Why Most 30 Day Challenges Suck (and 3 Challenges That Actually Work)

challenges
photo: some rights reserved by trevy

I’ve seen my fair share of 30 day challenges, and I’ve heard not-so-great stories that usually entail abandoning the challenge and diving head first into a tub of ice cream or box of doughnuts … and cookies … and forehead deep into a pie … and any other foods that were “forbidden” during the 30 day chalenge.

There’s no shortage of 30 day challenges that can include a diet change, some type of daily workout, a cleanse or detox, or any combination thereof.

But there are three problems with many popular 30 day challenges.

1. They Suck

Some 30 days challenges (especially in regards to nutrition) tell you to avoid a whole host of foods and food groups. Sure, you can slurp on all the cabbage soup you want and drink limitless amounts of water with lemon. So what if you’re so full from all of the liquid you feel like your eyeballs are floating and your bladder is going to explode unleashing the force of a raging river and wishing you had worn a diaper because you’re going to erupt at any moment and there isn’t a toilet near by – at least you can have all you want!

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Fit and Fat Shaming – This Needs to Die. Now.

body shaming
Common negative stereotypes. Photo from About-Face.org

Warning! You’re entering a rant zone. I rarely do this but could no longer remain silent with this particular issue. You’ve been warned.

Befuddled. Confused. Annoyed. Maybe even a little disturbed.

That’s how I feel about the current wave of fit and fat shaming. Even though I don’t read about it on social media where’s it’s quite popular, I’m still hearing it in conversations.

(NOTE: the picture here shows common negative stereotypes applicable to the fit and fat shaming discussion and is NOT saying “this is the way it is” or “all people think this way”.)

You see comments from both sides such as …

“Women who are incredibly fit are narcissists and can afford the luxury of being super fit because they don’t have families or other obligations.”

And …

“Women who are overweight are just lazy and full of excuses.”

Why would anyone think they’re superior or inferior based on their physical appearance? Why do some go out of their way to criticize the way another person looks? Why would someone make an immediate judgement on why a person is that way?

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10 Instances When You Should do the Opposite of What’s Popular

opposite
photo: some rights reserved by Howard Ignatius

I’ve achieved some of my greatest successes, attained better health and fitness results, and made my life more awesome by doing the opposite of what’s popular and recommended by “experts”.

You can too.

Society and some fitness resources have been telling women what to do for years, and in some instances it’s time to do the exact opposite. Not in the name of defiance, but because doing so can actually be BETTER and lead to greater results. Here are 10 instances where you should do the exact opposite of what’s popular …

1. Value your self-worth and self-esteem on your jean size, weight, age, or some other number.

Nope. Screw that. Resist the constant pressure and temptation to think you’re “not good enough” or you’d somehow be a better person if you looked a certain way or reached a lower (or higher) bodyweight.

Base your self-worth on who you are as a person and what you contribute to this world because no set of numbers can define you.

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Disordered and Binge Eating – Who is at Risk and How to Break Free

break free from disordered and binge eatingA survey conducted in 2008 of American women between ages 25-45 suggested that 65% had behavioral issues regarding food intake.

Sixty-five percent!

I think that’s conservative because out of all the women I know personally, I can only say that one has never “been on a diet” or had any issues with food intake or body image. Only one.

Sadly most women know all too well what it means to “go on a diet”, and many develop disordered or binge eating habits as a result.

If you’ve ever been on a diet, obsessed over food, spent more time than necessary planning your meals, or developed any other disordered or binge eating habits, (or you want to know how to eat in a simple, sustainable, healthy way!) then please listen to this episode of the Lift Like a Girl Podcast. I’m joined by nutrition coach and registered dietitian Georgie Fear and we discuss who is at risk of developing disordered or binge eating habits, and what to do if you’re struggling with them.

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A Tasty Smoothie That Actually Keeps You Full

tastysmoothie
photo: some rights reserved by Miriam

By far the greatest complaint I hear (and said before in the past myself) is that smoothies don’t keep people full or satisfied for long.

“An hour after my smoothie I’m already hungry!” was one reader’s comment.

That’s because most people don’t make their smoothies with satiating ingredients. Heck, a lot of “smoothies” I see people drink include nothing but fruit juice, ice, and some pieces of fruit. If your smoothies sound remotely like that, it’s no wonder you’re ravenous shortly after drinking it.

But my smoothies keep me full for hours, and they’re incredibly tasty and have a lot of versatility.

And those are two things I don’t compromise with my food (especially the first meal of the day): it must taste great and keep me satisfied for hours.

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4 Reasons Women Should Train for Strength

trainforstrengthI’m grateful that encouraging women to strength train is no longer a new trend or uncommon suggestion; it’s a well established activity that more women than ever are already doing.

But just because it’s not a ground-breaking recommendation to encourage women to lift weights, it still bears repeating that there are numerous benefits to focusing specifically on getting stronger.

The reason is simple – many women still strength train (or work out in general) for the sole purpose of losing fat, burning calories, and trying to transform their physical appearance. And I think there’s a better way: focus on getting stronger, and nothing else.

Before we get to the four reasons women should train for strength, it’s important to note that there are myriad ways to get stronger. Getting stronger doesn’t mean you must focus on nothing but the powerlifts (squats, deadlifts, and bench press) and increasing your one rep maximum. You can use any tool or combination thereof such as free weights, kettlebells, odd objects, or even just your bodyweight. You can also use any rep range or combinations such as heavy singles, sets of five, or even sets of 10 to 20 reps.

Bottom line: there are a lot of different ways to get stronger. The important thing is that you do better when possible and beat your previous workouts. Strength comes in many different forms, so use whatever tools are available to you and embrace all the different rep ranges, if you’d like.

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How to Stick to Your Diet

how to stick to your diet
photo: some rights reserved by zsoolt

You know this scenario all too well: you’re determined to stick to your diet and you start off incredibly well. But when you’re at your favorite restaurant you start eying your preferred not-so-healthy and doesn’t-fit-your-diet item on the menu. There are typically three possible outcomes.

Outcome one: you resist the temptation of your favorite meal and order the more “sensible” option.

Outcome two: you resist the temptation of your favorite meal and order the more “sensible” option, but when you get home you rummage through the cabinets and pantry looking for something to satisfy the craving you had at the restaurant that just wasn’t delivered from your “healthy meal choice”. You snack on several random things but just can’t find what you’re looking for and keep on snacking.

Outcome three: You order your favorite meal and the whole time you eat it you feel guilty and think, “Great, I blew it! I didn’t stick to my diet again.” You end up not enjoying your favorite meal, feel guilty, and vow to “get back on track tomorrow”. In the meantime, you order dessert because you figure you already messed up, so why not keep on going.

Do those three outcomes sound familiar? (There’s a fourth, and preferred, possible outcome, but we’ll get to that in a moment). Most people look at that situation and wonder, “How do I stick to my diet?”

But we’re looking at things all wrong.

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Damage Control – What to do When You Over Indulge

when you over indulge
photo: some rights reserved by Robert Fairchild

We’ve all been there – that time when we ate too much and ended up uncomfortably full or we consumed more sweets than we intended at a party. A reader emailed me a few weeks ago about a similar scenario:

“Nia, I over indulged over the weekend and ate way too much junk food. I had some ice cream and then found myself constantly popping my kid’s left over Easter candy in my mouth all weekend. Can you give me a tough workout to burn all of this off? I want to undo the damage!”

It happens. Sometimes we eat too much or go bonkers on a tub of ice cream (or Easter candy!) and immediately after we start thinking about how we can “undo the damage” from our chow-fest. Sure, I could give the woman who sent me that email a “tough workout” that will have her sweating, huffing and puffing, and burning a ton of calories … but that’s not what I did.

Taking on a “damage control” approach after over indulging is not the way to go, and before we get into what you should do, here are four problems from the typical “damage control” mentality:

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NEW Bodyweight Exercise and Workout Tutorial

bodyweight tutorialThere are several bodyweight articles here on Lift Like a Girl that include:

  • Exercise demonstrations
  • Sample workouts
  • Training techniques

… and much more.

And now you can find them all in one awesome, convenient place: the Bodyweight Exercise and Workout Tutorial.

Whether you want some new exercises to add to your current regimen or you want some sample workouts or advanced training techniques to try, you can find them all there.

Click here to check out the Bodyweight Exercise and Workout Tutorial.

6 Techniques to Add Variety to Bodyweight Exercises

different bodyweight techniques

Bodyweight exercises should be included in everyone’s strength training program to some degree. Heck, some people train with bodyweight workouts exclusively out of necessity or personal preference. So how can you change them up so you don’t bored doing the same thing every time and can keep getting stronger and achieving body-transformation results?

For the past year most of my workouts have consisted of bodyweight exercises and several months ago they started to get a little stale so I added some variety by using different techniques to make the same old exercises somewhat “new” again, and more challenging.

Below you’re going to see six ways to add variety to bodyweight exercises. These training techniques will present new challenges and shake out the cobwebs if you’re tired of doing the exercises the same way for weeks or months straight.

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