In my last post, I shared a challenge that I started in early August, based loosely on 75 hard that is a current trend in fitness challenges. You can read about it here, but essentially there were 5 parts to the challenges that involve: drinking more water, some type of eating modification, daily exercise, reading from a non-fiction book, and taking a picture every day. The 75 hard challenge has been described as both a mental and physical exercise, intended to develop “mental toughness” and break bad habits. Since I’d like to do both, it seemed like an interesting project, only with my modifications added.
So how am I doing on my version of the challenge? Well, I lasted two weeks before life rudely busted in and I needed to stop. I had to travel for work this past week, and the travel time and actual work pretty much ate up any time I had for workouts. It was also impossible to get in all the water when I didn’t have access to it. Plus, I couldn’t afford to stop to pee every 15 minutes. Unfortunately, I failed given the parameters of the challenge and would need to “restart” from day 1.
I don’t think I’m going to do that.
While the challenge was pretty effective in getting me to think about what I was eating and being consistent with exercise, I also started developing some negative behaviors and thoughts. Given my history of disordered eating, I soon learned that this probably wasn’t a good undertaking for me. I’ve played this game before, and it didn’t turn out well — for nearly forty years.
It’s taken me years to begin to unravel my feelings around food and diets, using both for protection and to escape feelings of vulnerability. I had vowed to never diet again, and I’m not sure why I thought that I should do such a challenge now. Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading about other people’s experiences and wanted to feel that same sense of empowerment (whether the others are reporting truthfully or not). Maybe I thought it a way to kick start weight loss that is progressing so slowly. Or maybe I just wanted easy fodder to write about. Regardless, none of those were suitable reasons to continue.
I’m now beginning to realize that challenge was not without harm. Quitting struck my sense of confidence. I’ve felt a bit lost for the past several days — like I didn’t know how or when to eat or how much I should be drinking. I didn’t work out because it felt pointless: I had already failed the challenge. I struggled to decide if I should try again or formulate something new. My indecisiveness started to affect my work. I was feeling a low level of depression just from this!
My husband said that he wondered why I was doing the challenge since I seemed to be doing okay without it. I now wonder the same thing.
So, in short, approaches such as fitness challenges do not work for me. Following arbitrary rules leads me to disconnect from my body and my needs. I need different things on different days. Some days it’s four hour bike rides, some days it’s resting, strolling, and reading.
So I’m back to my usual plan involving a non-restrictive eating approach and enjoyable forms of exercise. I guess I need to be reminded about all of this for the next time I decide to go off on one of these tracks. Having already lived this for years, I doubt it will be my last time on any sort of challenge.