Up to the Test

Give yourself a kick-start in the form of a challenge.

The New Year is a time where many of us are inspired to give our health and fitness a little extra focus. It feels like the start of a new year as the kids go back to school and we look to set up more routines in our lives, and I’m a huge fan of using challenges for both extra guidance and motivation. A challenge’s measurability, defined process, and deadline set you up to achieve a goal.

Why are challenges good for you?

Studies by goal-setting and motivation researchers Edwin Locke and Gary Latham found that when people set specific and challenging goals, they led to higher performance success 90 percent of the time. They also found that the more specific your goals, the higher your motivation toward hitting them.

Challenges encourage you to do things that you may be uncomfortable with or find difficult—I’m currently doing a 10 chin-up challenge that I’m finding really difficult!

They also encourage you to learn a new skill, whether it’s mastering or perfecting an exercise or adopting a new eating habit, or experiencing new things.

Challenges can often be done along with peers. Having other participants can keep you accountable and provide motivation.

You can make your challenge small or big. Even if it’s a smaller goal, completing the challenge can lead to significant life-changing behaviors.

Challenges get you into developing a habit that becomes a regular part of your lifestyle.

You would benefit from a challenge now if:

★ You are in need of a workout change.
★ There is a goal you want to work toward.
★ You need to get out of a funk or overcome a plateau.
★ You’re looking to get stronger and fitter.

Ready for a challenge? Let’s do this!

A fitness challenge is a great time to explore nutrition and how your body feels. Setting a weight-loss goal or eliminating sugar or alcohol for a period of time can allow you to discover and really learn what makes you feel energized, and what makes you feel sluggish or bloated. Or challenge yourself to work out more consistently; this can be as simple as adding 20 daily push-ups to your routine or going to the gym four times a week. Attendance challenges are a great way to get you on the road to working out regularly for the long term. Make sure you put it in your calendar, and when you achieve your attendance success be sure to reward yourself with the treat of a new fitness outfit.

Up the ante with a cash reward

Need motivation to participate in a challenge? Money is one of the biggest motivators in challenge participation and success. Putting your money where your mouth is can get you the results you desire. And take it up another level by getting your friends or coworkers in on the challenge reward too, by making a contract with the group. We can make promises to ourselves all day long, but research shows we’re more likely to follow through and be successful with pledges when we make them in front of others.

Here’s how it works: get a group together with a similar goal, for example, losing five pounds in five weeks. Agree on a cash amount, say, $100, that each person puts in the pool. State in your contract that you each will achieve this goal. Miss the goal and your $100 is shared among those who did lose five pounds (and vice versa: meet your goal and get a share of the pool). Make sure you pick an amount of money that will hurt a bit if you lose—the chances are in your favor that you’ll win...

By : ROSALIE BROWN

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