While the focus has been on transforming our bodies (into one that has more muscle and less fat), for me the challenge has been more about transforming my mind. I have made changes to the way I think about food and exercise, the way I think about my goals and the way I go about chasing them down. I have made changes to my attitude towards setting big goals and I have changed the way I see myself. I have also made changes in the amount of self-belief and confidence I have, in all areas of my life. All of these changes have been positive ones.
While I knew that undertaking this challenge would involve hard work, I thought the process would be reasonably straight forward, seeing as I have done two before this. However, this challenge turned out to be one that taught me the most.
So, I thought I would share with you some of the things that I have learnt over these past 12 weeks.
- There is no such thing as a comfort zone — so keep moving ahead. If you want to make change, then you are obviously not comfortable where you are, nor do you want to go back to old habits. Moving towards your goals will involve doing things you are not comfortable with, but if you are going to be uncomfortable anyway, why not move in the direction of your dreams?
- Motivating others also motivates you. When you become part of someone else’s cheer squad, the positive energy and encouragement you give to them rubs off on you. So next time you lack motivation, try encouraging someone who is working hard at reaching their goals — and you will feel encouraged to keep pushing through.
- You must compare apples with apples. There is no joy to be gained by comparing yourself, or your journey with someone else. Everyone has obstacles to overcome, but they differ for everyone. Everyone has different goals they want to achieve. So comparing yourself with your perception of someone else, will only distract you from your progress. If you must compare, compare yourself now to yourself 3 months ago, 6 months ago or 12 months ago.
- Time goes by anyway. Regardless of how you are feeling in the moment, time is still ticking by. Sure, you may not feel like taking the steps you know will lead you closer to your goals. (I had a week where I was not particularly motivated to eat well or do all of my workouts). But don’t let your feelings dictate your progress. Do what needs to be done, regardless of what you ‘feel like doing’. Because if you don’t, you will kick yourself. (And yes, for the record, I did every prescribed workout during the whole 12 weeks.)
- There are opportunities everywhere. It doesn’t matter what you are working towards (e.g. a better body, improved health, the job of your dreams, buying your first house, etc.), there are always opportunities to move you closer to that dream if you look for them. When you spot one, make the most of it.
- Food does not solve problems. During the past 12 weeks, I had a health scare. Luckily it was just a scare. But I was tempted to turn to food (a McDonald’s sundae with the kids to be exact), to comfort myself. What I realised however, is that no amount of ice-cream was going to change the situation, ease my worry or alleviate the stress. So I said ‘no’. Instead, I drank my water and focussed on positive thoughts.
- Small achievements add up to big ones. It can be daunting to set out to achieve a goal. Particularly if you have a fair way to go to achieve it. However, instead of focussing on all you have to do, focus on little steps. During this 12 weeks, in each workout I focused on getting out one more rep, or increasing the weight just that little bit. When I compare what I was pulling and pushing 12 weeks ago to what I can do now, the difference is huge.
- You are stronger than you think. I’m not referring to physical strength, but mental strength. Undertaking a challenge (of any kind) should require you to push your mind to places you never thought you could go. Don’t run from the challenge. Instead, embrace it and see just how far you can go. There is no shame in failing. Only in giving up before you give it a go.
- Focus on what you DO HAVE and what you CAN DO. It is very easy to make excuses as to why you don’t achieve what you say you want to achieve. But if you are serious, you won’t let obstacles stand in your way. No one has all the resources they need at their disposal. Sometimes money or time may be limited. Sometimes you need more knowledge or experience. Instead of using these limitations as excuses why you can’t achieve something, focus on what you do have and can do. When you take action, things begin to fall into place. And the very obstacles that you saw standing in your way are no longer there — because you have found a path to take in spite of them.
- Don’t be surprised if the true value of the experience is not what you intended. You may be embarking on a challenge or working towards a dream for a particular reason. For example, you may enter a half-marathon to ‘tick it off your bucket list’. Or you may wish to go back to study because it will mean you have a higher earning capacity in your career. While those reasons for undertaking the challenge are great, the true value that you get out of achieving those things is likely to be something you never even thought of.
I have my final measurements tomorrow morning and then this challenge is over.
While I am a little anxious about what they will be (I always put too much pressure on myself and set high expectations), I know that I can already be proud of what I have achieved this time around.
Even if I don’t achieve all that I set out to achieve, I am certainly a lot closer to my goal than I was 12 weeks ago.
I am already thinking about my next set of goals, and know that whatever may come along, I am better equipped to reach them, than I was 12 weeks ago.