When I started the Rock’ing for 30 Days Challenge, I viewed it as a test of determination and discipline. I have no aspirations to look like The Rock, and one month isn’t very long when it comes to the physical results of eating and training.

My diet and exercise journey over the last few years has been more about being healthy than aesthetics. Vanity is an ugly creature, and it’s wound up pretty tightly with working out. It’s easy to become obsessive with staring at your body in the mirror or fixating on a “problem area” when following a fitness program.

The motivation for getting in shape all comes down to my daughter. I am trying to adopt the healthy habits and values I want to instill in her. (Plus, I want to be around a long time.) I don’t want her to view fitness as just being about her body and looks. I cringe whenever I see workout programs talking about “beach-ready bodies” or “fitting into a dress.” That’s not how she (or anyone) should think about being active.

So I didn’t take many before photos, and certainly never planned to share any of them online. But this story has become quite popular over the last month, and I’m constantly asked about it. Shirtless selfies don’t seem like a great idea for a 37-year old dad. But against my better judgement, I’ve decided to share them. To both show the results of following a program like this, and to set expectations.

The Before/After Photo

Taken the day before the challenge, and the morning after.

Taken the day before the challenge (clearly looking worried), and the morning after (happy to have made it).

I became leaner and stronger during this month, and put on some muscle mostly in my shoulders, chest, and upper legs. I’m 207lbs in the left photo, which was taken the night before I started, and 208lbs in the right, taken the morning after the last day. I’m proud of the hard work I put in. There is a noticeable difference in the photos (I don’t think I’ve ever had a line down the middle of my abs in my entire life). But it’s not an insane transformation. There are no overnight transformations when it comes to working out.

Let’s Go Way Back, Before the Before

In the spirit of respecting the length of the journey, I also am going to share a photo from several years ago. This is an embarrassing photo. Not only because it’s not flattering, and I look stoned for some reason, but also because I let myself get to this point.

Taken several years ago, at my heaviest (251lbs).

Taken several years ago, at my heaviest (251lbs).

I’m 251lbs in this photo, the heaviest I’ve ever been. Getting to that point was a wakeup call for me, and I permanently changed the way I ate from that point on. I lost about 25lbs, settling around 225lbs. Then 6 months before my daughter was born (she just turned 2), I started working out several times a week and have been in the low 200’s ever since.

So What Can Get Done in 30 Days?

One month is a good time period to wrap your head around. It’s long enough to present a challenge, but short enough that it seems doable. By the time I got to the last week or so of this challenge, my routine had become second nature. I wasn’t dying to finish, and in fact, extended it three more days so the last week felt complete. If it weren’t for the cost and burden of food prep, I probably would have kept going.

Thirty days can be a pathway towards making a productive change in your behavior. If you can stick to something for a month, you should be able to permanently adopt some of those routines. But it’s not a magic bullet. And the results will be positive, but not transformative.

The journey is long, and should last a lifetime. It’s good to remember that. Perhaps some shirtless photos of someone’s dad on the Internet can help you keep that in perspective.