Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Meg's Musings: 66-Day Challenge

A couple of weeks ago I read this article about fostering healthy habits and kicking those annoyingly bad habits. I'm feeling pretty good about 2015 since I ended 2014 on a damn good note and I've already gotten a real nice running start on this new year. But there is always room to improve, and my goal now is to find where my room for growth is and fill all those empty spaces with progress. And I can't do that without a plan, and some accountability (which is why we started this blog in the first place, right?) 

I like schedules and I like routines. But I am now a freelance writer and well, no one is making my schedule but me, which is great...except when I get tired and unfocused and I really need someone telling me what to do and when to do it. Same goes for my workouts, and nutrition for that matter. Over the summer, I was on a very strict three-month program, which was tough, but it kept me disciplined. My big goal was to get through that process before the new year so that I could really start the year off on a great note, and I think I did (check!). I've made some serious progress, but I am nowhere close to where I want to be, so now I find myself needing another strict regimen. 

There are tons -- TONS -- of programs out there, some are expensive, some are fairly cheap and some are free. I’ve done several of them, and they’ve been great. I mean, any program that gets you to make conscious decisions about nutrition and train harder in the gym is well worth your time. Obviously the overall goal is health and fitness, but these challenges can be great in that they break up the work into increments. Each of them may focus on specific areas, goals or needs of your body. Each of them may work on fostering specific habits that are going to stick with you and improve your overall fitness and nutrition in the long run. Each one helps you to mark your progress and chart your growth. And they may not be for everyone, but for me, each time I take on a new challenge or start a new program, the goal is not to get through those 24 days, or 90 days, or whatever time period I've committed to, and then have free range to eat, drink, and be lazy. The goal is to finish that program stronger than I was when I started it, and to use that new progress as a platform for improvement.

Like I said, there are tons out there. Advocare’s 24 Day Challenge is a great detox/nutritional/overall fitness jumpstart. The 90-Day yeast/gluten cleanse through Hotze Health and Wellness is also incredible for increased health and strength. There are weight training programs and fat loss programs and endurance programs and upper body programs and booty programs and core programs. Whatever your goal is, I guarantee you it’s out there. But this time I am going with a different idea. I’ve looked at where I am and where I want to be, and I put together my own plan to get myself there. Because there is something rewarding about having only yourself to thank for your progress.

Like all good challenges, it targets overall health, fitness, and strength training. And, of course, it has guidelines and deadlines. And although I do not place a ridiculous amount of emphasis on my weight when I am increasing my weight training, I am doing a weekly weigh-in to track my progress. 

I spent a couple of days creating a weight-training program specific to my particular fitness goals for the next 66 days, and I won't bore you with the details. The meal plan, however, I will share because that is quite simple. It's nothing fancy, just a guideline to make sure I am getting all of the vitamins I need and taking in the right amounts of protein, carbs (veggies), and natural sugars (fruit). Unlike most challenges I have done in the past, I am not giving myself "cheat days" (God help me!) and I am not taking in whole grains, so my complex carbs come strictly from vegetables, with the occasional exception of sweet potatoes and spinach wraps. 

The daily routine goes something like this: 

-       Pre-breakfast –
o  Probiotics
o  Lemon water and green tea (natural detox!) 
o  Chia Seeds (for energy and strength) 

-       Breakfast – Fruit/Protein/Veggie Smoothie, which tastes better than it sounds and hits all my nutritional requirements: 
o  Protein -- Jay Robb’s Whey Protein 
o  Fruit  -- Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries
o  Complex Carbs – kale and other leafy green veggies

-       Mid-morning energy: 
o  Deli Ham
o  Almonds 
o  Small portion of vegetables 

-       Lunch: 
o  Lean Protein – chicken, fish, turkey, or lean ground beef 
o  Complex Carb – vegetables, sweet potato, or spinach wraps 

-       Post-Workout:
o  Protein Shake
o  Green Juice (packed with vitamins and minerals: kale, cabbage, broccoli, cucumber, tomatoes, etc.) 

-        Dinner: 
o  Lean Protein – chicken, fish, turkey, or lean ground beef 

o  Complex Carb – vegetables, sweet potato, or spinach wraps

66 days to my next "progress platform" and I can't wait to see what's next! 

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