Now that we’ve been chugging away through nearly three weeks of the fitness challenge, I was suddenly struck by a thought: “What do I do when this is over?” It caught me a bit off-guard. On some level I knew that the challenge month would end, but now that we’re beginning the final approach, reality is starting to sink in… It’s going to be over soon.

I felt a pang of disappointment, kind of a let-down feeling. I thought about the things I’d miss: the sweat in my eyes, the sore hamstrings, the crazy self-talk I sometimes have to do just to get started. Okay – I won’t miss those things much. But I realized that, if just quit all this, I WILL miss it. And that was a powerful revelation. I don’t want to miss it. I have enjoyed [most] aspects of the challenge. For me, though, the most enjoyable of all has been interacting with other participants. I get emails about big and little victories people have experienced. I have heard their stories of how they face up to lack of motivation, or how they talk their way through a workout (my favorite story so far had the Darth Vader theme in the background!).

So this is the perfect time to capitalize on the momentum we’ve built up. At nearly three weeks in, we are well into habit-forming territory. Now, we need to create a transition plan to carry us beyond the last day of our challenge. So, here are some suggestions:

1. Identify a target activity – this could be an exercise, activity or sport you would like to learn or improve on. If it is a seasonal activity, consider when you will need to be “in shape” for it. Don’t think you can sit around for months, then go and run around the baseball diamond without pulling something! Well, you might be able to get away with it if you are under eighteen.  Remember: “Injury-Prevention”.

2. Be body-specific.  Figure out what muscle groups you will need to strengthen and the range of motion you may need to improve for optimum performance. Believe it:  stronger core and stabilizer muscles let your body support itself and move more efficiently and safely.  Remember:  “Injury-Prevention.”

3. Use your experience in this February fitness challenge to write down a basic workout plan. Include:

  • Workout days and rest days each week
  • One or two specific goals you want to achieve and when you want to achieve them by (I’ll talk more about this in a later post)
  • Specific skills you will need to learn or fine-tune, and
  • Any lifestyle changes you want to make – for example, eating more healthy foods in more healthy amounts, incorporating activities into your daily schedule, cutting back on unhealthy habits, etc.).

4. Connect and stay connected with one or two like-minded friends. Commit to encourage and motivate one another going forward. Anticipate times when you will lose steam (call it a week or month off!), and consider how you will recalibrate yourself and get back in the swing of it. You are probably not training for the Olympics, so if you want to take a month off, go for it. Give your body a rest. I hope you will begin to miss the way you feel right now and will naturally want to get going again.

5. Stay tuned for next February!!