The Shredheads 30-Day Shred online challenge is officially over (and boy are my arms tired). I managed to do the Shred for 27 out of 30 days--pretty good in the face of deadlines, sick kids, and all the usual day-to-day interruptions.
While I didn't see a huge change in weight or body shape, others did; check out some of the Shredheads results posts for amazing success stories. Still, I'm glad I participated. Here's what I and some of my compatriots learned. It's nothing revolutionary, but it's nice when reality reinforces theory.
- Exercise begets exercise. Starting each day with 20+ minutes of vigorous activity sets my mood and my goals for the rest of the day. I find myself craving opportunities to fit in a little more fitness (by, say, doing errands on foot or playing catch with my kids), and also being more aware of what I'm eating.
- Companionship helps. This is why Weight Watchers, SparkPeople, About's Calorie Count, and smaller, homegrown projects like personal blog posts really work. Having a group, even a virtual one, with which to share your pain and your successes can be very motivating.
- Routine rules. Waking up at 6 a.m. every day to work out quickly becomes a habit.
- Breaking out of your comfort zone feels good. As trainer Jillian Michaels says in Level 1 of the Shred, don't assume you can't do a particular move. "I have 400-pound people doing jumping jacks. So can you!" One Shredder told me she learned "that I CAN work out despite being a wimp all my life."
- You have more time than you think you do. Christine Koh, a Shredder and the editor of Bostonmamas.com, says, "I definitely questioned whether I could commit to a daily routine. But it occurred to me that there's plenty else that I do every single day without question. I needed to at least try because I deserved to devote 20 to 30 minutes a day to myself. Once I started, it was amazing how easy it was to take that time. And I have been so much happier for it!"
- Exercise is made to be modified and personalized. "For the segments that I could finish easily, I swapped up to harder moves to keep challenging myself," says Koh. "For the segments that I could finish but still found challenging, I concentrated on perfecting form."
Your turn: Are you ready for a personal or family fitness challenge? Give it a try and let me know how it goes!
Photo: Shredhead organizer Kristen Chase and her adorable baby, Margot; courtesy Kristen Chase