Okay! I am ready to share with you the Challenge I have put together for the new year! I am very excited to get started and hope this helps all of you as much as it will me.
This is something I had been planning to do for *myself* for some time now. I wanted to make these healthy changes, which will (in combination with not eating junk) lead to weight loss *without* focusing heavily on the number on the scale. The real focus here is on better health and a happier life. Weight loss is a side effect, even though it is also a goal.
This will be a two-part challenge: the Superfoods Challenge and the Fitness Challenge. You can choose to take part in one or the other or both. I will be doing both!
Part 1, the Superfoods Challenge
Back in 2007, right before I started this blog, I got a book called SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life. It's a simple book, with a simple premise: focus on getting in as many of these superfoods each day as you can, and you'll be healthier and lose weight. A friend of mine had told me that when she did this, she was so busy making sure she ate the superfoods that she neglected to eat junk, sugar, fatty stuff, and other less nutritious food. She was so focused on what TO eat that she didn't really notice what she was NOT eating, and was never hungry. I tried it, too... not a DIET, not a PROGRAM, but just making a list of the 14 superfoods, posting it on my fridge, and eating them at every meal and snack. Oh, you can have other foods, too, but the superfoods are the main focus. And lest you think you'd get bored, each superfood has what the author calls "sidekicks" which are healthy alternatives. So, for example, you can eat the superfood broccoli, but if you are getting tired of broccoli you can have one of its sidekicks which have a similar nutritional profile: Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, turnips, cauliflower, or collard greens. Serving sizes are listed and it is really very simple. For the challenge, I will post a new Superfood each Monday that we will try to incorporate into our diets that week. All you have to do to join this challenge is commit to TRYING each Superfood (or at least one of its sidekicks) each week when it is posted. I will post preparation ideas and recipes for each one during that week. Sound easy? It is! *There will be an accommodation for low carbers like myself who may not be eating from certain food groups at this time, so don't worry :)
If you want to get started right away, you can order the book (linked above and very cheap on Amazon right now) and start reading. Otherwise, hang in there until Monday and I will post our first Superfood, explain its nutritional value and how to shop for it and prepare it, and list its sidekicks. This should be fun!
Part 2, the Fitness Challenge
This one is as hard or as easy as you make it. If you join this challenge, the goal is to become more fit in 2012. You will need to make a plan for fitness, including a schedule of when and how long you will exercise. Put it in your planner or on your calendar like an appointment and stick to it. Figure out NOW how to ease into activity if you're sedentary (clear it with your doctor first) and work up to the level that gives you optimal health. So, right now, answer these questions for yourself:
1. What kinds of activity do I enjoy? What kind of exercise WILL I do and not put off? What do I like to do? Consider lots of ideas, such as walking, biking, skating, boxing, classes, weight lifting, dancing, jogging, swimming... whatever you LIKE and will DO.
2. How much can I do without hurting myself or hating it? If you're not sure, ease in gradually. You can pick more than one activity and add them in, one per week or one per month, as you are able. You can start with 5 minutes if you need to.
Write it down now and plan a start date... today if you like, or January 1 or 2. Then DO it. We will have a post for reporting our activity and progress once a week, probably on Fridays. I will post my activity plan and ask for you to post yours in the comments (and on your blog if you like) on Tuesday. So get it ready!
That's it. Real, simple changes you can make gradually in your eating and activity. You might think it silly for a challenge to be to eat a certain food every week, but time goes by quickly and the results are cumulative. In 14 weeks we will be eating ALL of the Superfoods each day, and our bodies will thank us. Give it a try, it's easy!
For those who want even more of a challenge, there is always the Habit-A-Week Challenge archives at the top of my page, which you can start anytime and do at your own pace. Small changes yield great results.
Let me know in the comments section which challenge(s) you will be participating in! I am here to help you, and will try to answer questions left as comments on each challenge post and help with any struggles you're having. I also encourage you to check out my BlogFrog community; we can chat there on the message board, you can ask questions and discuss how things are going for you, and we can even try having a live chat sometime! Let's help each other get healthy!