Thursday, June 25, 2009

Why I'm Not Keen on Challenges

I see the Blogger weight-loss community is hyped-up on challenges. The folks at ediets regularly participate in challenges, too. I can see that many people feel empowered by a challenge. I don't know, I haven't got into it. I think for me challenges externalize the issue - the goal - too much. Some challenges are to lose more weight so that your team has a higher score. If I'm thinking about my team, I'm not thinking about myself and how I feel and what I need to be doing. Some challenges are to drink a certain amount of water or eat a vegetable a day. These seem a bit cheesy to me. I don't know, I know in the past I've done some challenging myself, but challenges seem externally motivated and have to do with a lot of exclamation points and powerful declarations of what you WILL do, and it's so superficial that you forget to do it, or you do it half-assed, and honestly I get tired of the excuses and the shortfalls that ensue. I understand it's part of the process and I wholly believe in picking yourself up and not letting it get you down, but if every week it's the same thing over and over again, "Oh I ate Little Debbies again, naughty naughty me, I really SHOULDN'T HAVE..." eventually my anti-repetitive nature gets tired of giving the same rallying and advice.

I find that what works best for me is retreating into myself, knowing what you want to do, your plan, and then just doing it. Which does take a lot of focus and concentration. Which is why you have to be ready and in the mood for dieting or self-improvement. I'm sure it helps that my meal plan regulates my desire to cheat, but nevertheless, if I am offered cookies, I just say no because I just know it's not allowed. There's no considering the possibility of a cookie and so there's no giving in to the cookie.

Even in exercise goals, my challenges, especially the more successful, tend to be merely a quiet understanding that I will do a little bit more next time. Jog a little further or a little faster. When I make the commitment (I jogged 1 mile today, next time go for 1.1 miles) there's no need to talk myself into it, it's just what I will try to do and it is within reach and it's just the next step. Maybe I won't be able to do it and then discover I was getting my period, or that I shouldn't run that many days in a row or my body will never recover and get stronger and faster, or just realize that I didn't get enough sleep the night before.

The successful challenges tend to be the ones I feel from within myself, not someone else's challenge.

And exclamation points tend to be inversely proportionate to results. Because the more exclamation points I use, the more I'm trying to convince myself, which means the less I believe myself.

I am all for exclamation points, however, when I see happy results from my calm internal decisions.

Short Version - Why I'm not keen on Challenges - they externalize the goal.