30 days and chart your progress. If you're starting from the bottom, you're probably going to do 30 or 40 seconds to start, but by the end of a month, you should be measuring in minutes.

Here's Sue's Ab Challenge!
Rep-focused challenges: Similar to the plank challenge, these focus on improving every day over the course of a month. Push-ups are a big one -- just keep going every day and see how many more you can do after 30 days.

Ab challenges: My friend Sue is a Beachbody coach, and one of her programs is a 30-day ab challenge. There's nothing there you haven't done, but the idea is to follow a specific program each day to strengthen your core. Check her out on Facebook!

Diet challenges: There are all sorts of these out there -- everything from simply eating a healthier breakfast for a month to a total "cleanse." (Please don't do a cleanse, and if you do, don't tell me about it.) Most fall into the "small changes" realm -- which is why they're so appealing.

I think there are pros and cons to these kinds of challenges. They can put a lot of pressure on you to work through an injury, fatigue or illness. And they can also be the cause of injury -- working out every day without a break is asking for an overuse injury. Plus, if you're a Regular Guy reader, you know how much I value the rest day in helping build muscle. 

But that doesn't mean they're all bad. They force discipline and accountability on you, which is a good thing if you're the type to let things slide. And obviously, increasing your overall activity or cutting calories from your daily intake will help your fitness -- which is pretty much inevitable if you keep up with your chosen challenge. And it can be fun to track your gains in something like a plank challenge.

I've decided to go in a different direction altogether. Inspired by my friend Charlie at Run Jersey, I'm going to try a 30-day no-alcohol challenge.  If you followed my marathon training last year, you probably know the name of my blog was Beer or Gatorade? Like pretty much any Regular Guy, I like a nice cold beer -- or even a few. 

I'm really not sure what to expect. I've actually cut back my alcohol consumption a fair amount in the past few years -- particularly in the past six months. But going completely dry for a whole month? Will I have more energy? More focus? Will it improve my fitness? Will I drop any weight, or will I compensate with other food?

I've decided to start on February 1st. Yeah, I know that's Super Bowl Sunday. And yeah, I know February has 28 days. I'll be honest -- I have a few social engagements on the books between now and then, and I still have some beer in the fridge that's going to tempt me. I don't think you get extra points for degree of difficulty here, so let me take the next two weeks to get ready, and I'll tack on two days in March.

If you want to take the challenge with me, that'd be awesome! A social-support system, with people who are having similar experiences, is a great way to keep yourself on track. And if you don't, all I ask is just don't taunt me -- at least not too much.

February 1st is right around the corner!

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