Reflections on the 30-Day Challenge + A Survey

I wanted to take a minute to reflect on the 30-Day Healthy Living Challenge. The purpose of this challenge was to inspire everyone to eat a little bit healthier and try some new things.  As I said in the beginning, one lucky person that followed along with the challenge will win either 3 free nutrition counseling sessions or cooking classes.  To choose a winner, I put the names of all the people who have commented on my blog and social media sites in a hat.  The more you commented, the more times your name was entered.  The winner is not surprising.  This person followed along and commented almost every single day…

Congratulations Donna Fletcher! You have won the 30-Day Healthy Living Challenge.  Donna completed almost every day of the challenge, lost weight and made some significant life changes.  Thanks for following along, and I look forward to helping you one-on-one. Eat a treat today (like this small one) to celebrate!

 This challenge was definitely a new experience for me. I learned a few things along the way that I wanted to share with you:

  • A 14-day challenge probably may have been more effective.  Whenever I counsel people, I advise them to implement a change for two weeks.  Fourteen days is short enough that you won’t feel overwhelmed, but long enough for a change to become a new habit. Thirty days was a great way to get you through the first month of New Year’s Resolutions, but many people lost steam after the second week.
  • My posts weren’t as detailed as normal.  Usually, I take a decent amount of time to write, edit and then edit again.  Posting everyday sometimes required me to write posts on my phone, on vacation or right before bed. I always try to explain why I’m asking you to do things, but I just didn’t have the energy or time to do that everyday.
  • You are starving for knowledge. I received so many great questions during this challenge.  People asked if honey is different than sugar and if pink sea salt is better than regular salt. These questions gave me a chance to interact with my readers and also find out what you want to learn.  Expect to see more posts based on your questions in the future.
  • Little changes make the biggest difference. I believe in a counseling style that includes small, realistic changes.  During counseling sessions, I try to get a sense of your lifestyle and eating habits, and we work together to make changes that fit your daily life.  I always start with small changes, like I did in this challenge, and then we build to bigger ones.  I love this style, and this challenge proved that it works.

I would love to hear what worked for you and what isn’t working for you. This quick 5 question survey will allow me to take your feedback into account and build a blog and nutrition practice that is suited to your needs.  I would REALLY appreciate it if you take 1 minute to fill it out.  It will help me create content that you would like to see (that’s one of the questions) and create more challenges and educational tools that will help you live a healthier life.

Click here for the survey. 

Thanks for following!

 

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30-Day Healthy Living Challenge: Day 30

We made it to the last day of the challenge! Part of me is sad, while part of me is relieved. It’s been so nice to interact with and teach you guys things over the past month. It’s also been fun to share my daily life with readers.  I started this blog as a way to share recipes and nutrition information with people. I never intended to be the type of blogger that shared my personal life, and it’s actually been very nice to let you guys see certain aspects of my life. However, blogging everyday is hard and I didn’t always feel like I was giving you guys my best work.

day 30

Day 30: Reflect and Make A Plan

For the last day of the challenge, I want you to reflect on all of the things that you’ve done and pat yourself on the back. I compiled all of the challenges so that you can see your accomplishments.

Day 1: Rearrange Your Kitchen

Day 2: Ditch The Alcohol

Day 3: Exercise for 30 Minutes

Day 4& 11: Meatless Monday

Day 5: Call Your Doctor

Day 6: Build A Healthy Plate

Day 7: Eat Only Whole Grains

Day 8: Fitness Friday (Work on Abs & Glutes)

Day 9: Take 10,000 Steps

Day 10 & 16: Rest

Day 12 & 13: Skip The Added Sugar

Day 14 & 15: Watch Your Sodium

Day 17: Strength Train Sunday

Day 18: Make A Plan

Day 19 & 20: Practice Mindful Eating

Day 21: Plan Your Fitness Routine

Day 22: Eat A Snack

Day 24: Use Everyday Items For A Workout

Day 25 & 26: Get The Recommended Serving of Fruits & Vegetables

Day 27: Don’t Be Afraid of Healthy Fats

Day 28: Understanding Hydration

Day 29: Sign Up For A Future Challenge

Day 30: Reflect

Wow, look at all of that! Good for you guys! Go back and look at challenges you missed, or repeat the ones that you really loved. Also, make a plan for the future.  Figure out how to implement these challenges into your everyday life. If you need help or want my services, contact me! And like I said in the beginning, I will be choosing one winner tomorrow to receive 3 free nutrition counseling sessions or cooking classes with me!! Stay tuned…

Thanks again for following along!

 

30-Day Healthy Living Challenge: Day 29

IT’S THE SECOND TO LAST DAY OF THE 30-DAY HEALTHY LIVING CHALLENGE!!! Sorry, I thought that warranted all caps.

For those of you that have been following along, you have almost made it through the first month of New Year’s Resolutions. How do you feel?! I hope you feel like healthy eating and exercise are becoming a way of life.

day 29

Day 29: Sign Up For A Future Challenge

I want to start this challenge with a story… A little over two years ago, I was 29 and in grad school.  My 30th birthday was quickly approaching, and I wanted to challenge myself to do something new.  On a whim, I put my name in the lottery for the NYC 1/2 Marathon.  At the time, I wasn’t a runner and running two miles seemed difficult. I was active and worked out, but I just didn’t run. My name was picked from the lottery and I had 3 months to train myself to run a 1/2 marathon (read about how I did it here).  I completed my first ever race, which happened to be a half marathon, that year.  This year, I will be running the NYC 1/2 Marathon for the third time and completing my first full marathon–the NYC marathon!

The reason I tell you this is because today’s challenge is to sign up for a future fitness or nutrition related event/set a goal.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Sign up for a running race, such as a 5K (for beginners), 10K, 1/2 Marathon or Marathon.
  • If you aren’t a runner, sign up for a bike tour.  NYC has a bunch of these and it’s not the most bike friendly city… so I bet a city near you has a nice organized ride.
  • Learn a new sport.  Have you always wanted to learn how to swim or dreamt of skiing? Maybe you’ve always wanted to try horse back riding? Find a class near you and sign up!
  • Sign up for nutrition services with me! I offer free 15-minute assessments.
  • Not competitive? Join a meet-up running, walking, biking, hiking or any other activity group.  Meet like minded people that will keep you active.  There are also groups that focus on cooking.

Do you have another idea that I didn’t list? Do it and share it with me! I hope you are all a little bit more educated and motivated because of these challenges, and I hope to learn new ideas from you guys as well.

30-Day Healthy Living Challenge: Day 28

It’s the 28th of January, and I can’t believe we are almost at the end of this 30-Day Challenge. As I write this, I realize that I dated yesterday’s challenge incorrectly. Blogging for 30 days straight is hard (ha). I’m so thankful to those of you who have read and followed along. I really hope you have been learning, and I’m open to questions about anything. I want to address one more aspect of healthy eating, which leads me to today’s challenge.
  (One last California picture, just because)

Day 28: Understanding Hydration
I really don’t consider any foods “bad”. I think my nutrition philosophy of “everything in moderation” is pretty evident from the past 28 days. I even advise many of my clients to implement a cheat day. With all of that being said, Im going to contradict myself and say I really don’t think people should consume sugary drinks. Today’s challenge is to omit the sugar sweetened beverages. 
Here’s why: Sugar sweetened beverages add excess calories to the diet without adding any nutrients. They don’t make you feel full, and they don’t provide any vitamins or minerals. They only provide excess calories and sugar, and cutting out sugar sweetened beverages is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to reduce calorie intake.

Sugar sweetened beverages are any of the following:

  • Soda
  • Juice
  • Sports drink
  • Flavored water
  • Sweet coffee drinks 

Try this exercise:

  • Find your favorite sugary drink, find the grams of sugar on the label.
  • Divide the number of grams by 4. That’s how many teaspoons of sugar is in that one drink. For example, if a soda has 28 grams of sugar, that’s 7 teaspoons of sugar in one drink!
  • For a visual, measure out the 7 teaspoons and put them in one cup. Consider if you would like to eat that cup of sugar in one drink. 

Replace your sugar sweetened beverages with the following:

  • Water
  • Seltzer
  • Fruit infused water 

30-Day Healthy Living Challenge: Day 27

I’m very sad to say that I’m flying back to New York today.  We had an amazing time in California, and this is the first time I have wished for my flight to be delayed/cancelled. I’m now plotting ways to start my own nutrition business, so I can be bi-coastal…stay tuned for more on that once this challenge is over. 

 
Did you have a hard time eating 5 cups of fruits and veggies per day? I know that I sometimes struggle with it if I don’t have a salad for lunch. Today’s challenge looks at another food group that is often demonized. 

  
Day 27: Don’t Be Afraid Of Healthy Fats

Here, I posted a picture of a latte with whole milk. The question of non-fat versus full-fat dairy has been prevalent in the media recently. A recent scientific review found that people who eat full-fat dairy are no more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes than people who stick to low-fat dairy. Researchers also found that full-fat dairy may be better for those trying to lose weight. Sounds counterintuitive, right? Well, some argue that the fatty acids in full-fat dairy may help you feel fuller sooner and stay fuller longer, which means you will eat less. I think more research needs to be done on full fat dairy, but there are some other healthy fats that have been proven beneficial to health. 

Omega-3’s and omega-6’s are fatty acids that are extremely good for your health.  These fatty acids have been found to boost heart health and cognition…and they are only found in fatty foods.  Today’s challenge is to embrace these fatty foods and add them to your diet:

  • Fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel
  • Olive oil, canola oil, and vegetable oil
  • Nuts
  • Avocados
  • Flax
  • Hemp

Don’t be afraid of these higher calorie items.  They are good for you and should be part of a healthy diet!

30-Day Healthy Living Challenge: Day 25 & 26

Sorry to those of you on the east coast for the lateness of this post. Because it’s a somewhat difficult challenge, I’m going to give you two days to complete it. How did you do with yesterday’s challenge? What every day items did you use to get some exercise while snowed in? I went for a pretty intense hike and then took some pictures at the top of the mountain. My boyfriend complained it was “too easy” in the beginning, but then it got really difficult and I passed him haha. Today’s challenge is an eating challenge.

  
Day 25 & 26: Get The Recommended Serving of Fruits & Vegetables

Servings sizing are very confusing, especially for those who don’t cook and can’t recognize 1/2 and 1 cup portions. Do you have any idea how many fruits and vegetables you’re supposed to eat in a day? Well the answer is 5 servings.  Does that seem like a lot? 

A serving of a fruit or vegetable is 1 cup, but what does 1 cup even look like? Because the challenge for today and tomorrow is to eat the recommended 5 cups of fruits and veggies, I want you to go into your kitchen and pull out a one cup measuring cup. Look at the size of it and then think of fruits and vegetables that are about the same size.  Here are some examples of fruits and vegetables that are one cup in their natural form:

  • Apple 
  • Pear
  • Banana
  • Orange
  • Small zucchini
  • Bell peppers (usually about half a cup because of the hollow inside).
  • Cucumber
  • Onion
  • Small potato

Some other fruits and veggies are harder to measure because they don’t fit in a cup in their natural form. I suggest using a measuring cup to measure these for next two days.  This will give you an idea of  how much you are actually eating. Here are some examples of these types and fruits and veggies:

  • Leafy greens
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Large squash variety is, such as butternut squash, spaghetti squash, acorn squash and Delicata squash
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Fresh herbs
  • Leeks
  • Fennel
  • Celery
  • Berries
  • Melons
  • Grapes

Eating fruits and veggies has obviously been linked to a healthier lifestyle. Eating the recommended amount in a day can help maintain a healthy weight and prevent serious diseases. For the next two days, try to measure out the amount of fruit and vegetables that you eat. See if you are eating 5-cups. If not, you need to step up your produce game! 

30-Day Healthy Living Challenge: Day 24

Can you believe we are 24 days into January? If you have been following along this whole time, you are doing better than most people that set New Year’s Resolutions.  The majority of people give up on their goals after two weeks of hard work.  So, good job. 

I’m on vacation at the moment, so the next few pictures will be of California and the challenges will be inspired by west coast living. 

  
Day 24: Use Everyday Items To Get Workout

In California, it’s normal for people to wake up and go for a hike…in January. They have access to the great outdoors all year round and they use it to stay fit.  In New York, we don’t have that good fortune.  As those of you who live on the East Coast and are currently snowed in know, it’s not easy to get outside in the dead of winter.  But, that doesn’t mean you need to use a gym to get a workout.  Today’s challenge is to use everyday items to get a workout. 

What do I mean by “everyday items”? Here are some examples:

  • Grab a jump rope and spend time perfecting this childish craft.
  • Pick up a vacuum and duster and try to clean the house as quickly as possible.
  • Shovel snow! 
  • If you are lucky enough to get outside, go for a hike, bike, run or swim. 
  • Do a YouTube workout video. 
  • Turn on some music and dance.

Whatever activity you choose, make sure you are breathing heavily and do it for at least 30 minutes. I will be hiking and will post pictures tomorrow!