Why 6-Week Challenges Can Die
Posted in #MADlifestyle on March 13, 2020
In attempt to evoke marketable results and incite others to rally and follow suit, businesses nationwide flock to the implementation of short-term fitness and nutrition challenges. Ranging anywhere from 14 days to 8 weeks, regardless of how “long” those periods of time may feel, they are incredibly short-term in the grand scheme of accomplishing meaningful results.
While the nature of these challenges may vary, the majority of them foster a “quick fix” mentality that encourages participants to take unhealthy, excessive, and/or restrictive measures in order to achieve their goal in a hurry.
Consider the wide variety of challenges you’ve read about, heard about, or even participated in:
- 21 day sugar detox: eliminates all sources of sugar
- 6-week weight loss challenge: focuses on achieving a goal scale number, body fat percentage, and/or poundage of muscle mass through over-training and “meal plans” that wouldn’t even adequately feed a toddler…also known as the quintessential pyramid scheme for gyms with a plummeting membership base
- 2-week “cleanse" - replaces everything you love with chicken breast, broccoli, zero gluten, and celery juice for dessert
- 4-week workout challenge: whoever clocks in the most workouts in a month “wins”
- 60 days of keto: don’t eat, touch, look at or think about carbs for 2 months
Between the workplace, fitness studios, and social media, exposure to these challenges is literally never-ending.
But we think they can go ahead and die.
Having a goal is fantastic - we are in no way disputing this. The difference simply lies in how you accomplish said goal. What’s the point if the methods you employ to get there are unsustainable?
Let’s look at some of the most common outcomes to the above-mentioned quick fix challenges:
- Sugar detox ends, morphs into a sugar binge, triggers a guilt-ridden emotional response, and kicks you into another sugar detox “to undo all the damage”
- Weight loss challenge ends and the ultra restrictive 1200 calorie poverty diet rebounds into a weekend bender, turned week-long bender, turned month-long bender, and kicks you into another starvation period “to undo all the damage”
- Your cleanse wraps up and you gorge on all the foods you weren’t allowed to enjoy…it likely ends up becoming your quarterly cleanse to “undo all the damage”
- You’re certainly not going to keep up with 7 days/week of workouts because your body will breakdown to prevent you from inflicting further damage…
- The keto challenge ends, you drink some water, eat a noodle, and all the water weight you lost comes right back…and kicks you into another dietary fad to “undo all the damage”
Sure, there are exceptions to these [common] outcomes, but why not elect a path that doesn’t entail constant yo-yo dieting, weight rebounds, overtraining injuries, endless binge/restrict cycles, and exercise burnout?
Based on our experience, that path is actually pretty straightforward:
- Stick to a consistent exercise routine featuring the form of fitness you enjoy
- Commit to an adequate number of rest days per week to promote recovery and avoid injury and burnout
- Elect a nutrition approach that feeds you enough to support your lifestyle, avoids chronic dieting, and eliminates “yes/no” food lists (while eating plenty of nutrient-dense foods should be a focus, routinely including moderate amounts of “fun” foods into your diet helps eliminate restrictive mentalities, toxic relationships with food, and binge cycles)
The primary difference between this path and that of the typical 6-week challenge? It’s founded on establishing habits, as opposed to abiding by short-term “laws”.
The kicker: establishing sustainable habits takes time.
As in longer than six weeks, because real, sustainable results take time to achieve and endure! Could be six months, could be one year, could be two years. And while that sounds like “too long”, it’s still more than likely a less time than what the average results-hungry individual has spent chasing seasonal trends, fads, and “6-week challenges” in his/her life time.
And imagine a life where you no longer feel inclined to turn your life upside down for 21 days, 6 weeks or 2 months just to shed a few pounds….