The joy in challenges


(this pic is not of our challenge group. It's from Super Saturday last year. But we all got sweaty together . . . really, not virtually. Virtually works well too!)


It’s been a while since I’ve run a challenge of my own. I’ve been involved with other people’s challenges – which is fun in its own right, to see how other people do this thing – but I bet it’s been three months or more since I’ve introduced people to each other online and seen the excitement and posts from something I put together.

Challenge groups, challenges, are groups of people who are meeting online, in secret Facebook groups, to motivate and encourage each other toward health and fitness goals. Everyone has shared a goal – everyone is doing a Beachbody program of one kind or another. Many people are taking advantage of the pure good nutrition in Shakeology.

The weird thing is how well these groups work. You wouldn’t think that telling someone ON THE INTERNET that you’ll work out at 6 am (or 7 pm, or midnight) will actually make you set the alarm and get sweating. You wouldn’t think that strangers sharing pictures of the water they’re drinking or the delicious-looking food they’re eating (healthy too!) would make you do the same.

It does. It works. I’ve lost 37 lbs in 2 years with the help of these groups. I’m helping 6 people in one right now, and we are FIRED UP. Fired up about our own fitness goals – and fired up about helping one another.

Helping people. It’s about as badass as you get. And that you help yourself at the same time? Even better.

Clean Eating

ImageApril 30, 2013

A couple of friends and I are running a 5 day healthy eating challenge on Facebook. Basically you commit to posting every day, following the meal plan, and cheering on your fellow participants. In exchange, you'll get a grocery list and menus/recipes for each day. Simple, right?

Sometimes when I do these things I spend a whole lot of time in self-doubt. Are the recipes too basic? Who needs this kind of information anyway? What if people can't find the ingredients, or hate them, or get lost in the cooking part? Who am I to think I can teach people anything about food, anyway?

There are 23 of us total (including me), now on day 2. People had to share concerns and excitement pre-Day 1 (that was the assignment), and most people wrote about time. Time to cook, time to shop, time to prep. Time to live life around this challenge.

The comments last night were fabulous. Besides seeing gorgeous photos of people's dinner, I loved reading notes. "I've not cooked with a lot of spices before, and as far as I'm concerned I have learned a lot of useful stuff already." "I wanted to lick the bowl but had to hold myself back since I was at work. Who knew something so simple could taste so delicious?" "I thought my family would demand chicken or steak - they never even mentioned it."

I learn something every time I try this kind of thing, mostly about my preconceived notions. Just because something makes such sense to me that I never even think about it any more, that does not mean everyone else feels the same way. I learn as much as anyone I am "teaching."

Being open to learning makes my day complete. How can I help you?


ImageMarch 12, 2013

We've had the gamut of weather here lately, from a dumping of snow last Wednesday that left us without power until late Friday evening, to 60 degree sunshine on Sunday, and now enough rain falling that our backyard looks like a western feeder lake for the Chesapeake Bay. Snow showers are predicted for tomorrow. I am very ready for those red buds on the maple tree and the yellow peeks on the forsythia to fulfill their promise of impending spring.

A friend of mine, Karen Nourse (more info about her work here), gave me a great gift last week - a detailed critique of some of my Tasty Thursday videos. Her comments included down-to-the-second “this worked and this didn’t” as well as links to vlogs I might like to follow for educational purposes. I was blown away by the time she took, unbidden, as well as the things I learned from her. Small things, like how different perspectives can lend depth and interest to even a short video, and how mixing the shots up keeps a viewer watching. I’m anxious to put my learning into practice.

I spoke about practice in an earlier blog. My challenge groups are practicing daily, working to improve their exercise consistency and healthy eating. One woman, who is doing incredible work fitting in exercise around a very full life, posting about her struggles and reaching out for guidance and support, expressed some disappointment to me yesterday. “I feel like I’m not doing enough,” she said to me. “Everyone else posts about running 10 miles or lifting 100 pounds. And the scale is not moving and I’m getting depressed. I hate running but I feel like I should be running.” I did my best to show her that every single person in this challenge is in a different spot, exercise-wise. One person’s 10 miles is another person’s 20 minutes of ab work. “If the posts inspire you to push yourself a little further, to try something you didn’t think was possible, then that’s great. If the posts are making you think you aren’t doing enough, then maybe stop looking at them. Look at how far you have come. When you started, your goal was to exercise 5 times a week. You are getting in something every day. Your eating is in a better spot. And it has only been 3 weeks!!!” She said this morning that the little pep talk helped her, for which I am glad.

Jeremy and I are talking about putting our house on the market. This involves a lot of prep work, painting and taking care of small issues that need attention. Last night, fumes from the freshly-primed walls in our room drove us to the guest room, where we will set up shop until the room is finished. Sleeping in that room is a revelation. First of all, it’s a nice room. Soothing colors, a comfortable bed. I don’t feel bad about putting guests in that room. It did make me think about the noise I make in the morning, grinding coffee and clinking away dishes. And I didn’t do my workout this morning in the wee hours as is my preference.

Many family dinner conversations right now are about how people see the house. About how, when you sell a house, you aren’t selling YOUR home – you’re selling someone else a possibility of a life they might want. Selling the dream, baby, selling the dream. We have to make it as simple as possible for someone else to see themselves in this house.

All of these vignettes are linked in that they are about perspective. Looking at videos, or exercise, or a house from the eyes of someone else can help us see things more clearly. Sometimes that takes a conversation, and sometimes it takes literally moving into a different spot.

Whose perspective might you take on today?