In one of my last posts, the 30 Day Challenge Wrap Up, I mentioned that I was lucky enough to have a couple of accountability partners who were doing their own 30 day challenges, one of whom is my friend Josh. His 30 day challenge was to exercise and meditate every day. We got together over coffee to talk about his experience. Josh Eastman is a local Vancouver musician/producer/teacher and current student at Capilano University.
What sparked your interest in joining me in a 30 day challenge?
I wanted to interact more with someone doing original content online though social media. So much of what I find online are people sharing someone else’s post, or something viral, so I wanted to support original content. It was also a way that I could marry something social and interpersonal with external motivation to do something healthy for myself.
Why did you choose to do meditation and exercise?
Exrcise was something that I’ve been doing regularly for a while but I was lacking in motivation and meditation is something I wanted to start doing more regularly.
What kind of exercise were you doing during the challenge?
Most days I was doing about 30 – 40 mins of circuit training and weights, but some days it was just getting outside for a long walk or a jog.
What kind of meditation were you doing? Did you use apps?
In the morning I would do guided meditations for relaxation or clearing the mind. I’d use Youtube videos or the Head Space app. If I didn’t meditate in the morning I would usually meditate mid-day and focus on mindfulness, and just try to take notice of the world around me and be engaged with it. I would do this on my own whether I was at work, at school or out somewhere.
Was it challenging to meditate out in public?
Not really because I don’t think it was too noticeable. Part of not doing something is because you want to do it in a particular way, but if I can just take account of what’s going on around me and be aware of my body and the environment, then that’s more than I would be doing without the practice.
How did it go over the 30 days? Did find it difficult, or did it get easier over time?
It was cyclical. It was easier when I got into the routine of meditating in the morning and working out in the evening. There was less resistance when I had pre-allotted time for it, as opposed to trying to squeeze it in at some point during the day. Even though part of my goal is to do something rather than nothing, sometimes I still got hung up on the perfectionistic view of doing it in a certain way.
What was your goal for the challenge?
The goal was to make time for self-care. The busier my schedule gets the less attention I put into myself and I end up feeling like I am throwing this unprepared mind and body into everything that I’m trying to do.
What did you gain over the course of the 30 days?
More consistency, and more motivation.
How did motivation show up for you?
The challenge made me address things beyond the mind and body. Before the challenge, it seemed like a burden to take care of my mental and physical health. The stigma around taking care of yourself makes it seem like a greater effort than it actually is. The challenge helped me to feel motivated and be ready to get more done. You hear about the people who seem to do so much in a day; they wake up at 5:00 am and have a four hour routine before their day even starts! That model assumes that you start at this point of being prepared to take care of the laundry list of things to do. I know that we’re creatures of habit and if I do something regularly it will become easier, but knowing that as a theoretical idea as oppose to actually doing it are totally different experiences. It’s the difference between feeling motivated and having to get yourself motivated – having the motivation to push through the barrier of getting motivated to do the activity. It’s like a three step process. By doing the exercise and meditation everyday, it pushed me one rung further up that ladder.
I also felt more positive. I went to the doctor and spoke to him about my mental health for the first time ever and got in touch with a psychiatrist to get a process started that I’ve never done. Previously I’ve always diminished the importance of mental health. I was caring enough for myself this month to actually reach out instead of just pushing it aside and putting it on the bottom of the laundry list of things to do.
Did you have any rituals to help you during the challenge?
I would set an alarm for the morning and set out a time-frame for what I wanted to get done beforehand. When I got up, I would have a glass of water, put the coffee on, then go meditate, I made it part of the routine. If I just wake up on my own and do things without a plan, I end up just trying to squeeze exercise or meditation in somewhere in my day. I don’t want to do something that’s “good” for me if it’s causing me more stress or anxiety about getting it done. I needed to be ready, willing and relaxed to get into the activity. If you’re not able to be involved in the activity and ready to take it on it might not be as “good” for you and you think.
Now that the 30 days is over, what’s next?
I am hoping to keep exercising daily, at least doing something physical everyday. I’m putting a focus on anxiety reduction in general whether that’s meditation, mindfulness or self-soothing.
How did you find the accountability? How was it texting every day?
It was really good! I also got a couple other people to participate as well! It feels like someone’s watching out for you. Self-care doesn’t have to be something you do on your own. A big reason why maybe we don’t it is because self-care can feel like something you do completely on your own and it doesn’t have to be.