From Tracy – I am thrilled to share this guest post with you today. My friend Julie, from The Hallway Initiative, shares the four lessons she learned while participating in the WMB Streak Challenge at the beginning of the summer. I have decided to make the Streak Challenge a regular offering, so if you weren’t able to join us in May, you now have the option to sign up anytime. But be sure to read Julie’s lessons first to help you prepare.
A few months ago, I was feeling a bit frustrated with my health. It isn’t that I have major health concerns, but somewhere between marriage and kids, I’ve lost the energy, flexibility, and strength that I had a decade ago.
So when Tracy from Working Mom’s Balance announced the start of her Streak Challenge this past May, I knew I wanted to sign up. It would be the perfect opportunity to develop a new health habit that could jumpstart my goal of getting back into shape!
I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the challenge. Not only did it help me develop a new healthy habit, but I was surprised to learn four other lessons that were really valuable, too. Today, I’d love to share them with you in the hopes that they will encourage you on your own journey, whether your goal is to lose weight, improve your parenting, or develop a gift you’ve never before cultivated.
When I originally heard about the WMB Streak Challenge, my first thought was to do a Whole37. I’d completed my first Whole30 in February and liked the thought of continuing where I’d left off. But when I realized that the dates of the challenge covered Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and a family wedding, I quickly decided that sticking with a Whole30-style menu was going to be difficult, if not impossible.
This realization taught me an important lesson: whenever you’re trying to start a new habit, choose wisely. Pick a habit that you can reasonably accomplish. If you set the bar so high that you’ve doomed yourself to failure, you’ll convince yourself that learning a new habit is impossible when the problem was simply that you didn’t start something you could reasonably finish.
I ended up choosing to stretch every day. I felt that this was in keeping with my desire to try a health challenge but would be much more manageable than a monster Whole30. It was also something that I could keep up whether I was at home or away and could also accomplish over the holidays.
You Have to Do It
When I compared the challenge of a Whole30 with my final choice of stretching every day, I kind of giggled. I mean, the first one would have been extremely difficult, while the stretching seemed overly simple. It would be a breeze to complete the Streak Challenge!
Or so I thought.
The thing is, even if something seems easy enough, you still have to do it. You still need to deliberately make time for it. I rather expected that my stretching routine would magically happen on its own, but I was wrong.
Even though I did complete the challenge by stretching every day, I lost track of how many times I ended up doing it moments before hopping into bed because I’d simply forgotten about it until the end of the day. And once I even fell asleep before remembering that I hadn’t stretched (and yes, if you’re wondering, I did get up out of bed to do it just to say I completed the challenge!).
For this reason, I loved Tracy’s recommendation to pair our Streak Challenge habit with another habit we were already doing, just as she started taking her vitamins with her morning health drink. Since she was already in the habit of enjoying her daily health drink, it was a lot easier to remember her vitamins along with it rather than trying to remember to take her vitamins at a different time of day.
Had I paired my stretching with, say, my daily quiet time, I probably would have been a lot more successful at accomplishing my stretching earlier in the day!
Small Changes Can Have a Big Impact
As we neared the end of the challenge, I was rather surprised to see how big of an impact this small daily challenge had on my physical health. While I used to run a lot as a teen and young adult, somewhere in the crazy blessings of marriage and parenting, I let go of my exercising habit. And although I’m technically not overweight, often I don’t feel very healthy.
But when I began my stretching challenge, I noticed an improvement not only in flexibility but also an increase in my energy too. I didn’t change anything else besides adding in daily stretching, but that single, small change made a big impact in how I felt overall.
Sometimes we mistakenly convince ourselves that only big, life-changing goals and achievements will make an impact. But the reality is that more often than not, it’s the small, daily choices we make that make the biggest impression.
You Don’t Have to Continue
The original streak challenge ran from Memorial Day through the 4th of July – 37 days. Even though I knew there was an end date, I never gave much thought to what I’d do once the streak was over.
Tracy’s last email to those of us completing the Streak Challenge was an “aha” moment for me because she pointed out that we didn’t have to keep on doing our challenge forever. While some would continue, others of us would move on to other things.
For me, it made the most sense to continue with some stretching but to slowly let my new stretching habit morph into an exercise routine. Stretching will still be a part of that, but I’ve now incorporated light weight lifting and semi-regular jogging on my treadmill. While I only do these things for a few minutes each day – I’m not running for an hour or anything like that! – these small changes are having a big impact on my overall health. And that was my original goal for completing the Streak Challenge in the first place: getting healthier.
I am so glad that Tracy put in the hard work of creating the Streak Challenge, and I’m happy that I was able to join in and complete it. Not only am I healthier both mentally and physically for having accomplished this goal, I learned four important truths in the process as well.
If you’re considering taking on Tracy’s Streak Challenge via email (which I would highly recommend!), remember: choose wisely; you have to do it to finish it; small changes can have a big impact, and you don’t necessarily need to continue once the challenge is over.
And I promise – if you take on the Streak Challenge, you’ll love the sense of accomplishment and you will feel good about your new habit once you’re done!
Julie Moore is wife to Jon and mom to their four spark plugs, the oldest of whom has Type 1 Diabetes. When not helping Jon with his business or homeschooling the kids, she blogs at The Hallway Initiative, encouraging Christian women to praise the Lord in the midst of hardship.
You can start your own 37-day streak challenge at any time. Each day you’ll receive an encouraging email with tips and tricks to help you be successful. Visit this post to find out more and sign up!