Concept of the 30-Day Challenge

I’ve always enjoyed things that challenge me, so when I learnt about the concept of a “30-day challenge” I was really excited. The idea is that you choose something difficult or impactful and you commit to do it for 30 days. It could be adding something to your life, like exercising or eating well, or getting rid of a bad habit.

Last year I read the book Wheat Belly so for December I decided to try an initial 30-day challenge of going gluten/wheat-free. It was a fairly easy thing to do, although I’ve learnt that there is wheat in things you’d never guess – like herbal teas and soy sauce. It was an interesting experiment, not so much in the results of the diet, which were minor, but in making a new habit part of my life over a relatively short period of time. I’m still following the wheat-free diet today.

Last September I injured my ankle while rock climbing and it has taken a long time to heal. I’m still working toward getting back to 100%. For my next 30-day challenge I committed to really step up the corrective exercises my physiotherapist and strength coach had given me. Doing those exercises everyday made a big difference. My ankle now feels stronger and more stable and those exercises have become a regular habit. It feels like they take very little effort now.

In February (technically only 28 days) I wanted to do something related to fitness. I love quantifiable goals and I have a habit of collecting gadgets so I decided to commit to measuring my heart rate while exercising and getting it above 140 every day (my Zoladz  zone-4 “tough exercise” is roughly 140-150). Here are the results…

30-Day Challenge: Heart Rate
30-Day Challenge: Heart Rate

In retrospect, intense cardio exercise every day is pretty hard on the body when you combine it with the strength training I’ve also been doing. I think a few rest days are a good thing – they help you recover. Ultimately, the real goal is improved fitness. So, I changed strategy mid-month and gave myself two days off from this challenge. On those days I was doing intense strength training and my coach suggested doing more moderate cardio. So, I listened to his advice. The second half of the month I was happy just to meet my goal of 140 rather than really pushing it. I found that this became pretty easy, much more so than at the start of the month. I’d call that a successful challenge.

Any ideas for future 30-day challenges? What would you like to commit to over the next month?