I like doing fitness challenges. Ok, “like” is probably too strong a word, I feel, well, compelled to do it once I’m confronted with one or the thought is planted! Within “reason” of course. I’m minding my business and there it is, all arrogant and ambitious. “I bet you can’t/wouldn’t xyz”. Oh no you didn’t just dare me?!! (DON’T. EVEN. THINK IT).
My name is Titi and I am not a morning person. That was how it all began, many moons ago. In my day job, I’m a Management Consultant. Sometimes I travel for work and have to be up even earlier than I would like so I started doing a routine of stretches and floor exercises upon arising to challenge my body to wake up. I mean that literally. Alarm goes off, I roll off the bed unto the floor, most times with my eyes still closed. Sit-ups, leg raises, knees to elbows…I have a list. 10 exercises on a count of 10. I called it my 100%. Of course not all mornings are created equal – you snooze the alarm and you’re 10 minutes short (ok, maybe it was 2 snoozes), you forgot to set the alarm (oops). Whatever. You generally lose the plot and the morning is gone. I migrated to “30-day fitness challenges”. It worked out better. I actually had to open my eyes (WAKE UP) to see what the day’s challenge was, there was ACCOUNTABILITY (ok so you missed a morning, you still had to check it off or face being mocked by the next day’s entry – loser!) and of course each little step added up to BIG REWARDS at the end of the month.
2016 was the year of the fitness challenge! It started with monthly challenges, I even took to posting on instagram (it takes a village etc etc). Then “how many half marathons can I do in a year?”, then “how many Spartan obstacle course races can I do in a year?” – If I do 3 different ones I earn a special Trifecta medal? SIGN ME UP. Overall, it was more a challenge to me to stay fit during a hectic work/travel schedule.
- The 30 day burpee challenge
- The 30 day abs challenge
- The 30 day abs and squat challenge
- The flat abs challenge – including ounces of water to drink
- The 30 day Beach Body challenge
- The 28 day Oblique challenge
- The 30 day plank challenge – starting with 30 seconds and increasing gradually to the final day of 400 seconds. DNF people, DID NOT FINISH! But oh there’s more…
Challenge image credits as indicated. Find more online!
These were all “personal” challenges ie do it in your home, on your own time, whenever, nobody has to know your business. The “PUBLIC” fitness challenges are a whole different thing. You have to show yourself doing the challenge. Yup. Video evidence. Your truth is not true until it is truthful. It’s scary and OMGish.
These challenges also forces you to be “creative” which appeals to me I guess. By the time you’re on day 6, shooting a video, you’re thinking “I have 24 MORE DAYS of this”? You spice it up for your own sanity. And to distract from the pain. Yes, it is painful. Beauty is pain blah blah. Anyhoo. The creativity in itself becomes an added challenge.
Enter the “22 day push-up challenge”. This was to complete 22 push-ups every day for 22 days to raise awareness of veteran suicides and PTSD. Everyday you do it, you nominate (challenge) someone. I got nominated TWICE, from the UK and US. What kind of friends do I have?! I bolstered up courage to avoid being called out again. I did push-ups in some hilarious and dare I say, daring places. I did push-ups I didn’t know I could do!! Read the full story – 22 pushups later……things I learnt in in my new *Third Thursday Throwback section. I’m building the section so check back.
Photos of Titi on the 22 day push-ups challenge.
Why am I talking about challenges and stuff? Well, this month, I was added to a Facebook group to do the plank challenge. I really must get new friends. Sigh. Thank you Liliana! I finally gave in on day 4. (Ps, that’s Liliana and I on one of my 22 day push-ups, with leg raises). The first time I tried the plank challenge, it was personal and like I said earlier, I didn’t finish it. I’m not sure on which day I balked or “forgot”. Plank seconds are not earthly seconds.
This plank challenge is 1 min on Day 1 and every day you add 10 seconds. People. We are looking at Day 31 in the eye, with 6 mins. Side eye I might add.
The simplest way to describe a plank is get into a push-up position with your hands directly under your shoulders (standard plank) or the forearm plank (my preferred) with your forearms/elboes on the ground. In both cases, your body is a “plank” with only arms/hands and toes in contact with the ground. You can have your knees on the ground as well. Go with how you feel. This exercise has major (MAJOR) benefits — strengthens your entire body, core, lower back, shoulders, arms, glutes. It can help sculpt your waistline and improve your posture. . You can also do “side planks”. Get planking today!
Random (free) image of random planker.
Back to the Facebook group challenge. So we are posting videos, mostly daily. There was this one, a guy in a field with cows – it was HILARIOUS. The cows looked even more perplexed than they usually look! They’re in their happy place chewing the cud all nonchalant, and then the usually upright human that speaks to them in a language they probably don’t care about is suddenly prostrate? What are we to make of this? They must have thought. They were his cows by the way, he didn’t just chance upon a random field of cows and hope not to be trampled to death. It’s not that kind of challenge. Not only is trespassing against the law, this is Texas, people have guns.
Videos with pets are sooooo entertaining! Dogs on a licking spree while the planker tries to maintain form. Cats well, curious by nature so you can only imagine their – “what folly is this?” thought going in their cunning feline brains. I find watching the videos and encouraging everyone generally kills time, and before you know it, plank done!
On Day 8 of the challenge, it’s just before dusk, I’m out running, in the park, I’m in my thoughts and humming to the music in my ears…and I spot these two stone pillars, traffic management wotsit things. Hmmmmmm, I thought as I ran past. Oooh, there’s a thought!! I thought. So I timed my 4 mile run to get me back to it and 2mins 10 seconds later, Day 8 of the plank challenge was done! What I LOVE is challenging the challenge! The pillars are about 2 and a half feet. I should go back and take a photo with me doing the plank on it (check back for that).
Left brain: You know this is a PUBLIC place and PEOPLE can come by at ANYTIME? Skateboarders, cyclists…..
Right brain: And?
Left brain: Are you sure you’re even “tall enough” to stretch across those pillars? (sniggering)
Right brain: I’m not sure I’m understanding you. (deadpan)
Left brain: You know what? Whatever.
Right brain: Thank you.
In the last 10 seconds, a duo of skate boarders did approach, and quite fast too! I debated on my countdown how fast they could get to me then decided to yell out “JUST GIVE ME 10 SECONDS”! Again, it’s not that kind of challenge.
2017 was a challenging year – personal loss, buying a house, moving house, all round stress. I felt my motivation dip towards the end of the year. Starting off 2018 with a fitness challenge is a good way to motivate and challenge my fitness! I’m all for it.
No guts no glory.
Photo as promised! Added on 26 January.
Postscript. We are now at 5 mins. FIVE MINUTES!! That was yesterday 25 Jan. So of course you know I employed another strategy! A mixture of forearms, left/right hand and hand planks, brilliant right? It’s a “plank challenge” and there’s all kinds of planks!