Day 40 – Challenge Complete

Day 40 of 40

Disclaimer: The following is a personal recount of my self-imposed fitness challenge. It is not a recommendation. Consult your physician before beginning any exercise routine or dietary changes.

Warning: This is a long post which summarizes my journey these 40 days. Thank you for your interest and support along the way.

Well, I made it to day 40! Yet, I feel like I’m just getting started. I feel so motivated to continue on this fitness journey but now I have a head start. I have learned a lot in these 40 days about my abilities, challenges and limitations.

As far as nutrition, I have learned it’s all about will power and making right choices. Eating healthy is much easier when you stock and prepare healthy foods at home. Take a day to go through your pantry and refrigerator. Get rid of any junk food and simply, don’t replace it. Make sure you’re not hungry when you go to the market. Make a list and stick to it. Unless you need to buy grains and lentils, the rest of your shopping should naturally lead you through the produce area and around the perimeter aisles for lean meats, eggs, frozen fruits and veggies. The last thing to do is resist temptation at the checkout aisle where they stock a last-ditch effort of chocolates, chips and candy in hopes you cave. I have also learned it’s ok to have a cheat meal or cheat day once in a while. Sometimes it’s a part of the celebrations of life so don’t feel guilty. In fact, to take the guilt away rename it a reward day.

Along with eating healthy, hydration is key. The best way to hydrate, obviously, is with water. An easy trick is to have a glass of water every hour, especially when the weather is hot and humid. As far as juices, unless they are all natural, there will be added sugar. It’s easy to find articles on the detrimental effects of carbonated and caffeinated drinks. I have never liked carbonated drinks. I find the fizz bothersome. I only really have coffee on the weekend, enjoying the quiet morning with my husband and the occasional cup of hot tea when I need a dose of comfort. Otherwise, my beverages are fresh made fruit smoothies or veggie juices and definitely water.

Depending on what you wish to accomplish aesthetically, working out does not have to mean hours spent in the gym. In fact, it doesn’t need to mean going to the gym at all. There are many body-weighted exercises that give a full body workout especially through High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT workouts can easily be done in the comfort of your own home, in about 20 minutes with just yourself, a mat, water and a little motivation. This means you can be done your workout and shower in the time it takes some people to even get to the gym. There are several HIIT routines on youtube. I especially like the routines, guidance and support through the BodyRock community. There are varying levels to try based on your fitness level. Yoga and pilates are very complimentary to any workout regime. They also only require your body and a positive mindset.

When it comes to weight training, besides body-weighted exercises, light dumbells and bands are enough to get you started. If you wish to bulk up or increase strength, it’s worth it to buy a gym membership to have a variety of weights and machines available as necessary.

For cardio, I really enjoyed the challenging apps on my treadmill but it’s just as easy to go for a brisk walk or jog in the great outdoors. I love hiking and swimming too. Pick a variety of activities so your routines don’t get monotonous. As for active rest days, this is a great way to pick activities you’ve never tried and challenge yourself to new adventures. When your activity is fun, it doesn’t seem like work.

Always, always reduce risk of injury by warming up and cooling down with static stretches. It’s okay to push your limits and challenge yourself especially if you’re trying to add size but listen to your body. Don’t overdo it or you’ll be off for a few days and possibly set back in reaching your goal. I learned the hard (and painful) way.

Don’t let anything or anyone stand in your way of reaching whatever goals you set for yourself. Your health should always be a guilt-free priority. I am not quite where I want to be, but I’m far from where I used to be and moving forward. Even small progress is still progress! Most importantly, I have learned that as we age, our metabolism slows, our bodies and hormones change beyond our control, so we must be mindful of our nutrition and activities to keep our mind/body/spirit in balance. This is the end of my 40 day challenge but the beginning of a new lifestyle.

I am so thankful for the many family and friends who have supported, encouraged, inspired, motivated and cheered for me along the way.

If you’d like to read my journey in full, from start to finish, please follow me at http://www.fitin40blog.wordpress.com.

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