monthly challenges recap: January edition

It’s already February? When did that happen??

This can only mean one thing: It’s time for the first edition of the 2014 monthly challenges recap.


Challenge 1: New Year juice cleanse

The first challenge I took on in January was a one-week juice cleanse, which I wrote about here. I am especially proud of the fact that I didn’t kill my husband, who chose to cook bacon just as my body was going through the intense withdrawals of caffeine, sugar and, well, solid food in general.

The key learning from this challenge: I need not finish something in the exact form (or length of time) I had originally set out to do in order to consider it a success. On the contrary, I realized the importance of focusing on desired outcomes. If I can achieve those outcomes faster, or in a different way, why sweat the fact that I didn’t follow every step of my original plan? My friend Sam helped guide me through that lesson, and I wrote about it here. I’m so grateful for this life lesson because I know that my tendency to perfectionism has been a major source of self-sabotage in the past.

Challenge 2: Returning to the scene of the crime

I had the romantic notion that a return to Calico Tanks trail in Red Rock Canyon on January 1, 2014 would have been the perfect way to celebrate the completion of my 2013 Year of Sweat. This wasn’t to be, as I found myself in Toronto on the first day of the new year. When I finally arrived back in Vegas in the middle of January, I prioritized on hiking that trail before all else. As I wrote in this post, my expectation was that I would experience a wonderful sense of accomplishment, having come full circle at the hike that started it all. The problem with the idea of closing the loop, coming full circle, is that suggests a completion to the journey.

The three key things I learned on this challenge:

  1. Face your fear, and then do it anyway. As I described with my words (and photos), I found myself in a very precarious situation – perched on a narrow ledge – with a sheer drop of 12-15 feet. I was terrified; paralyzed with fear. I did two things I’m proud of: 1. I asked for help, something very difficult for me to do; and, 2. I pushed past my fear and did it anyway.
  2. Feel it, acknowledge it, and then let it go. When Mr. Enthusiasm laughed at me for being frozen in spot by my fear, I burned with a white-hot rage. I carried that with me the remaining 20 minutes of the climb, feeling it grow from simmering to a rolling boil. As I ate my snack, looking out over the sweeping vistas of the valley, I tried to centre my thoughts on the sense of accomplishment, pride and joy I should have been feeling. Unfortunately my anger overshadowed all of these. I was reminded of that adage, ‘holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die’. I made the conscious choice to let it go, which made room for the biggest learning of all…
  3. It’s the journey, not the destination. I planned on this hike giving me closure for the 2013 year of sweat. The truth is, as cheesy as it sounds, it turns out that it really is all about the journey. So, perhaps I did come full circle, in a literal sense, by hiking the trail that started it all, but the truth is a circle is never-ending. I trust my journey will continue to serve up important life lessons and personal growth for a long time to come.

Challenge 3: Hiking a difficult trail alone

I have been hiking trails and mountains of increasing difficulty for over a year now. And Mr. Enthusiasm has been by my side, or bringing up the rear. I knew that if I found myself in trouble, as long as I stayed put, eventually he would make it to me. This can’t happen on hikes involving a lot of tough scrambles because, with no clear trail, there is no way to know which route your hiking partner has taken. When I set out to summit Turtlehead Peak for the second time ever, I was determined to finish. Even after Mr. Enthusiasm told me to just go on ahead and turn back after I had made it to summit, as he likely wouldn’t make it to the top. Turtlehead is considered the toughest hike in the area. I was terrified that either my woefully bad sense of direction or my overwhelming fear of the required level 4 scrambles would leave me in a position where I would need to be rescued. I didn’t want to play damsel-in-distress again, especially after the previous hike at Calico Tanks.

The key learning from this experience was that I should absolutely aspire to push past my fears, believe in myself and go get what I want. But… I also need to fully assess risk, and make smart and safe choices. I let my ego put me in a dangerous situation when I decided to complete this hike to the summit, despite that fact that doing so meant I would be hiking back after dark. My ego-fed need to prove I could put me at a huge unnecessary risk. Key learning: Remove ego from the decision-making process.

And now for my favourite part of the Monthly Challenges recap post, my opportunity to share the wicked cool challenges that my friends have taken on this past month.



Bad-Ass Round-up – January!

  • Rachael at Mummy Flying Solo for the completion of her first timed 5k race. Rachael killed it, with a finishing time of 26:48. Speed demon!!
  • Andra at Accidental Cootchie Mama for her crazy training – walking up to 15 miles per day for 2 or more days per week – in preparation for a giant challenge she is kicking off in March. Andra is covered in blisters but keeps pushing through!
  • Sam at Midsummer 365 Project for entering her 8th month of daily workouts on her journey to 365 days of sweat. Sam takes on new (and big) challenges every month, so it’s nearly impossible to narrow it down to just one. She is a full-on bad-ass and inspires me like crazy!
  • Kathy over at Hiking to Healthy took on several challenging hikes, adding a backpack to her training regimen (something I have yet to do) as she works her way up to overnight/camp hikes. Way to go Kathy!
  • Kelly at Try New Things for chasing her childhood dream of being an oceanographer by heading to Belize to take part in a volunteer project to study manatees. I can’t wait to hear about how what lessons this experience has taught Kelly. Her insights always give me much food for thought.
  • Kerry at Winding Road for her commitment to practice yoga every day, despite being a busy mom of two little ones. She shared a terrific idea about how to build short (or long) yoga sequences that any of us can do anywhere.
  • Carol at Which Way Now 101 who participated in a yoga retreat, 14 hours over 3 days, to be exact. Carol, I can’t even begin to imagine how bendy you are now. 🙂
  • Rose at Ordinarily Raw for tackling her rising blood sugar levels head on with a detox. Rose has cut out all processed sugar and is slowly starting to see the positive impact on her blood levels. Way to go Rose!
  • Pinot Ninja at Stunted Adults for running 5 miles a mere 2 weeks after having her gall bladder removed. PNinj is a warrior!
  • Laurel at Eat Less Sugar for facing off with her caffeine addiction. Her aim is to cut her coffee consumption in half. Laurel, I know firsthand how tough the caffeine withdrawal is so I raise a cup to you. 😉

Whew… I’m exhausted just typing up that list. What an inspiring group. Go on with your bad selves, ladies – you all rock!

Keep moving!

xoxo nancy

p.s. The blogging schedule may be a bit wonky this week as I’ll be out of town on business travel from early Monday to very late Wednesday. Next blog post may land on Thursday or Friday. Have a great week y’all.

61 thoughts on “monthly challenges recap: January edition

  1. Not sure I deserve to be in this list Nancy! I managed two intense yoga weekends and have been nursing my aching joints ever since. Couldn’t keep up with the 20-year-olds! The muscles are willing, but the joints . . . ? I’ve made a note of Kerry’s 5 minute yoga practice. Could be a handy tool for you on your travels. Have a good week. Hope the new job is going well.

    • Those at-home yoga sequences have come in very handy when I’m looking for excuses not to hit the gym. I suspect I’ll be busting out a few of those, plus some push-ups, planks and sit ups in the hotel room the next two days.

      p.s. you absolutely deserve to be on this list. 14 hours of yoga!!!

  2. I am so impressed with that hike/climb! Way to challenge yourself!

    Thanks for including my blog on your list too. I had the best time on the Dolphin Research and to top it off, my cabin was on an isolated beach facing out to the ocean….it was breathtaking in a way that I cannot describe!

  3. I love that you learn something from your challenges and take the time to articulate it. I think we all have ideas in our minds after completing something, particularly a difficult task, but we don’t express our growth in written words. I imagine doing so–as you’ve done above–probably makes the entire experience that much more objective and ‘usable’ for the future.

    • It took me a long time to realize that I was missing out on important life lessons by not acknowledging what was going on in my heart and in my head during these challenges. The first step was figuring out what it is I felt and what that meant. The hardest step was then acknowledging/admitting to those things and sharing them with others. So worth it though. Vulnerability leads to strength.

      • The coffee. Such a struggle! I’m on the last day of a 3 day smoothie/juice cleanse (with black coffee in the morning). Had some high calorie nut milk smoothies so was better than last time of mostly juices. Three days is a long time!! I’m in awe of people who do longer.

  4. Very inspirational! Love that anger adage as well! Although I’m surprised that a woman getting a LATVIAN MAN into the kitchen didn’t make your badass list 😉

  5. Wow, what a post! January is gone already? 🙂 I love your idea of the bad-ass roundup and with a list like this I don’t even have to plan what to do in February!
    Unless I decide to trade Whiskey for Vodka…

  6. I am impressed that you hiked a rough trail alone. This, out of all the potential bad decisions I could ever make, is something I don’t think I will ever do. I get lost EVERYWHERE, Nancy. It is unbelievable. Even if there is technically a trail… I would get lost. So I’m impressed to see that you are still alive 😉 Way to kick arse in January, can’t wait to see what you’ve got cookin’ for us the rest of the year!

    • Funny enough it was less about getting lost on the descent and more about losing light on steep decline scrambles. I’m lucky a bruised ass is all the injury I wound up with.

  7. What? My epic yoga pose did not make it to the Bad-Ass Round-up list? Hahahahaha I wish I can hike a trail alone but I doubt if my husband will ever allow me because I don’t have a sense of direction. I even get lost inside a mall. Pffft.

    • I knew I would forget someone, and surely I did. Your sweltering run in that crazy heat should have def made this list! You would have had the place of honour among all those bad ass women!

  8. Sounds like you picked up a bunch of great lessons.
    In the end, whatever you’re doing in this project is all about you, and you get to decide how to do things and what value it has.

    Oh, and have a good trip.

    • Holy jumping in to the deep end batman! I am clearly no longer used to these crazy long days. I nearly had an aneurism trying to stifle a yawn during hour 4 of a meeting this afternoon. I’m back in hrs saddle again. Yee haw! 😉

  9. oh my goodness!!

    I thought I posted a comment on this…but i did it from my phone and it has been eaten by the internet!!

    I said that your positive learning experiences from your challenges are really inspiring 🙂 and that it is great to read a round up that is written from such a perspective!!

    I also said…thank you for the mention and woohoo I am a full on bad-ass 😀
    and then I said I did a happy dance in the kitchen…because I did!!


    sorry the bad internet / iphone combo ate my comment!!

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