Welcome to the Official 2011 Wellness Challenge. I’m so excited to get to know you all better as we work to improve our health and live more naturally over the next 30 days. I’ve lined up some great prizes for you, and there will be almost daily contests, so check back often!
There is now a Wellness Mama forum where you can keep a health journal to track your progress and get encouragement. I’ll be moderating many of the topics, and will answer questions and offer help as much as possible. There will also be a prize available only on the forum, so get active in there to make sure you have a chance to win!
The Official Wellness Challenge Page has all of this info, plus the rules and that is where the contest details, rules and winners will be posted, so check back often! The first contest starts tomorrow, and the competition for the grand prize has already begun (more details on that later today!)
Since everyone entering the challenge has different goals, the focus will be three fold: improving nutrition, exercising appropriately, and living more naturally by using natural cleaning and personal care products. You game? Here are the specifics!
Nutrition can have a tremendous impact on overall health and will be a large part of the focus of the challenge. If you’ve been a Wellness Mama reader for a while, you know that I’m not a fan of grains, sugars and starches and recommend removing them from your diet. Of course, only if you are making sure to get adequate nutrition from proteins, fats and vegetables.
Some foods, like beans, are of questionable nature, so for the duration of the challenge, I’d suggest removing them too! Others, like vegetable oils, margarine, and other frankenfats are toxic and should be avoided completely, challenge or not!
Mini Challenge #1
Cut out the grains, sugars, potatoes, beans and all processed foods from your diet and focus on getting maximum nutrition from meats, vegetables, healthy fats (coconut, olives, coconut oil, olive oil, tallow, lard, butter, unprocessed cream, etc) and some fruits.
Everyone is entering the challenge for different reasons, but if one of your goals is to lose weight or improve your physique, consider drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake. This is especially important for those trying to lose a lot of weight or anyone suffering from insulin resistance or diabetes. If weight loss is a goal, aim for around 50 grams of carbs a day, and definitely keep it under 100 grams.
If weight loss is a serious goal, this will mean that that morning bowl of oatmeal or potato salad at lunch is out. To keep it simple, just get your carbs from vegetables (minus potatoes) and you’ll be fine!
[Note: Some people experience a "carb flu" as their body adjusts to not having a constantly available stream of glucose. This is temporary, but can be uncomfortable for the first couple of weeks. Check out these two posts by Dr. Michael Eades to help make the transition easier
Mini Challenge #2
Track and Reduce Your Carb Intake! Keep a food diary or Wellness Journal to track what you eat and use a program like FitDay.com to give you an accurate idea of how much protein, fat and carbs you are actually eating. Every time I start to see my weight creep up, I enter a few days into FitDay and realize that I’m eating a lot more carbs than I realize! If you want measurable results, give yourself a measurable idea of your food intake!
It’s true that everyone needs different foods in different amounts, but there is one thing we all need and many of us are not getting enough of: water.
Mini Challenge #3
Drink More Water! For this month, get rid of the soda, juice, teas, etc. and drink more water (and herbal teas).
An imbalance in gut bacteria can cause digestive problems, impaired immunity, skin issues, weight problems and more. Consuming probiotic rich foods and beverages can make a big difference, and many people also notice more energy and clearer thinking when they improve their gut bacteria through consuming fermented foods and drinks.
Mini Challenge #4
Consume Probiotic Rich Foods and Drinks! Fermenting food and making probiotic rich kefir or kombucha soda are easy ways to increase your probiotic consumption. During these 30-days try to add (or increase) fermented foods/drinks to your diet.
In a world where we are constantly surrounded by food and advertisements for food, we often eat three (or more) times a day just because those are the times that meals are normally eaten. In a society where food is seldom scarce, many forget or ignore the actual instinct of hunger (and many may not have felt actual hunger in years).
There is a growing amount of evidence that just not eating occasionally (also referred to as *gasp* fasting!) can improve insulin sensitivity, increase longevity, reduce risk of disease, improve sleep, help weight loss and more.
Mini Challenge #5
Fast a little (but do it slowly!). Try skipping meals occasionally or at least only eating when you are truly hungry. Perhaps you might even go a whole day without eating! Fasting can really improve health, but do it slowly. Make sure you’ve adjusted to a healthier diet and are consuming enough protein and fat regularly before you start skipping meals.
So, whether your goal is to lose weight, improve your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease, deal with diabetes or insulin resistance, increase your fertility, eat optimally while pregnant, or just have more energy and feel better…. a challenge awaits!
This way of eating doesn’t follow the old food pyramid (which gave King Tut heart disease) or the new My Plate recommendations, which will help you gain weight and get heart disease yourself, but they can help you improve your health and reach your goals. Try it for a month!
Now, if this seems unconventional to you, imagine how it might seem to your family/friends/coworkers when you tell them you aren’t eating their pasta/donuts/french fries/
hearthealthywholegrains at their next event. Be prepared to defend your new way of eating!
Exercise, Sleep and Stress
Once you’ve got the nutrition under control, you can further improve your health by making sure you are getting optimal exercise and sleep and keeping stress under control. You can’t out exercise (or out supplement) a poor diet, so make sure you have that in order first, but if you do, focus on these other factors.
Mini Challenge #6
Exercise! But Not Too Much! We’ve all heard the numerous ways that exercise can improve your health. Assuming you are eating a good diet and have the energy, add some exercise into the mix. It doesn’t have to be hours of cardio each day (and it shouldn’t be) but a few minutes of high intensity exercise will help you maintain optimal health.
There are so many things in today’s world that can contribute to stress! Poor diet, too little (or too much) exercise, lack of sleep, emotional struggles, long hours, a tough job, small kids… the list goes on. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, stress causes a hormonal reaction in the body that is not beneficial for optimal health.
Mini Challenge #7
RELAX! Just don’t add relaxation to your already long “to-do list.” Make it a point to take some time without deadlines, TV, stressful people, etc. to do things that are relaxing to you. Spend time with family & friends, pray, take a hike, go swimming… make time to do the things that help you relax.
Of course you can have a great diet, be exercising and keeping your stress under control, but if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your health will suffer. Lack of sleep can undo the progress made by a good diet and exercise plan and can even put you in a pre-diabetic state. Some people are even unable to lose weight if they don’t get enough sleep!
Mini Challenge #8
Get Some Sleep! Most adults need between 7-9 hours and almost all of us don’t get it. To make sure you are getting the best sleep, get to bed by 10PM, sleep in complete darkness, and keep the temperature below 68 degrees. As the mom of a newborn, I understand that this is often easier said than done, but make it a priority and take naps if you need to.
We are constantly bombarded by chemicals from our food supply, personal care products, cleaning products and more. During this challenge, I’ll be offering resources (and prizes) to help you transition to more natural cooking, cleaning and personal care products.
Mini Challenge #9
Remove Toxic Chemicals. Check out the cosmetic database to see what chemicals may be lurking in your household and beauty products. Then, check out the Wellness 101 Page to find some recipes for easy, natural alternatives to common household products.
If you don’t already have a community or network of friends and family to take the challenge with you, share the love and help those you love improve their health also!
Here’s some info you can share on Twitter:
I’m taking the 30-day @theWellnessMama Wellness Challenge. Join me! http://wp.me/Jk4L #WMchallenge @thewellnessmama
I’m taking the 30-Day Wellness Challenge at http://wellnessmama.com to improve health and win great prizes! Join me @Wellness Mama
The first daily challenge with a prize will be tomorrow, so check back often to find out more. I’ll also be posting details about the grand prize and how to win it later today! The most up-to-date challenge info, the rules, contest details and winners will be posted on this page, so check back for more info.
What is going to be the toughest part for you? The easiest? Head over to the forum and start a wellness journal so we can all share your journey with you!