Challenges and Truth

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’ve been taking part in something called the Barre3 Challenge. I’ve already told you how addicted I am to barre (a combination of yoga, pilates, and athletic ballet moves), and since the local Barre3 studio opened here in Columbia, I’ve been a loyal client. The workouts focus heavily on your core, which is great for my back, and I love the way it is changing my body! So far, I’ve made it a priority to go at least 3 times a week in addition to the other workouts I do. Don’t worry, this is not a love letter to barre. We’ll get to the part that might interest you here in a minute.

For the challenge, we’re supposed to do a 1-hour workout either in the studio (preferred) or online at least 4 times a week, try one new Barre3 recipe, and do one additional 10-minute online workout. We’re also supposed to eat only whole foods, avoid alcohol, added sugar, and caffeine.  I’ve been traveling quite a bit for work lately, so getting to the studio 4 times a week just isn’t happening most of the time. However, I decided to take the challenge one step further and commit to doing a 1-hour workout every day for the duration of the 4 week challenge (January 5 – February 1).

20150111_193818-30 Thank you to whoever told me about the app for making picture collages. You have substantially improved my quality of life/Instagram account.

Susie over at Suzlyfe wrote a post today about why she doesn’t like fitness challenges, which was rather serendipitous because I actually broke my challenge last night. I had a great day fitness and food wise, but I just really wanted a glass of wine.  I thought about it all day, figuring the craving would pass. It didn’t. And I found myself thinking “What is the real point of this challenge?”  For the majority of people, the point is probably to kickstart weight loss efforts in the wake of the new year, get them addicted to barre, and make some healthy changes in their lifestyle. I think those are awesome goals.

But what is the point when you already live a pretty healthy lifestyle? When you have struggled with an eating disorder and exercise addiction issues in the past? What if the focus of the challenge ends up conflicting with my focus on health because it is placing me in a restrictive and obsessive place mentally, even if I am getting “healthier” physically?

Some things about the challenge have been great – I’ve added some new recipes to my rotation, really focused on eating whole foods (and succeeded despite traveling so much for work) and tried to think about how different foods make my body feel. I’ve pushed my limits physically, and my abs may never forgive me for this if I complete the entire 4 weeks of doing a workout every day. I’ve also learned that I’m capable of more than I think, and I actually found myself craving greek yogurt with granola, which was rather jarring since I used to think greek yogurt was the single most disgusting food on the planet.

I also learned that I need to be flexible and kind to myself in regards to my workout schedule and what I’m eating or drinking. Last night, I planned to get on my bike and ride on the trainer for an hour after barre, but after working in the field all last week and doing a barre workout every day plus running a few times, I was just exhausted. I felt bad skipping the bike, but I’m not training for anything bike-related right now, so really, did I need to ride? Is exercising just for the sake of sticking to a schedule really in line with my focus on whole health? No. So, I didn’t. (For the record, the Barre3 challenge has nothing to do with any other forms of exercise – I just decided I would maintain my normal schedule plus add on all the additional workouts. Makes sense, right?) I was simultaneously guilt-ridden and relieved. And that craving for a glass of wine never went away, so I drank 1. I felt both bad and good about it.

tumblr_nf0kkuutpx1ql5yr7o1_500-31 “If you’re not drinking wine out of a straw, you’re doing it wrong.” – Me

If challenges are about creating healthy habits and setting you up for a lifetime of success, you have to define what you want those habits and that success to look like. If your goal is to jumpstart your weight loss efforts, great! But don’t forget to think about what you’ll do to continue on that path after the challenge is over. For me, the challenge should compliment my focus on whole health rather than sidetrack it. I don’t want to be wracked with anxiety if I have a glass of wine or don’t stick perfectly to my work out schedule. I do want to move my body and be active in one way or another 95% of the time because it makes me feel good. I do want to eat foods that make me feel strong while also occasionally eating foods I enjoy that are just flat out delicious and have no nutritional value. I do want to have a glass of wine sometimes if I feel like it.

In Barre3, the two phrases our instructors always say are “Find your truth” and “Make it your own.” To me, that means finding what works for me on any given day and doing what makes my body and mind feel good. That’s a pretty worthwhile challenge in itself, if you ask me.

LEAVE A COMMENT: What is your “truth” when it comes to challenges? Do you love them or hate them?