Brand new week, brand new intentions.
Starting tomorrow, I’m setting a new health challenge for myself – 45 minutes of activity every day, except for one rest day (Friday, in my case). But before I move on to this next phase, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the lessons that I learnt from my 10,000 steps a day challenge that I’d set for myself in July / August.
I am sure you already know the many benefits of walking. Given that I was going from practically no regular exercise to a full-blown 31-day exercise challenge, I wanted to choose something which would not be super intense.
As far as physical activity goes, that was undoubtedly my best show of commitment ever. There are some key things that I learnt along the way – no rocket science here, but having gone through the experience, these just made so much sense, and I would love it if it inspires you to make even a small, healthy change to your everyday.
1| What works for someone else may not work for you
We are all wired differently. Even if our goal is the same, we may have different motivations and game plan for achieving that goal. Allow yourself to be different. If the gym does not work for you (it did not for me), figure out what does. Swimming? Cycling? Sports? Walking? Dance class? Yoga?
The options are limitless, and if you give yourself time to experiment, you will soon figure out what works best for you.
2| Be realistic
Goals and targets are essential, but it’s equally important to set realistic goals. Expecting to lose 10 kgs in a month is not realistic (or even healthy!). Expecting a month’s exercise to be the panacea of all your health issues is not realistic. Expecting to get healthy without being mindful of your eating habits is not realistic.
Setting up unrealistic goals is the easiest way to set yourself up for failure. Push yourself, but don’t fool yourself.
3| Don’t hide behind self-imposed limitations
I’ve used every excuse there is in the book to get out of committing to a healthy lifestyle. I know how it feels like it’s easier to come up with an excuse rather than do the work. Trust me, I do.
But if you want to change, and if you’re anything like me, you will need to learn to fight yourself and all that internal dialogue. It’s not easy, but it’s essential. In the long run, the only one who’s going to be affected by those excuses is you.
4| Focus on the present
You missed your workout yesterday. No matter. Go do your workout TODAY. You had 3 extra slices of pizza for lunch. No matter. Eat a healthy dinner. You can’t change your past, but you can control your present. Make the most of that opportunity.
5| Rest days are important
Oh my God, I cannot even begin to tell how important this one is. While I felt real good actually completing a 31-day streak, what didn’t feel so good were my almost constant sore-muscles.
I am positive that it was largely due to the fact that I went from zero to moderate levels of activity without leveling up, but still. Your body needs rest as much as it needs activity. My constantly sore muscles were clearly a lesson against over-zealousness if there ever was one.
6| Love yourself
Being at your ideal fitness / health / weight level would be fantastic now, wouldn’t it? If you’ve got / achieved that and feel great about yourself, power to you. Even if you don’t and you feel great about yourself, MORE power to you.
Feeling content with who and where you are does not mean that you cannot attempt to be better. Accept that you’re good today, and you’ll be better tomorrow. Love yourself – there are enough people out there to bring you down. Don’t do it to yourself.
With these lessons learnt, I am more sure of myself now as I start a new challenge. Every time that I feel like giving up, I’m going to remind myself how good it felt to complete my 31-day streak of 10,000 steps a day and how proud I was (am!) of myself.
I’m sending a whole lotta positive vibes to you this Monday morning. Hope you have a great (and healthy) week ahead. And do tell me in the comments about the things you learnt along the way in your fitness journey.