Why I Don't Like The 30-Day Challenge
We see the headlines, trends, and hashtags,
We see the headlines, trends, and hashtags, “30 day Squat Challenge,” “Whole30,” and “A New You in 30 Days” plastered all over social media. Yes, some research suggests that it takes 21 days to form a habit—this depends on the habit, of course. If the habit is something simple it may only take 21 days to perfect and conform to this ritual, but if it’s a lifestyle reform it can take much longer. This is why I don’t like the 30 day challenge formula. What happens on day 31?
Let me tell you about the first, and only, time I successfully completed the Whole30 Challenge. For those of you who don’t know what the Whole30 is, you can check it out here. For those of you who don’t like doing thorough research, and want to take my word for it, it’s basically the Paleo Diet on steroids.
I got invited to do this challenge by a few friends at the gym. I was pretty new to CrossFit and was “drinking the kool-aid.” So, when my gym friends asked me to do this nutrition challenge with them, I jumped at the idea. I crushed it for 30 days. I read all the recipes, preached about gluten being the anti-Christ, and posted the copious amounts almond butter I was inhaling all over Instagram, #Whole30. But, on day 31, it all came to a grinding halt. I ate French toast, frozen yogurt, and an ungodly amount of Starbursts. Needless to say, what followed in my stomach was nothing short of a disaster. After that dark, dark day in history, I slowly reintegrated gluten, grains, legumes, and dairy back into my diet. And now, I can eat a donut like a champion once again.
So, what did I learn from this?
I realized that I was more enthralled with viewing this lifestyle change as a “challenge,” and as soon as I proved to myself and everyone else around me that I could do it for 30 days, I reverted right back to the unhealthy eating patterns I had established far before the challenge began. I do believe that 30 day challenges have their place, and I’m all for someone jump-starting their health and wellness journeys by any means necessary, but before partaking in one ask yourself what you’re trying to get out of it. Do you want more followers on social media that are toasting your challenge success with their fit teas? Maybe you’re like I was, and want to prove to everyone that you’re up for any challenge. Or, maybe you’re somewhere in between. Either way, make sure you’re picking the right challenge for you and have the right motives behind it.
If you want to do a squat challenge, by all means, do it. But, on day 31 don’t let that gym membership expire. If you want to try a new diet, try it, but don’t be so hard on yourself if you’re craving a pastry. Eat the damn thing, and then go back to your health conscious ways.
More than anything, I’d love to see people making sustainable lifestyle changes. Remember, we all started somewhere. Unless you’re Thor, you probably weren’t born with a flawless physique. My guess is that your favorite Instagram fitness celeb consciously decided to make a lifestyle change that took a lot longer than 30 days.