Most everyone loves to (attempt) totally change their lives every new year. Lose 20 pounds, hit the gym 4 days a week, stop drinking soda, and cut back on this or that. We all know how that story goes, starts out strong, but usually flounders within a few weeks. I’ve fallen into this same situation many times in my life and still do. This January I wanted to try something different.
After working with purplepatch fitness for a few years for triathlon coaching, Matt Dixon always said some things that stuck with me, "change smaller habits and set yourself up for success.” What I took from that was rather than trying to change 10 different things focus on one or two smaller things that can help build good habits that will allow you to build a good foundation on.
Just a little history.
In 2011 I didn’t like the overweight person I saw in the mirror and didn’t like how I felt after eating and drinking whatever I felt like. I was the fat guy in my group of friends, my cholesterol was way high and I knew it was time for a change. I took up running and shortly there after a triathlon in an effort to build a better self. After dropping 60 pounds and a few marathons later some people were calling me “The New Chipper” which I liked. I started making friends with GGTC members who liked to wake up redic early to go for a pre-dawn trail run with headlamps and ride bikes for 100 miles on Saturdays. They were also pretty conscious of what was going in their bodies and by this time I had gone full fledge vegetarian and dabbled with periods of veganism. I really liked this new lifestyle and vowed never to be “Fat Chipper” again.
In October of 2015, my wife and I welcomed into our world Charlee and she is amazing. Having a baby is tough and nobody will argue that with you. Rather than adjusting my mindset and expectations of what I could do with triathlon I tried to jam it in with being a new dad. Dad, husband, triathlete and a working professional is a lot to handle. The thing that ended up giving the most was triathlon and exercise. Saturdays were no longer for 8-hour bike rides up Northern California, but were for walking to the park as a family and seeing my daughter grow, learn and run around with her little blonde curls bouncing around.
The 2016 triathlon season was a bust to put it lightly. I had not yet come to terms with the fact that my life had dramatically changed for the better and I couldn’t dedicate so many hours to training as I had done in the past. Every race I did I always compared to my previous times and frankly, it really bummed me out. I had some extra pounds on too which didn’t help me feel great either. I really struggled personally for the majority of 2016 to come to terms that I was not the same athlete I was in 2015. My friend Chris just recently became a father as well and we would start “Dad Bod Runs” poking fun at our extra weight and we both signed up for the North Face Endurance Challenge in December. We both had done this race before and performed very well. This year was going to be a totally different story and we both knew it. This is when it really clicked for me. I just told myself have fun, enjoy being outdoors and getting the exercise. That was one of the slowest half marathons I’ve ever done, if not the slowest. You know what? I didn’t care. I had run just running with my friend and coming home and giving my medal to my daughter. It took nearly the entire year, but it finally clicked for me. This was the hand I have now and I’m going to play with that. This was sorta a big weight off my shoulders if that makes any sense.
As the calendar switched over to 2017 I wanted to set a good example for Charlee, myself and others and get back to a healthy, active lifestyle. I always feel better after getting some blood moving even if just for 20 minutes of running. This is where my idea for the 30-day challenge came from.
30 Day Challenge was first introduced to me by Matt Cutts, who just “officially” left Google after many years to join the US Digital Service. He did a TED talk about it and you can see that here. The basic idea is to do something every day for 30 days or one month in my case.
My 30 Day Challenge
Exercise, workout and be active for AT LEAST 20 minutes every day in January and upload to Strava. No matter how tired, what time of day or the activity just get it done for the day.
What went well
Well, I’m happy to say I fully completed the challenge. I noticed I felt much better when I got my workout done in the morning before work or starting the day with the family. It also was something I didn’t have to worry about for the rest of the day. Somedays I felt really good that I got off the couch and outside into the garage to spin on Zwift for 30-45mins.
What went ok
Some days were better than others. Most of the sessions were later at night. I would prefer to be able to get up at 5 am, knock my session out and move along with my day, but that just wasn’t the case. It was tough to plan to either skip dinner with everyone and have a snack because it was tough to high a high-intensity trainer session on Trainer Road with a belly full of dinner. I always made sure to not start my workout until after Charlee went down which is usually around 7:30-8, so that would put me all done around 9ish, then I have to shower eat and try to get ready for bed before 10. That doesn’t leave too much time to hang out with my wife, so that was one thing I really wish could have gone better. Although I’m sure she enjoyed the time to work more on her LuLaRoe business which she is doing very well at.
What went bad
More days than I would have liked I missed or skipped by “main workout” or planned workout which would have been a longer run (6-10 miles) or a 90-minute trainer ride in the morning. I knew it would be better to get it done with nice and early, but I slept in and hung out with the family instead. This delayed by workout until late and night after Charlee went down. The toughest day was one night after hanging with friends, recording a podcast and a few beers I went for a run at 11:30 pm to get my 20 mins in, I felt like Cinderella trying to get it in before midnight.
What I learned
One thing I took away from this was knocking out the workouts in the morning makes it so much easier to keep the evenings for family time. I still really enjoy training with friends and I was able to rope Chris in for a few early morning runs in the City and a few times my buddy Shaun would meet me on Zwift for a virtual ride around Zwift Island. I think I also learned that it is tough to keep present with some workouts when I have the mentality that I just need to get my 20 mins in. I think it I wouldn't have waited until the late night to do it I could have had a better focus on my workouts. It was a fun experience to do the 30 (well 31) Day Challenge. Big thanks to my GGTC/purplepatch friends that supported me on Strava. Of course, my wife who more than once told me to go get my workout in and she would handle Charlee for 20-30 mins while I went for a quick run. Looking forward to a year of realistic training and race goals.
Cheers to 2017!