Time to Join the Holiday Challenge. Guest Blog By Audrey Aickwort. Burn the Fat Summer Challenge overall champion. Tis the season when young and old are full of good cheer and anticipating the biggest events of the year. Naturally, I’m talking about the 7-week Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle Holiday Challenge. Sure, it’s reasonable to wonder whether another holiday commitment is really your cup of egg nog. But we can see it as a burden or as an amazing opportunity.
As amazing opportunities go, the Burn the Fat Challenge is unequaled, and I’m not just talking about the chance to win a trip to Maui like I did.  Imagine being swept up in a perfect storm of motivation and support that carries you toward your goals faster than you thought possible.  That’s what happened to me when I entered the Summer Challenge and became active in the Inner Circle community.
Do you dream of achieving your body’s ultimate potential?  Are you ready to pass up a powerful tool for making that happen?  Then you might want to join me in thinking about why.
There are a handful of reasons people commonly give for their reluctance to join a Challenge, but the Holiday Challenge stirs up particular resistance.  Why is this, and how do three of the most common excuses really hold up under scrutiny?
Excuse #1 – “I won’t be able to enjoy the holidays.”
I love my holiday food.  I really do.  I refuse to skip my pumpkin pie.
Was I perfect every day during the summer challenge?  The first week of July included American Independence day, my 35th birthday and the midway point of the summer challenge.  What do you think?
I live in the U.S. and celebrate Christian holidays, so my big days are Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day.    Five days out of seven weeks.
Now, I suppose you might have a problem, if you’re planning to celebrate the Muslim New Year, St. Nicholas Day, Buddha’s Enlightenment, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s.  Okay, you’re excused.
Are five days really the issue?  Not likely.  A day off here and there is actually good strategy.
If I tell myself the choice is between the Challenge or enjoying Christmas, then I’m probably going to pick Christmas. That black & white thinking gets me off the hook, so I don’t have to face the truth.
What’s the truth?  I wish I could spend every day of November, December and January eating like I celebrate all the festive holidays on the calendar.  I’d like to give myself permission to eat every holiday cookie that crosses my path.  Setting reasonable limits is hard.
What I’ve learned:  my body doesn’t care about the calendar or my motives.
I can either set healthy limits for myself most of the time or be fat.  That’s true whether I participate in the challenge or not.
Does that mean I can never indulge?  No way!
REALITY: The 49-day Holiday Challenge is about making good choices most of the time… just like the other 316 days of the year.
Excuse #2 – “There will be more time to get in shape after the holidays.”
January may be peak season for weight loss enthusiasm, but it’s not exactly peak season for weight loss success.  There isn’t a peak season for weight loss success.  It’s challenging to stay fit all year long.
Yes, the holidays are a busy time, but when isn’t?  I feel like I haven’t had a day off since I graduated college.  Are shopping and a few office parties any different from the double shifts, sick kids, sleepless nights, and other endless burdens that dog us 365 days a year?
I spent 15 years waiting for a good time to lose weight.  All it took for me to finally transform my body and my life was to grind in one single expectation:  I am a person who makes time to exercise and eat right.  Period.
Our behavior reflects our expectations.  When I was overweight, I wanted to exercise and eat right, but I expected myself to sit around and eat junk.  So I did.  Expecting anything more of myself seemed way too painful.
I was focusing on the sacrifice and underestimating the rewards.  Guess what one of the most unexpected rewards has been?  More time.
That’s right.  Inactivity, heavy foods, fat and illness were slowing me down.  My new lifestyle increases my energy, improves my mood, and reduces my stress.  All of those things add up to greater efficiency and more time.
If you have not made the decision that you’ll do whatever it takes to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, then what is stopping you?   That’s what it’s all about, folks.  Flip that switch, and you have found the key to lasting success.
REALITY: It’s never easy, but it is always worth it.
Excuse #3 – “It’s not worth entering if I’m too busy to give 100%.”
I’m not going to lie to you.  It felt great to compete hard in the summer challenge.  It felt even better to win.  Of course, I put a lot of time into making that happen.  Some people just can’t give the Challenge that sort of priority.
The question becomes:  is it worth entering the Challenge, if you’re too busy to give 100%?
There is something very compelling about going full throttle.  I am the queen of “all or nothing” thinking, which is one reason I struggled with my weight for so long.  I am doing my best to learn patience and balance, because those are the keys to weight loss that lasts.
Believe it or not, the Challenge is more than a competition.  Just ask anyone who has finished.  Chances are they treasure the experience.
In reality, many people don’t care about taking the Challenge by storm.   They are there for the support they need to keep making slow, steady progress.
The experience delivers:

  • The Challenge is fun.
  • The Challenge is exciting.
  • The Challenge is NOW (i.e. the antidote to “I’ll start Monday” syndrome).
  • The Challenge creates accountability.
  • The Challenge builds friendships with like-minded people (especially if you join a team).

What you have right there is a recipe for success.  You will usher in 2012 looking and feeling better than you do today.  (Don’t forget that you’re likely to look worse on January 1st, if you fail to act.  Most people gain weight during the holiday – year after year – and that weight typically not lost.)
REALITY: Whether your goals are big or small this time around, the Challenge makes it harder to fail than to succeed.
So, there you have it.   I focused on the common holiday excuses today, because they are symptoms of the same errors in thinking that make it hard to achieve and maintain a healthy weight year ‘round.  That is precisely why Tom hosts a Challenge at such an unconventional time of year.
That said, I want to quickly address one more reason people can be reluctant to enter a Challenge that has nothing to do with the holidays.   I can’t resist bringing it up, because it’s a reason that actually makes me feel a little sad.  (I can’t even bring myself to call it an “excuse.”)
Those “dreaded” BEFORE pictures
Some people are reluctant to join a Challenge, because they are afraid to post their “before” pictures online.  Yes, there are sometimes religious or cultural reasons for this, but often it’s just because people feel ashamed.
I want to remind everyone that “before” pictures are not accessible to people outside the Inner Circle, and the Inner Circle is one of the most accepting places you can imagine.  Many of the fittest people on the forum were very overweight at one time.  Nobody judges.
I promise you, when you have achieved your goals, you will cherish your “before” pictures.  (I have even posted mine on Facebook.)  Those pictures will tell the story of how far you’ve come, and that is a story you will be thrilled to tell.
So, enough of my preaching.   Time to throw those excuses in the fireplace and give yourself the gift of a better 2012.  I’ll see you in the Challenge!
Best Regards,
Audrey Eickwort
Burn the Fat Summer Challenge (2011) Women’s Champion
Thank you Audrey!
For all Burn the Fat Blog readers! There are only 3 days left to enter the Burn the Fat Challenge. Plenty of time for veteran Burners… but, if you’re new, it does take a little time for “orientation” at the Inner Circle challenge forums, not to mention time to take your pictures and get your entry posted, so TODAY is a great day to enter the challenge (not to mention if Monday is your weekly progress check-up day, that will keep you in check on the weekends won’t it?)
Also, our Burn the Fat Challenge has a TEAMS (of 5) division that is massively popular because of the extra support and motivation you receive from your teammates.
But it’s pretty hard to get a Burn the Fat team together at the last minute – if you want to get on a team we have a thread on the Burn the Fat Challenge forum where you can look for a teammate and meet with others looking for a teammate. But you’ll have to hurry if you want to get a team together – the deadline is Wednesday at midnight, November 21st!
See you all at the Inner Circle… It may be getting cold out… but it’s getting HOT in there!


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