31 days of fitness? Never again
It starts out feeling great, then it’s terrible, then great again, then completely unbearable
SEATTLE—IT began as an office health initiative — “The 31Day Wellness Challenge” tasked participants with exercising for 30 minutes daily for a month, with extra points for trying new activities. I had planned to participate quietly on my own, but after an illadvised glass of wine (or three), I posted about the fitness challenge on Instagram. That did it. Now I was locked in by social-media accountability (the worst kind).
The world probably does not need another “I ate nothing but activated charcoal for a month and became a mermaid” story about the latest fitness craze. And I didn’t plan on writing one. But after working out for 31 days straight, I did learn something: It’s terrible. It starts out feeling great, then it’s terrible, then great again, then completely unbearable. Just before day 31, you devolve into a sweaty fevered monster oozing self-congratulatory “inspirational” fitness advice for all the lesser beings who didn’t recently jump rope and row-machine themselves into minorly muscled gym rats eager to post a muscle emoji on any slightly fitness-related social-media message.
When I started, I had already been working out pretty regularly, probably five Mindy Kaling’s sitcom, The Mindy Project, provided inspiration for the writer, who would climb 102 floors on the Stairmaster in tribute to the title character’s Empire State Building trek.
days a week (or three), so what was two more? Besides, I was pretty sure I’d magically transform body and soul into Beyoncé by the end of the month, because that’s what happens when you do one of these kitschy “31 days of something kind of unpleasant/inconvenient” things, right? As the Instagram likes accumulated, friends claiming inspiration decided to join the challenge, and by Day 3 I was certain I would blast through the month like I was in a montage set to Natalie
Imbruglia’s “Torn.” But by Day 4, the inspired friends had tapped out, and I was lying cold and shamed on the floor of my apartment attempting a half-hearted home workout. That’s when I realized the only way I was going to make it through the next 27 days was if I made things more interesting. So on Day 5 I went kayaking for the first time. On Day 6 I beat down my anti-social tendencies and signed up for a group boxing class, where I quickly discovered that hitting things
was my lifelong calling.
Over the next two weeks I boxed, lifted weights and ran new routes around my neighbourhood. I invented games at the gym like a mini “triathlon” — 10-minute intervals on the treadmill, row machine and stationary bike — or what I dubbed “The Mindy Challenge” — climbing 102 floors on the Stairmaster in honour of The Mindy Project heroine climbing 102 floors to the top of the Empire State Building.
More on The Mindy Challenge at thestar.com/life