Dec 08

In Support of 30-Day Challenges

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.


I was thrilled to see one of my favorite power lifting coaches talk, positively, about a 30-day challenge he recently had several clients complete.

Many people (especially those in the fitness industry) say the 30 day challenges don’t work and are a waste of time,…


I’ve done blogging challenges – that not only got me to write every day for 30 days, but got me in the habit of finding time to write.  I’ve done exercise challenges, nutrition challenges, gratitude, journaling, and study challenges.  I once joined a Las Vegas boot camp for 30 days – that turned into 1 year!!  …and started me down the path of becoming the most healthy I have every been.


I’ve also personally run several of these challenges in the past and seen

(a) amazing short-term results but also

(b) sustainable results over the long-term

Courtney 2

  • I can think of at least half a dozen people immediately (without actually sitting down to think) who lost weight/fat and have kept it off (so far) for over 12-24 months.
  • I can think of three who received better ratings on their health insurance and are saving money this year as a direct result of a 30-day challenge they did last year.
  • I can think of 10 people (again, without even thinking) who have helped their family members make sustainable changes because of a 30-day challenge they personally participated in.


As with everything else, there ARE caveats though.  30 days is not the “end all” “magic” answer.


You need to know, going in, that:



1. HEALTH IS NOT FOR 30 DAYS.  (not for 12 weeks, for the summer, or until a person reaches a certain age).

Health is for life. For that reason, I don’t believe in extreme challenges. Just say, “NO” to starvation diets; de-toxes; wraps, pills or powders; exercising for hours a day; eliminating food groups, etc.

Those things are a huge waste of time, and money.  In fact, they can have the opposite affect of what you’re hoping for.  With these types of challenges – where things change only for the a certain number of days, people have a tendency to binge the day before they start.  You know….to “get ready”.

They do the 21-30 days un-sustainable, miserable, program and on day 22 or 31, everything is “back to normal”.  These programs can, and many times, do lead to yo-yo dieting.



A 30-day challenge can be a fantastic way to learn, and try out, new things,  They can provide different ways of looking at nutrition/exercise that can be implemented and sustained well after the challenge is over, but the change should be incremental.

Forget about health for a second, and look at organizational change.  I have my degree in change management and leadership.  I can’t walk into an organization on day one and say, “Okay, starting tomorrow, you’re doing this but no longer that.  We’re changing this and this and this.”  Presto.

Um.  No.

I’d start first by talking to the people.  “What change would YOU like to see?”  “What’s the end goal?  What are we trying to achieve?”  We don’t rush though this step.

THEN  “What one thing can we easily change now that will move us in the direction we hope to go?”  ………………..

Let’s do that first.

Do Something

THEN review.  “Is that working?”  If so, it’s critical we celebrate the change – no matter how small.  If it’s not working, “Should we try something else?”  We look at objective measurements here, not feelings.

THEN “What one thing can we easily change now that will move us – more – in the direction we hope to go?

And so on, and so on, and so on; building upon the small changes made previously.


You may not have thought about it in this manner, but the body is also a system – just like the organization is!!  Change one thing and it impacts others.  Start exercising like mad, and you’re going to be hungry!  Start eating some ridiculously low number of calories, and you’re going to feel sluggish.  You are going to binge.  The question is not if, but when.

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3. Mindset Matters Most.

Nothing will change, externally, until you’re ready to make a change, internally.  You have to want to make the change.  Once you have that, 30-days in a challenge group, where individuals receive support, and start to see results can be just enough to bolster self-confidence and resolve.

Reasonable changes also show people that neither the nutrition nor exercise have to be crazy over-the-top.

When people do a 30-day challenge and learn new concepts, those things cannot be unlearned. Even if they are not consistently put into practice, people think more about them.  The communities built within these short-term challenges can be just the extra motivation people need to get started.


Have you tried a short-term challenge?  What was your opinion of it?  What did you learn?

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