28 Day, 21 Day or 8 week challenges are all the rage, and rightly so..
They're Great! great in the fact that they can give you a surge of motivation, which if harnessed correctly, can transfer into long term habits and consistent progress.
And for someone who hasn't been exercising for a while it can be a great kickstart, it can provide a support network which they may not of had previously and can help people who just don't know what balanced nutrition or training looks like, learn how to eat well to improve their energy, and overall health.
However there's a large percentage (up to 45% in my experience) that either fall off track mid way, or revert back to old habits post challenge.
I wanted to share my 3 reasons as to why this occurs.
1: The intention that losing weight will make everything 'better'.
To often people begin these programs with the intention to achieve the 'perfect body' to 'detox' after Christmas or because they think they aren't happy and they feel that by doing the program they will lose 5kg and magically feel 'happy'.
This could not be further from the truth, if you allow a number on the scales to dictate your feelings, your worth, your confidence or think that by achieving a goal or for some people purchasing something will make you 'happy' you're a little off the mark, and will be unpleasantly surprised when you do achieve the goal and there isn't that instant overwhelming feeling of joy. I see this all too often.
The intention should be to learn something, to add to your life, to enhance your energy and fitness for nothing or no one else other than yourself and to do MORE of what you enjoy and what makes you feel good. (Or for some parents out there, just to get an hour to yourself hehe 😂)
These programs can be great for teaching you some great new exercises, or training strategies, learning good food options or habits for your day to day life or just giving you a healthy outlet from daily stresses.
But they can have a negative effect if your focus is on the minuet details of the nutrition, calories, training times, kilos lost or not lost and what you're going to 'cut out' and so forth.
2: Miss one important step to goal setting.
It’s a simple as this, although setting big goals is vital, it’s not the most important thing. Setting big goals is like dropping a pin on a map, it gives you some kind of direction and purpose. But what really sets those who succeed with achieving their set goals apart from those who don’t is the ability to set really good rituals and then follow through on them.
We wrote a whole blog on this here: READ BLOG
That’s it, if you want to achieve anything, you need to commit to the rituals required to achieving it.
3: Have an unsustainable approach with nutrition
I touched on this before, but what we often see with some people is their instant thought with nutrition when they begin a program is: "What can I cut out?"
Changing this one phrase to: "what can I add" (to improve my Health) will make the world of difference.
We aren't robots, and cutting things out completely is unrealistic, and what's funny is that when we cut things out we actually end up wanting them even more.
So then we focus on it more, and the moment your head space is taken up by the thought of food, what you can/can't have (or think you can/can't) you're slipping down a not so healthy track with regard to your relationship with food.
Sure, some people probably have a little too much junk food, which isn't great on the health of your heart, liver and so forth, so reducing this would probably be a smart idea for increasing your life span and reducing risk of disease, but if you enjoy the experience of going out and having an ice cream with your family or friends, there's no need to stop that, and there's certainly no need to feel guilty about it and then try to punish yourself with training to counteract it.
Instead focus on the 80/20% balance of good food and some treats, it's all fine to eat, and it's fine to enjoy things. Heck, once a week I love a big juicy burger, every now an then I enjoy it twice a week, so what. But I then ensure that majority (80%) of my food comes from nutritious sources.
Enjoy your experiences with food, just try not to hang on to the experience.
With all that said, let's be frank, you should love yourself and embrace your body but if you're eating crap food all the time, generally feel like crap, have no energy, or can't walk/jog more than 10mtrs without almost dying, struggle to sleep, are at risk of health problems, and you hardly exercise, you probably should be doing something to improve your health.
But if the intention to begin a challenge is to make yourself 'better' or to achieve the 'perfect body' then not so great.
The intention for beginning a challenge (of any kind, this could even be a marathon) should be to add more to you life, for enjoyment, overall health and wellbeing and purely for yourself! If this is you, then great, you're in the right place to start!