There are two types of Self Imposed Challenges.
1) Goals and 2) Things that keep you from achieving them
Let’s talk about the last one. Obviously, these are negative challenges.
You probably have an idea of what’s holding you back from getting stronger, leaner and more muscular. To overcome these challenges, first you’ll need to identify them.
You eat too much or you eat too little. More sugary carbohydrates than protein. You drink a lot.
We all know diet is a big stumbling block for most Americans. Own it.
Or perhaps you’ve got your nutrition in check (doubt it) and your stumbling block is media. Staying up late watching Netflix or scrolling the internet. Maybe you’re a fan of cable news?
Cable news… that reminds me… don’t get sucked into the outrage culture. It seems everybody these days wants to be indignant about something. Don’t waste your energy on it.
Understand that anger, contempt and resentment will thwart your progress to be better. Not to mention it will make you a stressed out, unhappy, unhealthy, annoying person that nobody wants to be around.
Now, I’m a realist. I know there are times to be pissed off, just as there are times to stay up late drinking wine, eating cheese, Netflix and chill.
The point is, that you have to draw a line in the sand.
Decide what matters to you most:
Comfort food, or being comfortable in your own body?
Late nights, or more energy for your goals?
What AOC and Ted Cruz are arguing about, or what makes you happier and more relaxed?
I’ve started to write and re-write how to fix your self-imposed (negative) challenges about a half a dozen times. But I don’t want that to be the point of this article. (I wrote more about that here – https://baltimorekettlebellclub.com/discipline-self-control-and-personal-responsibility/)
I just want you to OWN what’s holding you back. Don’t blame your genetics, don’t blame your work schedule, don’t blame anybody or anything else. Instead take control and set out to fix it!
I’ll leave this first part with a book recommendation that I think will help: “The Power of Habit – Why we do what we do in life and business” by Charles Duhigg
The “Good Kind” of Self Imposed Challenges (aka goals)
We held a contest at BKC recently called the “Biggest Gainer Challenge”. The goal was to build as much muscle as possible over the course of 12 weeks (from Thanksgiving to Super Bowl aka “bulking season”).
It was just a friendly in-house challenge. Results were determined by pre & post Bod Pod assessments. Winner determined by who gained the highest percentage of lean muscle mass.
Even though I had planned on exempting myself from winning any prizes associated with the contest, I worked my ass off because I planned to win!
Something as simple as a friendly contest had me more motivated than I’ve been in a long time! It surprised me, actually.
In 20 years of training I’ve never lost motivation but it’s been a while since I’ve been in competition mode.
Keep in mind, I came up with this challenge. So it was a self-imposed challenge. It was a challenge that I wasn’t going to win (even if I won).
Of course, having a couple dozen people doing this challenge with me helped. The fact remains, I challenged myself with a clearly defined goal – build as much muscle as possible in 12 weeks.
The result was that I gained an overall 10lbs bodyweight and 5lbs of lean muscle (as per BodPod analysis). I set a lifetime personal record in the squat (335 x 20 reps). I was in the worst shape of my adult life in the summer of 2021 and I got into the best shape of my adult life in Feb of 2022.
In summary, setting goals is important, however, just as important is getting real about how you can sabotage yourself. Sometimes we have valid excuses like injuries or family commitments, but they are still excuses. If you want it bad enough you will find a way.
The goals don’t have to be grand or lofty, but you have to be serious. Make SMART goals; specific, measurable, attainable, relative and timely. Get some friends to join you. Make it fun, but work hard and earnestly.
Let me know if you have any questions!
PS – I didn’t win the contest. Katie Armero won with an astonishing 6lb gain in muscle! Here she is with her prize – a handbent wine rack by yours truly and a bottle of Freakshow red wine.