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How to Feel Strong

A 12-Month "I Am Strong" Challenge Better Than Any New Year's Resolution

While New Year's resolutions are often well-intentioned, the sad truth is that they usually fall out of focus sometime around February. Have you been there before? We certainly have. So what's a more actionable way to meet your goals every month? Mix it up and have a clear objective month by month, rather than for the year overall.

This year's mantra for us is "I am strong." Do you need some strength in your life? Are you hoping to feel more empowered, more in control, and more self-loving? Take a look at the 12 ways we're instilling this positive affirmation and living our strongest lives yet in 2017. You can mix up the months and customize your schedule and even fill in things that make YOU feel strong in particular.

Each day of 2017, make it your goal to say, "I am strong" and live your life accordingly. These 12 unique monthly challenges will help you remember the end goal: self love and a happier, better life.

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January Challenge: Try a New Workout

Pick a new style of workout, and commit to it all month long. It has to be something you've never done before! If you've never run before, give yourself a goal of running a mile without stopping by the end of the month. New to yoga? You'll be amazed at how strong you get by committing to a few classes a week.

February Challenge: Compliment Yourself More

Make it a goal to give yourself five compliments a day for a month. These are words of affirmation that will build on your inner strength and self love, and they can be big things like, "I'm so intelligent," or smaller ones like, "My hair looks fabulous!" (We picked up this tip from the inspiring health coach and fitness fashionista, Joanne Encarnacion.)

March Challenge: Set a Strength Goal

You don't have to complete your goal in March, but you definitely have to set it and start working toward it. What strong thing do you want to accomplish this year? Complete a pull-up? 50 push-ups? Your first half-marathon? Maybe even a triathlon? Summit a mountain? Decide now what your goal will be, when you'll complete it, and create a plan to work toward that goal.

April Challenge: Pack Your Fitness Schedule

This month, plan five workouts each week for the whole month. They can be at-home videos, group fitness at a studio, a run, a dance class, or personal training. Pick a way to move each day at the beginning of the month, and stick to your schedule.

May Challenge: Gratitude Journal

Find a journal or notebook, and each day in May write down five to 10 things you're grateful for. You'll be mentally and emotionally equipped to handle anything!

June Challenge: Strong-Body Diet

This is your month to learn about macronutrients and focus on getting more protein to nourish your strong muscles. Make it a goal to learn four to six new protein-rich recipes and eat them throughout the month. When you feed your body the right foods, you'll feel strong.

July Challenge: Kickass Combat

Try boxing, Muay Thai, kickboxing, or a similar style of workout. You could even sign up for a self-defense class! Plan out your month and go at least four times.

August Challenge: The Buddy System

In August, find an accountability partner. Whether it's your best friend, sister, or co-worker, find someone in your life who wants to feel strong, too. Go to healthy lunches together, plan workouts, and shower each other with empowering and meaningful words of affirmation. "You're so strong!" is always a good one. You'll be stronger together, and sharing your strength with another person will make you feel incredible.

September Challenge: Meditation and Affirmation

While we're hoping you'll tell yourself "I am strong" every day this year, September is your month to really drive that home. This month, try a 10-minute meditation practice each morning right when you wake up, before the day gets away from you. Body-positive superstar and Movemeant Foundation founder Jenny Gaither says she creates a new mantra for herself each week, like, "love continues to flow in and out of me," for instance. Repeat your daily, weekly, or September mantra to yourself as you clear your mind through mental-strengthening meditation.

October Challenge: Learn a New Skill

While fitness is a surefire way to create a sense of strength, you can find it in other ways, too! By learning something new and challenging yourself, you'll feel so empowered. This can be as simple as, "I'm going to learn how to poach an egg," or "I'm going to learn five phrases in Italian this month." If fitness is the only way for you, then loop back to the challenge from January, and pick up a new kind of workout, or an exercise move you're trying to master — maybe a Turkish Get-Up?

November Challenge: Heat Things Up

As the weather gets chilly, choose workouts that make you really, really sweaty. Whether it's hot yoga or an intense indoor cycling class, bring on the sweat! Also, if you haven't yet, make sure you're completing your strength goal from March.

December Challenge: Give Back

Choose a charity, cause, or nonprofit to focus your efforts on. You can even commit to a random-act-of-kindness challenge. Adopting more charitable habits, giving more of yourself, and doing something to help others will help you feel strong — especially when you know someone else needs a little extra strength. The power you've created all year long is ready to explode and impact the world in a great way. You did it!

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Kathryna Hancock
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