It started out innocently enough. A busy week of errands and a particularly fun weekend filled with dancing, and there it was: A 7 day “streak” of hitting my goal of taking 10,000 steps per day, according to my Jawbone Up.
(The Buffer team + family members all get a Jawbone Up as a gift, and we share our steps and sleep stats with each other. I love this because I think it is an amazing way to be super transparent and share our self-improvement efforts with each other. These are two of Buffer’s key values. It’s one of my favorite aspects of life at Buffer, to be completely honest!)
I have always tried to lead an active life, especially in the last few years of my life, when I’ve started sitting at a desk for many hours per day. There’s nothing like a good sweat session after sitting still! But, that being said, I usually take days off here and there, whenever I have a busy (or lazy!) day. I suddenly had the thought, “I wonder how long I can keep the streak up?”
Taking the 30-day challenge
I am extremely fortunate in that I live in a beautiful apartment complex with a gym in the building. So, with this incredible luxury, I knew it would be just a matter of willpower, and not weather, or responsibility, or anything else. If I chose to achieve this, I would simply have to DO it!
It was then that I decided to do my first “30-day challenge.” I’ve long been inspired by these bite-sized goals, first brought to my attention by Matt Cuts.
I love to quote my old gym’s manager on this concept. He used to say, “You can stand on your head for 30 days!” Meaning, you can withstand any challenge for that amount of time. I was so excited to try.
I think it was important that I had the 30-day goal instead of simply, “I wonder how long I can keep this up?” Otherwise, I might have been tempted to say, “Ah, turns out I could keep it up for 20 days.”
It was around that time that my friend visited, and I realized on a night out that I wasn’t going to get back home in time to hit the gym before midnight. So, I jogged in place! Luckily, my friends (and San Francisco residents in general) are extremely tolerant of such strange behavior!
Ultimately, I did it. And on the last day, I timed it so that I could run up the stairs in my building, to the very top floor, and run out onto the roof to complete the challenge.
There, I gazed upon the San Francisco skyline, and reflected on my many blessings. (Perhaps most obviously, the incredible gift of health. I hope I never take for granted the ability to walk on these two legs, as long as that privilege is mine.)
A new view on “rest days”
Ultimately, I walked away (heh) with a renewed confidence for my dedication to my goals, as well as a few lessons learned. The first was that “rest days” really do serve a purpose, but not as I once thought. After about two weeks of the challenge, also known as halfway, I was pretty wiped out! My heels, knees, muscles, and will power craved a day off. But, I was able to switch from more involved exercises, like the elliptical, to simply walking. This provided a great ‘rest day’ without breaking the chain.
Now I realize that, with my low-intensity workouts, I don’t really need complete rest days. I can simply change things up. The need for a ”rest day” had been mostly in my head, leftover from my younger years of much more intense and exhausting workouts on the soccer and lacrosse fields. Secondly, I can’t believe how well I slept that month! Now that I have observed such a strong correlation between my exercise and sleep, I always know how to combat it when I’m having some trouble sleeping in any given week!
And, aside from the occasional 11:30 p.m. treadmill sprint, and the time I jogged in place while my friends played darts, I managed to schedule in my workouts pretty well, as long as I prioritized it. I’m lucky to have super supportive coworkers, who cheered me on in our daily pair calls and on the improvements hackpad. :)
A sweet reward from a Buffer customer
And, partly due to Buffer’s transparency, I even got the most incredible gift from a customer: a plaque celebrating my achievement! Proving yet again that people are just awesome, especially Buffer customers. :)
I’d love to hear if you’ve been similarly inspired by someone, or by your activity tracker! Share your thoughts in the comments!