I was raised by a hard-working farmer, a three-time Olympian, who knew the value of education. Deep in my core, my identity is a mix of being athletic, successful, vivacious, active, healthy, and resourceful. I felt like none of those things as I was lying on my couch in January, in clothes too loose and comfortable to even be presentable to the world, having not left my condominium in a week.
As I was lying there, forlorn and sluggish under my fuzzy blanket, scrolling Facebook on my phone, I saw a post from someone I respect extolling the virtues of a 75-day challenge for mental toughness. I read his post, and went back through his feed to read earlier posts about his experience with the challenge. With that, I gained a glimmer of hope that I could improve my situation and reclaim what felt more like “me”.
The challenge required a checklist of daily actions, including dietary restrictions and a lot of exercise. During the pandemic, Häagen-Dazs and red wine had become staple in my routine, if you can call lethargy and over-indulgence a routine, that is. The gyms were shut due to public health orders, and my go-to winter sport of speed skating had also been eliminated for the season.
After listening to a podcast detailing the challenge, what to expect to gain from it, and what would be required, I discussed the upcoming lifestyle changes with my partner (who was my overeating and over-drinking buddy at the time). To my surprise, he committed to start it on February 1st with me. I figured out how to get the two workouts into my day, and we cut out alcohol, sugar and processed foods (along with drinking a gallon of water, reading 10 pages of non-fiction and taking a daily progress photo).
The challenge consumed a lot of time and willpower, and to my surprise, body fat. Please know that I did not go into this with the intention of shedding weight. I honestly thought my body was fine, I'm strong and healthy, and happy with my size. I was motivated primarily by the disturbing level of apathy I had adopted with my lifestyle during the COVID-19 restrictions, and felt the need to take charge. That said, since physical changes are by far the most easy to discern, here's the obligatory "before and after" photos...
I lost 17 pounds and am the slimmest version of myself I've ever been, as an adult. I have to admit, that feels remarkably good, and I need new pants. 🙂
Beyond Physical Changes
More than the physical changes, though, I came back into my own identity with great knowing, and once again felt in charge of my life. I feel like I can truly do anything I set my mind to at this point, and what an empowered feeling that is to carry me not only through the rest of the pandemic but into the next phase of my life. This challenge truly came through on it's promise of mental toughness for me. Here's what I've noticed:
- I now plan my day with intention and specific micro-goals to achieve daily
- I'm able to prioritize what's important and see the value of my time
- My resourcefulness was tapped, finding ways to workout at home with what I had on hand, and to find ways to beat the frigid elements for the daily outdoor workouts
- I'm far more conscious of my food & drink choices and the impact they have on my body, how I feel when I "indulge"
- My confidence in myself and my ability to take care of myself and achieve my goals has soared. I've stopped looking at others as the solution to my problems, and am tackling them head-on myself
- I've opened my mind even further to self-development concepts I'm learning, and actually making the effort to DO THE WORK suggested, to explore the outcomes
- My day doesn't feel right now without at least one exercise session, and that feels like I'm doing the absolute right thing for myself and my longevity
Rather than this seeming like a self-indulgent, look-at-me post, here's the link back to marketing: CHALLENGES WORK. Drawing upon factors that people want to change in their lives, and showing them that the transformation from a "before" state to an "after" state is possible is extremely powerful.
If you aren't happy with your body, your fitness, or your commitment level, this particular challenge might be a bit much to attempt right out of the gate. There are so many other that will draw on that niggling feeling you have inside of you to do a bit better for yourself. An example is the "5-Day Take Back Your Body Challenge" by Tiger Ford, owner of The FIX Gym.
How about ways to challenge your marketing efforts and make some progress with it? Take a look at these free, execution-focused challenges from Christina Hooper, expert in taking action and getting your business moving forward. She has challenged herself to put together a series of challenges! Brilliant.
Knowing your customer is essential to all of this. Have you completed a customer profile, such as the Customer Avatar Canvas, which identifies your ideal customer's state before experiencing what you offer, their hopes and fears, and their resulting state after you've impacted them? If not... you should include this in your strategic marketing planning. It's essential to know your customer and speak to them in ways that help them to see their fit with what you are offering.
I feel like living proof that challenges work. This challenge promised me "mental toughness" and I got that and so much more out of it. Challenge yourself to improve too!