Dec 20

What Could a Blog Challenge Possibly Have to do with Health?

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.

blog challenge


Last week I finished a 30 day blog challenge.  When I initially saw the announcement, I thought, “Isn’t it odd to start a challenge in the middle of November?”  Yes!  In fact, Bradley Will,  creator of Learn to Blog, who hosted the challenge, even said, “I know it’s a crazy time of the year to start a new project, but let’s do it anyway.”


You know I can’t resist those words!  I’m always “in” whatever follows, “I know it’s crazy…but let’s do it anyway.”


To be honest, I loved that the challenge happened at this time of the year when so many people start to shut down.  People give up on any goals or aspirations beginning November 1st.  Exercise decreases.  Food consumption increases.  Projects are hurriedly finished “before the holidays”, and nothing new is begun.  What this means, is that many just write off an entire two months of life!


People go into, “I’ll just wait until January 1st” mode.  That was certainly not the case for the 244 bloggers in this challenge who, collectively, had written 3,414 blogs by the time I stopped counting.


For me, this challenge wasn’t just about writing.  In fact, writing had very little to do with it.  For me, this was about:

  • Setting, working on, and completing a goal through habit change.
  • Finding time for something I truly wanted to do.
  • Sticking to a commitment I made to myself (even “at this time of the year”), and
  • The friendships and fellowship of being around others trying to accomplish a similar goal.


We’ve talked about the fact – many times – that I can find a lesson for health and fitness in just about everything.  I’m a teacher and I like to relate everything back to something people already understand.  As such, every single thing I worked on, and was reminded of, in the 30-day blog challenge related to health!  Let me explain.


I was reminded that

I will not do anything if I don’t see value in it.  

Neither will you.

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Unless we first determine why…

why we want to write, why we want to start a business, why we want to lose weight/fat, why we want to gain muscle, why we want to eat better

….our, very intimately personal why, nothing is going to change.  Not for long, anyway.


Oh sure, we might do whatever it is for a little while.  Invariably, though, when the going gets tough – and it always does – unless we have a very good reason for wanting to keep the commitment, we’re not going to.  That shiny, new thing is going to be the first thing to go!


With the blog challenge:  Finding the time to write every day, through the holidays, while traveling, and while surrounded by family, wasn’t easy.  I had to – no, let me rephrase that – IF I wanted to achieve my goal, I had to, excuse myself occasionally in order to keep the commitment to myself.  Bradley was a great coach, but I was the one who had to show up every day.  I had to inspire myself first.  I had to be willing to put in the time writing, even if not one other person read the blog.  I had to write for myself.


With health:  I’m not going to give up family time and miss out on important events in my life just to go to the gym, nor would I recommend you do.  But – IF I want to achieve my goal of being more healthy, getting stronger, being fit, and getting some exercise, I have to make time for it.  Whether other people think I should make this a priority or not.  Whether it’s convenient or not.  Taking care of me is absolutely critical if I hope to take care of anybody else.  I have to workout for myself.

The food pushers are going to continually push food.  That’s a fact.  They think I should “eat this and that and something else” because “I’ll only live once” and “what’s the big deal?”  If I have set a goal to eat healthier, I have to be willing to turn some things down.  Unapologetically.  I have to eat for myself.


I was reminded that

It’s best if I focus on the things that provide the biggest impact, and let this idea of perfection go.   

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Worrying about the little stuff – which widgets to load on my website, obsessing over what font is prettiest, or scrolling through page themes for a few hours  – do not move me even one step closer to my goal.


With the blog challenge:  Some of the things I wrote this month took time.  Sometimes I wasn’t able to write until late at night or super early in the morning.  I wrote in the truck, at Starbucks, and sitting on a staircase with my granddaughter sitting beside me.  Sometimes  I was in a rush.

…so, yes, sometimes there were typos and grammatical errors.  Sometimes my comma usage was off.  Does that bother me?

To be honest – yes.  Yes, it does.  Do I go back and fix things later when I notice errors?  Yes, I do.  But, I’m learning not to let perfection cripple me.  If I don’t do anything until it’s perfect, I’m not going to do anything.  If I worry about what other people might think, or say, I’m not going to do anything.

I had to remember:  Good may be the enemy of great but perfect is the enemy of good.


With exercise:  There is positively no reason for me to know everything about every kind of exercise before I start working out.  There are a gazillion theories out there and even more opinions about which is best.  I could spend my time getting the perfect program, shopping for just the right outfit, worrying about whether I should eat before or after I work out, whether fasted cardio is best, or if Smith machine squats are better or worse than squats in the rack.  I could study nutrition for the next six months and seek out experts’ opinions on Paleo, Intermittent Fasting, and Counting Macros.


I could spend my time starting to exercise.  I could change one meal at a time, one nutritional habit at a time, and be happy that I’ve made some progress.  I could do what I can with what I have available (time, energy, and money).


I could decide that something done is better than nothing done perfectly.


I was reminded that

When I surround myself with people who hold me to my greatness  and I invest in myself, great things happen.  

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I had a Facebook conversation with several friends the other day.  “Most people who don’t know me that well, would never guess that I’m quite shy. If we have to assign labels, I’m definitely an introvert. Most of the time, I keep to myself. 


Not a new concept.  Years ago, when I studied Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I read about personal growth from dependency, through independence, and then interdependence.  It’s a theory that there is only so much each of us can achieve within a vacuum:  only so high you can rise, completely alone.


But a new application!  Humans are social creatures.  We thrive with connection.  Yes – even you, sitting there professing how much you hate people.   We’re hard-wired for interaction.  One of the biggest growth areas for me, over the last couple of years, has been to open myself to relationships.  Being around other people that challenge me, push me, while, at the same time, supporting me, has changed my outlook on life.


I invest time, money, a lot of sweat equity, and occasionally tears in myself.


There are two reasons that:

  • I worked so hard on my Master’s, three years ago.
  • Got four new certifications, two years ago.
  • I joined Jill Coleman’s Best of You program last year.
  • I currently work with Jordan Syatt for physical strength coaching.
  • I participate in several habit change coaching forums.
  • I did the blogging challenge.  The challenge didn’t cost me anything, financially, but I did volunteer to count blogs for the full 30 days.  My cost was several hours of time.
  • Even though I have a cram-packed schedule, I attend one of the Fitness Summits or other workshops, every year.
  • I’m doing the Mindset Mentorship next year.


Reason 1:  Having some skin in the game.  I heard the concept explained, in those words, from Jill Coleman.  I heard about it, scientifically researched, from Dan Ariely in a course on irrational behavior that I took through Duke University.



If you have nothing personally invested, you personally have nothing to lose.  That makes it incredibly easy to quit.  To fail.

Being vested in something (be that coaching, personal training, a gym membership, workshop, or developmental opportunity) – or making something yourself (like an Ikea bookcase) increases your chance of being more likely to keep “it”.


Reason 2:  I push myself, but only to a certain point.

The people I choose to surround myself with:  friends, family, coaches know what I’m capable of.  They don’t allow me to give up on myself.  They don’t accept my personal excuses, and they don’t let me stop at “good” when they know, with just a little more, I can get to “great”.  They refuse to allow me to just sit back and marinate in the status quo.



With the blog challenge:  There were some people, in the group, who make their money blogging.  Having those expert resources which we could turn to, at any time, for questions, concerns, or tips, was invaluable.  It also provided reassurance, support, and a safe environment where we could try new things.  Each of the blog challengers got to a point, during the month, where we wrote a personal blog.  Some of us made a video or two.  It was uncomfortable.  Putting yourself out there is like that  can be scary.  I felt quite vulnerable – more than once.  Knowing that others were doing the same thing, and that we had a support system to fall back on, made all the difference!


Being with people who are trying to accomplish the same thing you are:  be that a 26.2 mile ruck, a fitness competition, degree program, starting a new business, a blog challenge, or anything else, changes things!  It creates an esprit de corps that always pushes me beyond my comfortable limit.


With a healthy lifestyle:  Trying to change lifestyle habits, especially if you’ve failed in the past, can be daunting.  Remember that it’s helpful if you invest in yourself.  Get some skin in the game!


At the same time, surround yourself with people who hold you to your greatness.  There is little doubt that your friends and family love you.  They (usually) try to support your goals but, they may not have ever struggled with what you’re going through.  They may want to help, but they don’t know how to.

To be honest, they might also coddle you.  Precisely because your friends and family love you, they don’t like for you to be uncomfortable, they don’t like for you to struggle.  Going through tough stuff – which needs to be done when you’re making any kind of change – is uncomfortable!  As you grumble to family and friends, they may feel badly for you and just tell you to give up.  “If you’re so unhappy….why are you doing this?”


Here’s what a blog challenge taught me about health:

You will not do anything, for long, if I don’t see personal value in it.

It’s best if you focus on the things that provide the biggest impact, and let this idea of perfection go.   Do what you can, when you can, with what you have.

Invest in yourself.

Surround yourself with people who hold you to your greatness.

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