I've been working out for a few years now and been trying to figure out what works for my body and what doesn't. More recently, I've been noticing quite a lot of "8 week fitness challenges" popping up by fitness girls on Instagram. Are they healthy to be doing and what are your opinion on fitness challenges? Are they a sustainable way to achieve your health and body goals?
Here's the thing - you really cannot accomplish anything unless you challenge yourself to do so. In anything in life you need to set goals and benchmarks to keep growing and improving. However, these challenges and goals need to be realistic and continually reevaluated.
I cannot comment precisely on whether or not all fitness challenges are sustainable and healthy. In all honesty I would say a vast majority of them are not and will likely end in failure as either you'll become injured, or you will give up because the expectations you have placed on yourself are too great. It is easy to start these challenges like a bull out of a gate but after a few weeks, or even days, the novelty will wear off and you will find yourself discouraged and right back where you started.
One thing to consider when attempting a fitness challenge is that they are not something that can be sustained for a long duration of time. Unless you are one of those crazy humans that lives to exercise and would not dare put anything into their mouths that was processed or refined, once the challenge is over there is a huge possibility that your life will revert back to what it once was. Yes, they are a great way to reach a goal and to jump start you into a healthier lifestyle but when the challenge is over it is important to reassess how you want to continue.
I challenge myself all the time – not Instagram fitness challenges but rather triathlons, marathons and mountain bike races. When I am training for a race I am focused. All I do is sleep, eat and train. I look great, I feel great and I am in fantastic shape. But when that challenge is over and I have crossed the finish line, I step back my training volume and focus on other areas of my life that I have had to neglect such as my work, my family and my friends. There is just no way I can keep up that kind of lifestyle ongoing, so I need to be realistic and understand that when the challenge is over I may lose some of the fitness I have gained, and put on a pound or two. The exact same thing will happen with any 8 week challenge.
I'm not saying stay away from these challenges, because trying something new and pushing yourself is never a bad thing, but be realistic in your expectations and have something set in place for when the challenge is over. Pick one that does not deprive you of too much, or require you to buy their products or supplement your diet with shakes and bars. If you have a friend or two who may be interested in the challenge as well then do it together, as it will keep you accountable and, if you're anything like me, you'll become a little bit more competitive with yourself and the others in the challenge.
Attached- Reese Witherspoon out for a jog in Brentwood the other day.