Recently, a very good friend of mine presented me with a challenge, a fitness challenge.
The Challenge: No soda, No sweets and work out 6 days a week until Christmas. Holidays don’t count (meaning you can cheat and not be penalized on holidays like Thanksgivings and Birthdays).
The Consequence: Whoever cheats has to fly to the other person’s location. (She lives in Texas and I live in Iowa.)
She has a honeymoon quickly approaching and wanted to trim down a bit and needed someone to keep her accountable. While I don’t drink soda anyway, I do love sweets and always love a good challenge!!! My friend and I are both competitive at stuff like this and don’t like losing…so neither of us will quit! So far, this has been the best thing for both of us. We have both been tempted by tantalizing desserts that we think we ‘need’. However, right as I extended my hand to grab a mini-snickers from the candy bowl at work a little voice in my head said: STOP! THE CHALLENGE!! NOOOOOOO!!! And back in the bowl the snickers did go (individually wrapped…so no harm done).
So far, both of us have done really great. Soda isn’t a challenge for me because I challenged myself at the beginning of the year to give it up for one year…so easy sailing there. However, I’m a sucker for sweets. Challenging friends, family, and/or coworkers is a great way to stay accountable. I encourage you to add consequences and timeframes.
Another example, a friend of mine LOVES to dine out however it’s affecting her weight loss because restaurants cook in too much salt, fat, butter, etc. and then there’s dessert and drinks. Her challenge: dine out maximum of once a week. In this case, she’s not giving it up completely, simply limiting her consumption. This friend HATES to clean house and has hired a cleaning lady. Her consequence is that for every time she dines out over her 1x a week limit, she has to clean house for a week.
Here’s a couple tips when beginning a challenge:
Challenge Tip #1: Picky Partner
It is very important that you choose a challenge partner who is going to stay on task with you and not give-up. A good way to decide on a partner is to look at the habits of people in your life. It is a good idea to pick someone who has a good track record of follow-through. You don’t necessarily want to choose someone who screws up or quits as many times as you do…because you’re just increasing failure rate instead of ending it. Your challenge partner doesn’t have to NEED to lose weight or quit sweets or whatever your challenge is…they just have to be WILLING. For example, my friend asked me to do the challenge with her because she knows the only way she will win is over my dead body.
Even though I don’t have issues with soda and don’t over-indulge in sweets – they are both great things to give up for a period of time. The key here is that she chose someone who isn’t going to just let her win and throw in the towel half way through. If you don’t have someone in your life that you can count on to push you, check into hiring a coach, accountability partner, or personal trainer to help you achieve your goals.
Challenge Tip #2: Define the Challenge
There are different philosophies to what challenge you should start, easy temptations or hard temptations. In my opinion, go big or go home. Start with your biggest downfall to achieving your goals. What is your biggest problem area – soda, restaurants, binge eating, ice cream, no exercise, no follow-through, etc.? What do you struggle with the most? I like to go with the thing that is most challenging because on your first challenge, you will be really fired up and eager to win. Also, if you can beat your first challenge and it was something that is the hardest for you to overcome…just think how much easier your next challenge will be, after all you’ve already done the hardest.
When you are setting and defining the challenge, take baby steps. If you have 50 things you want to change…don’t do it all in one challenge! We all want everything to happen now, now now. However, if you set 50 things you aren’t allowed to do in ONE challenge…you won’t be successful, it’s too much. I recommend 1-2 things you want to quit with 1 thing you want to start. Example: This month I will not drink soda and I will start taking a multi-vitamin every day.
Challenge Tip #3: The Consequence Should Be Painful
Please do not misunderstand me, this should not actually be painful physically or cause harm in your life. What I mean is that the consequence needs to be something you would really rather not do. For example, my challenge with my friend mentioned earlier. Our punishment is whoever cheats has to fly to the other person’s location. It’s not that seeing her would be painful! Ha-ha. It’s that flights are EXPENSIVE!! So it would be painful to our budgets. My other friend that I mentioned hates to clean, so it would pain her to be forced to clean her house thereby encouraging her to not cheat!
If you set a consequence that you would be doing anyway, it won’t work. If you set a reward instead of a consequence, it’s going to be harder. Most of the time I hear rewards such as, if I don’t cheat…I’ll buy myself a pedicure. Then when the person cheats I hear, oh well I don’t really like pedicures or I can live without it. Well…that system didn’t work! J You need to make the consequence something that “pains” you to complete. Make sure you and your accountability partner agree on the consequence. Again, if you don’t have someone that you can count to hold you accountable for cheating seek out coaches, accountability partners, and personal trainers.
Good Luck on Your Challenges! Please write your challenge/consequence in the comments!