A while back, I discussed a specific 30-day challenge: the Whole 30 diet.
The philosophy behind this diet is to eliminate certain foods for 30 days. By doing this, the theory is that individuals will begin to feel better and have a new relationship with food.
Similar to the Whole 30 diet, many of these 30-day challenges are designed to provide followers a way to “reset” their lifestyles.
It’s a way to refocus our attention on healthier habits with the hope of adopting these new behaviors over a lifetime.
Listen to Dr. Neal address this topic on Episode 760 of the podcast Optimal Health Daily.
Do These 30-Day Challenges Work?
The trouble is, we don’t really know if this actually happens. This is because there aren’t many published studies on the effectiveness of these types of challenges. Instead, we often hear things based on anecdotal evidence. This basically means that the argument presented was based on experience, not research.
The problem with basing conclusions on experience alone is that our memories and our interpretation of events have to pass through a very biased filter… the brain! Humans are notoriously bad at finding patterns and assuming cause-and-effect even when they don’t exist in reality.
So, here’s my take…
How Should I Approach a “Fitness” 30-Day Challenge?
If the 30-day challenge is not causing you harm or increasing your risk for harm, then feel free to try them out. I often don’t mind fitness-related 30-day challenges so long as you’re not increasing your risk for injury.
I had issues with the Whole 30 diet because it’s so restrictive.
Because the rules of the diet require certain foods be eliminated, there are risks for deficiencies. That’s why I've become such a stickler about research.
But let's get back to the subject of 30-day fitness challenges. Some of us have not only completed one, but are ready for more! That’s a great sign. It means you not only enjoyed yourself, and didn’t get injured, but are ready to continue this behavior. Again, all very good things!
I Got Results — Can I Repeat a Challenge?
Now, what about those of us who are thinking about repeating a fitness 30-day challenge?
I’m going to use my psychic ability and guess that you feel that way after doing a program that was highly structured. The only thing I would caution against is getting bored with it. You may find you’re not quite as excited completing the same workouts. If this is the case, we need to think about ways to substitute the same structure but with different exercises.
Let’s use an example.
Let’s say the 30-day challenge you completed had you working out 3 days a week for 30-days. And, let’s say each workout session lasted 30 minutes. And, let’s assume that you found a rhythm — where on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, you would find time complete these 30-minute workouts.
Again, you are welcome to keep this going and follow the exact same 30-day challenge all over again. In fact, I don’t recommend you change a routine that works for you! The only things I would change are some of the exercises. That’s because this time around, I would suspect that you get bored. So, keep everything else the same, but substitute in 1 or 2 new exercises.
Let’s say one portion of the workout originally called for you to complete 10 push-ups. Instead of doing the usual 10 push-ups, do 10 sit-ups. Or, do 10 jumping jacks. Or 10 lunges. You could hold a plank position for 10 seconds, or do 10 mountain climbers. The options are endless!
Then, jump right back in and perform the rest of the workout you’re used to.