I’m sure many of you have seen, or even tried, a 30 Day Challenge. Whether it was an exercise, diet, or cleanse, we wanted to try these out and see how well we could do; or stick to it for that matter.

Do these challenges work? Do we use them for a jump start or to maintain our fitness and diet regimen? Research tells us that if we do something for 30 days, it usually becomes a habit. So why do the 30 day challenges not always work in the long run?

Food Challenges

30 days may seem pretty feasible when it comes to diet; but when the challenge is eliminating multiple types of food, the 30 days seems more like 30 months. Some may say that therein lays “the challenge”; but others say: how long can these really last before you overindulge? Instead of eliminating sugar, dairy, gluten, and bad fat, why not pick one? This way, you can focus and still challenge yourself, and have more of a change to make it last more than 30 days. If eliminating sounds intimidating, try changing just one meal a day, or think of it as adding something for 30 days. Do you always have the same thing for breakfast? Change it up! Try egg whites with veggies, a lean meat, or breakfast burritos with black beans, eggs, and fresh salsa. Or, challenge yourself to having a green vegetable at every meal. This will help your body, and brain, get used to healthier eating – making it last for a lifetime!

Exercise Challenges

Maybe you’ve hit a plateau, or you are trying to dive back into working out after a long hiatus. Wherever you are in your fitness journey, 30 workout challenges can seem tempting. They give you a structured schedule with a certain body part to work on. Seems doable? It is, but is it doable for more than 30 days, or 30 minutes? Don’t get us wrong – we want fitness to be part of your everyday, but what you do at first isn’t as important as doing something for at least 20 minutes a day. Let’s day the first day you do 20 minutes of weight training, then the next day it’s a walk. If the challenge is TOO challenging at first, you are less likely to stick to it. Going from 10 squats to 50 in 5 days might be too much for one person, and not challenging enough for another. Challenges are great for workouts; but they cannot be tailored to everybody’s fitness level. Start your own challenge by doing something active every day and bring a friend along for the ride to challenge yourself even more. The push, drive, and energy you will get from having support there will, again, make this 30 day challenge into a forever habit.

The Quick Fix “Challenge”

Beware of the fasting, juicing, or cleansing “challenges”. Again, some of these can be done sagely and effectively, but many a time it’s a waste of your time and money. If we have learned one thing from getting healthy, it’s that it’ll take time and effort – but more than 30 days to reverse years of unhealthy habits. Give yourself that allowance and time to prepare for your new challenges. If these quick fix solutions are asking you to put your money where your mouth is, or guarantees a certain result, you can be quick to decide that it’s not going to be worth it.

Make your challenges realistic, reachable, and with support from those that know this will take time, energy, focus, and determination. Stay positive and when you can’t stay positive, draw it from those who are around you. You might find that starting a challenge is the most challenging thing you have done; which only means how important and exciting it is for you. Test yourself and see what you can do!