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Why I love the 28-Days-Later Challenge (and how to be successful).

Hey Everyone,

It’s that time of year – the BEST time of year!  It’s time for the 28-days Later Challenge!

I have participated in 28-Days Later every year since I dreamt it up whilst driving along the freeway one morning back in 2012.  It was mid October’ish.  I had sat there and watched the movie ‘28-Days-Later’ the night before…and as is my way, rather than thinking about Zombies I was thinking about changes.  I was thinking about Rocky getting ready to fight Apollo Creed in “6-weeks” (admittedly that’s 42-days).  I was thinking about the Ralph Macchio learning karate in (seemingly) one weekend through applying wax to a car.  And I was thinking about what might happen if EVERYONE in the gym banded together for 4-weeks and followed an eating/drinking/training challenge.

Back then the rules were TIGHT.  I went super hard/strict with the “It’s only 4-weeks” type mentality.  So any carbs that are easy to overeat were out – bread and pasta of course, but oats and rice as well.  Dairy was OUT.  Hell…a lot of things were out.  And we nailed it – great results…but not necessarily sustainable ones.  So the challenge has somewhat mellowed over time – but what has stayed the same is the feeling of community the participants get AND the results that can be achieved by anyone prepared to really ‘FOCUS’.

So why do I still participate each year?  I mean, I know the rules…I could do it ANY TIME.  

Well, first off it is the STRUCTURE of participating alongside others that is the real ‘pull’ for me.  Committing to getting the classes done, committing to doing the ‘extras’ (which honestly is the part that always puts me out of my comfort zone), committing to the food…and doing it all WITH others is what makes it so rewarding.  Does it sometimes feel like I am trying to bang the square peg that is ‘MY LIFE’ into the round hole that are the challenge rules?  Of course – but it is the EFFORT of pushing through, of making time to do the extras, of really dialling in my food choices that make the challenge so rewarding.

What things have I learned that are the keys to success??

Write Stuff Down!
The challenge booklets these days?  They are AWESOME.  We have done this a lot now and the booklets are set up with sections to record your current state, your goals and your ACTUALS.  It allows you to target what is most important to you…and it is amazing how simply writing something on a page makes it REAL!
Like I said, the challenge booklets basically DO THE WORK for you.  All you need to do is fill in the blanks and stick them up on your desk at home/work or inside the pantry door…you will have a clear target to work towards, you will be able to SEE those targets every day and you WILL succeed.
The ‘Write stuff Down’ comment isn’t just about ‘goals’ or ‘outcomes’.  It’s about the ‘HOW’ – the booklets let you plan out your day, plan out your week, plan out your month…it enables you to feel that little buzz of success every day as you tick off the things in your plan…or – quickly identify that you have fallen behind and re-set a way to get back on track.

Being CONSISTENT is the key!
The challenge is the ‘CHALLENGE’.  I know that sounds bloody obvious but what I mean is that it isn’t the ‘daily’ stuff that is hard.  Anyone can do a class, say no to a morning tea sausage roll or an after work beer or spend 15-minutes post class completing one of the challenges.  Anyone can do it ONCE.  

Being successful in the challenge means going in with a clear plan for EVERYTHING.  For example, I do my classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6am.  I do the extras on Monday and Wednesday at 5:40am.  My two cheat days will be on the first Saturday and the Thursday of week 3….it is so easy to get sidetracked or discouraged if you feel you aren’t getting the results you want (aka when things are getting tough) but ultimately just doing the right things right for longer (being consistent) will bring results.

Tracking Your Progress
I have written before about how motivating I find it as the challenge ‘signoff sheet’ SLOWLY fills up.  It is an amazing feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment – you do a class, you get a signature and what was a smooth blank page filled with empty boxes slowly gets crinkled up and the boxes are filled with signatures.  It makes getting my workouts done EASY – it makes me feel like a (and I’m going to use a stupid word) ‘WINNER’ as the page slowly fills…

Chat to People (Engage with the Community)
You have to reach out to make connections.  Don’t just complete the challenge in a silo – if you see someone else doing an extra, ask them how it is…ask what parts they found hard and easy.  Ask them about the weights they used.  Share YOUR experience.  If you have a recipe or food trick, TELL someone.  If you aren’t a talker, you can share all of this stuff on socials (the challenge facebook group is always a bonus)…Remember, all of this stuff is supposed to be FUN and it is doing it as a group that makes it so.

You Need HELP from HOME.
Having a bit of support on the home front is 100% critical to success.  I know this doesn’t sound super positive but if your partners plan is to drink beer every night and make fun of the fact that you can’t eat any of the ice cream, well, it’s gonna be TOUGH.  You need to talk to the people around you, tell them why you are participating (fitter, stronger, lose weight, establish positive habits etc – whatever it is be honest about YOUR personal reasons) and you need them ON YOUR SIDE.

Last one – Roll with the punches (aka BE FLEXIBLE).
Stuff is GONNA GO WRONG.  Kids sick, crisis at work, whatever.  You just need to be relaxed enough about your plan to ROLL WITH IT – and understand that this is another good lesson that will hold you in good stead for the rest of the year…understand that you need to be open (and in fact WILLING) to making on the fly adjustments to that plan you so painstakingly (lol in my case – I just write it and ‘roll with it’) recorded back at the start.

The challenge is amazing.  Every year it ‘SETS UP MY YEAR’ – and good habits established during February 100% flow through to the rest of the year (in this case, 2023).  If you haven’t signed up yet, well, I hope you do…you can do it here:

See you in the gym!


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