Build Healthier Habits With 30 Day Challenges

Ditch the New Year’s Resolutions and try 30-60-day fitness challenges to make new habits stick.

Every first day of the year it’s easy enough to eat the only bowl of black-eyed peas you’ll have for the rest of the year and list off a few goals and habits you hope to kick or implement. With 364 days left—give or take— in the year, the possibilities feel limitless and motivation is high. In fact, a study done by NPR in 2018 reveals 12% of gym sign-ups happen in January. Based on that same study, the second Saturday in February is statistically “Fall Off the Wagon Day.” Studio Manager, Tami Bliss, shares the all-too-familiar cautionary tale of New Year’s resolutions.

“I think they can be amazing if carefully planned ahead of time. I have found the issue people have is they
go into it saying, ‘I’m going to lose 20 pounds,’ or ‘I’m going to attend 3 classes a week,’ and then they fall away from their goals by the time January is over. This only creates frustration and feelings of failure,” Bliss says.

So, how can you make a healthy habit or new goal stick?

What we really need is a shift in mentality. According to the European Journal of Social Psychology, it can take, on average, 66 days for a new behavior to become ingrained. Depending on the perceived level of difficulty and number of days missed, behavioral changes can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days. To top it off, there are four small steps in making a change to take note of: the pre-contemplation step where you actively think about making the change without any course of action, the thinking and planning stage without observable change, actualizing the new habit through routine, and bouncing back when the habit is dropped for any length of time. In fact, dropping off is considered a normal part of the process of implementing lasting change. Yet, many who experience something like “Fall Off the Wagon Day,” may internalize it as failure and struggle to jump back in.

The recipe for success seems to be a healthy balance of forgiveness, planning, perseverance and consistency.

Instead of only visiting your goals once a year, set up regular check-ins throughout the year so there is room to make adjustments. Bliss also shares some helpful advice on setting long-term and short-term goals.

“My tips for those who want to set a goal is to sit down now and write up what you want to achieve. What
does this look like? What does it require? What is your long-term goal and how will you set short-term goals to reach that long-term goal? What will be required of you and what happens if you fall back into old behaviors that don’t fit your new goal? Set up small, achievable goals that will help you reach your ultimate goal,” Bliss says.

Start and end the year with 30-day and 60-day fitness challenges!

In the fitness and health world, 30-day and 60-day challenges have surged in popularity. In fact, it seems challenges of all shapes and sizes for most topics are widely accessible ranging from exercise-specific programs to meditation, skincare and diet. Though one to two months doesn’t quite line up with the average requirement to turn change into habit, there are many reasons many seem to have positive experiences with challenges.

Committing to challenges can give you the boost needed to start off a healthy habit that gets you closer to your ultimate goal. The plan is built in and takes the pressure off of figuring out where to begin and how
to keep it up over time. Usually the daily requirements are simple and short enough to be attainable and add onto other fitness routines like doing three rounds of crunches for five minutes total. This daily repetition
also offers one of the key ingredients to success— consistency. Plus, the small daily successes keep motivation alive. There’s also usually some flexibility in the plan. A lot of fitness challenges include the ever- important day of rest in the week so, if you “miss a day” you can make up what you missed another time.

“I always like to remind people that just because they revert back to old behaviors does not mean they can’t get back on the horse! Self-forgiveness is one of the most beautiful gifts you can give yourself,” Bliss says.

A few tips on choosing the right fitness challenge for you.

Determine your ultimate goal and then start with a challenge that supports that goal. Maybe you already go to the gym and do a considerable amount of weight training, but manage to consistently avoid working out your core. Picking a 30-day ab challenge can be the gateway to integrating core workouts into your routine more regularly. Or, if you’re starting from scratch and simply need to get moving in some way, finding a more general exercise challenge is your best bet!

If anything, challenges can be a great tool for learning new exercises and adding variation to familiar ones. Turn 30-day challenges into 60-90 day challenges and watch healthy habits stick.

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