Everything I Learned From My 30-Day Fitness Challenge

Last month I decided to up my fitness goals and go on a 30 day fitness challenge. I’d been working out 2x/3x a week, but I wanted to get more consistent. My challenge was super simple: work out at least 30 minutes to 1 hour every single day to see if I could eventually get into the habit of working out 5x a week. I briefly contemplated joining a gym, but when I got real with myself, outside of random spurts of wanting to zone out on the elliptical machine, I really don’t like the gym. I didn’t want to waste any money nor self-sabotage my progress, so I pulled out all of my workout DVDs that I’ve purchased over the years, found a few YT videos for days that I wanted to switch it up, and I also started walking when the heat + humidity wasn’t as brutal.

My results?

I got stronger, lost almost 10lbs, and I only missed one day of working out due to an unexpected out of town guest (who I hadn’t seen in a year, so I’ll take that, lol).

Most importantly, I gained more structure and focus and ultimately, more PEACE. I never liked routines, but I found that starting my day off with a workout set things in motion and helped me get a lot accomplished, both personally and professionally. I’m lucky that I don’t have to get up at the crack dawn, but because I like being able to workout, cook my own breakfast and do a little blog/freelance work before I headed down to the photography studio or boutique, getting up earlier enough to do this forced me to be more organized and mindful of how I spent my hours in the evening. I’m naturally a night owl, but this helped me to switch it up. I doubt I’ll ever be a true morning person (don’t talk to me when I first wake up) but not being exhausted all day was a welcomed change. There were a few days where I wanted to just lay in bed and say forget it, but honestly, it wasn’t that hard to do after the first 2 weeks. I actually began to crave working out, especially when I was able to get outside.

I didn’t do anything fancy and wild, so if you’re thinking about doing your own challenge but are hesitant, here’s a little insight on how things went for me:

Workouts
If you’re one of those people that wants to spend all day in the gym and work out til you almost die, I applaud you. I, personally, cannot and do not want to do that. It’s just not realistic for my life and I wasn’t about to go crazy trying to live up to that. Does that mean I pussy-footed around? No. I broke a sweat and got aches and muscle burn like any other person, and I can see the changes in my body from it. Since I didn’t join a gym, I alternated between these things to keep it interesting:

  • Walking 1.5-2 miles
  • HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) Workouts
  • Aerobics
  • Yoga
  • Dancing
  • Zumba
  • Strength training with light weights

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I wasn’t trying to get ripped, but I knew I had to up the intensity (which is what it’s really about) in order to see some results (which would keep me motivated). One of my favorite workouts was actually the Denise Austin DVD bc some of her strength training combos really push you to the max. The first time I did it, I cursed her out, lol.

I also loved videos that I found on Youtube via PopSugar Fitness + FitnessBlender. PopSugar Fitness is a little more lighthearted(but still intense) but FitnessBlender is, IMO, the closet thing you can get to working with a trainer without actually going to a gym. I did a couple of their workouts, and their HIIT workout almost took me out! I’m going to invest in some more DVDs and heavier weights, but basically, if you have access to YouTube, you can do those and/or go walking to get in a great workout. You don’t have to go broke on a gym membership or equipment.

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Workout Clothes
So let me tell you about these shoes.

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I first got these shoes yeeeeeeears ago for those Saturday mornings where I’d go down to Harbor Town to walk a mile or two and then head to Target to spend all my money. Because I worked out so infrequently, they were perfect. Now? I have GOT to get more shoes bc they were not built for that, lol. I want to start running but my shins are on fire by the time I finish my walk (I keep between a speed of 3.0 + 4.0 mph to really get a burn and sweat) and these won’t cut it. I also just throw on yoga pants and tees that I’ve owned for years. Don’t let not having a closet full of workout clothes and shoes stop you from getting in a workout. You don’t need it. If you have 1-2 sports bras, a good pair of shoes, and a few tees + yoga pants you’re set. If you need some active-wear to get started, pop into Walmart. They sell Danskin which is really affordable; tees start at $5 + pants/leggings start at $12. I bought a few things the other day:

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You’re trying to sweat; nobody cares how cute you look.

Diet
So when I say diet, I don’t mean it in the restrictive way. I mean it in the overall way that you intake food. I try to eat clean 90% of the time, which essentially means eating whole foods. To make it even simpler, I try to consume and make meals with one ingredient foods. Fresh fruit + veggies (some frozen if needed), fish and lean meats, whole grains, limited dairy and juices, and a ton of water. I also try to avoid processed foods but every once in awhile…yea. I mean, if I want pizza or a piece of cake, I’m gonna get it because I’d rather have a small serving of something to satisfy a craving than binge out and ruin everything, but it’s in moderation.

I’ve found that I just feel better when I eat clean. And believe it or not, it isn’t as hard to do as people think. Now, you have some people who have to eat something different for every. single. meal., but if you’re really honest with yourself, you’ll see that you probably eat the same meals all of the time. When you’re trying to clean up your eating habits, this actually makes grocery shopping a little more wallet friendly, and once you figure out the healthiest version of it, it’s easier for you to do a little meal planning as well.

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The biggest thing you have to figure out is what foods fuel your body best and keep you full. People fall off the wagon when they diet because they’re hungry all of the time; when you eat in ways that keep you full, you can prevent that. I am NOT a dietitian, so I can only tell you what works for me, but I keep these items in my fridge because they’re good alone or combined with a few other ingredients:

  • eggs
  • fruit (bananas, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries. Sometimes I’ll get pineapples and oranges; just depends on what’s at the market
  • veggies (greens-spinach or mixed bag. avoid iceberg. it has NO nutritional value whatsoever-cherrie tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, celery, stoplight peppers, onions, zucchini, avocados, pico de gallo, squash, broccoli. both fresh and frozen
  • turkey bacon, salmon, and chicken
  • greek yogurt
  • raw honey + almond butter
  • granola + oatmeal
  • 100% wheat bread + english muffins (I don’t suffer from Celiac Disease so I don’t have to avoid gluten)
  • whole wheat pasta
  • marinara sauce
  • rice (all kinds)

I add and subtract from this list depending on what I’m cooking, but this is my foundation. I can make a ton of different meals and snacks so that I eat well. Sometimes I’ll have dinner out, but if I control 90% of what I eat every week, then I won’t ruin all of my working out efforts. Figure out what your caloric deficit needs to be in order for you lose lbs safely (1lb-2lbs a week) and plan your meals + snacks with that in mind. And remember, you don’t have to eat bland food to be healthy. Season with herbs and spices and you’ll be fine.

Helpful App
My best friend told me about this app called Endomondo that she was using to track her workout and I love it.

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Like any other fitness app, once you enter all of your info in, it tracks your workout progress, routes that you walk/run, the calories you burn and more. You can even link up with your friends to see their progress as well. I’d wanted an app to help me track the distance of my walks, and I liked how simple this app is. It’s straight to the point with no bells or whistles, which is what I needed. And the basic level is free! You can also enter the workouts that you do that aren’t tied to tracking a distance to see how you’re doing. Being able to see what your your friend’s are doing is fun and adds a little bit of competitiveness to it too.

So that’s it. I’m really happy that I decided to push myself and do the challenge because I actually enjoy working out now. If I miss a day here or there it’ll be fine, but as long as I take it day by day and be intentional with everything I do, I should be able to stick with it.

Have you ever done a 30-day challenge? Let me know what some of your favorite workouts + healthy meals are in the comments below!

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