Do 30 Day Fitness Challenges Actually Work?

Focusing for a month on a fitness specific goal could give your butt the kick it needs to finally adopt the habit …or you could just fail after 3 days. 

It’s almost the end of March. The novelty of our pledged (and unsuccessful) New Year goals have worn off and you might be feeling like a defeated cliche. You read so many magazine articles, blog posts and Pinterest links about how to actually keep your resolution this year. What the f*ck happened?

That’s a question you can ask yourself December 30th when you’ll no doubt be setting lofty goals for 2017. Right now, tons of people just like you are pushing past their unaccomplished goals and committing to a 30-day fitness challenge.

These challenges include yoga, running, ab and squat variations that push individuals to preform the workout daily. (Hell, there are even writing and happiness challenges, but you get the point). The idea is that individuals will be committed to the short-term, attainable goal and ultimately it will create a long-term habit.

Yes, if only it were that easy.

Many people are drawn to 30 day challenges. I’m not kidding, just type in “30-day challenge” on Pinterest or Google and you’ll see. I’m inclined to believe they’re so popular because these small goals have an end in sight.

Think about it. If I said you will never have [insert your favorite cheat-worthy meal here] ever again, do you get a little panicky? Okay, now what if I said you can not have [insert same meal here] for 30 days. Doable, no?

We don’t like goals that take something away from us forever. Thus, the birth of 30 day challenges almost tricks us into giving up unhealthy habits long term. After a month of preforming a healthy habit (and bragging about it to friends and family), we’re all too stubborn to give up the streak.

Or that’s the idea at least. I’m slightly inclined to question if these challenges really work to adjust to a new habit or lifestyle (because I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have unnecessary trust issues).

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That’s the real deal question, do these challenge things work? Yes and no. 

Whether this route works is dependent on your personality tendency (if you’re a Gretchen Rubin fan, I expect you know exactly what I’m talking about). Your personality tendency is simply the way you can or cannot adopt habits. There’s a lot more science and nerdy insight behind this, but I’ll save time and just tell you to go buy Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin.

Honestly, science aside, it doesn’t hurt to try. I love accomplishing goals (I actually set specific goals for myself to focus on each month). This is another iteration of that. If you don’t succeed, your 30-day challenge will join your failed New Years resolution and they can keep each other company.

How to Stick to Your 30-Day Fitness Challenge

Download an app to keep you honest. If the challenge doesn’t have an app, print out and hang up your daily challenge goals.

Tell everyone. Be vocal about your challenge. Even take to social media to keep you accountable and practice cool photography skills. #30dayyogachallenge

Keep telling yourself it’s only a month. 30 days is not a long time in the grand scheme of life. If you hate it after that time, you can say you gave it an honest effort.

Your life might be changed in a month. Adopting a new lifestyle habit like yoga or running could change your mentality, outlook and energy so much so that you won’t want to give it up after the month is up.

Find a group. Join an online or gym group that shares your goal. It’s hard to not show up for morning yoga when the team is waiting for you.

Choose your challenge wisely. Pick a challenge that is difficult, but not impossible and incorporates something you will enjoy. And don’t try to do 10 challenges at once — start with one a month.

Fitness Challenges to Try

30-Day Ab Challenge

Running Streak (run at least one mile everyday)

30-Day Yoga Challenge

Squat Challenge

Core Challenge

Plank Challenge

Step Goal Challenge

In the spirit of living to my word, I’ll be trying the 30-day ab challenge (I downloaded the app and all). Let’s see how it goes and if all else fails, at least I gave it an honest effort (and maybe I’m not meant to have killer abs *sob*).

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Have you ever tried a 30-day fitness challenge? How’d it turn out — did you succeed? What challenge(s) have you tried? Any tips for fellow challenge takers? 

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