The 30-day challenge

by Grace aka costofcollege

The New Era of 30-Day Fitness Challenges
Options to help people spend a month focusing on running, yoga, exercises for abs and more are proliferating …

The 30-day exercise challenge is increasingly popular, especially as an alternative to New Year’s resolutions, which often fail this time of year. The pitch is to stick with a commitment for a month, whether to reach a specific benchmark, mix up a routine or try to establish an exercise habit.

Thirty-day challenges push people to chase goals big and small, from cutting out soda to writing a novel. More than 200 smartphone apps for Apple’s iOS operating system have “30 day challenge” in the title, 10 times the number available in 2014, according to App Annie, an analytics and market-data company. Internet searches for “30 day challenge” have climbed 140% since 2013, according to Google. Gyms and yoga studios offer them as a way to win customers, hoping that a 30-day stint will turn into a habit.

Some Totebaggers have done the Whole 30 Program successfully.  Many other types of 30-day challenges exist — eliminating soft drinks or another food from your diet, reading, acts of kindness, walking or running, planks or pushups, journaling, decluttering, etc.  Part of the appeal is that the commitment is relatively short term.

We recently had a post about the challenge of developing good habits.  What do you think of the 30-day challenge trend?  Have you tried it?  Is the idea appealing to you?  What activity have you done or would you consider doing?  Are you interested in doing a Totebag 30-day challenge, one where we could each pick a particular activity and track our progress here on the blog?


134 thoughts on “The 30-day challenge

  1. I’m almost two weeks into the Game On Diet Challenge. In this challenge, there are diet rules and a number of other rules. You’re part of a team and you earn points for following the rules and lose points by breaking them. I’m finding this approach helpful – if I eat that oatmeal cookie (which I REALLY wanted to do last night), I’m not just letting myself down, I’m letting the rest of my team down.

    Almost 2 years ago, I joined a Facebook group run by a friend of mine where the goal is to exercise 1000 minutes a month. You post your minutes weekly and monthly. You put in $20 each month. If you don’t make the 1,000 minute mark, you lose the $20 bucks. This group helped me shift from exercising 3 times a week to 5 times. It’s definitely gotten me out the door some rainy days when I really didn’t want to go for a run.

    I’m obviously someone motivated by points and groups :-)

  2. Sure! Here are mine:

    (1) 30 Days Without Correcting Grammar: see if I can go 30 days without correcting anyone’s grammar (doesn’t apply to those under 13).

    (2) 30 Days Without Drilling in the Car: see if I can go 30 days without testing multiplication tables, spelling, foreign language, or recognition of classical music pieces in the car.

    (3) 30 Days of Not Mentioning College Admissions to Second Graders: I have noticed other parents giving me the side eye when I threaten that four year olds who don’t put on their own shoes can forget about getting into Caltech, so maybe drop that for a while and see how it goes?

    Seriously, I would do a workout one :)

  3. I’m not sure if I would do a 30 day challenge. I’ve never done one before. Is it fun, or is it just another obligation/chore?

  4. It depends. I do an annual Lent challenge with some friends. This year with all my mom’s issues, I’m a not participating as much as ususal. I think it depends on how big the challenge is from where you are…if I was walking 0 minutes, 1000 seems way out of reach. If I am walking 0 and the challeng is 100, I’d think oh that’s do able.

    I’ve tried the meditation challenges. I do well for up to a week, but then I find it hard to set aside that time, likely because I am not really seeing/feeling the benefit yet.

  5. Houston, I’ve never done one before, but the short term aspect makes it easier to commit IMO. Plus, if I did it, it would probably be for something that does not take much time, like push-ups. I’ve also never committed with a group or with a buddy to exercise, which as ssm says can make a big difference in motivation.

  6. I answered no for three reasons.

    1. Most of the individually chosen self challenges will be about food, exercise or weight, or maybe something else worthy such as reading x numbers of “real” books.
    2. My experience is that I don’t find personal support from this particular sort of group activity. It always feels like a competition, not a mutual encouragement. That reaction may betray my lack of girl programming/nature.
    3. I hate to be told what to do, even by my better self.

  7. Related, my neighbor was telling me about her great success with her personal trainer. I’m trying to get myself motivated to contact him and schedule some sessions!

  8. “I hate to be told what to do, even by my better self.”

    Oh gosh, I can relate . . .

  9. My next three days are filled with packing boxes, unpacking boxes, taking things I packed to Goodwill and thinking oh ffs, why did I pack the stuff, and taking things to the dump that goodwill rejects.

    So my plate is full of angst and self recrimination in the near-term, but after that I’m totally open to exercise and healthy eating.

    Aside: I always have moving nightmares, about forgetting things, breaking things, etc. One of those nightmares last night was complicated by accidentally posting a bunch of videos of my children to the totebag. So, it’s like you’re all here with me.

  10. I think 30 day challenges have pros and cons. Yes it’s great that you’re eating better/exercising more/decluttering whatever it is but for me I tend to let loose after 30 days instead of keeping the habit. The whole 30 is great – I felt really good, slept really well etc. but it basically made me want to gorge on chocolate and wine on Day 31 which I don’t think is the point. Some people seem to really do well at keeping with it but I didn’t. My DH who did not do the Whole 30 with me but ate the dinners I was preparing told me yesterday that I need to go back on it because he’s gained back five pounds since it ended.

  11. For those of you that have done, do you find it tempting to cheat? A couple of my more competitive friends have confessed that they had to just quit using some exercise or diet apps because they found themselves lying to the app, which made the whole thing sort of pointless. I found that hilarious, but also possible with me.

  12. I would do 30 day exercise challenge! I need to challenge myself to cook and eat home all the time except one or two times a week! But for that I will need DH to cook half the time!

  13. I would happily do a 30 day clean out/declutter challenge, because we seem to be having stuff-creep again. (WHERE does it all come from??)

  14. We have major stuff creep but we’re more the tackle it all in one weekend people. And it’s going to be this weekend – no kid sports because of Easter so we have two gloriously free days and I have a charity scheduled to do a pick up at my house on Monday.

  15. Another challenge I would love – a “do it now” challenge. There are so many little things that need to be done around our house that never seem to get to the top of the to-do list (a closet lightbulb, a Goodwill run, a shoe clean out, etc.), but 30 days of having to do one each day would be sort of fun.

  16. And I fully acknowledge that I could have done one in the time it took me to type this. And yet I don’t.

  17. @ Atlanta, I live with 3 people who would never get rid of anything if they could help it, so I have to do all the decluttering while they are gone…no weekend participation around here…

  18. I would definitely benefit from a “do it now” challenge. Great idea! I procrastinate doing those little things for some reason.

  19. Lark – part of my weekend will be spent convincing my husband to get rid of some of his t-shirts (some are from high school).:)

  20. I would be up for an exercise challenge, or Lark’s ideas of a “do it now” or decluttering challenge.

  21. I will have more success getting my kids to let go of some of their old t-shirts. They have stopped growing so quickly, so the t-shirts tend to pile up now.

    However, this weekend will be focused on yard work. We have not set foot in our backyard since the Fall (other than mowing the grass) and it’s pretty overgrown with weeds. Lawn furniture and deck are dirty.

  22. I did the 30 day plank challenge. I never made it to their “hold the plank for 5 minutes” mark, but I did what I could. Bonus – I can now plank properly – relaxed shoulders, supporting my whole weight evenly, etc.

    I would do another 30 day challenge if the topic interested me. I could stand to do another 30 day plank challenge. Or maybe a crunch challenge. Or a yoga challenge (focusing on a series of movements, or only one movement).

    I like the de-clutter challenge and the ‘do it now’ challenge. Didn’t the cast of NCI have a sub-plot on one episode of them spring cleaning club? Each morning they reported on what they cleaned.

  23. We did a major game room purge last weekend. The kids are unsentimental and ruthless, so I will always use them. They mocked us for things we thought should be saved. (Seriously – Robosapien? That was so cool. We can’t throw that out). They also did the heavy lifting. I hope to do another room this weekend. The paperwork purge will be all me, though. Now that taxes are done I should be able to find time.

    I have been doing sort of a cook at home challenge. Lowering the bar is the key. Grilled cheese, tomato soup and fruit is better than fast food. Carrot sticks and sliced peppers with ranch is good enough for vegetables. It’s made a big difference in our spending.

  24. I did a 30 day abs challenge once – it was a FB group and a good friend of mine was doing it. It was good in that I learned some exercises, but I have to admit, I quit pretty much on the 31st day

  25. I would really like to do a personal trainier, especially if it were someone who was certified in Pilates – but it is so expensive and then I worry that I wouldn’t have time for the commitment

  26. I was planning to do yard work tomorrow but I have a big research deadline and the grading has piled up, and the powers that be have decreed that program directors will have to enter all the assessment data by hand (we were assured at the beginning of the year that we would have a grad assistant to do it, but that kind of disappeared), so I think I will be working tomorrow. Sunday is a washout since we have to go visit family

  27. One thing I like about the Game On diet challenge that I’m currently doing is that you get 3 cheat meals (eat whatever you want) a week. This makes is easier if you’re going out to dinner/meeting up with friends.

  28. Lark, I have that same issue with DW. I would love to declutter but she won’t get rid of a damn thing.

  29. Lark, I can’t figure out where the stuff comes from either. Multiple trips to the thrift shop donation dock don’t seem to have made a dent in it. The house doesn’t look cluttered, but there are a lot of things squirreled away in drawers and closets and basement shelves that NO ONE will ever use or even look at again, but I usually have to box it up and cart it off myself lest it be rescued by one of the guys who can’t bear to part with it. Seriously, why do you need to keep all of your old nonfunctional cellphones and iPods?

  30. Lark – sign me up for Do It Now. This might be the only way our Christmas decorations, all piled neatly *beside* their bins in the family room, actually make it into the bins and then into the basement. DH, DD and I have talked about putting the stuff away for about 5 times the amount of time it would’ve taken us to actually do it. This morning, I faux threatened them that our entire Easter celebration will be about cleaning up from Christmas unless the stuff magically makes its way to the basement before Sunday. I expect we’ll be nibbling chocolate on Sunday, staring at the bins and saying, “Maybe NEXT weekend…”

    On the nutrition/exercise stuff, DH ratchets his personal goals up on a frequent basis, and I adjust mine too, lemming that I am. So far, it’s the thing that’s worked best.

  31. Risley – your unboxed Christmas decorations – that sounds SO much like us!

  32. I have to do something to lose my winter weight. I know I won’t last 30 days, but I need some sort of quick start/program.

    I had a rude awakening last night when I was sorting through my summer clothes for the trip. I have to focus on losing a few pounds when I get back home.

  33. I am the declutter Queen, so that wouldn’t be a challenge. Related to that, we have enough summer stuff, so no more buying. I will do a 30 minute a day exercise challenge. Other than that I am tired and want to relax. I like walking outside so that could be exercising and relaxing. My kids have come to a point where they are got proficient in one activity. As much as it has become routine dropping it will free up some time on the weekend. There are more things they can take through school now, instead of me driving them. I will fill any such time upping my exercise minutes. There it feels better to say it and be a real goal.

  34. No challenges for me until taxes are done.

    I wish we would just inflate the money supply to finance government.

  35. Lark – for us the only thing that got us to declutter was showing the house! Also the things that we needed to “do it now”. I don’t recommend that, LOL. Maybe a deep clean/declutter once a year? DH and I went to the storage facility last week to retrieve the seasonal clothes that we will need for spring/summer and I already thought, looking at some sweaters, “why did I keep that?” so I clearly have not Marie Kondo’d my stuff sufficiently. :)

    On the positive side, we signed P&Ss today and are moving in 3 months, so there is plenty of time for us to pack! :)

  36. Risley, we got the Christmas lights down, but the flower baskets from the summer are still up. It was so warm, so they were blooming into December, and then I kept forgetting about them. Now we have three hanging baskets of dead stuff on the porch

  37. I got a 44. I think a lot of that was because I grew up in working class neighborhoods for the most part, plus we lived for about 6 years in a very decrepit mill town in MA

  38. Most of my points were attributable, in one form or another, to military service (uniform, parade participation, epaulet identification, and residence in an area not part of one of the major metropolitan areas also in the vicinity of presumed non-college graduates).

    If I can buy a pickup truck, I’ll bump up my score.

  39. 49 — I had to change one answer after I checked that a beer I like is actually a “mass marketed domestic beer” according to Huffington Post.

    This is an updated version of a test that we all took either here or on the TOS, IIRC.

  40. I just don’t buy beer for the fridge at all. I have no problem with domestic beer, but I really only like it on draft. I’ll buy hard cider. Probably lose points for that.

  41. 71.

    I got dinged because we don’t have a lot of those chain restaurants here. I also thought of both Branson, MO (thanks, Milo) and Richard Branson.

  42. “I just don’t buy beer for the fridge at all. I have no problem with domestic beer, but I really only like it on draft.”

    DW and I recently went to one of her friends’ house recently, and were served beer from their tap.

  43. I haven’t been to Branson yet (is it on a river that I will descend on my Great Loop tour?), but I think Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg should be an acceptable equivalent.

  44. I got a 38, but only because they didn’t give extra credit for having been to Branson more than once.

  45. 31. Described as average for person who grew up middle class and is now upper middle class. Lost points on tv and chain restaurants. Did ok on movies, tho. There is some ‘gansett in my fridge.

  46. 23 for me! We do eat at chain restaurants, but they were not included! I drink mass market wine rather than beer! We do live in an area well below our means, so I am guessing many don’t have college degree! But I could be wrong.

  47. I’ve never been to Branson but I love Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg. I’ve been there many times, as a kid and as an adult

  48. 24 for me. I remember taking the quiz in that Charles Murray book and I was pegged as growing up middle class and now upper middle class. The first time I had ever heard of Branson was from this silly movie DH loves called “She’s Out of our League” but now my sister lives near there. I’ve not been yet though.

  49. 47. I think the quiz is not designed for rural people who live where there is no cable, no chain restaurants and no Redbox. It should have asked about how many high school sporting events you’ve attended at which your children were not present.

  50. 30 day challenges don’t appeal to me. I prefer choosing a few things to do for longer periods of time, and day-to-day, I have enough daily obligations. Maybe I should find the “Do dishes for 30 days” challenge.

  51. 45. I have worked on a factory floor. It was not much fun. I didn’t know what to pick for Branson.

  52. Also, I don’t have a close friend who is an evangelical Christian, but my mother-in-law is one. Maybe I should have gotten a non-bubble point (or two) for that?

  53. NoB, I’ve been thinking I deserve bonus points for having lots of camo in the house (I am delighted that my messiest boy just picked “camo” for his new coat, considering how often I washed his last one), having at least 6 guns and a concealed weapons license holder in the household and buying my Avon products at the church Christmas bazaar.

  54. 39 score here. My DH came up as 23. Mine was mostly because of childhood time in poverty, living in areas with 50% non-college graduates, and waitressing (longer than a summer). My DH and I have talked about how much more our kids are in a bubble.

  55. I got a 21. IHOP and Marvel movies pushed up my score, as did the fact that DH and DS like to fish. The quiz described me as a second generation UMC person, and that’s true.

    WCE: I agree with you about the guns. It totally would tip the scales, IMO. That said, there are many, many gun owners in my UMC neighborhood.

  56. “There is some ‘gansett in my fridge.”

    I can’t tell what that indicates, bubble or not, but around here gastro pubs serve Narragansett beer.

  57. I got points for DH going fishing, but is it really outside-the-bubble if he goes fly fishing in expensive areas with expensive gear?

  58. “but is it really outside-the-bubble if he goes fly fishing in expensive areas with expensive gear?”

    I get what you’re saying. It’s like would you get points for guns if you’re using a handmade shotgun at the trap and skeet club (maybe with Cheney)?

    OTOH, expensive gear is not exclusive to the more blue-blooded variations:

  59. I was thinking about how I answered some of the questions. I ignored the 16 years before I left home, when undoubtedly (it was the 50s and early 60s) I lived among a majority of adults without college. In fact, I may have spent my entire life, if one chooses a radius of 10 blocks, in such a neighborhood, at least until the last 10 years as the older generation has died out. But I grew up middle class, never anything less, even though we were renters not homeowners and I was in a single parent family. The expectations for my life and the expectations for the lives of my childhood friends were always white collar professional, or perhaps business owner – builders or restauranteurs. And there was not the sort of mass cultural exposure that there is today – one’s life growing up was very constrained, but the pie was expanding and we easily left home and never looked back.

  60. I got a 30, mostly for having grown up in a middle-class family around non-college graduates, having had menial summer jobs, and having both evangelical and uber-liberal friends. Otherwise, would have had a clearly bubble score. My kids would have a lower score than I did, for sure.

  61. For Mooshi and other animation fans

    (and this should deduct at least ten points from my Murray score) – I stumbled on a great review of April and the Extraordinary World, now playing in NYC at the IFC center, coming in limited release to Landmark and other art cinemas nationwide at various times in April. in French with subtitles, M Cotillard voices the heroine.

  62. Consumer Reports reviews new Speedqueen washer
    (I have the mechanical control model that Speedqueen stopped making last year; this is a review of a machine with the new federally required electronic controls)

    The comment that amused me most was by someone from UC Berkeley.
    “My 20 year-old washer was giving up the ghost, so I did a bunch of research to find a new one. CR does a lot of testing, but the criteria it uses to judge its Best buys are not the same as the ones I wanted. I am interested in 1) easy to maintain 2) does not break 3) cleans clothes. Features like using less water, extra cycles or fancy controls while nice to have are not what the purchase is about. After reading lots of comments, the Speed Queen was a standout in terms of user satisfaction, although it was not even mentioned by CR. Bought one. Love it.”

  63. Meme, I want to see that movie, but it isn’t playing near us.

    With regard to the bubble test, my DH just took DD fishing today.

  64. Wow, I am floored I beat Milo. 😉 Got a 53, largely due to my upbringing, my total lack of taste in media, DH’s job location near many chains (and my abiding love of Chili’s skillet queso), and the kids’ love of fishing at Grandpa’s. I also ate breakfast the past two days at El Taoseno, which should get me a gazillion points, but I probably gave them back with my froofy dinner, Belgian ales, and visits to multiple artists’ collectives. Damn I love Taos. 😍 And DH says when we retire here, I can get a pickup, too.

  65. “I haven’t been to Branson yet (is it on a river that I will descend on my Great Loop tour?), but I think Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg should be an acceptable equivalent.”

    Oh that is definitively equivalent.

    I got a 49. I spent much of my childhood in a small town, which added a lot. I have also been fishing recently while renting a cabin with friends, and I know who Jimmie Johnson (vs Jimmy Johnson) is. But I haven’t been to any of those restaurants in years, and I have only seen Star Wars from that list. I also worked on a factory floor/in warehouses, although only for summer
    jobs in college.

  66. 22 for me, and I’m surprised I didn’t score higher. I grew up in evangelical country, to the point that at my job in Juniors in a nice department store, one of my co-workers used to follow me around begging me to let her save my soul. She thought I was going to Hell for sure because I went to Catholic school, and she could not let it go. My good friend the evangelical did not try to save my soul.

    I typically have Shiner Bock in the fridge. We own a 14 year old pickup right now, and it is our 2nd. The closest restaurant to our suburban house is an IHOP, where breakfast-for-dinner gets me out of cooking. Like Houston, I have seen Marvel movies with my son. I LOVED going to Branson in the summer, and have been trying to convince my husband to take the kids and meet my sibling’s family there. Although I’m sure the appeal was that it was a fairly short drive from home and cheap, not that it was as great as I remember. But Milo – it is on/near Tablerock Lake, where we rented a pontoon boat one summer, so it might be your kind of place.

    I did not count my Greyhound bus trip that I took when I was in elementary school with a friend whose family moved to Wichita. Just the two of us 4th-graders and each of our 1st grade sisters. No adults. What the heck were our parents thinking?

    I have absolutely no idea what grades my friends got in high school, so I thought that question was odd. And I am surprised I don’t get any points for extended family with young unmarried mothers who aren’t sure who the father is or others who did not complete high school.

  67. MBT, I also thought I would score slightly higher than I did for reasons somewhat related to yours. I got a 25, though I answered the beer question wrong if Shiner counts. My husband got a 50.

    LfB, my dish at Chili’s is the southwestern eggrolls. I have an irrational love for those things. Once or twice a year, I just have to have them.

    Before this presidential cycle, I would have identified myself as an evangelical, but I feel like that word has lost all meaning at this point.

  68. WCE,

    The SpeedQueen sounds like the brown rear wheel drive diesel wagon, with no tech silliness like automatic transmission, air conditioning or airbags, that cranky car blog commenters are convinced everyone in America would be driving if it wasn’t for government regulations. The idea that consumers have almost no interest doesn’t register.

  69. The appliance repair industry has taken a hit since many consumers have opted to buy new household appliances instead of fixing them mostly because the price of household appliances has fallen an annualized rate of 2.4 percent.

    The factor most directly responsible for the industry’s downturn however has been the increasing trend among manufacturers to offer warranties on new appliances. Improving appliance technologies have also resulted in lower demand for repair services.

    Revenue for the industry has fallen 5.7 percent per year on average for the last 10 years.

    That seems more like market forces at work than government regulation.

  70. 34. I assumed that mass market domestic beer didn’t include stuff like Blue Moon or Redhook no matter what corporation is behind it, and it didn’t occur to me to count Pigeon Forge as being a visit to Branson.

  71. “and it didn’t occur to me to count Pigeon Forge as being a visit to Branson.”
    Which is good, because Branson is 700 miles from Pigeon Forge. Now if the quiz had included a trip to Dollywood, you’d have been spot on!

  72. Frankly, even if they weren’t two different places, I don’t think it would meet the spirit of the thing if the reason you’re in Pigeon Forge and environs is just because it’s near the national park.

    Of course the whole quiz betrays the dude’s assumptions about what particular pastimes and interests are suitably down-to-earth. It’s regionally focused.

  73. I got a 27; DH drives a truck, which helped, and I lived in very small town for a few years.

  74. The quiz sparked a good conversation among my family over the weekend.
    H = 43, S = 25, D = 28 —- Seems pretty much on target.

    As usual with these types of quizzes, this one is not perfect. Regarding the long bus ride, although it gave Greyhound as an example my kids remembered riding a bus on their privileged school field trips to Boston and DC. Plus we’ve all ridden Bolt buses to DC, which I think is also not in the spirit of the question. Lots of UMC types seem to ride those.

    “I have absolutely no idea what grades my friends got in high school, so I thought that question was odd.”

    Really? From being in classes with (or without) them or just hearing complaints or bragging, we all knew how our friends did in school.

    What’s the attraction of Branson? (Besides relatively low cost.) I checked out their entertainment, and it seemed like a lot of tribute bands and B-level or lower entertainers. There were some exceptions, like I might enjoy seeing old timers like Johnny Mathis or Met Tillis perform. The line-ups did remind me of cruise ship entertainment, which many people enjoy. (Do I sound like I live in a bubble? Yes!)

  75. The Branson attraction for us was that we would rent a cabin on the lake, could rent boats, swim in the pool at the complex, and go to Silver Dollar City. We didn’t go to many of the shows other than the outdoor Shepherd of the Hills. I don’t remember what show we saw, but do remember that traffic was hideous on the 2-lane streets that made up the town back then. After getting sick of waiting forever behind cars that were trying to turn left, my dad drove our Volare station wagon up on the sidewalk to pass all the traffic, and a long column of cars followed him. Most memorable part of the trip. It was a reasonable drive from home and I’m sure not that expensive. If I recall, the area is very pretty.

  76. Ah, that makes sense. A nice lake setting, with some family-type entertainment options.

  77. That was Branson when MBT went with her parents. It is now an entertainment center, with theme parks, shopping, constructed attractions, hundreds of hotels, many many shows. The basic setting in the Ozarks is beautiful, but as someone said above, Gatlinburg is only somewhat equivalent if you are thinking it plus Dollywood, not it plus the National Park. And both are regional destinations.

    The quiz is for entertainment purposes only. However, anytime the concept of “real American” is made equivalent to a particular kind of non urban, predominantly white experience (Avon, NASCAR, Branson are not inclusionary markers) it makes me nervous.

  78. Excellent point, Mémé. None of the theaters on the Chitlin’ Circuit are mentioned in the quiz, but I’m sure that’s the “real America” for some people.

  79. My family discussed the whiteness of the quiz. What is “average” these days? I took the quiz trying to replicate an urban person of color who didn’t know squat about NASCAR, and my score came out in the 20s.

  80. “However, anytime the concept of “real American” is made equivalent to a particular kind of non urban, predominantly white experience (Avon, NASCAR, Branson are not inclusionary markers) it makes me nervous.”

    Extended family members (who would have had high scores on that quiz) used to tell me that we didn’t live in the “real” America when we lived in the DC suburbs. Yes, we lived in the “bubble” Murray described, but it was real to us and especially our kids, who knew no other reality. I could not understand why living in a neighborhood filled with people who had grown up there or nearby, almost all of whom were white and Christian and voted Democratic, was more “real” than living among people from all over the world with interesting jobs and totebag values.

    There is no such thing as one “real” America, IMO, even though there are certainly communities that are closer to the median than others.

  81. I would consider the Wisconsin Dells the Middwest equivalent to Branson and Pigeon Forge.

  82. “16-hour drive” – you would have to pay me a lot to undertake that!!!

    ADA or others that have moved – is there a comprehensive checklist somewhere for changes of address? I feel like I am going to forget a lot of stuff.

  83. Branson & Gatlinburg are equivalent because they both have the family aka Christian-friendly amusement park and show aspect in an affordable area with a lot of natural beauty. How can you think of Gatlinburg and NOT think of it plus Dollywood and all the associated cheesy entertainment options? Another equivalent might be the Wisconsin Dells, even though it is more about waterparks and casinos than country singers. Same concept in the context of white middle-classness.

  84. Milo – that’s about an hour from where my sister lives. She is a former New Yorker who had to move to MO for her husband’s job and she is currently plotting how to get back to the Northeast.:) She has said that MO is really beautiful and it’s been nice to have a house with a yard. We visited her last September and it was really fun. We didn’t do Branson or any of the lakes but we did do a cavern tour which was very cool and DH loved going to the Bass Pro Shops headquarters.

    Dh grew up very blue collar Pittsburgh (the family has a crappy old cabin in the mountains of PA that they call “the camp” where they hunt) so he grew up fishing/camping/hunting and loves it. And we have very good friends who are born again Christians that we met in law school but they don’t talk about it at all with others.

  85. I took the quiz and scored a 28, but was also struck by the whiteness of it (and Southern-ness, too? But many of you scored better than I did, although I think I’m one of the few true Southerners here?). I grew up in an large city and went to a school that was approx. 40% white, 40% minority, and 20% international (I don’t mean immigrants, I mean citizens of other countries, at the school because their parents’ job brought them temporarily to the city). How is that being in a bubble? But none of the questions related to an urban/international upbringing.

  86. Lemon – jinx!

    Scarlett – To me, the point is that there is a Totebag stereotype that thinks that their kids do not live in a bubble and are cultured and worldly because they go to a “diverse” school (aka a public school in an expensive suburb with a few rich minorities and maybe a family or do who live in NIMBY apartments – THE HORROR!) and have taken a family safari to Africa/have done service projects in the ghetto. But in actuality, they really know very little about how the other half lives in their own country. It goes along with the stereotype that a subset of well-to-do people refuse to believe that they are not “middle class”. Whereas, I think that a large number of the middle-class people that I grew up with in small town white America readily admit that they are in a bubble, and they are likely proud of it. Both are insular, but the Totebag group comes off more smug.

  87. “but we did do a cavern tour which was very cool and DH loved going to the Bass Pro Shops headquarters. ”

    Was it BPS or Cabela’s? (I know I could Google more easily.) When we were out that way and had half a day to kill, our hosts took us to the Cabela’s, and if it wasn’t their headquarters, it sure seemed like it.

    DW is into cavern tours, and that’s how I’ll induce her out to Lake Cumberland, houseboat capital of the world! :)

  88. I agree with Ivy’s analysis, but I think that MC people are less insulated than Totebaggers, because jobs (or job loss) and family situations can cause them to have more contact with people outside the bubble.

  89. Terrible list from Allstate – Who cares about letting the pet licensing agency know that you’ve moved, or your dentist? They will send you mail, the mail will get forwarded, and it will be fine.

    Amazon subscribe and save is merciless, however. I forget that one every time.

  90. My sister pointed out the liquor store where it all started when we were there.:)

  91. RMS and Ada – thanks. As I feared, I am going to have to remember all of my magazines ahead of time. :-0 I think I will also give our neighbors some giant envelopes, and they can come over when the new people move in and collect our mail. :)

  92. I guess I hit the trifecta–I have been to Pidgen Forge, Wisconsin Dells and Branson, the latter two more than once and within the past five years. Believe me, Branson is in a class of its own:).

  93. Well, didn’t the quiz sometimes ask if you have “close friends” that do XYZ? (Smoke, are evangelicals, etc.) I mean, I used to work with quite a mixed group of folks, but I wasn’t “close friends” with them.

  94. FWIW, I’m not sure it’s a terrible thing to live in a bubble. Wanting to raise your kids in a safe neighborhood with good schools and good services is what almost everyone wantsl! It’s the denial or blindness to the fact that your reality is not the reality of most.

  95. Ivy, ITA on the faux diversity point. Selective colleges are prime examples of this line of thinking. But I’m not sure that the people who live in the other half — who may think that they are the “real” America — really know all that much about a totebagger’s life, except to mock it. How many people do they know IRL (as opposed to TV characters) who shop at farmer’s markets, or research schools before buying a house, or breastfeed their babies for months even if they are working outside the home? How many of their friends in high school did all the extra credit problems?

  96. RMS and Ada – thanks. As I feared, I am going to have to remember all of my magazines ahead of time. :-0 I think I will also give our neighbors some giant envelopes, and they can come over when the new people move in and collect our mail. :)

    Why won’t you have your mail forwarded?

  97. I agree with Ivy. And FWIW, I don’t believe Murray characterized any group as “real” America.

  98. FWIW, I’m not sure it’s a terrible thing to live in a bubble. Wanting to raise your kids in a safe neighborhood with good schools and good services is what almost everyone wantsl! It’s the denial or blindness to the fact that your reality is not the reality of most.

    I think it’s an issue of how to define “living in a bubble”? Do you define it specifically as where you live, work, go to school, who you associate with, etc.,? Or do you define it as your level of awareness of the problems people in other classes/areas face?

  99. “But I’m not sure that the people who live in the other half — who may think that they are the “real” America — really know all that much about a totebagger’s life, except to mock it. ”

    Oh I totally agree. But I think that they are proud of that, not in denial. Is that better? No, not really when it comes to understanding each other. But the attitude is different.

    Although I will say that farmer’s markets are an interesting example since I grew up going to actual farmer’s markets although they look quite a bit different from my current urban version. I also grew up buying meat from farmers directly which is so chic now. Our local veterinarian had a butcher shop attached to his clinic where you could buy his local meat! I guess in some ways small towns in flyover country are really ahead of the curve. ;)

  100. I got a 23 which seems appropriate. I try to tell my kids what a bubble we live in but it’s hard to convey – I think you actually have to experience it.

    WCE – I’m totally with you on the washing machine criteria. All I care about for any appliance is that it a) work; b) last as long as possible; c) fit in the available space I have. I remember once an appliance salesman being concerned that my new washer wouldn’t match my dryer and I was totally dumbfounded as to why this would be something I would care about.

  101. “Our local veterinarian had a butcher shop attached to his clinic where you could buy his local meat!”

    Seems like a conflict of interest.

  102. “I remember once an appliance salesman being concerned that my new washer wouldn’t match my dryer and I was totally dumbfounded as to why this would be something I would care about.”

    Although my appliance criteria is the same as WCE’s, as explained to me, the reason the washer and dryer should match is that the capacity of each matches. If you have washing machine that hold a larger amount of clothes than the dryer is designed to dry, the bearings in the dryer wear out very quickly, and the cost of replacing the bearing is close to the replacement cost of the dryer. I had this explained to me when the repairman came out because the dryer was making a screaming sound, for a few weeks and then quit. DH who sends me the get bearings on a regular basis confirmed it.

  103. We will definitely do mail forwarding, but I don’t completely trust the USPS since we often get mail for the wrong people and still get mail for the prior owner who moved out 10 years ago!

  104. the reason the washer and dryer should match is that the capacity of each matches.

    But that’s not what salespeople are referring to as matching. They are referring to the color.

  105. “But that’s not what salespeople are referring to as matching. They are referring to the color.”

    I know, but there is an actual reason beyond looks.

  106. I am currently in a un-Totebaggy area of the county with my 3 kids and dog (in the future, remind me that a road trip with 3 kids ages 1-5 and no other adult is a terrible idea). The big differences I have noticed are (1) drivers are really nice (I have to tone down the aggressiveness that is necessary in DC), (2) lots of obese adults and kids, (3) salads come with entrees for no extra $ (maybe related to #2?), (4) smoking is very common here and (5) the mullet is still a popular choice of hairstyle.

  107. “still get mail for the prior owner who moved out 10 years ago!”

    We’ve been in this house going on 20 years (I guess that explains the repairs that are piling up) and still get mail for the previous owners. But that’s also because the USPS forwarding is not indefinite; when you receive forwarded mail, that’s a reminder to you to notify that sender.

  108. I agree with Ivy that many of us want to live in a bubble. For most of the homeschool parents I know, wanting to keep their kids in a bubble was a major motivation.

    While there were some specific problems (e.g., to eat at most of the chain restaurants on the quiz, we’d need to fly to the continent, so frequent eating at those chains would be sign of affluence), if you take a step back and think of why he included each question in the quiz, and adjust/substitute based on your circumstances, you can get an idea of how much of a bubble you’ve grown up in, and how well you are doing at creating a bubble for your kids, not to mention how well you’ve separated yourself from your childhood situation.

Comments are closed.