Now that I’ve lost 35 pounds (almost halfway to my goal) on the Optavia health plan, I decided I really should get my chubby rear end moving and make exercise a daily part of my life rather than something I’m gonna do eventually or something I should do. I’m all about easing myself into things so there’s not going to be any two-hour workout sessions in my immediate future. Nor will there be any running. Unless I’m being chased. Then I might run. Or not.
Aaaanyway…I was thinking one of those 30-day challenges I’ve seen online might be the perfect thing to ease myself into exercise. So, I logged into my most favorite app — Pinterest of course — to start the search for a 30-day exercise challenge. I found a whole bunch of them. But. They were all too hard! On the first day!! They were CLEARLY not made for, or by, chubby middle-aged people who haven’t exercised regularly in well over a decade.
I was looking for something that was not intimidating in the least. Something that I could do fairly easily on the first day and then build on that each day. Something where I could feel successful. Because that feeling of success and accomplishment is what will keep me coming back each day. And? I would love to inspire other non-exercisers to try something that maybe they are scared of. I want it to be non-intimidating and only slightly challenging. Because nobody says I have to have a beach body tomorrow. I’ll be happy with slightly less lumpy a month from now. And a little less lumpy a month after that.
It quickly became obvious that I was going to have to create my own 30-day challenge. So I’m creating it as I go and sharing my progress here. At the end of the 30 days I will figure out how to make one of those cool infographics that you see on Pinterest so the whole challenge can be in one place.
Disclaimers: About a dozen years ago I was a bit of a gym rat and in really good shape so I’m not a complete newbie at this, but I’m not a fitness or medical professional either so this will be simply what works for me. Always check with your doctor before starting a new diet or exercise plan. Exercise is supposed to challenge you, but if any of the movements cause intense joint or back pain, you should probably either modify the movement to something that works for you or not do that exercise at all.
- 1 Modified push-up: Yep. Just one. I had originally planned to do three, but when I went to do day 1 of my own challenge, I found out that three was pretty much impossible at this point. And these are the kind on your knees. What middle school gym teachers in the early ’80s called girl push-ups. So for the first day of the challenge, I only did one. My form sucked and I kinda thought I was going to die on the way up. Another excellent option would be wall push-ups. I’m going to stick with the knee push-ups for now. Hopefully it will get easier.
This is a great video demonstrating the correct form for push-ups. This lady is a beast!
- 7 Crunches: Crunches (sit-ups) seem so easy…like you can go all day. Until someone shows you correct form. If you are doing them right, you should feel a little bit of a burn in your upper abdomen. Lie on your back with your knees up. Link your hands behind your neck. Hold your head as if you are holding an orange under your chin. Tighten your abs and lift your shoulders off the ground while pushing your lower back to the floor. I hold for a beat at the top and then lower my shoulders down. It’s not a very big movement.
- 5 Squats: I really went back and forth on if I wanted to include squats in my 30-day challenge. I have bad knees so I was afraid squats would aggravate that. I tried a wall squat — where you basically sit against a wall — but that was too painful in my knees. Regular squats (with no added weight) are challenging for me to execute with correct form. I also tried chair squats where you literally sit down on the edge of a chair and get back up. By far the easiest I tried was holding on to the counter while doing squats. I haven’t really decided which squat method I’m going to go with, but for this first day I’ve done a whole frickin’ bunch of test squats so my legs are killing me! And now I’ve written the word squat so much that it looks and sounds ridiculous!
- 10-second Plank: Planks are the best. I’m serious. I’m not going to go so far as to say I LOVE planking, but as far as exercise goes it is my favorite — other than stretching which I will talk about more as we go through the challenge. A plank will activate almost every single muscle in your body. I do a plank up on my toes and elbows. My husband does them on hands and toes — like the top of a push-up. Key things are to make sure your body is flat without your butt sticking up in the air or sagging to the floor. Concentrate on keeping your hands relaxed. Breath. I count seconds in my head as one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand, etc. Don’t rush through the counting.
And we’re done with day 1!! Yaay! I found the push-up extremely challenging, and I found the crunches to be pretty easy. The plank was harder than I expected because I used to be a planking queen. It was a surprise to me that my whole body was shaking at the 10-second mark.
How was day 1 for you? Easy? Challenging? If you have to modify something to be less reps or an easier method that’s okay because we all have to start where we are! One modified push-up, seven crunches, five squats, and a 10-second plank is where I am and it’s where I’m starting and that’s awesome. Start where you are.