Looking for Change? Try A 30-Day Challenge

By  0 Comments

Maggie considers herself pretty healthy. She exercises several times a week with Pilates, strength training and long walks with her dog. She sticks to a mostly low-carb, high-protein diet. Recently though, she’s experienced a plateau, not seeing results, gaining a few pounds from the holidays and lower energy levels.

Maggie’s trainer suggested she start a 30-day Butts and Guts challenge to add more motivation and fun to her regular workout. After just one month, Maggie saw progress both in her body and mind. She started another challenge a few weeks later.

What Is a 30-Day Challenge?
Thirty-day challenges aren’t just about fitness and can come in all forms of health and well-being. It’s working on an area we want to improve and the challenge encourages us to work on it daily for approximately one month. Whether it’s trying something new, different, healthy, fun or even a little outrageous, a challenge can start a habit that can be beneficial for a lifetime. The idea is that consistent small actions performed daily can build behaviors and habits that stick.

Do They Work?
The success of a 30-day challenge depends on many factors such as adherence, motivation, attainability and the desire of the person performing it. The challenge itself may not produce the promised results (a set of six-pack abs or a lifted backside), but the act of practicing a new behavior daily can help almost anyone develop better habits. The benefits can come in various forms. The good news is that we may see some definite improvements in our overall well-being after participating in a 30-day challenge.

Science Behind Challenges?
Believe it or not, there’s growing scientific evidence suggesting that time-bound challenges can be effective for behavior modification. Many experts agree that 30-day challenges are effective at raising mind and body awareness as well as offering a helpful strategy to obtaining a goal. Research shows success and completion actually depend upon our relationship to changing something in our life, and what stage we are in that mental process. Challenges, when properly timed with an individual’s psychological state, can act as a key incentive for lasting behavior change.

Recipe for Success?
Several strategies can help us succeed in making lasting changes to our lifestyle; setting attainable goals, tracking progress, celebrating small victories and surrounding ourselves with social support are a few important ones. Doing our challenge with a trainer, a trusted friend with similar goals or a family member can be very beneficial. The motivation is built in and the competition may help elevate the results.

In general, a 30-day challenge is safe, often effective and healthy. However, the time frame for achieving various goals can vary. It might take several months of hard work to build up visible muscle, for example. But guess what? The benefits of a 30-day challenge of any sort can be fast and bountiful. Even one workout can impact the body and mind almost immediately through improved cognition, reduced stress and risk of depression, lower post-exercise blood pressure and help with sleeping.

Some 30-Day Doozies
Perhaps we’re thinking about something we’ve always wanted to add to our life and try it for 30 days. Challenging our body and mind can come in many forms and the options are endless. Here are a few ways to create healthy habits that can be sustainable long term.

Planning Challenges: Take lunch to work every day, keep a food journal, meal prep and plan shopping trips.

Push Ups, Planks and Burpees: and any other fitness challenge that piques interest such as walking, using stairs and not elevators, biking to work, whatever suits your lifestyle.

Cold Plunges: This trending “cold dipping” is said to offer several benefits including improved circulation, more energy, better sleep and workout recovery. It’s a good idea to consult with a doctor before starting.

Brain Trains: Try brain exercises, learn a new language or call a friend or family member each day. Another great 30-day idea–brainstorm! Every day for 30 days, write down 10, 20 or more ideas for anything!

Easy Stuff: It may sound simple, but doing basic tasks such as flossing, drinking enough water, brushing our teeth three times a day, taking vitamins daily and eating breakfast each morning are great moves toward better health.

Starting and completing a 30-day challenge can be mind-opening. It can definitely be a way to kickstart a wellness goal or bolster our motivation to see what works. After the 30 days are up, we might be a little healthier, wiser or more self-confident, and we just might have the courage to try something a little bigger next time. Of course, doing a 30-day challenge is not a long-term solution for achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. To see lasting results, sticking to those new habits could take us from 30 days to 30 years!

Sources: acefitness.org, verywellmind.com and hackerella.com.