I completed a 100 Day Challenge that started in early September (2019) – just over three months of movement including yoga, exercise, spin and an obsession with steps.
I had access to a 24-hour gym, exercise classes and a pair of new runners.
I signed up to run for climate change, as motivation to clock more steps towards a 5km commitment. My fitness had improved so much that I doubled my target coming in at 10km. I also attracted a total of $1200 in donations.
One fifth of the way through my leg developed a shin splint. I had to find a way to give my leg a rest. The fact that the challenge was made more difficult by physical aliments, the more determined I was to increase my step count. I started cycling at the gym and my leg healed. A moderate cycle of 60 minutes clocked 13,000 steps.
How was I going to maintain a sustainable plan over 100 days?
I set the mantra- focus on what’s possible.
I adopted three songs for the cognitive correlation with motivation:
- One Republic, Chasing Stars
- Miley Cyrus: Younger Now
- London Grammar: Oh Woman Oh Man
I recalled the story of the Tortoise and the Hare: slow and steady wins the race. The early bird catches the worm,was also another saying that encouraged my plan. I set the alarm for 4.00am to give me a head start. My strategy was to establish a routine, be consistent and stick to it.
Every morning started hard, though once I was out of bed and moving it became easier with the rush of adrenalin. There were days when I was so tired that I was simply going through the motions.
As a self-assessment I can say that 60% percent of the time I loved it in an erratic- manic way. If I could channel this energy, maybe something tangible might grow from the experience.
Then 10% of the time I really hated it, I was angry for the injustice of it. I wanted to redefine the terminology of smashing your target with a hammer taken to the fitbit that shackled my arm. It felt like I was a wild animal being tamed.
It was 30% of the time that I just got on with it, no emotional attachment. I just did it, you know like the NIKE motto Just Do It!When the body takes over and the mind can rest, is when you stop ‘trying’, you are one and the same with the flow of energy, momentum begets momentum and you are in what we call “THE ZONE”. Kinetic energy, when the energy you create propels you. That’s when you feel like you are flying effortlessly.
This challenge helped me focus on the simple goal of steps, but took me away from writing, reading and the housewives dilemma to tend to the home and family- they were left to fend for themselves. This was extremely liberating! I highly recommend it. When you are absent the chores don’t seem to be such a big deal. I felt lighter physically, morally, spiritually and mentally, like nothing could pin me down, because I was always moving.
I dreamt about my victory speech which was about doing this for all the women who get overlooked, shunned to the side, seemingly redundant because of their age, or because they do not speak up, or just because they are conscientious. At my place of work it is the women who do the heavy lifting, however it’s also the same women who are underrepresented in leadership roles. This is for all those women who have become invisible. This is for the ordinary woman whose effort is extraordinary.
When I completed the challenge with over four million plus steps, I dedicated this as an act of feminism – a gesture of strength and a display of courage- for I am more than the sum of all my steps.
Others mimicked me and made fun. I laughed and knew that I cared less for what they thought- I observed reactions to my tenaciousness.
I could see that people felt somewhat perplexed and threatened so I toned down the excitement, slogging it out quietly. I noticed that others in our team weren’t as enthusiastic; I was confused. I understood that team players would not see this challenge in the same way. I learnt not to dictate, nor coax, nor save. My colleagues were entitled to their own experience. However we were in a team and this was a challenge. Did we have some responsibility to each other?
The status quo is to fear the difficult. How then do we push past the limits or realize capacity for more. Is that even important? Facing that pain can only make it less intense. My yoga teacher instructs, that when we are doing a pose and there is resistance, we need to go through it, not around. Then over time the threshold for resilience increases and the pain lightens. Be prepared to go through the hard stuff, motivates you to accept the ability to deal with hardship, and then be rewarded because you know you can do it! The challenge becomes the training ground for life.
Yoga encourages us to understand that when energy stagnates in the body we need to do more. Though it is also important to start within your own capacity. Do not hyper extend and recognize the intelligence of the body.
The artist Marina Ambramovich places her body through enduring, grueling feats of stamina for the sake of her art installations. After doing this challenge, I understand that her sacrifice and suffering is a lesson. To resist the acts that cause us pain, will only cause more torment, though to better understand the threshold of our weaknesses enables inner peace and an illuminating strength of self-control and discipline.
We do not fully understand what it means to suffer. It can strengthen our resolve and truly challenge our perspective in relation to our beliefs.
In this way, I learnt that I am capable of more, much more than I allow myself. I give myself too much permission for comfort and in that convenience lose the point of authentic gratitude.
During this challengeI also read the book Untethered Soul- the journey beyond yourself by Michael Singer who educates us on being the witness, the observer of thoughts and emotions. That what we think only lives in our minds eye, is simply a thought or a feeling, but does not define us. Watch it and let it pass, do not latch on to it. If we practice detachment we remain the observer of the self, less reactive and also strengthen our inner-self.
It’s finally complete. The day I’ve been pining for has come and gone, now fading. What is left is the desire to move my body and feel the thrill of being alive. I know what it feels like to be physically incapacitated.
My able body moves me forwards to accelerate. I watch the sunrise and the day reveals itself lap by lap. The concertina breath, establishes a rhythm, a sense of expansion, effortlessly the false self sheds thus emerges the authentic self.
I’m wound up for the rest of the day.