It didn’t look like the temperature was going to budge much above 3 below.

Still, I managed to persuade my family to go ahead with our winter picnic, packing up thermoses full of chili and driving to meet a friend at Minnehaha Falls.

When my husband brought up the idea of calling it off, I told him, “Hey, a pair of Embrace Winter Challenge readers not only went on a picnic at the frozen falls this week, they rode their bikes there.”

If they could do it, we could do it.

Throughout the challenge, I’ve been inspired by your enthusiasm, the inventive ways you devised for having fun outside (despite that nasty cold snap) and your incredible ice lantern artistry. You’ve made the challenge a success and, hopefully, reaped some of the many physical and mental health benefits that time spent outdoors can bring.

Winter didn’t go easy on us. We spent more than 100 hours below zero only to quickly rise above 40, bringing on slush and puddles. Even if the challenge didn’t make this your favorite season, there’s plenty to be proud of.

Maree Hampton of Minneapolis teamed up with her neighbor for daily walks, during which they were treated to owl and eagle sightings.

The Johnson family of Cottage Grove enjoyed the “vibrant winter sunshine,” from their backyard hockey rink, said Heather Egeness-Johnson.

Kathy Clennon gave outdoor curling a try. “Just needed the right clothing and we lasted outside for 2 hours playing,” she said.

Chris Hodapp and his family built an entire coliseum of ice in their Golden Valley yard.

After trying “ice yoga” with her daughters on Anoka County’s Crooked Lake, Sharon Carlson discovered that just being outside in winter can offer a unique kind of joy. “ ’Twas exhilarating,” she said.

And for me? I was able to coax myself outside every day by following the advice of Beth Lewis, who runs the University of Minnesota’s Exercise and Mental Health Lab. I’d tell myself I’d only be out for 5 minutes and that I could always come back inside if I felt cold. I always stayed outside longer than I thought I would, and I always felt a bit better afterward.

So take a celebratory walk, a fat-tire bike ride or just enjoy the birds at your feeder. Then take a peek (above) at how some of us met the 30-Day Embrace Winter Challenge.