With my 30 day challenge to do at least 30 minutes of physical activity during the month of September coming to an end, it’s time to start planning for how I will challenge myself to get better during the month of October.
I jotted down a number of options to choose from before deciding on one that, to be perfectly honest, was an uncomfortable decision to make.
Ultimately, though, that’s exactly why I chose it. The things in life that we need the most improvement on are typically also those that are the most uncomfortable for us to commit to.
We love spending time doing those things that we excel at. Activities that we suck at…Not so much.
Think back to when you were growing up. What things did you enjoy doing the most?
Here’s a list of my favorite childhood activities:
- Video Games (I must have beat the original Legend of Zelda at least 17 times)
- Playing Air Guitar With A Wiffle Ball Bat (I could play a mean Master of Puppets air guitar solo)
Okay, I didn’t particularly enjoy doing math. However, if I had to choose between math and any other subject that wasn’t P.E., math would have been my preference.
The reason these were my preferred activities is because I excelled at them.
They made me feel good when I was doing them and they enhanced my self esteem by reminding me that there are things in this world that I was better at than most of my peers.
Conversely, activities like basketball, swimming, cooking and social studies had the opposite effect. I loathed doing them because they were detrimental to my self esteem and reminded me that for every thing that I excelled at there was something else that didn’t come so easy to me.
I changed high schools after my junior year (thanks a lot mom and dad 🙂 ). Seriously, though, changing schools was a great experience. For one, it led to my becoming friends with a guy named Adam.
Adam was an athlete and had a very carefree and easy going personality (just like me). We quickly became great friends and pretty much did everything together for the rest of that school year and the summer that followed.
You’re probably wondering what I’m doing delving into my past. This isn’t another one of my ADD moments (I don’t think).
Wait. Where was I?
It turned out that befriending Adam unexpectedly taught me that it’s entirely possible to learn to love doing those things I once found repulsive. When Spring hit, I was awakened to the reality that if I wanted to continue hanging out with Adam it was going to involve me playing basketball in his driveway with his dad and 2 brothers.
My basketball skills were horrendous. I’m not even exaggerating when I say that I couldn’t even think about dribbling the ball without looking at it. I’m talking like giving it a dead stare!
The one thing I had going for me was that I could actually dribble with either hand – as long as I wasn’t moving and didn’t let my gaze wonder away from the ball.
I forgot to mention that there is one thing I hate more than just about anything: Losing! I hate losing more than I love winning.
After getting dominated for a few nights by Adam, his dad and his brothers (who were several years younger than me), I decided enough was enough. I still hated basketball more than ever, but I determined that if playing it was how I was going to be spending the remaining Spring and Summer months, I wasn’t going to continue losing on top of it.
I would stay outside dribbling and shooting hoops in the driveway while Adam went inside with his family to eat dinner and would keep throwing up bricks in his driveway for as late into the night as his parents would allow it.
My skills quickly improved and after a couple of weeks I was no longer losing every 2-on-2 game we played. I would even win when my teammate was someone other than Adam.
Even more surprising was the fact that I found myself no longer hating basketball. I actually looked forward to playing when Adam and I got finished with track practice.
The game of basketball hadn’t changed, but my perception of it had. The only real difference was how often I played it and how well I played it, which are proportional with any activity.
When thinking about how much I really didn’t want to choose the specific challenge I’ve chosen for the upcoming month of October I couldn’t help but harken back to the difference a few weeks playing basketball completely reversed my perception of it.
The challenge for October 2013 is: Stretching for 5-10 minutes
I can’t think of any point in my life where stretching was given the regular attention it deserves. If I have 45-60 minutes to train my body, it’s going to be spent moving weights and getting in some sprints – not something as effeminate as stretching!
Depending on your personal goals, lifting weights and sprinting may very well be a better use of your time than stretching. However, this needn’t be an either/or scenario.
There are a number of benefits to be derived from stretching that often go unnoticed:
- Stretching aids with recovery
- Stretching improves joint mobility and range of motion
- Stretching helps prevent muscle-related injuries
- Stretching promotes the release of endorphins, relieving stress and putting you in a better mood
Heck, you can even stretch while watching T.V. So you may not even have to cut anything out of your schedule to commit to this challenge with me.
However, if you’ve been neglecting the importance of stretching, I’m confident that after 30 days of consistent stretching you’ll feel better than you have in years at the end of October.
I’m not going to get too elaborate with my stretches and will probably just stick to a few basic stretches that target every major muscle group.
I’ll do it right and take my stretches to the point of feeling a nice burn and then hold it there for 10-20 seconds.
Never bounce while stretching and never stretch to the point of intense pain. The point isn’t to tear your muscles, it’s to stretch them so they become more elastic.
By the way, if you’re consistent with your stretching, you should be able to take your stretches a little farther with every passing week.
As the days and weeks pass you’ll notice a greater level of comfort while exercising and your body will begin feeling better in general, as well.
So join me as I challenge myself to commit to 5-10 minutes of stretching my body every day throughout the month of October.
Hopefully, come November, my consistent stretching will lead to my developing an affinity for it like I did with basketball over 13 years ago.