Wednesday, November 5, 2014
The 50 Day Challenge Details
The focus of the 50 day challenge is to try to add good habits into our daily routine. The hope is that just by keeping healthy habits at the forefront of your mind, it will help minimize the temptation to overindulge during the holiday season.
The details of the challenge are below.
1) Drink water.
For me, as the days get colder, it gets harder for me to drink water. You can use this calculator to figure out how much water you should be drinking each day.
You can use this link to help you out: http://nutrition.about.com/library/blwatercalculator.htm
Although sodas and other sugary drinks (diet or otherwise) are not healthy beverages, this challenge is not about avoiding any other types of drinks. You can drink whatever else you want – the main focus is water. Regardless of whatever else you drink, the challenge is to drink your minimum requirement of water on a daily basis.
2) Eat thoughtfully.
The main thing that works for me is to not have tempting foods in the house. Somehow, my discipline and focus really gets shaken when I know that there are sweets in the house. The easiest solution – don’t bring it in in the first place. If someone gifts it to me – I give it to someone else or just get rid of it. Having these extra foods just leads to mindless eating.
What I have found to be much more enjoyable is when I have been disciplined for a couple of weeks and then actively decide that I want to enjoy a piece of cake, then I really enjoy it. I eat it because I actually do want it and I enjoy every bite, guilt free. It’s not really about working for it – it’s just about being happy with the choice I made. I know that there have been many, many times when I’ve seen something I like, I’ve eaten it, and then immediately or soon after thought Why did I just eat that?!
The challenge is to be smart about your food choices and eat what you enjoy. Sit down, chew thoroughly, savor each bite, stop when (or just before) you’re full, and be happy with the choice you made. Don’t fall into the trap of eating something just because it’s there. It’s better to keep the piece of pie on the counter than lingering on your hips for the next month! You already know what’s healthy for you and what’s not (fried foods, refined flour and sugars, creamy sauces are obviously unhealthy). You don’t need to be told what the healthier choices are. You know. It’s your choice. You can say no. For now, it’s not about saying no to anything. It’s just about being sensible and accepting responsibility for your choices. Eat what you want, but make sure you really want it … and then enjoy your choice. The more important thing is to make sure you don’t eat things you don’t want.
3) Choose your celebrations.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could have it all and not have to worry about any consequences? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way – but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun and enjoy ourselves. The key thought behind this point is that one indulgent meal should not spiral out of control into continuous indulgent days. The challenge is to choose which days you will be celebrating on and make sure to focus on eating cleaner and leaner on the days before and after that occasion so that you can enjoy whatever event you’re at.
My social calendar is filling up. I’m excited to spend time with my family and friends, but I am nervous about the food. There are some celebrations where it will definitely be more about the company than the food … and there are other occasions where the food will be the focus too. I’m keeping these days in mind and I know 2 things for sure – 1) I want to look and feel good when I get there, so I don’t want to consume any extra calories and I do want to make sure I get to the gym so I can walk in feeling confident and leave any trace of self-consciousness behind & 2) I want to enjoy myself when I’m there. This kind of works in conjunction with eating thoughtfully. I don’t want to arrive at the party with all the ‘I should have’ thoughts running through my head. Moreover, I don’t want to leave thinking ‘I shouldn’t have.’ It’s about finding the balance.
4) Move regularly.
It’s no secret that exercise is good for you. If you can get around to exercising daily, that’s fantastic – but schedules and other circumstances don’t always make that possible. However, that doesn’t mean that exercise can’t be incorporated into your lifestyle – even if it means putting an extra spring in your step as you walk to the tube station for your daily commute or parking further when heading into a shopping mall or going to a restaurant, or waking up 15 minute earlier so you can stretch and get in some exercise at home … there are lots of options. If you’ve got kids, I know there’s a lot to juggle – but including them in your workouts and creating a sort of fun family challenge (e.g. how many jumping jacks can you do while I try to finish 20 squats) can be a great way for them to join you and make it a sort of competition. Will this always work? Maybe not, but it’s worth a try. The challenge is to get in 200 minutes of exercise per week (just under 30 min a day)– whatever activity you want at whatever intensity (but you should work up a bit of a sweat). You can do this all in one go, space it over the week, even space it out over the course of a day (10 minute chunks). The main thing is to be conscious of trying to exercise regularly.
5) Track and Reflect Daily
I know this seems like a pain, but it really does make a difference. First of all, when you know you’ve got to write what you ate down, you really do start to think twice before you put that piece of chocolate in your mouth. It makes you stop and think – do I really need that? Tracking is also a chance for you to go back and reflect on the choices you made. Even if the changes don’t happen right now, you may be able to modify or change some of your choices later. Having a record means that whatever results you get in the end won’t be a surprise. Ate lots of chocolate and cake over the weekend – a gain shouldn’t be surprising; exercised regularly and ate in moderate portions – a loss on the scale should keep you motivated to keep that up. Sometimes (as is often the case with me), you do it all correctly and still the scale doesn’t reflect the change you want to see. It happens. You’ve just got to trust that you’re working for something greater – overall health … more energy … and hope that the numbers on the scale will catch up. Keeping track of what you’ve been doing also gives you the info you need to make the necessary changes. Perhaps try a gluten-free diet or exercise for a shorter time but at a higher intensity … with everything written down, at least you have a record that you can work with to try to create a program that works for you. The challenge is to write everything down for the next 50 days – what/when/how much you ate/drank/exercised/slept – and any other notes you want to make about your day (emotions, tasks that were accomplished, frustrations you felt).
Keep your notes simple and short. Tap it into your phone, scribble it in a notebook, write it on your blog. Whatever method you use is up to you – you don’t need to count calories, you just need to write down the basic info (e.g. Tuesday Nov. 4, morning: 2 cups of coffee with milk, 1 bowl of museli w/1/2 cup Greek yogurt, lunch: 2 scrambled eggs and spinach, snack: peach, ½ cup of cottage cheese with cucumber, dinner: 200 g baked salmon with a garden salad + 10 glasses of water + afternoon: 1 hour walk in the park – felt energetic). Keep it simple – don’t make the task any harder or more complicated than it has to be.
I’d like to have at least 10 people sign up for the challenge before I create a Facebook page where we can support each other and share our progress. For now I'm posting on my Plumpetals Fit Facebook page. Comment below if you’d like to join or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.