Ready For Your Challenge?

Once upon a time, after getting up in the morning, pouring a cup of tea, and feeling stiff, tired, and old, I decided to challenge myself. I looked in the mirror and realized I have gained more than a few pounds around my waistline and that my toned muscles I had worked so hard to build last year had all vanished. I remembered the last time I used to practice regular self-care —which included daily exercise and stretching, crossfit 3x/week, daily juicing, meditation and restricting my sugar intake—and I began to feel guilty and remorseful when I realized that it had been over four months ago! It was time to jumpstart my wellness program and get back into shape!

Having gone through some changes in my life, quitting crossfit training due to an injury, and having a new work schedule all while starting up a new business and losing track of my previous life full of regular wellness had taken its toll on my body. Enough! I decided to amp up my fitness level and change into a healthier, more energetic and fitter me.

Since my personality traits are more similar to a lonely warrior than a team player I did not like the idea of joining a gym, attending bootcamp training, or participating in some other group workout. Instead, I decided to do my very own wellness challenge.

Create Your Own Wellness Program

Feel inspired? Do you want to change how you feel and look? You could create your own wellness challenge or you could follow mine! If your body is not used to regular exercise you could do something like this: 5 minutes of meditation,10 minutes of stretching, 15 minutes of working out, 20 minutes of walking, and 10 minutes of juicing, which equals 1 hour per day! You could do it for 1 week or 30 days or you could do it 6 times per week for 1 month to get a rest day every week as well. Whatever you choose, it will be worth the effort!

Here’s How I Did It

My goal was to spend at least 90min per day for 30 days on self-care and the recipe was as follows: 55 minutes of exercise, 10 minutes stretching, 15 minutes of meditation, 10 minutes of juicing (making and drinking freshly made vegetable and/or fruit juice in addition to my mealplan). Eating a healthy, plant-based diet and getting at least 6 hours of sleep per day was also incorporated. Of course all of that had to be done in the early morning as I still had to work long hours 6 days per week and accomplish all the other things we adults have to take care of… Sounds ambitious, but hey, that’s why it’s called a “challenge” after all… right!?

For my fitness program, I created a workout plan with a mix of running, sprinting, calisthenics and weight training. I made sure to vary the workouts each day, which keeps it interesting and balanced as it also targets different body parts.

Here’s what I learned during my 30-day challenge:

The easiest part for me was eating healthy

The hardest part for me was getting more than 5-6h of sleep.

Getting up early every day sucks and feels great at the same time! 30 days is a long time for getting up extra early to push yourself out of bed, putting on your sweat gear, and working out before even being fully awake. At the same time I learned that exercise in the early morning helps you wake you up pretty well! Besides, there is nothing as magic and energizing as running outdoors during the sunrise while listening to the birds waking up!

I hate pushups. Always did. But I hate plank jump-ins even more. No matter how much the dislike, it always feels great after a workout is accomplished!

You never know what you like until you try it! And sometimes you come to like things over time. I love sprinting, who knew!!! I never really liked running much, but having to run and sprint a lot as required by the workout program of my choosing was just what I needed to change my mindset. And suddenly I realized that I can do this and I actually love how it feels—almost like flying. How crazy is that!?

Most humans have a lazy nature but it doesn’t have to be that way! With a little bit of discipline and a desirable goal we can change our mindset, get out of that couch-potato-groove, and come to actually crave exercise.

Following a plan and visualizing an attainable goal is paramount in pushing yourself and doing what’s needed to reach that goal—especially on the days when we don’t feel like doing anything.

Having sore muscles all the time helps to feel alive!

Struggle and pain are a part of life.

Never give up! The reward of reaching your goals is much greater than the challenge of having to push yourself at certain times.

Our minds have a lot of power that we hardly ever use. For example, whenever I was pushing myself running uphill and felt too exhausted to go on, my boyfriend’s voice came into my mind: “Never walk! Run as slow as you need to, but never walk and never stop until you reach the miles you intended to run”. He was a cross-country runner in his younger days, so I guess he knew what he was talking about! I found out that he was right. We can regain energy just by changing our thoughts. When I get to the middle of that hill and I feel like I can’t run any more, I just remember, “Never stop. Let’s just focus to get to the top of the hill.” 30 seconds later something in my brain changes and I suddenly get a burst of energy and I keep running, even improving my rhythm, and suddenly I get to the top of that hill without much further struggle. It’s like magic!

Meditation and workout have a lot in common: When meditating, we use the breath to keep us grounded and focused. When working out I learned that I must focus on each move, and when I am running over rugged or uneven terrain I must focus on each single step to stay present and run with rhythm. If I get distracted by my surrounding or by stray thoughts during my run, then I will loose my rhythm and I won’t see objects or the uneven path, making me more prone to falling.

Things are much better when fully experienced while being “in the moment”, and this ”present” state of being intensifies after practicing regular meditation for a while.

Perfection does not exist! You may fail one day, but don’t make that a reason to throw it all away. Get back on track the next day and continue the quest! It will make you happier in the end!

Getting rest is an important part of each training program. Giving your body 1-2 rest-days per week is essential to staying healthy and preventing overuse injuries.

Even with a lot of discipline it is really hard to incorporate 90 minutes of wellness every day, but it is very much worth the effort. Although I tried hard, I was unable to do the full plan—I failed in the sleep department! I also did not manage to meditate on five days out of the 30 days, and I did not get to do my workout on four days out of the 30 days (once because I got a migraine headache, once because I overslept, and twice because I realized my body was at its limit from daily workouts while working in a physically demanding job). I was not able to juice on four days out of the 30 days and I slacked off a bit on healthy nutrition for two days. But instead of being a perfectionist and feeling like I failed, I had to remind myself that this is still a pretty good record and that in the end I attained my goal of feeling great and incorporating wellness back into my daily life—the reason I started this experiment in the first place.

What now?

Now that my 30-day challenge is over I must say that I truly do feel awesome! Not to mention that my waistline has shrunk and I am more toned overall. My mind is in a great place and I feel much more energized and balanced. I know there is no way to continue to feel this way if I went back to my pre 30-day wellness challenge lifestyle. Therefore, I made a new plan to continue my wellness-regimen!

My ongoing goal is to continue my program slightly altered and it will consist of daily juicing, meditation and stretching, 6 days of healthy nutrition, and 5 days of workout which includes running, weight training, TRX training, calisthenics, and yoga. 2 days per week I will rest my body and 1 day per week I’ll let myself eat whatever I crave. This should allow me to maintain a healthy lifestyle while getting enough rest and not feeling like I have to completely abstain from sweets and other cravings forever!

I hope this might inspire you to find your own way to wellness and I wish you luck on your own quest! Although it truly may be challenging, I promise it will make you feel stronger, more energized and balanced! What do you think? There’s a ton of workout videos and programs available online for free. If you don’t have a gym available, I recommend checking out the following site: darebee.com

Written by Eliane Baggenstos, owner of bodono, Registered Nurse, and Certified Health Coach with certification in Plant-Based Nutrition by the Cornell University and Evidence-based Health Coaching for Healthcare Providers by the National Society of Health Coaches, Licensed Massage Therapist with certifications in Advanced Sports Massage and Medical Massage, and Personal Trainer NASM CPT.