One of my biggest struggles in life is knowing that I “lead” a national running organization yet I struggle ALL THE TIME to stay on track with healthy habits. This summer has been rough…. with MRTT growing and keeping me super busy, 2 VERY high maintenance kids (Just turned 6 and 21 months), a house to maintain, etc I’ve been struggling to keep up with small things that used to be so easy for me. Here in Coweta County, GA schools start back in 12 days… I feel like if I can just make it until school starts back I’ll be in more of a routine. I know its different for everyone everywhere but I’m going to challenge myself (and YOU) to get through 15 days of MINOR changes we can do to get back on track. My hope is that if I’m posting this NATIONALLY it will hold me accountable to – and I promise you that if I fail at my own challenge I will let you know. I’m human too and this will be SUPER tough for me – but I’m counting on YOUR accountability and motivation to get through these things WITH me!!! So…. who wants to join me??

Every day I’ll post a simple challenge on facebook (and come back here to add them to the post) in hopes we can make some SMALL steps together to get back in the habit of being healthy!

15 Days of Healthy Habits Starts Here!

Day 1: Drink 64oz of Water.
I have a 32oz cup so if I keep it with me it’s easy to keep track of just drinking two of those! Some of the tips shared on facebook were to use an app like WaterLogged or infusing water with fruit! How do you get your water in?

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Day 2: Replace Something Bad with Something Better
Today all I’m asking you to do is to REALLY think about the choices you are making. If you are reaching for something that may not be so healthy stop and think of how you can turn it into a healthy choice. That may require you putting the item down all together! Are you reaching for that candy bar in the checkout aisle? Maybe grab some gum or a bottle of water instead. About to drown your baked potato in cheese and sour cream? Try putting plain greek yogurt on it! (I swear it’s INSANE good). The focus today is being aware of what is going in your body and thinking of creative ways to make better choices. This morning I’m blending up vanilla protein powder in my coffee instead of creamer and I’m swapping one of my cups of coffee for a cup of hot tea.

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Day 3: Journal Your Food and Drinks for the Day
I’m asking that you write down everything that you eat or drink today. Make sure you MEASURE your portion sizes…. it’s amazing how some bottled drinks and “individual” sized prepackaged foods actually contain 2-2.5 servings! I’m starting my day with 1 cup of coffee, 1 scoop of protein powder, 1 banana and 2tbsp of peanut butter (not fun to measure but otherwise I’ll eat at least 3 servings ;) )

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Day 4: Hide Your Scale
For some this will be EASY BREEZY (perhaps you don’t even own a scale!) but for others the mere suggestion will strike panic in your head. Hear me out… I’ve been SUPER fit and have weighed 125lbs. I’ve been SUPER out of shape and guess what…. weighed 125lbs. In any given day I can weigh within a 7lb range!! And I can guarantee I’m no more fit in the morning than I am in the evening. There are SO many factors that play into that number on the scale – uneven bathroom tiles can even make a difference! Yep, I weigh 3 lbs less on one of my tiles than I do 5 tiles away. Dying batteries (especially if you weigh yourself ALL. THE. TIME), water, monthly cycles, ALLLLL sorts of stuff can change that stupid number and guess what – there are people 20lbs lighter than you that can’t do HALF the stuff YOU can do…. and that scale does NOT measure that.  So I’m asking today and for the rest of the days in this challenge (and hopefully beyond) to HIDE YOUR SCALE. Put it in a closet, garage, outside, trashcan (lol)… ANYWHERE not in your main path so you can remove the temptation. I moved mine MONTHS ago and it took me a while to not want to pull it down JUST to see – but I can’t tell you how much more free I feel NOT knowing my weight and just going by how I feel.

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Day 5: Find a Healthy Meal Option at your Favorite Restaurant
Today since it’s Friday (or whatever day it is when you choose this challenge!) I figure a bunch of us may be going out to eat tonight…. so the challenge for today is to look at the menu BEFORE you go to the restaurant and find a healthy option. Going in knowing what you are getting takes some of the temptation out of “shopping” the menu. Even if you AREN’T going out tonight I still want you to do this challenge. Find a restaurant you frequent and look up nutrition information or find a healthy meal/option/alternative!

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Day 6: Hold a Plank and Learn Plank Variations
It’s all about that PLANK baby!!! Core strength is one of the most important things you can do for ANY exercises! A strong core will help stabilize your spine and I can promise that a strong core will help you walk better, run better, bike better, do yoga better… seriously the difference after doing core work and exercising is amazing. SO my challenge is to get you to hold a plank for as long as you can each day. When it starts feeling easy change it up to a different plank variation! Try lifting one hand and one leg, try a side plank, do a web search for other variations to challenge yourself! There are SO many ways to plank and you will find some are easier than others. Planking on your hands will feel a bit easier and put more emphasis on your shoulders, lowering to your forearms works your core more, spreading your forearms (instead of holding your hands) challenges you more. Try them all but no matter what plank you are in PULL THAT BELLY BUTTON TOWARDS YOUR SPINE – that’s how you gain strength!!! Post a pic of you planking or tell us how long you hold it. Try adding 5 seconds to your plank each day (stole this idea from He and She Eat Clean‘s 12 week workout plan!! ♥)

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Day 7: Get at Least 7-9 Hours of Sleep
Today’s challenge actually starts TONIGHT!  Lets start tomorrow off right with ENOUGH SLEEP – 7-9 hours to be exact. I’m SOOOOOO guilty of staying up till 3am to mail packages or work – then back up at 7am when the kids get up. So tonight try to get to bed an hour or so earlier… start your nightly routines earlier… just GET IN BED. Remember to turn electronics off about an hour before bed and start dimming the lights to get your brain ready for sleep. Don’t eat or drink too close to bedtime so you aren’t up peeing (get in your water EARLY) If you need a natural remedy for getting some sleep – try Hyland’s Homeopathy “Calms Forte”. My mom told me about this a few years ago and we SWEAR by it. Anyone think they can handle this?? It’s going to be tough for me because I have SO much work to do tonight – but I’m going to try!

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Day 8: Set a Goal and Write It Down
Setting goals is SO important. Without goals we seem to just kinda float through fitness. At the same time, we can sometimes set our goals to something that isn’t achievable which leaves us feeling frustrated. Setting body goals to “look like” something or someone is one of those frustrating ones. I’d kill to have a butt like this person, or arms like that person… or abs like someone else…. but the bottom line is that MY body is not HER body. My body is my body and it will respond COMPLETELY different to what someone else on the same workout and eating routine is doing. Better goals would be something that is measurable…. Maybe loose an inch or two in your waistline – to achieve this you will find exercises and eating plans that can accomplish that. Maybe you want to shave a minute off your 1 mile time – to achieve this you will work on track or speed work then remeasure your time. I’m starting out with a baby goal. My goal for this week is to do all my workouts I have scheduled and to eat 3 meals/2 snacks of healthy food – and I plan to do this by trying my first food prep. It also helps to WRITE IT DOWN and hang your goal somewhere so you can see it throughout the day. What is YOUR goal? How do you plan to work on it?

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Day 9: Remove Temptations
Food temptations can be one of the worst enemies in a healthy living plan. There are a few things you can do to help this! The obvious is to NOT buy foods that tempt you. I CAN NOT buy nutella – I have zero will power against it’s chocolaty siren song….. Also try cleaning out your pantry and moving all foods that aren’t going to help you in your journey to a completely different shelf or cabinet – out of sight out of mind right? I am a huge advocate of not wasting food – and always feel guilty about ‘gifting’ my junk food to friends and neighbors…. but sometimes you just do what ya gotta do. I got my daughter a happy meal and they don’t allow you to order it without a meat (weird right? She’s vegetarian by her choice) so I ordered a cheeseburger…. it sat there… tempting me…. so I had no choice but just to toss it. And finally – try to avoid restaurants you know will make you weak – or just have your pre-planned menu item ready. Asking friends and family to support you in this will help in them NOT suggesting to “just order pizza”

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Day 10: Plan Against Excuses
This one is a biggie…. I am NOT one of those “No Excuses” people. We ALL have excuses! Just because one woman can have 20 kids, two jobs, be a room mom, and 46 hobbies and STILL have a rocking bod doesn’t mean that we should feel bad when we can’t get a simple 20 min workout in and have muffin tops over our jeans. We do the BEST we can with what WE can handle. So my challenge today is for you to list out your most common excuses for eating bad or not working out and then come up with a way you can combat that “reason”. I have a feeling TIME will be the most common answer. I struggle with fitting everything in daily – but I just CANT wake up at 4am like some of my friends can.  What’s your list?

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Day 11: Learn to Bounce Back
Today I had a chick fil a chicken biscuit for breakfast and just ate Mexican for lunch. These are the two worst meals I’ve had in a string of healthy eating…. but I’m not going to let it wreck my mentality of staying on track. Tonight is another meal where I can choose healthy, and tomorrow is another day to start fresh. That’s what bouncing back is all about! Not thinking your whole plan has gone to junk for one “cheat” or “treat” will keep you going in the right direction. Same goes for working out – one missed workout wont ruin you – just shift your “rest” day or allow yourself to take another rest day! So how good are you at bouncing back?? Do you punish yourself and feel doomed? Or do you take control back at the soonest time possible?

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Day 12: Cut Out Excess
I’ve been struggling to tell yall to quit drinking coffee and other non-water drinks…. but here’s the truth. Things are ok in MODERATION. It’s when we eat or treat or use stuff “excessively” that it becomes a problem! One of my days was going to be to eliminate excess sugar, but I also think you should eliminate extra helpings, extra salt, extra anything that is just going to add on stuff you don’t need! So today I’m wrapping them into one. Just cut out EXCESS!! Learn what portion sizes are and eat a portion. By measuring the amount of creamer that goes in your coffee you can eliminate excess (totally guilty of pouring creamer till my coffee is white!) Understand that adding ketchup and other condiments can be adding extra sugar that you didn’t even think about! I’ll grind my salt shaker without knowing how much salt is going on my foods. Just know how much is “enough” and stop there.
***One thing I will say with this – and I have a feeling I’m going to get some static on this (which is why I don’t want to post it as it’s own day) is that ANY artificial sweetener is TOO MUCH. There are SO many studies that are finding out dangers of artificial sweeteners (esp Aspartame!!!!) So yes, going from 3 diet cokes in a day to 1 could be considered “eliminating excess” but PLEEEASE stop all together on that. Ok all you diet coke lovers are going to feel the withdrawal symptoms setting in just from reading that…. but please just think on it. Anyone who has kicked the soda habit tell us how you did it!

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Day 13: Choose Your Reward
TREAT. YO. SELF (someone PLEASE tell me they’ve seen this on Parks and Rec??). Basically I just want you to choose your reward for accomplishing your intermediate goals and your overall goal. Lets say your overall goal is to shave time off your 5k time – and your intermediate goal is to do speed work 4 times in a month. When you hit your intermediate goal and get your 4 days of speedwork – reward yourself with something. Maybe it’s an outfit for race day, maybe it’s signing up for a race, maybe it’s just bragging on facebook… Challenge your friends and swap goal rewards….. “If you hit your goal I’ll watch your kids for 2 hours to let you relax and if I hit mine you watch mine” If you have something to work for it sometimes makes it easier! When you hit your overall goal – make it something WORTH working for! A night out with friends kid free, a new running gear, maybe hitting the goal is reward in itself which means you’ve earned BRAGGING RIGHTS (twitter, facebook, instagram, go crazy!!)
My chapter is doing an August 1 mile speedwork challenge (stay tuned next month because I’ll be challenging YOU). I did my 1 mile time and my goal is to shave off 30 seconds in 4 weeks. My reward? I haven’t decided yet…. but I think it’s going to be new dumbbells. What is your reward going to be? If you haven’t set a goal yet, do that and be sure to tell us!

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Day 14: Always Take Rest Days
Did you know that your muscles grow when they are resting? Working out creates tiny tears in your muscles that repair and grow during rest. Skipping rest days can also lead to weight loss plateau and workout burnout!! I know we get a little restless on rest day (oh the irony) but just take this day to get your house clean, work done, spend time with your kids, or catch up on emails. I KNOW you have stuff to keep you busy so just let your body rest!! You have my permission

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Day 15: START TODAY!!!!
As in RIGHT NOW. I’m going to quote my ole pal Ben by saying “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” I know that “tomorrow” or “Monday” always seems like a better answer – but you still have a few hours left in the day to make good choices! Even if it’s ONE good choice. Even if it’s scheduling a workout or laying out your running outfit for tomorrow, or pouring a glass of water instead of a soda, or passing on dessert, or downloading your workout plan (btw the He & She plans are still up on sale on our website under Training Plans!). ANY small step to a new FIT you is the best step you can take! Making up the days to this challenge has motivated me to be better for you – to be a better example – to be healthier for me. What can you do tonight to start your journey???

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