I want you to know before you continue reading, that all that will be written here is based on my own experience and view. I am not starting from zero on my journey but I also still have a lot to learn and grow (thank God!). So please know that if you feel judged by my words or start judging me, I still appreciate you and this is not my intention. My intention for this is to share as authentically as I can my own journey in personal development and hope that it might also motivate or inspire you to do one more work out, try that one new recipe or finally sign up to work with a Coach yourself.
But now, on to the article
It is the quiet and reflective time between Christmas and the New Year 2020/2021. Reflecting on what the Year 2020 was about for me, there is one thing no one can say she has not been impacted by: the Corona Pandemie.
When I personally reflect on this past year, a lot of mixed feelings and learnings come up.
I realized big time that in stressful situations I tend to use the flight mode instead the fight mode. Pretty quickly after the first outspread in Europe started, I decided to put down all non-important activities and instead only focus on what needs to get done: continue to work as safe as possible, shutting down most extra projects next to my main Project Management contract and focus the rest of my time on health and mental well being: sleeping, resting, a digital detox that resulted in me quitting most social media for several months and focussing only on the most important relationships in my life. Everything extra fell away and for a long while I loved it.
This newly created space gave room to new found creativity, a gardening project and a new relationship which for the second half of 2020 was the biggest change in my life. Throughout all of Corona I was able to work from home on my main job and had a couple Coaching clients on the side. Only my Yoga classes were sacrificed – compared to how many others were or still are impacted work-wise, the Pandemic didn´t yet hit my economic situation.
But it remained a year of playing it small and rather safe and the constant delay of projects and plans caused me to feel a lot of dissatisfaction now, end of December 2020. I am done resting and playing it small.
So to conquer this low energy mindset, I decided it was time for a next level challenge. It is time to elevate myself in 2021 and adjust my life style in every way possible, so I can become my best self: emotionally, mentally and physically.
I am doing a 90 Day Energy Transformation
I will use all the tools and knowledge I gained during the last 7 years of working with Coaches on myself or Coaching others to reach for more. I will incorporate all the things I learned during the plenty little challenges and life style adjustments and base it on latest habit change and happiness research, focussing on: Eating, Excercise and Mental Health.
I will start on January 4th. The week before is dedicated to preparation time: Figuring out the right challenge levels and goals as well as setting myself up for success. And with his I am starting now.
And, most importantly, I decided it is time to finally share my own journey, as accountability for myself and to start a dialogue about what it takes to be your best self and improve. This means, I will blog about my challenge, every single day.
As I wrote above, I am not starting from zero. I have spend a couple days and weeks thinking about the best 90 Day Programme for myself at this stage and I realise that this programme might be intimidating for some, as it would have been to me several years ago, and not enough or the wrong fit for others. I want you to know: this is ok. We are all on a different stage on our journey and no 2 are the same.
What I am mostly missing in these fitness programmes or healthy eating challenges is exactly this point: a reference towards to whom it is addressed and what the right level is, based on our knowledge and experience about these topics.
We all know how motivation most often drops several days or weeks into a new project or challenge. This is normal. And to overcome this, I believe 3 things are actually important:
- The right level of challenge for yourself
- The right environment for success
- The right accountability
These are also the first steps I take myself on this journey.
How to assess the right level of challenge for yourself
I have more than 7 years of experience in Yoga, Meditation, Healthy Eating and Mindfullness and I have always been in at least an ok state of physical fitness. I was a gymnist all the way from Elementary School to University and have always been more active doing all sorts of sports including Kite Surfing, playing Lacrosse or Trampoline. But I have never been doing any of these activities to an expert level (10000 hours experience). I am also a Yoga Guide and a Health Coach and Pharmacist, but I am no Pro-Athlete or Model or Actor – all these things matter when we compare ourselves to others.
All these things are critical to bear in mind and consider for yourself if you choose to compare yourself or your performance to me or any other person in any way.
So how to go about realistically assessing your own level of Challenge that will be right for you? I came up with a formula you can use to figure out your right challenge level.
Beginner: I have tried a couple of diets but never succeeded to commit for the whole duration or always ended up where I started or even worse. I have no overview of what healthy eating actually means to me and am still confused by all the available information out there. The thought of changing and sticking to a plan is still intimidating, I am afraid to fail. (1 point.)
Intermediate: I have stuck to a couple dietary changes and integrated them as a habit. I sometimes derail from what I want to eat, maybe even for longer time spans, but generally know what impacts the food I eat have on my body and mind and I feel confident to stick to another challenge and know I am able to follow through. I gravitate towards more nourishing foods naturally and get usually out of my rhythm when life gets chaotic.(2 points.)
Expert: I am in control of what I eat and have no more judgement on good or bad foods. I can eat what I want based on the outcome of that food on my body and mind. Even in more stressful times I am maintaining self supporting food choices. (3 points).
I am rating myself as Intermediate with a strong tendency to Expert Level. 2,5 points
Beginner: I have not excercised at all during the past 3 years. I have never been into sports growing up and the thought of excercise is really intimidating. I don´t feel comfotable in my body and I am worried others will judge me. I am really scarred to fall of the wagon as I have never participated in any form of competitive sport or completed a run. (1 point.)
Intermediate: I had a on and off excercise routine during the past 3 years but always stayed active in some shape or form and know, with a little bit of training, excercise comes more easy to me and I see a gradual progress. I have completed runs or stuck to some sort of competitive sport in the past and feel confident that a committment to a 90 Day challenge will not be easy but manageable. (2 points.)
Expert: I have had a solid excercise routine for the past 3 years, never missed a training for more than 2 week in a row unless as a planned or unplanned recovery period due to injury. I am confident in my body, what I can do, maybe could use a challenge to get into flow or get to the next level or try something different. (3 points.)
I am evaluating myself on Intermediate Level: 2 Definitely room for improvement and a big part of why I am starting this challenge is to better my overall fitness performance.
Mental and Emotional Health
To assess the right challenge level based on your current mental and emotional health, we are in the end going to multiply our other added points to this because the impact of our mental and emotional health is that important. You might intuitively know where you currently fall on this scale, sometimes it can help though, to observe and track yourself for a while and looking at some data to support your intuitive decision later on.
Low Mental and Emotional Health: You feel unconfident and unmotivated a lot or really stressed our and unfocused. You spend a lot of your time eating things you don’t want to eat or doing things you don’t want tp be doing. You either don’t sleep enough or oversleep and chances are high you spend way too much time on social media. Nothing is really going your way right now and the thought of a challenge is actually freeing you our if you are honest to yourself. (0 points.)
Medium Mental and Emotional Health: Your mental and emotional health is doing ok, there are good days and worse days (which is super normal by the way!). Most of the time you get to work on the things you want to and feel in control but there are these times when you want to just lie in bed or quit and don’t know why you are doing any of this. (1 point.)
High Mental and Emotional Health: Your mental and emotional health is doing great. You have your ups and downs as everyone but throughout that you remain mostly positive and in control and can focus on what is important to you and you stick to what you said you wanted to do. You set boundaries for yourself and others which helps you maintain that level of confidence you need to succeed. (2 points.)
Most of 2020 I would overall rate my mental health as 1 with the two big varieties: 0 during my work and 2 during times with my new relationship. Changing my job environment is happening during this challenge for that very reason. 1 point for me.
Data to support your evaluation
I am pretty sure you will be able to evaluate your level pretty intuitively. Sometimes it can help us though to collect some data that can support our intuitive decision making process. I have already collected my excercise data for the last 4 months and my mental health data for the past month. This helps me now to support me in making sure, my level of accuracy on my evaluation will be high. This is one of the reasons why recording your goals and your results regularly is an important aspect of any challenge bus especially for the the 90 Day Energy Transformation Challenge.
For this purpose I have done some research and already practiced with a tracker during December, to figure out, what works best for me: digitally, not too complicated and easy to access. I will share the tracker later on with you to help you figure our how to best do it for yourself.
Results: Challenge Level = (a + b) * c
Enter your challenge level for Eating (a), Excercise (b) and Mental Health (c) into the formula and calculate your result:
My example: (2,5+2) * 1 = 4,5
Based on these levels above I am giving myself the following rating: 4,5. And this is exactly why this challenge is the right time for me. My goal is to increase to a 10.
What is your score looking like?
0 points: 0 in mental health and energy has a detrimental effect on everything we do. Please be very easy on yourself and know, I have been there, too. In 2015 after a long and stressful work focused year I had totally lost touch with myself and everything felt overwhelming. Even if I had excercised back then and started with healthy eating, a challenge like this at that point would most likely have had more damaging effects.
My best advice: self compassion and small steps go a long way and create the right momentum to improve yourself bit by bit, but not so much that you will fall off the wagon. Start with increasing your sleep habit, seriously. You probably don´t sleep enough or too much. Start by creating an evening routine with time for yourself, quiet time, maybe some soft movements, a shower, some journalling and going to bed at the same time, ideally between 9-10:30 for 2 weeks and see how you feel.
2 points: Little experience in both excercise and healthy eating. Trust me on this: You don´t want to challenge yourself in 2 areas at once. Don´t make it too hard on yourself now. Habit research shows that starting easy and slowly increasing the performance instead of overwhelmig us at the beginning and falling off when motivation runs off. This challenge is too long to run on motivation alone. Pick just one for now. That does not mean the other one is not important. It just has to wait a little, until your experience level increases in one area. Then, it´s time to incorporate and maybe start this challenge.
3-10 points: This challenge is for you! You are at least in one area on Intermediate Level – great! That´s a great level to start into this. Just make sure before setting your goals, you stay real with yourself on these levels and choose the right challenge level for you in each area.
12 points: Expert of the experts. You have committed to your own self growth continually and are in full control over you body and mind. You need challenges to stay motivated, push you even further or just maintain your flow and happiness. My challenge might also not be suitable for you anymore. Feel free to explore here and take bits and pieces as you wish but you probably already know what you need and what will push you just enough to keep you going.
Great! we have accessed the right challenge level. That´s it for now. I will share more of my preparation journey and details of my actual challenge with you tomorrow and for the next 90+ days.
Hopefully you´ll continue to follow my journey.