The LiVit Consistency Challengeby Jennifer Blake
You could say that our gym, The Movement Minneapolis, isn’t your typical gym.
Beyond the barbells and kettlebells, big liftin’ and conditioning circuits, we often offer up a monthly challenge to our members — not typical challenges that revolve around body composition or clean eating, normally, but the kind that focus on completing a task: 5,000 swings, for example, or lifting a million pounds in a month. Some challenges aren’t even necessarily fitness oriented — they’re meant to shake things up a bit, even outside of the gym. Coaches participate, too, and last month’s challenge, Consistency Month, caused a few life ripples for me (in case you miss the author bio at the bottom, this is JVB!). It was such a game-changer for people, in fact, that we decided to invite you to do it with us for the month of May.
The basic premise is, the road to progress toward any goal is paved in consistency, so the challenge is to pick an action, any action, and be consistent with it for the entire month. Movement coach and LiVit program creator “Cardigan Mark” Schneider wrote out the specifics in this blog post, but the basic rules for the action you choose to be consistent with are this:
1. It has to be something that you want to do, not something you feel you have to do. (But also not like, “Heyooooo! Donuts for breakfast every day!” Unless you truly feel that will improve your quality of life over the long term.)
2. Your action has to be specific and repeatable multiple times per week: “I’m going to strength train every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning” vs. “I’m going to do some sort of exercise three times a week.” Or “I’m going to be in bed by 9:30 every night” vs. “I’m going to go to bed earlier.” The more specific you can make your action, Schneider says, the less chance of distraction or confusion when you execute.
3. Perform the action at the same time every time. For consistency to be possible, it is best to create as many consistent parts of the action as possible, says Schneider. We’re talking time, location, people, and the action itself. (As with anything, just do the best you can.)
4. Write it down. Display your goal someplace you will see it every day — even better would be putting it somewhere where you are not the only one that sees it, says Schneider. When you complete your action on the assigned day(s), you are encouraged to track it with stickers or check marks. (Let’s just talk about how motivating stickers are — I was all, “Those gold stars are mine!”)
My action: to “interval jog,” as I call it — run a lil bit, walk a lil bit — every Tuesday and Thursday morning. As a lifelong asthmatic, running has always been a challenge for me. Now that I have the muscle mass to support the impact of the activity, it’s not so miserable, but my lungs don’t keep up as well as my body does. As a trainer, I know the importance of well-rounded fitness regimen and my aerobic fitness could use some serious attention.
Cause And Effect
My husband is a natural runner — damn that guy! — so I asked him to join me on my interval jogs for company. At the start of the month, improving my aerobic capacity was my intention. A couple weeks in it became more than that: It became dedicated time to spend with my husband.
A little background: My husband works second shift, so he leaves for work every day at 1:15 p.m. I work at the gym pretty much all day Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so on those our days we don’t see each other at all, and I am zonked by the time he gets home at 11 p.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I work from home, and our old normal would be that I would let him sleep in while I got up, made coffee, and hopped on my laptop to dive into work with the intention of finishing up by lunchtime so we could hang for a bit before he left. More often than not, though, that is not what would happen.
I would get wrapped up in a project and have my nose buried in my laptop until he left. Or I would finish work but then start buzzing around the house doing chores. Or I would get my work done but then I would be volunteering at the kids’ school for the rest of the day. You guys, life. It has its own idea of how your day is going to go if you’re not paying attention.
Still, it’s not like our lives together were terrible — in fact, if you asked me about my marriage I would say that we were doing really well. The best marriages, I think, are the ones where you’re best pals and you want to see each other naked all the time. At our best, that’s exactly what we are. But you could say things had gotten a little…stale lately. We had stopped paying attention, fallen a little asleep at the wheel.
Thanks to interval jogging, (the phrase makes me laugh every time I say — or type — it) a new pattern emerged: My husband and I would wake up around 8:30 a.m. and we would get out of bed around, ahem, 9:30 a.m. (TMI, OH WELL, THOUGH!) We would go on our interval jog, and then either make and eat breakfast together — sans mobile devices — or grab food at our favorite breakfast spot. I would hop in the shower after that and get ready for the rest of the day, and he would hang out in the bathroom door to chat before leaving for work. Soon after, I would pick up the kids from school with the rest of the day is pretty much devoted to them until they went to sleep. Our kids spend three nights out of the week at their dad’s house, so my time with them is my time with them. No laptops allowed.
Two weeks into this challenge I noted a couple things.
1. I was not managing my work time well — deadlines were missed and my focus was blurred. I was often feeling two or three steps behind.
2. My husband turned to me at breakfast one morning, looked me in the eye, took my hand and said, “I love Tuesday and Thursday mornings.”
When I updated Mark on my experience, he nodded sagely (as he does) and said, “This is exactly what I expected to happen.” It turns out that I was right on time: “A couple weeks in, your life will start pushing back against the changes you’re trying to make and you’re going to have to make a decision,” he said.
The Ripple Effect
I thought it would just be this small thing, interval jogging; a funny term to make an activity that was hard for me silly and accessible. I didn’t know that I would end up reorganizing my entire schedule because it would become so damn important to me.
It’s easy to lose sight of your marriage when you’re all wrapped up in it. I feel like I had to shake things up a little, redraw the parameters a bit, to see it clearly again. Interval jogging is here to stay. Insert a cheesy joke about my heart health here, because LOVE! Ba-dum-bum.
I’m still figuring it out, but to start, I’ve gotten really specific with planning out my to-do list: I don’t just have a list of work actions that need to be completed, they also have an assigned time of day — with allotted time allowed to spend on each task. The time I used to spend binge watching Orange Is The New Black has been slashed, but oh well! I’ve got to hit the pavement with this pretty rad guy I live with.
The point is this: When you add in a new action to your life, all other aspects of your life have to shift around to allow for that action to stay. What happens might not be what you expected to happen, and like me, you might reap many unintended benefits. You then get the chance to decide: Is the shuffle worth it?
In this case, for me, yes. And I don’t think I would be saying the same if I had committed to donuts for breakfast every day.
So your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to choose an action that meets the above parameters, declare how many times a week you’ll do it each week, and then track your progress for the month of May using the downloadable PDF below (click the image to download). Whether or not you want to invest in star stickers is up to you.
And, if you want to commune with others doing LiVit Consistency Challenge, join our Facebook event page HERE.