{the life} A 31 Day Challenge

by Rachel on June 18, 2012

rachel yoga bagFor the past few months, I’ve felt like I’ve been treading water when it comes to healthy eating and exercising. I’m not drowning, but I feel like I’m working pretty hard just to do the bare minimum. I’ve had a lot on my plate and I often feel like I’m just one bad week away from gaining 50 pounds.

This weekend, I began to worry that that one bad week could come in the form of the four weeks leading up to closing on our house. My motivation drops considerably in the summer, and with more important things to do (meet our Realtor at the house to sign documents, look for freelance work to have some extra cash for the move) or just more fun things to do (wander Lowe’s or look for decor inspiration on Pinterest for an hour with Eric), I feel like things could quickly spiral out of control for me. I think for most people, when every day and every week feels different, it’s hard to make goals or get motivated. And from there, it’s so easy to just let one bad decision (or fast food meal or skipped workout) turn into another and then another. But one of the major lessons I’ve learned over the years is just not to do that. So I decided that rather than retreat to the couch with my carbs, or even just retreat with semi-healthy foods and the minimum amount of exercise, I’m going to try something new: run directly toward the challenge by taking on an additional challenge.

The challenge: practice yoga for 31 days straight until we close on the house.

That’s it. That’s my only goal. I don’t have a goal for minutes or types of classes or anything like that. I’m not worried about what I’m eating or not eating or what I’m doing outside of practicing. I’m not worried about losing weight/inches or gaining muscle. I just want to practice yoga every single day. The only result I’m hoping to achieve is “feel really good because I did something hard that I wasn’t sure if I could do.”

And I’m already off — I started yesterday!

Day 31: 75-minute Vinyasa class

After realizing that I wanted to make this goal, I went directly to an afternoon Vinyasa class. It moved slower than the really challenging class I took earlier in the week, so I was thinking it was an easier class. Uh, I was wrong. The instructor threw in a few tough poses that I don’t have a lot of practice with and it ended up being really hard; by the end of the class, I was basically in a puddle on my mat.

Once I scraped myself off the mat and dragged myself home, I felt pretty good about life, and that spilled over into the rest of the night. Eric and I planned our meals for the week, made a grocery list, and then went to the grocery store. A healthy dinner was already in the slow cooker (French dips), so that freed up time to do some other chores that would get the week off to a good start. We tidied up the kitchen and made bran muffins and cold-pressed coffee for this morning.

As the night wore on, I realized I was really sore and tired from the class and started to doubt whether I could really practice yoga every day for 31 days. However, I’m not planing to take a hard, 75-minute class every day of the challenge. Not only do I not have the time, I’m just not physically capable of doing that at this point. So some days I will simply be doing a few hip openers before bed. (I’ve actually been doing that more regularly for the past couple months and I gotta say, it really does make a difference in how I feel.) This is definitely going to be a challenge for me, but I don’t feel like I’m biting off more than I can chew either. And I think I’ll feel great by the time July hits and it’s time to move.

Today’s plan is to go to a new class at my studio, and I’m pretty nervous about it. I feel like yesterday’s class was unexpectedly hard (and I’m still pretty achy this morning), but I know tonight’s class is going to be hard for me. It’s a new sculpt class that incorporates hand weights and it’s just like…Oh God, this is going to be a wreck. Like I said, I’ve been doing the bare minimum lately, and that means my progress has stalled. I wish I were at a point where I could walk into almost any new class without feeling like I was going to have my ass handed to me, but I’m not, so, well, I’m planning to have my ass handed to me tonight. And quite regularly for the next month.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nikki June 18, 2012 at 8:36 am

Been there myself as of late. I was highly motivated all year long (as usual) then when summer rolls around and I’m not “bikini ready” all that motivation goes right out the door. However, I’m glad to see you set yourself up with a challenge. I’ve done several this year that have been great, but I haven’t made it all the way to the end on any of them. It’s possible with a little discipline! Congratulations on closing on your home! Best wishes Rach!


2 [SMASH] June 18, 2012 at 8:39 am

Good for you! Hopefully this helps to keep you calm and centered during the closing process, which I’ve heard can be a nightmare.


3 Rachel June 18, 2012 at 10:51 am

Eeek! That’s what I’m afraid of, but definitely hoping this will help me stay calm!!


4 fionarwbl June 18, 2012 at 8:46 am

Does one get to a point with yoga where you don’t have fear of having your ass handed to you in a new class? I’ve been doing yoga at least weekly for about two years, and I still have the fear every time… Then again, I’m not flexible in any way..


5 Debbie June 18, 2012 at 8:48 am

I think a yoga challenge is a great idea. Maybe that’s because I just completed one of my own. Only 30 days, but I did it. For my challenge, I set a minimum time of 10 minutes because I knew there would be days that would be, well, challenging to make myself keep it up. And there were, but I was always able to push myself because I knew that it was only 10 minutes (and I always went at least a few minutes longer. I also counted practice at home, because I knew the timing of my job (and my own inside exercise clock) wouldn’t always line up. I used downloads from yogadownload.com, and they were awesome.

Good luck with your challenge. It really will help you during the stress of the next month.


6 Rachel June 18, 2012 at 10:49 am

Thanks for the tip about yogadownload.com! How did you feel when all was said and done? And how hard did you find it was to make time each day?


7 Debbie June 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm

After a week or so, it kind of became habit, so I was thinking ahead, when am I going to do my yoga. I’m usually a morning exerciser, so on days that I had the time before work (some days I work at 5:30 am, so no-go then), I would do it then. If not, I tried to do it as soon as I got home (or at least before I had that glass of wine :-)). On gym days, I would find a corner and do 20 minutes of yoga instead of the usual core stuff.

I am really happy that I did it. I started because I felt that I was getting away from yoga, making excuses, etc. In the last month I can notice a difference in my strength, flexibility, and balance (and I held crow for 30 seconds and did a tripod headstand without topping over! Substantial accomplishments for this yogi.)

If you’re interested, my last post is a little wrap up of the challenge along with some random thoughts about it.


8 Whitney June 18, 2012 at 8:53 am

I would love to do yoga every day! I’m such an amateur though, I end up falling on some of the easier poses. :( I need to find a place to do it!


9 Rain June 18, 2012 at 8:56 am

Great goal! And sweating is cleansing :)


10 Liz @ iheartvegetables June 18, 2012 at 9:27 am

That’s an awesome challenge!! Good luck!! :)


11 Kristen June 18, 2012 at 9:58 am

I think I might join you starting next week. I’ve heard great things from people who’ve completed the challenge! I have a Yoga DVD I purchased when Borders was going out of business and it has three separate 20 minute sequences. Also live by like eight yoga studios…so I have no excuse!

What hip openers are you doing at night? Those are my favorite. The hips are where we store our emotional stress!


12 Rachel June 18, 2012 at 10:48 am

Pigeon poses all the way! Even if we do them in class, sometimes I do them again at home. They are the most uncomfortable thing ever, but the release is worth it. I also really like bending my knee and opening my hip in downward dog (like this: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-R-yL0ReOQUE/ThonGj9gnTI/AAAAAAAAAJg/hKTbu2_0u1M/s1600/three_legs.jpg)…a lot of times in classes when you do that, they have you sort of dip to the side of your bent leg (you can see it in the picture there), but I recently had an instructor tell us to square off our shoulders when we were doing it. It made the hip stretch WAY more intense. I’ve also been working on my yoga squat which looks easy but is SO HARD FOR ME! I’ve found that the more pigeon poses I do, the easier the squat gets.

You should definitely join in next week too! Let me know if you decide to!!


13 Jessica June 18, 2012 at 10:00 am

I’ve just started doing yoga a few days a week and mixing in walks with my pup, and I have to say, it’s kind of magnificent. I don’t miss killing myself at the gym everyday and I actually look forward to it instead of dreading it.


14 Rachel June 18, 2012 at 10:45 am

“kind of magnificent” = spot on.


15 Sarah June 18, 2012 at 10:02 am

I love this! I’m moving soon too (across the country!) and have felt like I was in limbo for the summer. I may try something like this to keep me grounded and feeling in control until I move! I don’t know that I’ll do the same challenge, because I don’t want to give up my spin classes and I think I might not have the time to do both, but some sort of challenge is a great idea!


16 Rachel June 18, 2012 at 10:45 am

“Limbo” is the perfect word for it and you definitely need something to stay in control. I’m sure there’s a variation on this you could try that still makes room for spin — let me know if you do!


17 AJ Ragosa June 18, 2012 at 10:33 am

I definitely feel like it is harder for me to be motivated more during the summer as well. It is just so hot in Houston that you are exhausted by just moving from your house to your car back to your car. I think doing yoga for 31 days is a fantastic goal! I am just starting to go to Big Yoga a couple of times a week now that my knee is feeling a bit better. It feels great to be back on the matt. Good luck with your challenge!


18 Rachel June 18, 2012 at 10:40 am

We should definitely meet up there for one of the free community classes on Saturdays! I feel like the only way I can keep boredom at bay during this challenge is to take a variety of classes at different studios.


19 Bridget June 18, 2012 at 11:31 am

Between moving and getting the puppy, I’ve gained more weight than I like to admit. In a month and a half. I like the idea of a 30 day challenge, but I might tailor it more to food than to working out. I went to a yoga class on Sunday, saw my reflection in the mirror and lost it. Sometimes it is just good to admit that you need to get back on track.

Have you done GymPact yet? I don’t know if you have an iphone/ipad, but if you’re going to the yoga studio a few days a week, you may as well get paid for it.


20 Rachel June 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm

A food one sounds great! Eric and I did that on a smaller scale a couple months ago, limiting meals out to one dinner and one breakfast per week. We’ve broken it a couple times (for date nights) but on the whole, we’ve really cut back on dining out. We did it to save money, but it’s definitely making me feel healthier too. Let me know if you decide to do a food challenge — I’d love to hear what it is!

And I haven’t done GymPact yet…looking into it now!


21 Meghan @ Run With Meg June 18, 2012 at 11:56 am

What a great way to motivate yourself! Good luck!


22 Nikki June 18, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Does it matter that you are closing on your house before you are married (not “does it matter to you” but does it matter legally / mortgages / etc stuff)? I’m just curious. I don’t know that much about such things.


23 Rachel June 18, 2012 at 11:21 pm

I am honestly not sure how much it matters but we are planning to talk to a lawyer soon to find out! We both want to be protected in any scenario.


24 deva by definition June 19, 2012 at 9:28 am

We closed on and purchased our house before we were married. Because both of our names are on the deed, title, mortgage documents, etc, we both have the same legal rights to the house as we would if married. We asked about this several times throughout the process, because when we bought our house it was before we were even engaged.

that being said, our closing experience was NOT a nightmare. We had heard a lot about it being someone hellish, but ours was straightforward. My biggest advice pertaining to the under-contract/closing period is to stay in touch with the person handling your lending application, and if you have financial documents you are not sure will be asked for, have them ready and accessible, just in case.

Once you get to closing, be prepared to sign your name tons and tons of times. And be prepared to get two copies of everything pertaining to the process. We each got a copy of the application, the HUD forms, etc, because we’re not married and it was required for full disclosure (if I remember correctly. My truly biggest advice about moving: don’t do it 2 weeks before Christmas).


25 Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie June 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm

AHAHAAA “retreat to the couch with my carbs” is pretty much my tagline/M.O. in times of stress, I’m so inspired by your determination to set a goal and stick to it! One of the things I adore about having a blog is that I feel obligated to follow through once I make a goal/plan public.


26 Carol July 22, 2012 at 1:45 am

Thanks a lot for writing this post. I am scouring the internet looking for inspiration right now because I have somehow, somewhere, completely lost my mojo. Normally I have all sort of mini or major challenges going on – be it ‘try 3 new recipes in 10 days’ or ‘do crossfit every day for 10 days’ etc. I live abroad so end up going home on holidays a lot which serves a double dose of motivation – I get motivated before leaving to ‘look great when I go home’ and I get renewed vigour when on holidays to ’embrace life’ when I return.
But now….now is vanished….like a puff of smoke…!
I simply cant not get my a*se in gear to do stuff. Im eating crap like I havent done in a long time, I havent done any exercise at all. And I cant seem to wake up out of the stupor.
So thank you very much for writing this because its helping to lift the fog slightly – If you can do a challenge before moving house I can easily do one!!
Thanks again :-)


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