If I see one more social media ad for another “30-Day Fitness Challenge” or “Whole30” I may just throw-up or throw something…perhaps a cupcake with extra frosting so it will stick to the wall beside me. Sadly it looks like my chances aren’t good given summer is approaching and “getting a summer bikini bod” is on the forefront. Funny thing how this is the same trend every year…. Why do the same people seem to sign-up for these challenges year after year? I thought the goal of a 30-day challenge was to kick start a new habit to have long-term fitness and healthy eating success? Hmm….
Why do I hate these challenges so much? I want people to succeed with reaching their fitness and health goals, I really do. Seeing success and even motivating those people along the way brings me joy.
But I could probably count the number of people on 1 hand whom have completed one of these 30-day challenges, stuck with it past 30-days, and reach their fitness goals.
It’s truly sad. So I hate them because all I see is people around me fail at reaching their fitness goals.
The lure of these challenges is clear, “Get washboard abs in just 30-days with this simple challenge!”.
It’s catchy, it’s easy, it’s free, it sounds fun, and the women in the photo looks amazing…I bet those are the actual results I’ll see! Plus “30-days to fit” sounds more doable than, “365 days of hard work and dedication”.
The interesting point here is that, lack of willpower is not the main reason why people fail at these challenges but rather it’s the lack of planning.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail”
In order to see success you need to know what success looks like for you.
Simply put, if your goal is to “get fit”, how will you know you’ve reached that? What does “being fit” actually mean to you? When you jump on the 30-day wagon, have you thought at all about what your goal is for this program? And I don’t mean the advertised goal of washboard abs, I mean what you personally want to accomplish at the end of it.
Also consider what is the fitness goal you want to accomplish next, after the 30-days? Is it actually “washboard abs” or is it “to have the energy to play a game of soccer on the weekend”.
Two very different goals that have very different success points. Remember, seeing success makes us excited and keeps us motivated. If you don’t know what success looks like for you, how are you going to stay motivated to complete this challenge?
The thing about these challenges is that they’re made for the general average of the population, they are not made for you specifically.
Shockingly, this challenge does not take your life into consideration (Gasp!) So what are you going to do when stress, other priorities, an angry boss, a sick dog, or a friend’s birthday all get in the way of your challenge? Bet you didn’t plan for those things. Lack of contingency planning, or rather, what are you going to do when shit gets in the way, is also a recipe for failure. You fall off the challenge 1 day, then 2, then 3, and then its 20 days…so much for a 30-day challenge.
If you stick this out for 30-days it’ll become a new habit and you’re guaranteed lasting success! Isn’t that right? A big, “wrong”!
Habits are not created by simply doing something continually for 30 days. There is a lot more work and psychology that goes into creating a sustainable and effective habit than just 30 days of repetition. A habit might be created, but chances are it won’t be if you haven’t done the planning to create said habit. By not planning what steps you want to take after the challenge you’re just asking to be a repeat “30-day-er” or what I like to call, a “30-day lifer”.
(Interested in how to actually create and sustain effective fitness habits? Check out my post here. And yes, there’s science backing it.)
Although I am not a fan of 30-day challenges, they actually can be successful if you do the work. So if you have signed up for a 30-day challenge here’s what you can do to ensure fitness success. Hooray!
How to NOT Fail at 30-Day Challenges:
First, grab some paper and a pen (or just your phone). You’re actually going write down the your responses to the questions below. Putting words on paper (or screen) make it real, you’re already holding yourself accountable to yourself.
1.How will you know if you’ve succeeded at this challenge?
2.What is your over-arching fitness/health goal AND how will this challenge help you reach or make progress towards it?
3.How are you going to incorporate this challenge into your daily life?
Write down all of the specifics, make it an exact blueprint of how you’ll execute this challenge. Consider: when, how, and where you’re going to do it, how much time will it take? What resources do you need?
4.What could plausibly go wrong to the above plan (#3)? How will you ensure your success? (I.e. whatever “success” means to you)
5.What does Day 31 look like? Be specific.
6.What does Days 60 look like?
Day 31 may be easy. Days 32-39 may also be easy, but did you consider Day 60? Also consider what your plans are for days 31-60 AND what your next goal is after you’ve succeeded at this one. You want to ensure progress towards your overarching goal.
An eye-catching, upbeat, and seemingly, “easy” 30-day challenge actually requires work to see lasting success. Put in the pre-work and you’ll see huge results that are going to last you beyond the 30 days. Why?
Because these plans and goals don’t expire after 30 days, they’re reflections of what you truly want and will continue for the long-term.
Being fit and healthy is not easy (there, I said it). It requires work, dedication, focus, and planning. But you have the tools, now you just have to step up to the challenge.
Need someone to hold you accountable? I’d love to help you out! What is your long-term health & fitness goal? What does your Day 31 look like?
Comment below or shoot me an email!