My Plank Challenge

Friday, September 09, 2016

I finished my 30 day plank challenge 2 days ago. This is the challenge I used:

I chose it because I liked the calendar format. (As I discovered, this was NOT the best way to choose my challenge. More on that later!)

I added 50 squats per day, even on the scheduled rest days. I printed the calendar out and left it and a pen right on my bathroom counter, where I had to see it EVERY DAY. It made it impossible (for me) to ignore what I had to do, even on days when the planks and squats were all I could manage for the day. I kept notes directly on the calendar, writing in my workouts in addition to checking off my planks and squats. I made notes in the margins about things I learned, tips & tricks from Spark friends who responded to my last blog on the subject, and calories burned for workouts I did often, to help me with tracking in Spark.

Another helpful thing I did was recruit a buddy I could text every single day, telling her what I did. It made me feel accountable, even though she wasn't actually doing the challenge with me. She is a great, trustworthy cheerleader!

The most helpful things that were suggested or I learned on my own were to wear shoes, turn off my phone screen (which I used as a timer), do the planks BEFORE any other strenuous workout routine, always tie my long hair back out of my face, and turn on my audiobook for distraction.

I figured out too late (and we all KNOW these things, so why do we so often fail to do them?) I should have taken before photos and measurements! Honestly, this one made me literally smack my forehead one day. I ended up taking photos about halfway through but didn't think to take measurements until I was finished! Rifling through a bathroom drawer, I found measurements from the spring before I got serious about losing weight. So I remeasured.

Two years after those measurements, a year after hitting my goal weight, I discovered that I have lost 26 inches overall! WHATTTTT?? That seems astronomical! CRAZY! I jumped up and down once I recovered from the shock.

A word now about choosing your plank challenge. Planks are hard, especially if you don't do them all the time. If you're a beginner (which means you don't do long ones regularly), choose a beginner's challenge, more like this one:

There are scads of 30 minute challenges out there (both for planks and every other fitness category you can possibly think of, for every fitness level), so just Google images for "30 day fitness challenge" and prepare to be overwhelmed! Keep in mind that just because the times increase gradually doesn't mean you'll be able to increase by 30 seconds every few days while maintaining proper AND SAFE form. That last day is a KILLER. I did one ugly, ugly 5 minute plank.

So, in my relief and jubilation, I did the most logical thing. I decided to go back into the middle and do the last half or so again. I'm not going to strictly follow the daily schedule, but do that 3 minute plank until I'm not praying for the end of the world by the end of it, and then move up an increment, and so on. (And because I love squats, I'm going to keep doing at least 50 every day.

Yes, I'm willingly continuing the challenge indefinitely. Obviously planks make you lose your mind. Don't say I didn't warn you.
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