The beginning of a new year is a pivotal moment for many to plan goals and create new habits for themselves. There is an almost addictive-like feeling of potential everywhere you look. Because of this self-improvement buzz of energy, many fitness and wellness companies, brands, and professionals use it as a perfect time to launch fitness challenges. These challenges are often short (30-75 days) and promise bucket loads of results with a heavy focus on changes to your physique. Before you buy into the tried and true fitness challenge messaging of, “new year, new you!”, read this article.
What’s the Big Deal About Fitness Challenges?
Fitness challenges have gained increasing popularity over the past several years due to many factors. First, fitness challenges are over in a short amount of time. Second, they often promise grand changes to your body and lifestyle. The idea that you’re going to have a brand new you in 30-75 days is extremely enticing, especially if you feel like you have fallen short in the past. Third, there is a compelling intensity factor. Fitness challenges are typically designed to push you as far as you can go with your diet and workouts and require participants to maintain an all-or-nothing attitude. In other words, you either stick to the challenge meticulously, or you fail. Some examples of popular fitness challenges include:
Blogilates Glow Up Sessions: In only 14 days you’re going to be in the best shape of your life
LSF 30 Challenge: In 30 days you’re going to transform your health, your body, and your routine.
75Hard: You will have full control of your life in just 75 days
Not all fitness challenges are bad. They’re also not all good. Any fitness challenge promotes an increase in physical activity and better eating habits. Many of them have also started focusing on other lifestyle changes like sleep and hydration, which are all positive. The negative side includes the lofty promises of lifestyle changes, unrealistic expectations regarding physique, and the all-or-nothing approach to fitness. All of this combined can wreak havoc on your physical and emotional health.
The Potential Physical and Emotional Issues with Fitness Challenges
The short duration of fitness challenges combined with the all-or-nothing approach, and the expectations of change can lead to a physical and emotional case of burnout. The idea of burnout is typically partnered with a stressful career; however, the symptoms can apply to just about anything that leaves you feeling exhausted, empty, and unable to cope with demands. These are all potential symptoms for anyone who plunges headlong into a fitness challenge. Anything sustainable takes consistent and steady effort. This is especially true for any fitness and wellness lifestyle change and it’s never a perfect, linear 30-75 days to mastery.
3 Things to Consider Before Joining a Fitness Challenge
Before you swear off all fitness challenges for good, consider approaching them with caution instead. Read through all of the information presented to you about the challenge and decide for yourself if what is being asked of you is realistic and sets you up for success even after the challenge is over. To help you navigate this, here are three things you should consider before joining a fitness challenge:
Is it promising drastic changes to your physique? Healthy, sustainable weight loss is about 1-2 pounds per week (depending on your current weight, gender, and hormones). In 30 days, you might be able to lose 3-4 pounds and will start to notice some slight changes to your body. Anything more than that is dangerous.
Is it asking you to overcommit? Consider the length of workouts, the amount of meal prep, and anything else a challenge might be asking of you. Can you realistically set aside that time and dedication each week, every week? If not, don’t fall into the trap of not feeling motivated, “good”, or serious enough. Just find something else that fits your schedule.
Does it take into consideration your overall well-being? So many fitness challenges focus on what your body can do and what it “should” look like on the outside and misses the mark completely on the inside; which can include other aspects of your health like emotional, spiritual, and social wellness. Consider finding a challenge that helps you learn and understand these other areas of your life as well.
Before jumping into a fitness challenge, it’s important to consider what is being asked of you and if the results being promised are realistic. Also, consider how it might impact your overall wellness, not just your physique. If you get into a fitness challenge that doesn’t resonate with you, never feel like a failure or quitter for wanting to walk away. Only you know what’s best for you and walking away is sometimes the most courageous thing you can do for yourself.
In 2022, turn your focus from fitness challenges that promise a “new you” to fitness challenges that promise a new way of doing things, like setting you up for a sustainably healthy life. A good place to start is with St. Andrew’s Family Fitness’s Whole Wellness Challenge. It’s an 8-week wellness program that focuses on your whole wellness (sleep, hydration, nutrition, mindfulness, and physical activity). There are zero weigh-ins, body measurements, or progress pictures. It’s all about helping you develop lifelong wellness habits that you can feel proud about. The WWC kicks off on January 24th. You can learn more by visiting The Whole Wellness RSVP Page.