Move Every Day: The 30 Day Challenge That Changed My Life
I did my first move every day challenge years and years ago after listening to a Ted Talk about the power of setting a habit in 30 days. The point of it was to simply— without pressure— do the habit you want to set, little by little for 30 days. I so wish I remembered the name of that talk to share with you, because it changed my life. I have always been at least somewhat active (less so in college, but other than that, yes). When I heard that Ted Talk, I decided to apply it to my physical activity. I had been in the habit of working out 3-ish times a week, but also considered things like housework and yard work active things. Don't get me wrong— they are active, and I highly, highly recommend everyone having an active lifestyle, but those activities are not even remotely the same thing as focused exercise. Somewhere along the way I'd— sadly— turned exercise into a checklist item that I didn't always enjoy. I'd lost the joy of moving. I'd forgotten to appreciate the gift of movement and the health that it brings. I'd turned it into an obligation. Children and dogs show off the joy of movement so well. Think of how much kids and dogs love to run around, play, and move their bodies. Many of us lose that joy as adults, because life gets busy and we get tired, and I was guilty of it, too.
When I heard the Ted Talk and decided to apply the habit setting trick of using a 30 day challenge, something changed for me. The first few days were still very much check-list-like. But after 10 days or so, I had momentum. I felt better. I enjoyed moving and checking off my daily progress. I felt accomplished and excited. I made it to day 20, then day 25, then day 30, and then... I just kept going. I remember being disappointed when I broke the chain somewhere around day 75 due to extenuating circumstances. But the lifestyle change had happened, and I was hooked. That was 10 years ago.
I've moved almost every day since then, including countless trainings to earn my Registered Yoga Teacher 500 Hour status, becoming a Certified Personal Trainer, teaching yoga for more than 8 years, personal training others for 5 years, and running a yearly 10k with my family. Even our vacations are usually planned around hiking areas, including a 110 mile backpacking trip in Spain with my husband. That one challenge helped me implement a healthy habit that I struggled with into a lifestyle, and I am a changed person because of it.
Present day, I'm on day 14 of my Move Every Day Challenge to kick off 2021. As an advocate to move every day as you just read about, it's not so different than my usual routine, but more of a little shot in the arm to kick start a new year. However, no matter when you're reading this, it’s never too late for a good 30 Day Challenge. You can start one whenever you want to.
If you'd like to follow my month of activity, check out my Instagram account, where I'm putting my daily activity and posting my workouts in my stories. (You can find these at a later date in my Instagram highlight: Move Every Day.) I'm posting what I do every day simply to give you ideas, but the point is to do the things that YOU love to do. Remember this: FITNESS SHOULD BE FUN.
WHY IT WOULD BENEFIT YOU
If your exercise routine has become a chore or something you dread, then it’s time to change things up. If you're sedentary and know you need to start exercising more, it's definitely time to change things up. Rethink fitness. It’s not rocket science. As you've just read, my personal view of exercise (which I’ve blogged about many times on smalltownyogini.com) is not to have an intense, overwhelming workout schedule that you dread, but to simply move every day so that exercise becomes a part of your daily routine. When it's a part of your daily routing, it's not something you have to *force* into your week three times a week. It’s automatic. It’s a lifestyle.
When it's a lifestyle, so much pressure lifts off of you. There's no longer a need to have super challenging, butt-kicking workouts 2-3 times a week, because instead you're active every day. So many people overcomplicate fitness. What if you started moving daily not in ways that you dread, but in ways that brought you joy? Think outside the box. If you can't get excited about running, try weightlifting. If you can't get motivated on your own, join a workout group or class. If you hate gyms, think of things you can do outside, on your own, or with friends.
This is where something like a 30 Day Challenge to move every day is so, so, so helpful. It gives you an attainable goal: to simply move every day. Notice I didn’t even set a minimum daily time limit for it. AND the challenge is set for 30 days, which is long enough to gain some momentum and also to see what it’s like to have a little more freedom and joy in your workout routine. If you’re in a workout rut, it will bust you out of it. If you’re sedentary, it will ease you into activity.
WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT IT
You can do what you feel like any particular day. Lots of energy? Lift some weights or go for a run. Low in energy? Go for a 20-30 minute walk. Want to try something new? Try that new bootcamp you heard your friend talking about. Had a mentally tiring day? Do you favorite go-to thing that is automatic.
Again, rethink fitness. Think of some of the fun things you like to do that burn calories. Hike, bike, run, walk, walk your dog, swim, kayak, dance, yoga, pilates, weight train, kickbox, barre, or spin your way through 30 days in ways that make you feel great.
HOW TO MAKE IT STICK
After you complete your exercise, check it off every. single. day. Yes, really— it’s that important. Read my previous post for more about 30 Day Challenges and the power of checking it off daily. When you actually see the chain of check marks or "Xs" that you check off every day, you'll find that you're more invested. You don't want to break the chain.
TWO LAST TIPS FOR SUCCESS
While I love the freedom it brings to “move in whatever way is fun to you,” you also need to have some ideas ready so that you don’t get frozen by indecision, waste time trying to figure out what to do that day, or just give up from lack of a plan. Take 10 minutes to brainstorm this in advance. Write down some activities you love to do, classes you like to take, online / YouTube classes you have been wanting to try (shameless plug for my Small Town Yogini YouTube channel), perhaps an app you’ve seen with workouts, a completely new type of fitness you’ve always wanted to try, or join your friends in a class they love. Have this list ready (on your phone or in your planner) so that indecision and/or inertia don't cause you to miss a day and break the chain.
Next, set a reward for yourself. Example: If I complete 30 days of exercise, then at the end of that time I will _____. Choose this reward wisely and write it down where you will see it daily. It needs to be something that will really motivate you, especially if you know this challenge will be tough. On days when you are too busy, too tired, too low energy, it's raining outside, or you're just not motivated— THOSE are the days when it's easiest to quit. We all have those days, but learning to press on will reward you. Just remember it's the small things you do daily that truly shape your life.
Just remember it's the small things you do daily that truly shape your life.
Love + Light