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the occasions lady and

The Sweaty Selfie
by Audrey Poff, illustration by Brittney Guest

By the time January rolls around, most of us are ready to entertain the idea of self-improvement in one form or another. We’ve consumed way too many holiday treats during December, maintained a chaotic Christmas schedule and spent more than we intended. January offers a clean slate, and so we gear up for the battle and resolve to do better in the new year.

Unfortunately, the odds of keeping those resolutions are not in our favor. According to U.S. News, statistics show that 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February. With those kinds of statistics, why not just throw in the towel when the ball drops in Times Square, right? But maybe there’s a better way to succeed.

Last fall, my friend, Hailey, invited me to participate in a group fitness challenge. I had watched Hailey shed pounds and become more fit while she participated in the previous three-month challenge. I was curious but also realistic – three months is a long time. The group was limited to 20 women and was filling up quickly so I paid the entry fee and convinced a mutual friend to join us. Little did I know that I had just convinced one of the most competitive women in Jonesboro to compete against me. Regardless, the more friends that I had suffering with me, the better.

As part of the challenge, participants earned points for exercising at least 30 minutes a day. At the end of the workout, each person simply took a photo of herself after completing a walk, run, bike ride, etc., and sent it to the group.

Among participants, this photo was known as a “sweaty selfie.” Not being a morning person, my selfie was usually submitted in the evening. It’s not nearly as fun to sit on the couch and watch television when your phone is constantly buzzing from notifications that you have received selfies of others in the group who just finished exercising.

Before setting your New Year’s resolution, consider what will help keep you on track. Competition, accountability, commitment and a few friends to commiserate with definitely helped me finish the challenge. I didn’t win the competition (the competitive friend I helped recruit did), but I lost weight, added muscle and lowered my average blood glucose. That’s enough of a win for me.