I did it. I didn’t always think I could do it, but I did it. Eight weeks later and I’m on the other side of a fitness bootcamp that challenged me in ways that I couldn’t have imagined at the start. But in the spirit of full disclosure, I want to share the five mistakes that I made along the way, in an effort to help someone else avoid them and cruise through the process more easily. And as a bonus? I’m also sharing my one supertrick to use anytime your determination is waning, whether it’s in a bootcamp or just in life. But first! Let’s talk about those five mistakes to avoid before you start a fitness challenge.
Clarify Your Goals at the Start of a Fitness Challenge
In my mind, this is the most important thing you can do for yourself when you start any kind of challenge, and especially a physical one. What in the world are your goals? If you don’t have a specific outcome in mind, it’s tough to feel encouraged when as you are putting in all the work. I’d recommend setting about three goals, and making sure that they don’t all have to do with your weight. My three goals were to break my sugar addiction, get used to meal planning + prep, and drink more water. Make sure that your goals are measurable — set up a system to track your progress, whether it’s ounces of water intake, miles you log walking, or how many situps you can do.
Track Your Intake of Food and Water
Before I started the bootcamp, I would unknowingly put food into my mouth all. the. time. I would finish what was on my kids’ plates because I didn’t want to trash it. I would walk through the kitchen and just reach my hand in the cabinet for some crackers whether I was hungry or not. When I started tracking every single bite of food that I took, it made me start listening to my body much more closely for hunger and thirst cues. I realized I was a bored eater — as in, I ate when I was bored, rather than hungry. I also realized I was probably dehydrated most of the time, as I was barely drinking any water.
Be mentally prepared to track your intake, and have an open mind and heart about what it might reveal.
Be Prepared for Bootcamp Plateaus
If you’re planning on a longer bootcamp or fitness challenge (eight weeks felt long to me!), prepare yourself for your body to experience some plateaus here and there. Putting in an insane amount of work and not seeing or feeling any difference in your body can be really disheartening, but a plateau is the time to really focus and continue. I always found that real gains and leaps came next. If you have a coach, let them coach you through the plateau to tweak your routine or your meals so that you can come out of it strong. And most of all, don’t give up.
Focus on the Feeling, Not the Numbers
Fitness challenges and bootcamps can really do a number on your psyche. There’s so much emotion tied up in our bodies, in our weight, in our physical capabilities. I found that when I got bogged down in what the scale said, I would get discouraged right away. But when I would focus on how my body physically felt, I would feel like I was just crushing it. I knew I felt stronger, faster, lighter on my toes, more in control of my body. Those are the feelings that sustain you.
Give Yourself Grace
I went to Hawaii during bootcamp. I had a birthday. I met my bestie for a girls’ trip. On all of these occasions, I deviated from the bootcamp meal plan and had a celebratory drink, or a small splurge, or skipped a workout. And you know what? I felt fine about it. Because for me, part of what I wanted to learn about was balance. I wanted to learn to celebrate without bingeing. Or travel without gaining 5 pounds. Or just feel like I can have a glass of wine and not feel guilt. So if you need the same, give yourself grace while you figure out the balance of how fitness works within your real life.
And now, for that supertrick I was talking about.
Lean on Your Squad
We were grouped into teams during bootcamp, and I can’t tell you how many times my team members saved me (whether they knew it or not). It could be something as simple as one of them yelling “Go Chelsea!” from across the room if they saw I was struggling with a workout. Or a text saying that they didn’t really like the dinner from the meal plan. Or a silly meme that made us all laugh at ourselves for taking it all too seriously. If you are struggling, get in touch with a friend. It can be someone who is going through the same process, or just someone who knows that you might need some backup every once in a while. An outside voice telling you you’re on the right track, or reflecting thoughts that you thought no one would understand, or just listening to you vent can work wonders.
So! Those are my takeaways! I’m thrilled that I made it, and I’m planning on continuing a modified version of bootcamp as I finish up meeting a few of my goals. I’d love to know what your goals would be for a fitness challenge — leave me a comment below! xoxo