Thursday, June 27, 2013

12 Months Together FAQ

All right if you missed it, starting July 1st we're launching a year long challenge. And we want you!

FAQ is a misnomer, since no one has really asked any questions yet, but these are questions I think maybe people are thinking or at least need to know the answer to... got a question I haven't answered here, or in my introduction to the challenge post? Ask it in the comments before July 1st and I will!

Q: How will the team encourage each other during the year?
A: In many ways. I'm not sure which way will take off, but I'm guessing it will be the closed facebook group, where we can talk to and encourage each other every day. I also plan on maintaining an email list and emailing encouragement, and also if someone seems to 'drop out' lovingly coming after them to make sure they realize that if you sign up for  year, you've signed up for the whole year. No drop outs, this is an all success story challenge! I'm also thinking we may use other social media networks, depending on the group preferences. We also will post on here, and if anyone who joins us has a blog, I will totally link to any posts they do on the challenge (if they let me know.) I also think that any of us who are using an app, like myfitnesspal or the like, can have that be known and if another member is choosing to use it, we can be friends on the app and encourage each other there. I'm also open to other ideas.

Q: What is the goal? Weight loss? Just an increase in activity level? Better nutrition?
A: Honestly, this depends on the person. I will want us to discuss what we want to get out of the year, and then also what we want to get out of each month. Different people will have different goals and different needs. I know several of us are interested in weight loss, and I hope we do it, but this isn't about weight loss as much as it is about increasing overall health. So if you're overweight, that is part of that, but if you don't lose a single pound but you improve your cardio vascular health and are feeling better becuase of proper nutrition, you're still a success. That said, I personally hope to lose quite a bit, as I still have about 90 pounds to go before I would have a "normal" BMI.

Q: So is this just everyone sets independent goals and then you try to encourage each other to reach them? Or do you do things as a group?
A: Both.
I'd like us to have some months that we take on a group challenge, but with each others abilities, goals, and differences in mind. For example, if we decided to do a running challenge we'd start the distances based on how much you can currently run at the end of the month before. Yes, that might mean you have to run a little to find out where you are. And if someone can't run, maybe because they have knee issues or it's too hot where they live or something, we may do a parallel walking challenge for them, challenging them to increase their walking increments at the same time we do running. Or if we did a workout video challenge, some people might be so ambitious as to say they'll do it every day (though we'll always schedule in a couple "rest days" both for muscle growth, but also so if you unavoidably skip a day in week one, you're not doomed to not complete a month), some three times a week, and some very busy people (like a SAHM or a 80+ hour a week job holder) might just make it a goal to complete the whole video through at least once a week (so they can stop and pause it.) Additionally, maybe half the group wants to do an aerobic video, and the other half wants to do yoga, so we may have two videos going.

Other months, like in July, we'll have themes. Where we pick a theme, but then individuals will pick their goals. This upcoming month the theme is "Pinterest Workout Challenges" (you don't have pinterest? We'll help you out, no big deal). Pinterest is full of workouts people have pinned. So find one you want to do, and that becomes your goal. So if one person picks something that amounts to 45 minutes of working out a day, and another person ends up doing someting that amounts to 30 minutes a week... that's okay. But the key is doing something realistic to begin with (based on your ability and schedule) and once you've committed, sticking with it unless something changes in your life, such as an injury, illness, or big life change (move, family issue, etc.) Then we're still not letting you drop out, but you can change your challenge to something more realistic.

And I'm planning on having two "personal goal" months, where we can all explore separate interests and encourage each other in them. That way if you're really, really wanting to do something every body else is like "eh" to, you can and still have a community backing you up!

Q: What happens if I want to quit after joining the challenge?
A: You can't. Haha. We won't let you.

Seriously, everyone wants to get healthier, so there's no reason to quit. We are totally willing to work with whatever life throws your way to help you find a healthy way to pursue reasonable goals in your life. So unlike other fitness challenges, where there will be drop outs, this is a success only team. However many of us begin, that many will finish. We will lovingly come after you. Don't give up on us, we won't give up on you!

Q: Is this exercise only? Or will you be doing diet challenges as well?
A: No and no.

That is, we are open to diet and nutrition challenges for members, but we will not as a group do a month where there is a diet challenge. Why? The number one reason is so that if any person in our group has or had struggled with an eating disorder, we try to avoid triggers.

That being said, I already know that diet will be a part of many peoples challenges, including myself. I want to get back on track with calorie counting, which helped me lose weight recently. I also know one of the people who has already signed up is dealing with a knee injury and can't do a lot of exercises and we've discussed her setting diet goals as an alternative to fitness goals she can't do at this time (though there also are knee friendly exercises she can do.) I also think everyone, as long as they feel comfortable, should incorporate healthy diet changes in, unless they feel they're already eating as healthily as they can. That is, perhaps one month they commit to beginning to eliminate sugary beverages, or switching from processed to whole grain products, working up to actually drinking the recommended amount of water or committing to replace one pre-prepared meal a week with a homemade one. That kind of goal generally can be done by all, even those in recovery from an eating disorder. But while that will be encouraged by our monthly goals, and may even be tacked in (ex. In October we're doing ab exercises and making one positive diet change) fitness will always be the primary goal.

Q: This seems overwhelming, and I'm scared if I join I'll fail. Should I run far away?
A: No. Please, if you're tempted to do this, just do it. We will meet you where you're at. Not able to walk up one flight of stairs without gasping for air? Welcome. Running a marathon next Thursday? Welcome. Need to lose over a hundred pounds? Welcome. Underweight and wanting to get to a healthy goal? Welcome.

Seriously, people, this is about improving health, so no matter how healthy or not healthy you are, we all can improve and you know it. (If you really don't think you can improve, then maybe this isn't for you... though you could always join with maintenance and variety to keep you from boredom in mind.)

Q: I'm a guy, can I join?
A: Sure. At this point we don't have any guys, and my gut says we won't get any, but I thought I'd throw out there that everyone is welcome.

Q: I'm reading this past July 1st. Can I still join?
A: Probably, but not until the 1st of the next month. (You can leave a comment with your email address or email me at singingpilgrimdancing at gmail dot com right now though.) I'm thinking I'll have enrollment open each month, if anyone is interested, but I don't know if anyone will join. I have come late to the game with other people's challenges before and been like "Man, if only I'd seen this two weeks ago" and I want to be sensitive to that. However, if you join on August 1st, you're doing it it until July 31st, 2014. No matter when you join, you're doing a full year, not just joining us until June 30th, 2014.

It will also not be a separate thing. That is, if you join in August, you'll be doing the same challenge as everyone who joined in July. It's just when we end in June, you'll keep going.

Will I continue to host it past June 30th? I make no promises. It may be too overwhelming to organize it past a year... or I could addicted and decide to do two years. But I won't close out the facebook group, so whoever is left can do it on their own, together, even if I say a year is enough for me. (If there is only one person, I'll probably stick around with them, so they're not alone. :) )

Q: What if I do "drop out" for a month? That is, what if I don't even do a day of the challenge for a whole month? Am I failure?
A: No! But, you won't be a "total success" on June 30th, 2014... but you can "make up" that month. That is, if say in December you "drop out"... now you have to keep going until July 31st, 2014 in order to be a "total success." And if people join part way through, you just join their "graduating class." But that's all.

That being said, come on, partial credit counts!! If you do at least some at the beginning of the month, you eliminate the possibility of failing the month. So just don't do that, okay?

**If you have any more questions I didn't think of, please ask them and I'll answer them below. If you want to join, please leave your email address in the contacts below or email me at singingpilgrimdancing at gmail dot com with the subject line "I'm in!" to join!**

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