In mid-February, someone I follow on Instagram posted that we were approximately 100 days from Memorial Day Weekend (also known as the unofficial start of summer). As you may recall, two years ago, I struck out to complete 100 workouts in 100 days in an effort to make myself fall in love with working out. I got to day 60.
So, it seemed to me, perfect timing to start another 100-day workout challenge. I set the same parameters for myself: I had to work out for at least 30 minutes every day and post my workout to Instagram. I had three goals: one, to finish; two, to like the way I looked in shorts; and three, to make working out regularly a part of my life.
I won’t keep you in suspense, I completed the 100 day challenge on Friday morning with a four mile run with Marie. We stopped at the half-way point and Marie played Instagram wife, taking pictures and Boomerangs of me jumping for joy. Goal number one = check.
Somewhere around day 10, I started treating this whole challenge like a really long run. Anyone who has ever suffered through a bad run knows the mental gymnastics one does to get through it. For those of you unfamiliar, it goes something like this: the first mile is awful and you are telling yourself it is okay, the first mile is always awful, you just have to push through. Once you are warmed up, it will feel better. After mile one: sometimes it really does get easier, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it is both and so during this time you break down your remaining miles into minutes (at this pace, Sarah, you only have 29 minutes left; less than half an hour, you totally got this) or songs (at an average of 2. 5 songs per mile, you only have 10 songs left; err, really, 9 and a half) or any other chunk of measurement more easily digestible than the reality of how many miles you have left to run. There is also some negotiating here (okay, you have to run 60 minutes or six miles, whichever comes first). Then the last mile. It hurts, but it is easier. You are still doing the mental calculations (you only have two songs left) and negotiating (okay, you only have to finish out this last song) but somehow you need it a little less and you almost never take the “whichever comes first” option.
I had breezed through the first 10 days; now I had to figure out how I was going to get through the next 90. I know this has been said before but I am going to say it again, I think whenever you are going through something hard, it helps to break it down into smaller, more manageable goals. And, to give yourself a way out if it gets to be too much.
And while I am confirming long-held and thoroughly tested adages: practice really does make perfect. The bulk of my workouts were done in running shoes or in a spin class. Over the course of 100 days, I shaved more than a minute from my pace and added about 40 points to my FlyWheel Total Power.
Things that really helped along the way were having friends to workout with, a variety of classes to keep me healthy and not bored, and posting my workouts each day to Instagram. I doubt if I missed a day anyone would have called me out on it; and I’m sure it would have been easy to cheat (I know it would have because on really dark days I thought about cheating). Still, posting to Instagram kept me accountable. It felt good when friends posted encouraging comments; it felt even better when friends started their own challenges.
Also, around day 10, I bought myself an Apple Watch but had it shipped to my sister. If I made it to day 100, she would ship it to me. We didn’t have a plan if I didn’t make it to day 100.
Some point after the four week mark I was invited to a party at a friend’s house. These sort of invitations (in the past) had caused me great anxiety because like most women, I never had anything to wear. I also didn’t like the way I looked in whatever I was wearing. And then, inevitably, someone will want to take a group picture and will ask everyone to approve it, and of course I would say it was fine but really I hated how I looked in it. But this Saturday night I discovered a bunch of items in my closet that suddenly fit again — including a super cute pair of leather shorts. I didn’t have to hide underneath leggings and an oversized sweatshirt. Of course, I couldn’t wear the leather shorts either, it wasn’t that kind of party. Goal number two = check.
One of the hardest things to overcome is self-doubt. Last time As day 60 approached, I started to freak out. On day 60, following my workout, I took part in some serious self-sabotage and so day 61 looked like it was going to be a repeat of two years ago, too tired and too afraid to make it to the gym. But something I learned from the one meditation class I was forced to take clicked — these were all just thoughts. They weren’t real. They weren’t even necessarily true. They were just thoughts. And I have a million thoughts a day (I am very smart) so why should these thoughts matter anymore than any others. I am so grateful for day 61. It showed me how strong I am. And now, during tough workouts, when I am afraid I won’t be able to accomplish my goal, I remind myself it is just a thought and don’t give it any more power than that.
Probably the biggest shock of the last 100 days (after realizing that meditation class was useful) is what I learned about myself. If you have read this blog before or followed me on Twitter or Instagram, you will know that I like to drink wine and have fun with friends. And that is still true. But, before I got mid-way through this, I never thought I actually liked working out, and part of that was because I didn’t think it was cool to like working out. Drinking until you black out = cool girl. Working out and posting about your sweat-sesh = lame person we make fun with memes and clever sweatshirts.
Except, I hate being drunk. I feel guilty and anxious the next day, not to mention sick to my stomach and exhausted. On the flip-side, I have I never finished a run and then freak out for 45 minutes that I lost my phone and my credit cards and my house keys and why isn’t anyone returning my texts, did I say or do something unforgiveable during my run?
I also like going to bed at 9:30 and getting up at 4:30 (okay, I’m not always super thrilled about it at 4:30 a.m. but I am typically happy about the choice by 5; sometimes 5:15). I like how strong and fast and powerful I feel. I like the muscles in my legs that I haven’t seen since my rowing days. I don’t miss being the fun, single, party girl. I mean, I am still fun. And I am still single. But I am now also the leaves-the-party-early girl. And that is okay. Life is about balance. They should probably put that on a t-shirt. Goal three = check.