It seems like I have always been trying to lose weight and improve my fitness, but in the last year, I’ve been letting myself slip. A new job in a new place and the decision to cut dairy made me feel like I could be lenient in other ways, but here I am, many pounds later and just as unsatisfied. Fed up with it all, something had to change for me when I was invited by a group of friends on Facebook to make a go of it together.
We decided on an 8-week Biggest Loser competition and as Day 1 approached, I prepared by trying to remember anything that got me going lately. I wasn’t fully motivated by the desire to lose weight or eat better, nor was it external forces like getting a boyfriend or fitting into a certain dress. This had to come from within, from the most genuine source of any effort, especially since the competition was self-monitored and relied on the word of participants (and photos of our weigh-ins). There were no screaming ex-marines or celebrity fitness stars to push us along; just the satisfaction of our success and the strength of our desire. I remembered easier times, like during my college years when a free rec center meant hours on the elliptical or even in high school, when team practices were all the exercise I needed. What was it that kept me going then?
I followed exercise and wellness blogs during my slump, so as to not lose complete sight of my health, and one trend I saw a lot of was the 30-day Fitness Challenge. Time and time again, I tried to make these exercises part of my routine. I would print out the info-graphic, tape it to my mirror, and start out 5 or 6 days strong, but then sputter out even when I thought I could keep going. Life just kept getting in the way, but faced with the Biggest Loser competition, I wasn’t going to let this happen again.
To begin was intimidating—a calendar full of squats, sit-ups, jumping jacks, or wall-sits—but they all started out simple. Day 1’s challenges were a few of my favorites: 20-second planks and 2 sets of 15 burpees. Those first burpees were admittedly tough but I was proud to finish them and was encouraged to press on because of the ease at which that challenge (and many like it) progressed. Most allowed for a rest day after the first week or so, giving my body a chance to absorb the work, and in reflection, it turned out to be less scary than I thought. The longer and more consistently I did it, the easier it was to keep going. Sure, it took more effort every day, but by the beginning of the third week, my tummy felt tighter, my clothes fit better, I had more energy–I was starting to really see results, not only in the mirror, but also in my desire to do more.
Though the last week was surely the hardest, the satisfaction of completing the challenge was well worth it. I looked back on those 30 days and felt proud that I accomplished something I knew would be difficult and maybe painful, but so good for my body and mind. I lost a few pounds, which always feels good, but I could tell I had converted fat to muscle, which feels better. I looked slimmer, I had a bounce to my step, and I felt more attractive in the clothes I was wearing. Right away, I was ready to start another challenge, thanks to the will power that grew stronger with my muscles in the previous challenge. My brain wanted to keep going; my heart was in it to win it, because my will power was keeping me on track.
Now, in the middle of my Biggest Loser competition, I know that these 30-day challenges motivate me and will carry me through. Knowing I’ve done it before and can do it again makes me confident in taking on any fitness face-off, and with 30-day challenges to keep me exercising, my will power will grow stronger and my waistline smaller.
Photo: Carly Shields