I’ve seen my fair share of 30 day challenges, and I’ve heard not-so-great stories that usually entail abandoning the challenge and diving head first into a tub of ice cream or box of doughnuts … and cookies … and forehead deep into a pie … and any other foods that were “forbidden” during the 30 day chalenge.
There’s no shortage of 30 day challenges that can include a diet change, some type of daily workout, a cleanse or detox, or any combination thereof.
But there are three problems with many popular 30 day challenges.
1. They Suck
Some 30 days challenges (especially in regards to nutrition) tell you to avoid a whole host of foods and food groups. Sure, you can slurp on all the cabbage soup you want and drink limitless amounts of water with lemon. So what if you’re so full from all of the liquid you feel like your eyeballs are floating and your bladder is going to explode unleashing the force of a raging river and wishing you had worn a diaper because you’re going to erupt at any moment and there isn’t a toilet near by – at least you can have all you want!
Seriously, I’ve never heard of anyone truly enjoying 30 day challenges that have a huge list of “do not eat” foods or a tiny list of “okay” foods to eat during that time.
2. They’re Selling Something
Some 30 day challenges require you to purchase a bunch of supplements or other items in order to perform them. This right here is a big sign that this is likely a gimmick and not something that’s going to improve your health. If you must buy certain components or hard-to-find foods to do the challenge, this is likely not a great idea and is simply a gimmick.
3. They Don’t Produce Lasting Results
Because most 30 day challenges are so strict, rigid, and impractical, you can’t stick with it long-term. Heck, many people can’t even complete the entire 30 days. Many of the challenges are meant to be followed for 30 days, and then that’s it. You’re done. You go back to your normal habits. Any weight you lost will come right back.
This begs the question – why in the world would you subject yourself to something so strict or downright dreadful knowing full well the results will be temporary?
Most 30 day challenges are a giant suck-fest. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any good ones …
The Recipe for a 30 Day Challenge That Will Actually Work
The simple test to determine if a 30 day challenge is successful? It must lead to long-lasting changes.
That means after the 30 day challenge is over, you must still be applying what you learned in that time so you maintain the results you achieved, and hopefully achieve even more.
Another useful litmus test of sorts is answering the question, Is this bat-crap crazy? If the answer is yes, don’t even think about doing the challenge.
Three-30 Day Challenges That Actually Work (and Don’t Suck)
Here are three great 30 day challenges you can do that will actually produce long-lasting results. As you’ll see, each challenge has a different focus from nutrition to mindset.
And yes, they pass the Is this bat-crap crazy? litmus test mentioned above. I assure you they’re entirely sane, and simple.
Challenge 1 – Nutrition: One Meal-a-Day
No, this does not mean you’ll eat a single meal per day! This challenge entails changing one meal per day from current habits.
This will depend greatly on your current eating habits, but practically anyone can find something to change.
If your first meal of the day isn’t typically the greatest of choices, then that’s where you should start. Using this example your sole focus for the next 30 days is making your first meal of the day a great choice. That is the ONLY change you’re making for 30 days, but you must do it every single day.
Or maybe you already eat a good breakfast and tend to go a bit off track at dinner; apply this suggestion to your final meal of the day.
If you already eat pretty well but want to kick things up a notch, you can do something like adding a salad to your lunch or dinner for increased vegetable intake. Or maybe you want to eat more protein. Just pick something simple to change with your nutrition and do it every single day for 30 days.
Challenge 2 – Fitness: One Workout-a-Day
This isn’t the typical 30 day fitness challenge.
This is applicable to those who just can’t stick to a fitness program for more than a week or so, and even someone who’s wanting to increase their activity level.
Every day for the 30 day challenge, do something physically active for at least 10+ minutes.
Perhaps you can do three strength training workouts per week, and then go for a walk on the other days. Or maybe you just want to strength train twice per week and engage in some other form of physical activity on the other days.
What you do isn’t as important as doing something every single day. And remember, you don’t have to go overboard. Even just a 15-20 minute walk will count. Just make sure you get moving every day, in some way. And, yes, playing absolutely counts!
Challenge 3 – Mindset: The Daily Journal
This challenge may sound a little “woo-woo”, but it may be best one here. Never underestimate the power of strengthening your mind. Get your mind in a great place first, and it makes everything else much easier.
Writing in a journal every day is a great way to let you see what’s really going on with your mindset, and it’s also a terrific way to track other components of health and fitness as well. Here are some ideas of topics to include in your daily journal challenge:
- Eat slowly and mindfully and stop eating when you’re satisfied, but not stuffed. After each meal record if you ate slowly and enjoyed every bite. Take note of if you stopped eating when you were satisfied, or if you ate too much and were uncomfortably full. The goal over the 30 day period would be to stop eating when you’re satisfied and not overly full.
- Ditch the damage control mindset when you do overeat or over indulge. Many people think they failed or beat themselves up emotionally if they over eat. Don’t do that. Break free from this mindset, and use the journal to record your thoughts, and ALWAYS find a positive lesson to learn from the experience. (e.g. Did you over eat because you were mindlessly putting food in your mouth while watching TV? Did you skip your first meal of the day and were completely ravenous? Learn from these lessons so you can do something different next time).
- Focus on what your body can do in the gym, and don’t obsess over how it looks. Too often we focus on burning calories and changing the appearance of our bodies – make your workouts about getting stronger and improving your performance. Write down in your training journal how you feel during/after each workout, and be proud of what you can do.
- Engage in positive self-talk. We’re our worst critics, so we’re quick to say negative things about our bodies, performance, or anything else we do. But we must stop being so dang critical. Write in your journal that things that make you wonderfully unique as a person. What makes you awesome? What are you adding to this world? What do you love about yourself? Write these things down daily. (This is choosing to be MORE, not less in action)
Go Forth an be More Awesome!
Thirty day challenges can be affective and even jump-start your health and fitness regimen, or take things to a new level.
While you may be tempted to put all three of the challenges above to use at the same time (because they’re so awesome), I strongly discourage you from doing that. Do one at a time, and only one at a time. Our wonderful brains think “more is better,” but not in this case. By doing one challenge at a time you’ll be able to successfully complete the action every single day without overwhelming yourself.
Once the 30 days is up, you’ll hopefully have a new habit mastered and part of your every day, wonderful life. Then start one of the other 30 day challenges. Go forth, amazing woman, and be the most awesome version of yourself!