Veganuary, RED January, Dry January, Dedicate – 30 Days of Yoga…
These are just a few of the January “challenges” (for want of a better word) that I saw floating around online over the last few weeks, either to benefit a charity or because people wanted a personal challenge with which to kick off 2019. And even though I saw some grumblings in the dark recesses of Twitter about how “running every day is bad for you” (seriously, what’s your damage Heather?), I think switching up your lifestyle with a clear start and finish can only be seen as a good thing.
Let’s look at the timing of the whole endeavour. Some people may argue that going off the booze or dairy in what is arguably the most difficult month of the year is a terrible, terrible idea. But think about it – if you’re going to cut things out of your life/diet, it seems like a sensible time to do it when a) you don’t have a huge amount of money to spend on such things and every drink in the pub comes with a side order of “oh gawwwwd why is payday so far away?!” and b) a load of other people are challenging themselves in the same way, so you have a ready-built support group online if not in real life.
Then there’s the duration of January challenges. It’s fairly well known that it takes 21 days to make a habit, so if you were able stick it out for just the first 3 weeks you may well have made a change that’s going to become as normal to you as brushing your teeth. That’s how I’ve always viewed exercise – as a routine part of my day that I happen to really enjoy (unlike flossing – the tooth version as opposed to the dance).
For me, things like Dry January and RED January don’t appeal. I usually only have a drink around once a fortnight, and I generally do a form of exercise 6 days a week as standard (although RED stands for Run Every Day, the premise is actually to do a form of exercise every day), and make sure to have a day off. My body craves rest days and would not stand up to running every day, but some folk I know have been doing that and having no issues whatsoever. Some are even pushing their 10k PBs (hi Justin!). Everyone is different, and judging folk because they’re doing something you don’t quite fancy trying yourself is just a mega time vacuum. Maybe go for a run instead?
So did I do any resolutions myself? Kind of. I did Adriene’s 30 days of yoga, enjoying having a structured yoga workout “flow” its way into my inbox every day without having to spend time scrolling through her epic video library. I didn’t do every workout every day, and instead sometimes doubled up on weekends. But I did all 30 workouts in January and I LOVED it. I feel stronger and my flexibility has definitely improved.
Overall, all of these challenges have something in common – they all gave people the opportunity to try something new, and in doing so, helped them to perhaps find something they love, be that clearing their minds by running, cutting meat and dairy out of their diets or taking the time to focus on their breathing for 20 minutes a day. I’m going to keep doing Adriene’s yoga every day (even if I do have to put a bit of effort in to select the video each time) and I’m glad that January gave me a reason to commit to a challenge that has made me feel flipping awesome, inside and out.