30-day challenge and simplifying my life

Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of new parenthood is carving out moments to just be me. I am Arthur’s mom but I am also Shannon, Brian’s wife and an individual with my own needs and identity. I have an extremely supportive family that gives me the space to be my own person; the challenge has been making the most of that time and space.

It was perfect timing, then, that my friend Alicia posted pictures of a 30-day physical challenge she is doing to stay on track with her health and fitness goals. I had just been considering a membership to Planet Fitness, but decided that I wanted to start smaller – something I could carve out the time to do without needing to find a sitter or wait for Brian to get home. My first idea was mall walking (which I am totally going to do, and treat myself to coffee while I’m at it!), but these challenges also seemed like something I could work in to my daily routine.

If you haven’t seen them, there are three challenges: an ab challenge, combining sit-ups, crunches, leg raises, and planks; a squat challenge; and a push up challenge. They were designed together so all of the rest days are the same, and each challenge is progressive so you continue to build on the work you’ve done in the days before. By the end of the challenge I should be able to do 125 sit-ups, 200 crunches, 65 leg raises, a 2-minute plank, 250 squats, and 20 push ups.


Day 1 – Monday – was a breeze, as the first day of any fitness program usually is. Whether you visit the gym with a brand-new workout ensemble and a sparkling water bottle to attack the elliptical or do crunches in your living room, the adrenaline rush of doing something is usually enough to help you power through the workout.

Day 2…yeah, that’s when the realization sets in that it’s called “working out” because it really is work – and if your body is like mine, it doesn’t like being forcibly reminded that those muscles are there to serve a greater purpose than they have been. I did learn, though, that squatting in front of a baby is the most hilarious thing in the world – to the baby. Arthur was more than amused by Mommy’s feeble exercise attempts, though I’m sure he was also confused about why I kept bending down toward him without picking him up.

I wanted to quit, so badly. I did the whole routine yesterday, up to the sit-ups – 8 crunches, 8 leg raises, a 12-second plank, 55 squats, and 4 push ups – and sat there for a minute wondering if it would be so bad to just skip the sit-ups and start again today. But I guess parenthood has changed that part of me too; I looked at Arthur, sitting on Brian’s lap looking down at me from the couch, and realized that I can’t expect or encourage him to keep going through challenges or adversity if I’m not willing to do the same. And I don’t get to put a check mark on the calendar if I only make half an effort.

So I did it. Five at a time, slowly at first and then powering through as I got closer to the finish, and my abs were screaming when I was done. But I did it.

The next challenge will be overhauling the way we handle food in our house – replacing snacks, establishing and sticking to a consistent dinner schedule, and just developing a better relationship with what we put into our bodies. In a little more than a month we will be introducing solid foods to Arthur, and once again we can’t expect him to have a healthy perspective about food if we don’t model that for him from the beginning.

In other news, I’m on a mission to simplify my life. Physical clutter leads to psychological and spiritual clutter, and all of that stands in the way of enjoying all of the wonderful parts of our life. On Monday my friend Amanda posted on The Color Coded Life about a planner that she loves (I am addicted to planners myself) that is designed to – you guessed it – help you simplify your life. It carries a hefty price tag, but the temptation was too great to resist so I treated myself with the proceeds from my paid book reviews. It should arrive next week, and I can’t wait to get started.

This is a daily planner, of course, but it is far more than that. There are lists for planning meals, and making memories, and even for making the time to just be grateful for the people and things we have. As much as I like having a digital calendar, I always need a hard copy within arm’s reach so I can keep everything straight. After all, when I’m juggling two individual schedules, a family schedule, birthdays and anniversaries and my own business, it’s very easy to drown in details. (Besides, let’s face it – I can’t use colored pens and paper clips on my phone!)

Once this lovely planner arrives I’ll do a more in-depth review of it. Who knows, I may even break out the Flip and do a video.

No promises.

Onward with the day, but I’ll leave you with this: “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hoffman



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