by Nicole Loughan
Everything that ails you can be cured in thirty days, well that’s the promise anyway. There are programs that help you get in better shape, be a cleaner person, eat better and improve your relationships and all you needs is 30 days and a dream. One thing I really like about these challenges are that they have a set end date. It’s daunting to think you will have to do something forever. The other aspect of a 30-day challenge that appeals to me is the low level of commitment. Some of the challenges only take a few seconds, which is right up my alley. Read on to see some of the 30-day and 90-day challenges I tried and learn how they turned out.
Thirty day plank challenge – The challenge is to start by holding a plank as long as you can. A plank is an exercise meant to tighten the abs by holding the body in a press position, generally using the forearms as support. I started the 30-day plank challenge with a friend using the iPhone app “30DAYS.” It includes challenges to burpee, plank, calf raise leg raise, lunge, sit-up and numerous other fitness related challenges. When I started I could hold a plank for a maximum of 20 second. All I had to do was hold my plank for the amount of time my phone told me every day which started at 20 seconds then increased roughly every other day. My abs felt tighter, I was walking taller and my pants fit a little better. Everything changed on day 13 when my knee gave out during the plank. The next day my knee hurt so much, I limped all day. Luckily, it was a rest day from the challenge and I took it easy. I felt great after my rest day and jumped in for 140 seconds of planking and immediately afterwards, I regretted it. My knee gave out again and this time stayed bad for three days. I read up on it and it’s a relatively common complaint of the plank challenge when unsupervised by a professional. Verdict for the plank challenge? Sadly no, and for any change in fitness routine talk to a doctor first.
Ninety day Couch-to-5k – I did the Couch to 5k using a chart and downloadable Couch to 5k app. There is also a great motivational app called Runkeeper which keeps track of progress and announces it on social media if you wish. I also used a free downloadable music program, which would tell you when it’s time to run and walk, so there was no time clock to check. I did this before my first child was born and just after my first pregnancy to lose weight. It starts by running for only a few seconds at a time and mostly walking, until you flip the switch and run more than you walk, and eventually run the whole time. I strongly considered bumping it up to a 10 K when I was solidly running 3 miles in under 30 minutes, but then I got pregnant. I’m starting it again. Verdict on Couch to 5k: Enthusiastic yes, after getting the okay from the doctor.
30 days to make your bed – The claim is you make the beds in your house every day for thirty days it will add to your tranquility and make your house neater. When I first heard about this challenge, I thought it was absurd. I wondered where I would find the time to make three beds every morning and how it could possibly meet all of those claims. After much lollygagging, I decided to give it a shot. My children and I did it together. I’m a little embarrassed to admit I had a four-year-old who had no idea what it meant to make a bed, especially when my dear 90-year-old grandmother does it everyday. It turns out after we made the bed, the rest of the room didn’t look so good in comparison, so we found ourselves tidying up the beds, then picking up each room on our way out. When people came over to visit, I didn’t dread the kids going to the second floor and revealing my half-hearted attempts at cleaning. Made beds just make a house look cleaner. I can’t say I continued to make beds every day after the challenge, but I make the beds more days than not and when I do, I feel very accomplished. Verdict on 30 day bed making challenge: yes it’s great and does live up to the hype.
The next challenge I’m going to try is 20 minutes of yes. In this challenge you give your child 20 minutes every day to do whatever activity they want to do with you, within reason. Have you tried any challenges to better yourself?