10 Reasons to Create and Rock a Fitness Challenge

Back in December 2021 I challenged myself to cycle every single day of the month to get my legs back under me and begin building my mental and physical base to kick off Ironman Training. I chose the difficult month of December because I knew how hard it was to be consistent during the holidays, special events, and less-than-spectacular weather.

Riding 31 days in a row seemed epic at first, and there were definitely days I did not want to get on my bike, especially in the pouring rain. But because I committed to this personal challenge, and shared my goal with my friends and family, and Instagram connections, I dragged myself out the door and onto the road every single day (or on a spin bike at the gym, or my bike trainer in the garage). I didn’t miss one ride, and by the end of the month I had logged 809 miles and over 14,000 ft. of elevation. More importantly though, I reminded myself that I could do hard things and indeed loved doing hard things. Mission accomplished.

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Fast forward to the beginning of 2023. After successfully completing Ironman California in late fall 2022, and letting my body recover for a couple of months, I launched a push-up challenge to work on my much-needed upper body strength. Push-ups have always been my nemesis, even though I strength train and swim. If you want to read the full details of this challenge, you can pop back to my previous blog post HERE. In a nutshell, it was a simple concept: starting with one full push-up on the 1st of January and working up to thirty-one full push-ups on the 31st. To build strength along the way I also added knee push-ups and inchworms and Pilates push-ups in addition to other usual fitness exercises.

I won’t lie. It was hard. Really hard.

What made it less difficult though, was inviting my friend Emma to do it along with me. We cheered each other on and held each other accountable, and when we completed our challenge, we hooted, hollered, high-five’d and celebrated over a tasty meal at a wonderful restaurant.


When our January push-up challenge wrapped up, Emma and I both knew we still had a lot of work to do to improve our strength and form–especially getting ourselves all the way down to the ground, so we decided to repeat the same thing in February. This time I invited my friends Janet and Robert, my brothers Tim and Scott, and my sister-in-law Jess, who were  quick to join the fun. Our little group plugged away each day, doing our daily push-ups on top of our other personal fitness training, sending each other photos or videos, cheering each other on, and checking in when someone got quiet. Once again, we got it done. Having a larger group made it all the more fun, especially celebrating each person with a virtual mini trophy and Rocky music.

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Choosing Progress over Perfection to Push Up and Through

Today’s post is brought to you by a whole lot of joy and a big sense of accomplishment for doing something hard every damn day of the month of January. 💥💥💥

“What was that?” you ask.

While this is most likely only exciting to me, I share it with you in case it might stir up some ideas about something you’d like to challenge yourself to this year.

On January 1st I kicked off a much-needed 31 Day Push-up Challenge. Even though I had worked up to doing 10-minute plank rotations during Ironman training, could do upward and downward dogs until the cows came home, and could swim 2.5 miles, I could not do one freaking full push-up. It was shocking and quite frankly, embarrassing. Clearly I hadn’t worked those muscles, and perhaps even babied them more than necessary when coming back from a torn rotator cuff.

Sooooo after inviting my fabulous friend Emma to be my accountability buddy, we launched our challenge on January 1st.

Here’s how our simple concept worked:

Day 1: Do 1 full push-up.

Day 2: Do 2 full push-ups.

Day 3: Do 3 full push-ups… you get the idea…all the way to 31 push-ups on January 31st.

The first one was shaky, frustrating, and nowhere near the ground, but it was a start. ✔️ Day 2 wasn’t much better, but I followed each day with 20 knee push-ups, which I could do semi-fairly okay—even though they were also shaky–continuing that for the rest of the month.

On Day 4 and going forward, I also added what I called “ get-ups”—laying flat on the floor, then pushing all the way up to standing. I started with five then after two weeks I progressed to ten each day after my full push-ups and knee push-ups.

Today is a cause for celebration because on Day 31, after being fully dedicated to the process, and being inspired by Emma who has been there every step of the way, I was able to do 31 full push-ups in a row, 20 knee push-ups, and 10 get-ups.

Are my full push-ups perfect? Not even close, but I’m choosing an attitude of progress over perfection. Because I’m starting where I am at and working toward where I want to be, in one month I’ve become a whole lot stronger just by doing my best and giving myself grace.

Here are my January totals

💪🏼 496 full push-ups

💪🏼 620 knee push-ups

💪🏼 211 get-ups

🙌🏼 1,327 TOTAL

When I totaled this up today, I was bowled over by how quickly each little bit really did add up. Doing over a thousand push-ups in various forms suddenly felt kind of badass, no matter how hard it was or how shaky they were.

What this has reminded me of is that difficult things are absolutely doable if you break them down into small chucks, commit to the work, and don’t give up on yourself (even if you are whining and swearing the entire time). Having an accountability buddy makes a huge difference too. Thank you Emma!

February’s challenge is now to reset, starting with one full push-up again, focusing this time on getting my chest all the way down to the floor. #ithinkicanithinkicanithinkican  I’ll also continue doing knee push-ups and “get-ups” and likely add other forms of push-up fitness like burpees–along with all my other usual cardio and strength workouts.

If you’d care to join Emma and me for February’s challenge, we’d love to have you along! Before you hesitate or say no, just remember Day 1 is simply doing 1 push-up. From there you just take one day at a time. 🙌🏼 And if you think it sounds time-consuming, the most time I spent doing this each day was 7-9 minutes. 

Cheers to pushing up and through our own personal challenges, getting stronger, and celebrating progress all along the way!

Week 33 of Ironman Training: The Art of Recovery and Balance

Last week was a recovery week, a chance for my body to adapt and grow stronger by pulling back a bit and allowing my tired muscles to rest and rejuvenate. After hitting it hard several weeks in a row, it also gave my mind a chance to reboot too. “All-Iron, all the time” can make a girl weary (and boring). 🙂 It’s all about balance, baby.

When I told one of my friends that I’d have a little more time to get together because it was my recovery week, her eyes popped: “You take the WHOLE week off and do nothing?!?” Ha ha. Not even close. Just less volume. Killer Kate’s class is still Killer Kate’s class. It isn’t easier because it’s my recovery week. And two hour bike rides are just that–they’re just not 4.5 hours.

Here’s what last week’s schedule looked like:

Monday: Killer Kate’s strength class
Tuesday: Swim 2000y, Run 30 minutes
Wednesday: Yoga, Bike 60 minutes, Run 10 minutes
Thursday: Pilates, 500m Ocean Swim Race
Friday: Rest (family day!)
Saturday: Bike 2.5 hours (hills)
Sunday: Sprint Triathlon “run-through” with Moms in Motion group (swim 500y, bike 6 miles, run 2 miles), followed by my regular solo 2 hour Bike and 2.25 mile Run

Heading into Kate’s class on Monday, my legs were toast from two hard workouts the weekend before, but somehow when you crank up fun music and exercise with friends, you just get through tough sessions.

And of course Kate is big on leg work (which is exactly what I need) so we did a bizillion squats and lunges. KillerKateLunges KillerKateSquats
By the end, I was a delirious mess of sweat with wobbly, yet stronger legs. And yes, I know I look insane.

Afterward I sat in an anti-gravity chair and sported some Normatec compression sleeves in hopes of helping my legs recover a little quicker.

When they fill up and compress your legs, they kind of make you feel like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, but afterward your legs thank you.

Tuesday, I took my still somewhat fatigued legs for a short recovery run along the Bird Refuge. Often these little jaunts are what help your legs come back to life (at least after the first bit where they feel like cement).

And it worked. Not too bad. Then a little cool down and stretch before heading to the pool for my swim workout.
I opted to swim outside at the Montecito Y, where I’m usually able to enjoy a lane of my own. That was the case this time too, except I barely got my workout in before the grannies took over the pool for their aqua-aerobics class. These ladies are serious about their aqua-fitness so I don’t mess with them.

On a typical day, I’m usually on the fly trying to squeeze in my workouts between other obligations, but on this day, I plopped in a chaise and chilled out for a few minutes and enjoyed watching these awesome badasses. Aaaaaah…yes, I’m taking my recovery seriously. Somebody’s gotta do it.

Wednesday I started my day with my favorite yoga class. Thank you once again, Erin! There’s nothing better to get my mind and body primed for the day.

Continuing with the “recovery mode” theme this week, my ride was slated for a 1 hour flat spin. Finding a flat course in Santa Barbara isn’t easy though, which I realize sounds ridiculous, but most of the roads that are enjoyable to ride are rolling hills at a minimum. Not to mention all the cars and stop lights on the flatter roads. Needless to say, I was thrilled when my husband bought a bike trainer for me so I could spin for solid blocks of time and work on my cadence without having to think about cars and potholes. His love and support knows no bounds. #feelingthelove #luckygirl xoxo

I’m also trying to work on “heat training” so my body doesn’t freak out if there’s a toasty race day. I’ll be heading to Arizona in a month to do an IMAZ training camp and an Olympic distance triathlon, and it will surely be hot, so on this day I slathered on the sunscreen, set up my bike in the backyard in the heat of the day and had a sweatfest.


Thursday evening, after doing a morning Pilates class with the awesomely fabulous Kristine McConnell, I did another ocean swim race. I took a few more seconds off my time and learned that I still have some things to work on (like the best place to line up at the start so you don’t get caught too close on the buoy turn). All good stuff. It was also fun and inspiring to see so many parents and kids swimming together to practice for the upcoming Santa Barbara Triathlon Parent-Child division. Love our town of fitness fanatics!!

Friday was an entire day off to rest (!!). Well, sort of…this is what days off usually look like. I’m sure you can relate. I have more workout clothes than regular clothes, and it seems like they all end up here to dry.

Thankfully, we also ended up here on our day to play as a family…a little jaunt down to the Getty Villa in Malibu.


It was nice to be able to spend time with my loves and not have to think about getting a workout in after our little adventure to Malibu.

On Saturday morning, I got up early to watch the Women’s Olympic Triathlon, which was an awesome way to start the day. As most of you know, Gwen Jorgensen ROCKED IT with a Gold Medal performance. Pure fierceness in motion. Go Gwen! Go USA!
Watching this made it all the easier to get my butt out the door for my 2.5 hour hill ride. I meandered all through the hills of SB and Montecito, and soon discovered I was in the middle of a century ride taking place. It was fun to see so many cyclists out there. Some of them looked as though they were wondering what the heck they had gotten themselves into, others like they were in their happy place. After my rest day, I was feeling happy and strong. It ended up being a 30 mile day with 3,300 ft of climbing, capped off with a short jaunt part way up Gibraltar.


Sadly, another wildfire has broken out near us–the Rey Fire. When you look at how tinder dry the hillsides are around here, you can easily see the potential for this to become massive quickly. This is a view from my driveway.

And a view from a few streets over…
Fortunately, no homes have been destroyed nor people hurt, and so far the smoke hasn’t been too bad–at least in the morning. Afternoon is when it billows up as the wind direction usually changes. We are all thinking extra good thoughts that this one gets put out quickly. Thank you firefighters!

On a happier note, the highlight of my week was joining the Moms in Motion triathlon team for their Sunday morning workout. They did a run-through of the Santa Barbara Triathlon sprint course in preparation for next weekend’s race. Serious fun! And a perfect way to end the week.

I can’t say enough good things about Moms in Motion–the support, camaraderie, organization, coaching. Whitney Bruice (far right), whom I’ve talked about before (she helped me get my swim groove on), does a phenomenal job of coaching and brings just the right amount of inspiration and motivation to get each athlete to push a little farther. Everybody is soooo ready to bring it on Sunday! Go MIM!

This is just part of Whitney’s team of warriors. Thanks for the fun, ladies!
Afterward, I did my regularly scheduled 2 hour ride and run afterward, which wasn’t nearly as fun without the gang, but still a strong way to end the week.

Even better was spending the last day of summer with my sweet girl and her friend at the beach so they could boogie board to their heart’s content before school started the next day. We picked up some of our favorite Mexican food then ventured to our favorite beach. Although I did little more than stay sprawled, reading my book, it gave me joy to be able to give them this happy little exclamation point to the end of summer.  Life is good.


Until next time, dear friends… Lots of exciting things are on the horizon as we’re only 87 days away from Ironman Arizona! Woohoo! Stay tuned…

And as always, my heart is overflowing with gratitude for your continued support. There isn’t a day that goes by that one of you doesn’t send me an uplifting message or inspire me in some way. You are THE best!


PS: As always, if you missed any of my previous posts about Ironman training, you can click on the links below:

Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains
Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust
Week Eleven of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week Twelve of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week Thirteen of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week Fourteen of Ironman Training: Rollercoaster
Week 15 and 16 of Ironman Training: Staying Happy and Healthy

Week 17 and 18 Ironman Training: Inspiration and Purple Rain
Weeks 19 through 21 of Ironman Training: Transitions

Week 22 and 23 of Ironman Training: Holy Epicness…Julie Moss
Week 24 of Ironman Training: Consistency is the Key
Week 25 of Ironman Training: Embracing New Challenges
Week 26 of Ironman Training: Hills, They’re What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Week 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Tri-cation
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Fun Continues
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Rocky Mountain High
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Finishing Aspen Strong
Week 29 and 30 of Ironman Training: Rollercoasters, Crazies, and Comebacks
Week 31 or Ironman Training: New Heights
Week 32: 100 Days to Go