How to Reincorporate Challenges as Raised Daily Minimums (Beginning Habit Periodization)

This past month I completed a 30 day No Alcohol Challenge. It was great, I learned a lot, but now what?

Lydia reported seeing that many people, after completing a Whole Life Challenge, went back to bad eating as normal. I found the same case during my No Bread Challenge.

Back in the day I feel many people assumed that after 30 Days you’d get a habit that you could extend indefinitely. We know that’s not true. Nowadays, challenges are supposed to do something - but what? If we don’t harness them, we might as well have not done them in the first place.

The role of a challenge, for me, isn’t to jump start initial change. It’s to extend an already established small habit. If there are three vectors to long-term change - willpower to start the habit daily, habit to extend it and make it automatic, and the grit or deliberate practice needed to push past skill plateaus and increase intensity - then challenges belong to the third vector. Unfortunately this is the vector I know the least about.

I do know that there is a certain amount of …looseness or roominess… I feel mentally when it comes to the idea of ignoring alcohol at a bar with friends. There is a similar sort of freedom with my 8 week progressive HIIT challenge - it’s becoming easier to visualize myself trying something like Crossfit.

And I’ve successfully fumbled into progressive minimums for rowing - I started with HIITs twice a week for 8 weeks, and now I’m doing the entire challenge again 3 times a week. HIITs are now in my program to stay. What is the best way to do this with alcohol?

Lydia is adhering to a once a week drinking rule. I’m thinking of something more gradual, a twice a week drinking rule. It becomes really weird in this case because A) I didn’t have an established drinking habit and B) I don’t know how to concretely record a NON habit, especially one that’s so sporadic.

I’ve also been researching what’s at the heart of all of this - periodization. I’ve mostly been able to look at weight lifting, and it gets confusing very fast - there’s linear, non-linear, and newer undulating models of progression. And the thing that’s challenging - but good - is that it’s based on years of progress - microcycles, mesocycles, macrocycles, quadrennial cycles.

I asked Lydia how Crossfit did it, and she said it was a 6-10 week cycle dedicated either to endurance or power, and that it was based on percentages of a max. And that reminded me of my time in weightlifting where people talk about various programs - Strong Man, 5 X 5, Russian Volume, etc.

My main concern is HOW they came up with these formulas of when and how much to drop down to. For example, if I do NaNoWriMo, I’m writing at least 1600 words a day. Afterwards, do I drop down to 50%? 60 %? If I drop down too low it results in fewer gains over time. If I don’t drop low enough I run the risk of blowing myself out. I have no idea how you’d even begin to calculate that with a large set of athletes, never mind using only myself across multiple skills. It’s something I definitely have to dive into because it’s where all the fruition of my habits comes to.

And how much of this crosses over to other skills? There’s a lot of research to be done.