What is #GoTheDist? It's you challenging yourself to meet a goal that is not measured by pounds or inches lost.  It is not measured against the distance of any other person (as we all have different abilities).  It is only measured by your ability to push yourself to meet the goals you set for yourself (we measure success by percentage of goal complete).  The community provides the support, motivation, and inspiration for you to reach your goal.


In September 2010, I  challenged myself to run 100 miles on the elliptical for two reasons:  (1) to really kick the pre-wedding preparation into high gear and (2) to challenge myself.  Many of you followed me on this journey (as I often tweeted from the gym).

Toward the end of the month, @jpnagan and @athletecomeback asked if I'd open up this challenge and "October Going the Distance" (#OctGTD) was born.
I want to challenge all of you to set yourself a serious goal for October. (**Disclaimer: please talk to your doctor(s), trainer(s) before taking on any new exercise program or challenge to decide what is most appropriate for your ability and health.**)

As the focus of my journey isn't necessarily about the weight, but how much I push myself this will not be a weigh-in type competition.  Heck, I don't even know if this is a competition at all.  This is about going the distance, and reaching the goal you set for yourself.
I tracked all of the participants' miles on a spreadsheet as a way for people to not only motivate themselves in comparison to another person's progress, but to help the community to motivate each other.  And boy did they!!

Along the way I think we all learned a few things as well -- that it takes serious commitment to attain our goals, that it's better to come up short sometimes than to underestimate our potential, and that starting is sometimes more important than finishing.

#OctGTD ended with many people finishing their goals and many more understanding themselves a bit better.  @vinnyslavin provided some final thoughts (as well as some others).

my thanks to @Fitblogr for the graphic button!
With no one else volunteering to take up the reins and come up with a different challenge, #NovGTD has the same premise but more autonomy (click link for self-reporting spreadsheet).  Some people are increasing their goals, some people are decreasing goals, but everyone is picking goals that are personally tailored to their ability and commitment level. Heck -- some people aren't even counting distance, but making consistency goals, which I like (hours doing a workout DVD or repetitions of a certain exercise).

#DecGTD will still have the familiar mileage component but a few additions.

These are completely voluntary -- but I wanted to do 2 things: (1) look forward to complete health in 2011, and (2) start showing how health and well-being is more than just getting to the gym and putting in the miles.  I've added a section where you keep track of goals and appointments, as well as a daily section to write down how much water you've had to drink, how many servings of fruits/veg you've had, and how you feel on any given day.  Like I said, it's entirely voluntary to enter these variables, but give it a go. You have nothing to lose (well, maybe some weight!).

The wonderful @CarrieSinCA provided an honest and thoughtful #DecGTD Wrap Up.

#JanGTD was an epic undertaking.  Luckily, Rachael/@Brooklyn_1012 was a huge help and inspiration!  For January, we tried to recognize that cardio is not the only thing we should (1) be doing or (2) be keeping track of.  She designed awesome strenth training sets to get everyone started in the right direction.

To quote Rachael:  I’ve always said there is a big difference between exercising and training. Exercising you are just going through the motions. In training, you are working towards a specific goal and gaining knowledge along the way.

#FebGTD had a bit of a twist:  it is common for people trying to change their life (in numerous ways) to either write a letter to their past or a letter to their future.  But I wanted February to be about writing a love letter to our present self.  The challenge was no longer about the miles.  That is neither here nor there for many people -- either you reach your goal or not.  But do you have an appreciation for the person making the goal?

Turns out that it is and has been not only much harder than I had expected, but also much more rewarding than I had expected.

March #GoTheDistance was just announced -- and there were more changes than just to the hashtag!
Growing the Distance. I was trying to think about themes, and I was thinking about Spring:

•It's a time when things grow. (We've planted the seeds of change with a few months of the Going the Distance Challenge, and it's time to step it up -- work towards increasing distances, or setting personal records. It's also a great time to seek to learn more -- learn a new exercise, ingest some more knowledge, try a new recipe, etc.)

•It's a time of renewal and change. (Especially in the wake of the February #GoTheDist Challenge, I think it's a great time to look at ourselves honestly and compassionately and seek to improve not just our weights, but ourselves, our lives. Think about this when considering your non-food reward!)

•It's a time of Spring Cleaning. (Think about how much stuff -- emotional, mental, physical -- we carry around. Isn't it time to let go of a few burdens?)

The April #GoTheDist challenge is about FINDING YOUR FIGHT.

What do I mean by Finding Your Fight? I think at the very core, Finding Your Fight is about taking a moment to address your goals and your obstacles, then asking yourself "how badly do I want it?" For some people the fight is a mental one -- getting over bad habits, and fears. For some people the fight is a very physical one of breaking through plateaus. But for all of us, I think it is a very emotional process -- to be able to address the fears or the obstacles and say "I'm not scared of you anymore."

I mean, that's what all of this has been leading up to, right? The more we sweat, the more capable we are about facing our own lives. We have felt the pain and exhaustion, we have cried the tears and felt the release of each little string holding us down. We feel the exhilaration of knowing knowing just how capable we are. We have the bricks (knowledge, determination, support, etc.). All that's left is showing how much we want it.

More literally, I'd like April #GoTheDist to be a boxing/fighting challenge. I will be pledging boxing sessions (at the boxing gym, shadow boxing, Wii boxing) that get my heart rate up. Consider any discipline, such as boxing, taekwondo, judo, greco-roman wrestling, MMA-style fighting, etc. I think boxing is the most accessible and wallet-friendly out there.

Please consider a fighting discipline as your second modality. If you do decide to do this -- send me photos of you in your fight poses! I will be posting these along with other April #GoTheDist / Finding Your Fight updates!

This month's theme:  Second Chances.

Was there a month where you didn't do quite as well as you wanted to do

Well now's your chance to restate your goals of that month and try again.

If you don't want to go back and re-do a goal, I want to hear about how you are forgiving yourself and giving yourself daily second chances.

June's #GoTheDist challenge will still have the same tracking components and spreadsheet (miles, classes, steps, water, strength, or whatever you want to add) but I'm going to take it a bit farther (and along the same lines as February's challenge, as well as New Rule No. 3):
  • Every day have some naked time (it doesn't matter how long) -- but it is completely naked, no cheating.
  • Find yourself in front of a full-length mirror and find a way to look at yourself compassionately and lovingly as you are right now (i.e. do not envision how you want to look)
  • If you find this hard, put your hand over your heart and softly say "I am here... I am here."
  • Remain in front of the mirror until your heart rate is regular, you've stopped giggling, there's no anxiety about the person looking back at you, and until you start seeing what is perfect over what might be imperfect
  • And if you can only do it for a limited time (such as if you're a parent, or live with other people) make sure that when you do this that you're not distracted.  Be present and in the moment

In July we revisted June.

So why am I saying all this?  After looking ofter the June #GoTheDist spreadsheet and talking to some of you on Twitter, it was quite apparent that I wasn't the only one who struggled this month.  While my struggle was in getting to the gym and my diet, other people struggled with the "make love of yourself perfect" theme.  So we're going to take a step back from that theme and regroup. 

Also in celebration of Independence Day (woo hoo U.S.!), I would love for everyone to stand up for themsleves a little bit each day.  I especially want to see people do that in conjunction with the June "Make Love of Yourself Perfect" theme -- so if you're standing in front of the mirror and experience a negative thought, stand up for yourself.  Stand up for the person you want to be and/or feel like.

... So with tongue-in-cheek, that's this month's theme.  I think the past few months have been kind of serious with the whole self-love theme.  I'd love to see people keeping up the self love, but let's look at it from a more lighthearted place:

Celebrate at least one thing every day.
I don't care if you're celebrating the availability of seasonal fruits, a PR, a great night's sleep, a fantastic date, or even a really good bowel movement.  I want August to be full of joy for you.  I want the thing you choose to celebrate to be genuine, heartfelt, and even silly if you must.  But really enjoy it.

One of the recent themes of my blog/life has been failure and truth as well as how they relate to each other.  As usual when I'm feeling down, I turn to The Buddha, or Buddhist texts for some insight.  Why is this?  Look at the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, or even the new guy, the Karmapa Lama:  they seem to witness so much suffering in their own personal lives or those of their countrymen and peers and yet they find a way to smile from the very depths of their hearts. I figure they know something.  And I want to know what they know.

So for September's theme, my question is "What is your personal truth; what is true to you today?" It doesn't have to be deep or serious, but it does have to be genuine. How can you (further) bring sincerity and truth into your weightloss/healthgain/fitness/life journey? Borrow a truth if you need one, or need some inspiration.

The first thing I think of when I change my calendar to October is HALLOWEEN! Remember when you were a kid, you'd start planning your halloween costume as you were going through the current year's candy haul? Well, that's what I did. All through the year I'd think of different things I'd want to be for halloween, from the predictable to the extraordinary.

But they all represented things I thought I was unable to manifest in myself, except through putting on a costume: the dignity, beauty, and grace of a princess; the strength and virtue of a superhero; the intelligence and badass dance moves of a robot, etc.

So this month I want to think about what you fantasize(d) about being for Halloween, either as a kid or even now and what those things represented to you.  Who could you be in those costumes that you couldn't be in your own skin?  And if possible, try to be those things (you determine the extent) without having to hide behind a mask.  You can be a princess, a hero, a robot, a cowboy, or an astronaut without having to ever change your clothes—just change your attitude.

Re traditions:

.... On my mom's side of the family, a normal routine took on extra special meaning because of the day and the number of family members around the table.  We'd all say what we were thankful for.  Some people were profound (being thankful for health and love) and some people were a bit more mundane (my brother was usually thankful for forks).

My (second) cousin on that side issued a challenge to her Facebook friends to do a gratitude project during this month, and I'm going to follow suit.  My time in the gym is always a time of work but also of introspection.  I'm deeply grateful for each day my body gives me to move and change my life.

...I often get a little mopey when I realize that because of my back, I'll never be able to participate in the kinds of races listed above -- but I have my own pack to run with: my #GoTheDist team. When one of us succeeds and meets our goals, we all do. That's my motivation. That's what I carry with me when I'm in the gym busting my butt to beat my PRs, or even to just put in the time. It's all about remembering that nifty little point about self-efficacy -- when we see similarly-situated people (i.e. our peers) succeed, we know we can as well.

So the December #GoTheDist theme is: what do you bring to the #GoTheDist team?

How are you specifically qualified on any given day to be an agent of change not only in your life, but in the life of someone who might be looking to you for motivation, support, or mentoring (whether you even realize it or not)?

So while I might be the musher, I want to see what my puppies can do!

#GoTheDist 2012
#GoTheDist is entering a new phase of badassery where only the brave dare go. 

Instead of a month-to-month challenge, I've set up the spreadsheet (if I did everything correctly) to track a whole year.

Yep, that's right.  Instead of looking at your fitness goals from month-to-month, I want to you to think long and hard.  I want you to come with with a challenge that will push you beyond what you think you can do. 
I want you to add 10% to that goal.  And then we'll talk. 

A few things have changed and I need everyone to pay very close attention to the instructions regarding the spreadsheet.  There are formulas left and right.  So even if you have done this before, please pay careful attention to what you're doing, lest it affect someone else's tracking.

Also new? Due to popular demand, I've started a #GoTheDist Facebook Group -- Feel free to post related blog-entries, PRs, goals, requests for motivation, and the like. Please do not post ads for products, companies, services, or businesses. You will be removed from the group.

#GoTheDist 2013
Truth is that I didn't look far for this theme. Everyone has been joking about me being bionic now. If you know a little TV history about the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman and the tag line "We can rebuild him...we have the technology."

To a degree we're all trying to rebuild -- we're trying to change the habits that didn't do us any favors, we're trying to recover from injuries, we're trying to be better today than we were yesterday. And we all have the technology at our fingertips. We have the knowledge and support that will make the changes possible.

#GoTheDist 2014
I've been racking my brain to come up with a #GoTheDist theme for 2014 -- and either I'm landing on what you all are already doing (such as @RoniNoone's #WYCWYC/what you can, when you can) or what I've already done in the past.  So I thought about opening it up to you all.

What do you want your 2014 to look like, andHow do you want to inspire others? 

#GoTheDist 2015
The first time that I did #GoTheDist (2011), I tried to give each month a theme or issue a challenge.  That was very challenging.   I have been hit & miss with respect to the yearly themes/challenges.  2012 didn't have one, 2013 was "Rebuild yourself," 2014 was about reflecting on how you inspire other people.  I think that means in 2015, I need to go back to being profound.  


Okay, nothing.  Everything I'm coming up with sounds like some ridiculous magazine headline or ridiculous truism:
  • "Come home to yourself" 
  • "What's True, Real, and Good?" 
  • "Don't be an asshole"
So I'm going to blatantly steal from Doug Newburg and ask you all to meditate on the simple/hard questions he asked, but especially the first and the last:  

How do you want your every day, your life to feel? 
What are you willing to do to always feel that way?

#GoTheDist 2016
Stephen King wrote in his book "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,"  "You canyou should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will." (emphasis added)  He called this a "permission slip." Couple this with Ranier Maria Rilke's "Letters to a Young Poet" (which I talk about here) and the whole picture emerges:  when faced with the questions of who we are and what we want to be, we need to harness our passion (Rilke's "I must"), couple it with the strength of our heart (courage), and not get in the way of our own potential.

Excuses become victories to overcome.
Obstacles become challenges to meet head-on.
Failures aren't disasters, but stepping stones.

That last one is important.  I know so many people who are afraid to evolve, to try new things, to go new places, to meet new people because they fear the failures that may await outside of their comfort zone.  That's an oppressive way to live -- and it's self-inflicted!  There's such great freedom in detaching yourself from expectations (of failure or even success).  It a beautiful blank canvas where anything can happen (Bob Ross: "We don't make mistakes: we have happy accidents"). 

#GoTheDist 2016's theme hopes to inspire and encourage the greatness that is within all of us.

I invite you all to examine how you bring patience and balance into your daily life.  How do you use patience and balance to care for yourself with compassion and kindness?  Are there areas in your life that are out-of-balance and could use a little more attention?  Do you find that you do not extend compassion towards yourself?

Use this as an opportunity to let go of a little of the unrealistic expectations you may put on yourself and become in tune with what realistic expectations and goals look like.  Cheer yourself on when you choose to focus on how things bring joy into your life.  Look for opportunities to grow and use patience and balance to let go of negative thoughts and emotions.

Maybe 2017 will be the year that we can all let go of the extraneous things pulling us out of whack and nurture the things that remind us of how good it can be to be centered in our own mind and bodies. 

 How to Join #GoTheDist 2018
1. Click on the SUMMARY PAGE (bookmarking it would be a good idea as you will be using it often).
2. Fill out the next available line on the "Summary" spreadsheet.  You are responsible for filling out your biographical information (columns A–D), your tracking modality and goal (columns E and F), your quarterly goals (columns G, J, M, and P), and your half-year and full-year rewards (columns U and W).  
3. **CREATE YOUR INDIVIDUAL PAGE** (The information you have entered in step 2 should auto-complete to an individual page.  Check your line number and then look at the bottom of the page.  Match up your line number and double check that your information is correct).
4. Rename the tab "@[twitter name]" or if you don't have Twitter "[nickname]" 
5. Fill out the sheet as you wish.  See step #8.
6. Update your own individual page as needed (if tracking is too hard, consider printing out your page and filling it out by hand and updating it online once a week). The total mileage will automatically be updated on the Summary tab as you report on your individual page.
7. Follow #GoTheDist on Twitter for support if you need it or to support others when they do, to announce achievements, and find new/old friends!

8. PLEASE DO NOT DELETE LINES OR TABS! Do not SORT.  If you want to add columns, please add them to the RIGHT of the page.  Please do NOT move your page around! You CAN bookmark your individual page using your browser to find it easily.

For Fitbloggin 2011, I had some silicone bracelets made with "FatGirl vs World" on one side and "#GoTheDist" on the other.

These are some of the people that wear the bracelet proudly as they Go the Distance!