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Weight Loss Challenge

How it works: Simply start with week 1, and follow the instructions. It’s that easy! Take things a step at a time. For example, try to avoid looking ahead and changing too much at once. Remember, it’s the little choices that lead to the big changes! To help keep yourself accountable, try keeping a daily food journal. Many people find that by writing it down on paper or plugging it into their smart phones, they are better able to stay on track and reach their goals.

Healthy Breakfast

Week 1 - Eat Your Wheaties

  • This week’s challenge is all about breakfast. The goal is simple: Have breakfast every day, period. It can be cereal, oatmeal, eggs, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and even last night’s leftover cold pizza (when you’re in a pinch). The point is to avoid the worst breakfast in America… no breakfast. Eating in the morning will jumpstart your metabolism, give you energy, and prevent overeating later in the day.

Week 2 - Lose Some Liquids

  • Your first challenge is to cut back on the calories you consume from liquids. For example, you can eliminate about 450 calories from your daily intake by skipping 2, 20 ounce sodas. And instead of pouring your dressing on top of your salad, have it on the side and dip your fork in it prior to each bite. By making these two changes, you have already cut out enough calories to lose about 1 pound per week. That wasn’t so bad now was it?

Week 3 - Eat When Hungry

  • I realize this sounds silly, but it is amazing how often we eat out of boredom, habit, or because of a stressful day at work. The key to this week’s challenge is to pay attention to your body. After all, it knows you best. Try this trick to make sure that you aren’t going too long between meals or overeating at meals: Gauge your hunger on a scale from 1-10. 1 = hungry enough to eat your own arm off and 10 = so full you might literally explode. Your job is to eat when your hunger level is approaching a 3 and to stop eating when you are nearing a 7.
Stair Climbing Exercise

Week 4 - Get To Moving

  • I’m not talking about training for a marathon here. This week, aim to get in at least 30 minutes of activity each day. If walking for 30 minutes is your thing, great! If you prefer bicycling, jogging, playing golf, dancing, tennis, etc, that’s great too! That’s the beauty of this week’s challenge. It doesn’t matter what you do, the key is to enjoy whatever it is you are doing. Life is too short to spend your time doing a form of exercise you don’t enjoy. Don’t have a 30 minute window of opportunity? No problem. How about 10 minutes here, 5 minutes there, 15 minutes later on, etc. It all counts for better health!

Week 5 - Eat Out Better

  • It’s going to happen. Not every meal you eat will be prepared and eaten at home. So this week’s challenge is to change up the way you order and eat your food at restaurants. Start things off with 1-2 glasses of water or unsweetened tea. Opt for a broth based soup or side salad to have before you get your entrée. As for the entrée itself, proceed with caution. Many “healthy” entrees pack a ton of calories, fat, and sodium. Beat the restaurants at their own game by getting online ahead of time to decide what you will have. This can end up being the difference between consuming … or not consuming an extra 1,000 calories or more! If no online nutrition information is available, split an entrée with someone. Eating alone? Have the waiter or waitress box up half of the meal before they even bring it out. There is no reason you can’t enjoy it again tomorrow!
Replace salt with spices

Week 6 - Spice Things Up

  • If you are like most Americans, then you are consuming about 60% more sodium on a daily basis than is recommended. There is an old saying in nutrition that says “Water goes where the salt goes.” By reducing your salt (sodium) intake, you also help to reduce your overall weight by not holding onto as much water. Additionally, you will help to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease. It’s a win-win! In place of salt, your challenge this week is to try seasoning foods with herbs and spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, basil, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, thyme, sage, pepper, and even hot sauce. Not only are they all calorie free and add great new flavor to your favorite dishes, but they also carry with them an array of antioxidants and other protective health benefits.

Week 7 - Focus On Fiber

  • The average American takes in about 12-15 grams of fiber each day and that is a shame because fiber not only helps to keep you feeling full, but it also aids in laxation, steadies blood sugars, helps to control cholesterol, and can reduce the risk for developing heart disease and digestive disorders. The challenge for this week, therefore, is to aim to consume enough fiber rich foods to reach anywhere from 25-40 grams of fiber each day. The best foods for hitting that goal? Look to fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, 100% whole grain breads, rice, oats, and pastas, as well as beans and nuts. Start out by slowly adding these foods to the diet so as to not create any gastric distress.
Drinking More Water

Week 8 - Drink More Fluids

  • Yes, this seems hypocritical in relation to Week 1. But the challenge this week is to focus on drinking more fluids from water, tea, and milk. Ideally, you should aim to drink at least 64 ounces every day. Get that up to 80 ounces and you are doing great! A good rule of thumb is to be going to the restroom about every 3-4 hours and to make sure that your urine is a very pale yellow, nearly clear. Every metabolic process in our bodies relies on water, so make water your number one choice. As for milk, look to drink 1-3, 8 oz glasses a day from either 1% or fat free. If drinking tea, be sure to opt for the unsweetened variety or you can slightly sweeten with a teaspoon of sugar or sugar substitute such as Splenda.

Week 9 - Take Your Time

  • With the “always-on-the-go” attitude of the United States, it’s no wonder we’re getting heavier. It is time to slow it down a notch… at least while eating. You see, it takes about 20-30 minutes for our stomach to send the signal to our brain to let us know that we have had enough to eat. This week’s challenge will be for you to take a minimum of 20 minutes to eat each meal. If you can take more time, great! During these meals, try putting your fork down between bites and having sips of water. Focus on the food and how it tastes. Try to avoid thinking ahead to the next task or meeting for the day. Many people find that by doing this, they are able to relax and get back to the workday rejuvenated. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, life is too short to not sit back and enjoy it every once in a while… even if it’s only for a little bit each day.
Make Sweets Unreachable

Week 10 - Reach For Sweets

  • Ok, I apologize for title. But I got your attention didn’t I? The idea behind “Reach For Sweets” is to do just that, literally reach for sweets, chips, and other snacks that contain little nutritional value. Many people leave these food items on the counter and in plain sight. Your challenge this week is simple. Take those foods and place them in a cupboard on the highest shelf possible. You will be surprised at how effective this little trick can be. Of course, not having them in the house in the first place is ideal, but I’m a realist who believes that all foods can fit. If by chance you reach for these foods, refer back to Week 8’s tip to savor each bite and to focus on the food.

Week 11 - Pick A Protein

  • More and more research is showing the benefits of having a lean protein source at meals. Protein is the building block of muscle and eating more of it when losing weight is important because it helps to preserve our muscles. Possibly the most significant benefit of protein is its ability to help keep us feeling full. Therefore, your challenge this week is to aim to have a lean protein source at each meal. Lean sources of protein include chicken, fish, turkey, beans, yogurt, reduced fat cheese and milk, and soy products such as tofu and soybeans. Lean sources of red meat include ground sirloin and top round. Buffalo and Bison are also great picks.
Reward Yourself

Week 12 - Way To Go!

  • This is week 12, congratulations! The weight loss challenge this week may seem a bit out of the ordinary, but I think that it is an extremely important one. Your challenge this week is to reward yourself. The only hitch is that the reward should not be focused on food. Some ideas might be to buy some new clothes, take a weekend getaway, hire a maid to clean the house, etc. It’s really up to you! Take pride in what you have accomplished. You are awesome! And don’t forget that.