Six things I learned from a 100 Day Fitness Challenge

After becoming a parent, personal fitness fell low on the priority list for Cecilia Huang, but when the opportunity came along to take part in a 100 day challenge, she had no excuse to say no.

Early last year, I experienced a major life transition in becoming a parent. Between the new responsibilities and the piling list of to-do’s, my personal fitness had fallen to the bottom of the rung of priorities.

Eventually, my lack of attention to my well-being began to manifest itself in physical ways, including sleep problems and persistent backaches. I attempted a few yoga classes here and there, but I just couldn’t stick with it.

Serendipitously, a fitness coach — who used to be my yoga instructor — reached out about a fitness challenge she was leading.

The online fitness program consisted of 100 daily high-intensity cardio workouts, each about 30 minutes long. The virtual format provided the flexibility I was looking for to work out whenever I wanted, without setting a foot outside my house.

I had no excuse. I decided to say a resounding “yes” to the challenge and to take control of my personal fitness.

A selfie of the author (Cecilia), the lower half of her face covered by a page that she's holding up. The page features an image of woman in a "stag" jump wearing activewear, and beneath the image are the hand-written words "I commit to 100" and signatures beneath it.
Cecilia showcasing her commitment to 100 days of fitness.
Photo Credit: @huesthatgrl

The first two weeks were not easy. My enthusiasm quickly dissipated as reality set in.

The idea of committing to something for three months was daunting. There were times I wanted to give up but thanks to the encouragement from my challenge group, I persisted.

As I tackled one workout after another, I began to notice the changes. Not only did my clothes fit more comfortably, but I also began to feel more confident and accepting of my body and state of being. 

These daily exercises not only flexed my muscles, but they also grounded me. When my world seemed like it was spinning out of control, I found comfort knowing that I could zone into some “me time” for 30 minutes at the end of the day.

As I reflected on my fitness journey, I realized that being healthy was more than just strengthening your body, but also nourishing your mind and growing as a person. 

Here are six things that I learned about myself throughout this experience:

I am not a morning person.

Like many other fitness regimens, the program recommended working out in the morning. It became apparent that this arrangement just was not possible for me, especially with a child who was an early riser.

Instead, I did most of my workouts at 11 p.m. at night, or I would squeeze in fifteen minutes here and there throughout the day. Sometimes you have to recognize your own limits and do what works for you.

A green mug with a steaming beverage in the foreground. Crumpled up white bedsheets in the background.
Photo Credit: Danielle MacInnes

What my “100%” looks like is different every day.

Throughout the course of the three months, I became acutely aware of the differences in my body from day to day.

Some days I had lots of energy, so I would physically challenge myself by increasing the weights. Other days, I could muster just enough energy to go through the motions.

Whether you are killing the workout or merely hitting that “play” button for five minutes, what matters is that you are giving your best effort.

I can be too hard on myself

Here is my confession: I did not do a workout every day for 100 days, because life happens.

I skipped some days because I was sick or simply had no time. There was a week when I missed all my workouts, but I made them up by doubling up the following week.

I remember feeling like a failure and wanting to give up on the whole challenge. However, I reminded myself that this was not about doing everything perfectly.

When you put in the hard work, you have all the benefits to gain from the experience.

I needed a role model that I could relate to.

Growing up, I envied the gorgeous tall women with flowy blonde hair and lean abs I saw in Victoria’s Secret ads. However, no matter how often I hit the gym, I was never satisfied with my appearance because there was no way I could ever measure up to them. 

This changed when I began to see faces that looked like me in the fitness landscape, with vloggers like Blogilates. I realized that finding a relatable role model or “fitspiration” was key to a fulfilling, rewarding experience, and I was fortunate to have met my coach, Amie Chiang. 

A petite Asian #bossbabe with infectious energy and a mother of two young boys, Chiang embarked on her fitness journey after a life-changing post-partum medical emergency to help manage her PTSD and anxiety. Her devotion to her personal health and family continues to inspire me every day. 

When I prioritize my own health, others will follow.

In order to add a daily workout to my schedule, I often had to forgo some movie nights with my husband.

At first, I felt guilty, but then something unexpected happened. My husband would remind me about my daily workouts and voluntarily take over chores around the house so I could get my workout in.

When you make something your priority, the people around you will recognize that and support you.

I thrive on community.

The best part about the challenge was being part of a community of like-minded people.

The daily updates and uplifting messages from other women helped me stay accountable to my fitness goals. Even though I have never met some of them in person, I felt connected to them.

That is the power of community, and we are better together.

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