The first 100 days is the measuring stick for any recently inaugurated president. As people look to New Year’s resolutions as a catalyst for change, why not try 100 days before diving into the whole year?
Victor Filipe is the owner of the Forever Strong Gym, where he trains the Thurston football team, college athletes and everyday gym-goers. Filipe decided to undergo a 100-day challenge to push his workouts. When he noticed how the challenge was changing him, he started encouraging others to make their own challenges.
In late 2020, while in his second 100-day challenge, Filipe kept a journal of his thoughts from every day of his challenge; the journal later became a book. “I just wanted to share what I was doing, but it wasn’t to create a new thing,” he says. “But it ended up being like that and I was happy about it, and I started encouraging others to try their own version of it.”
But the challenge isn’t just for athletes, as he says in his book. It can be a way to build new habits to make yourself a better person.
Community interest in his 100-day challenge started when he announced it on Instagram. Filipe says some of his followers messaged him about it right away. About a month later, he recalls telling his social media followers: “I encourage you to try your own 100 days, create your own challenge,” whether small, like cutting out soda or reading to your child or doing workouts at home.
As Filipe journalled his journey during the 100-day challenge, he says he saw his perspective change. “Every day my thoughts got deeper and deeper because I was vulnerable and broken down from the challenge and everything going on around the world,” he says. “At day 50, I said, ‘This is going to be my book.’”
By the time his first 100-day challenge was completed, he had written and self-published 100 Strong: Face Your Demons Head on Starting with Day 1. What fueled the book was the raw energy from his personal vulnerability that the challenge brought out, he says.
Filipe says endurance activities like walks, runs and bike rides is what led him to the vulnerability needed to write the book. He says those are routine changes for someone like himself who’s a regular with weight training and for someone of his size. Filipe played defensive tackle for the University of Oregon’s football team from 2003 to 2006 and transferred to Western Oregon University as a senior. In college he stood at six-foot four-inches and weighed 290 pounds — quite the presence on the football field, and a threat to quarterbacks. In 2008 he signed with the Cincinnati Bengals NFL team, but was cut.
So Filipe’s first 100-day challenge was to incorporate more endurance training into his routine. He capped the first challenge with a 100-mile walk wearing a 47-pound pack. His second challenge has incorporated more running, walking and cycling. And with endurance activity, it allows the mind to reflect. Filipe says during his long walks and runs, he’s tapped into emotions and thoughts that have been dormant for a while.
He says he’s always been a person with a chip on his shoulder, angry in some way because of the obstacles he’s had to overcome. Life events such as getting cut from the NFL or when his gym had to adjust to the pandemic have led him to dark places, he says. But he’s found more positivity after running and hiking.
“When I go on these runs, I don’t feel that anymore. When I go on these hikes, it’s just me and the mountain,” he says. “I can just zone in the positives. I don’t think I’ve had one negative thought.” Halfway through his second 100-day challenge, he sums it up by saying he feels “unfuckwithable.” Things that would have upset him in the past don’t anymore, he adds.
But he says challenging yourself for 100 days doesn’t have to be limited to physical fitness. It can be used for anything in your life. And changing how you see yourself is a big piece of the puzzle.
“Everyone thinks of a workout as a workout or how they look in the mirror — which is all very important,” Filipe says. “But I hope people understand that if you take care of those things in the inside and do it for those reasons, the aesthetics will come and it won’t feel like a chore.”
100 Strong is available through Amazon or can be purchased at Forever Strong, located at 5250 Highbanks Road in Springfield.