If you’ve been around these parts for a while, you know that right around this time every year I like to do a little challenge. It’s hard to believe, but we’re (almost) officially 40 days out to Thanksgiving. And for me, in years past, Thanksgiving has always been the start of a serious downward health spiral for the rest of the year. I’d overdo it on Thanksgiving, and then almost immediately after, it seemed like holiday parties and treats showed up. And before I knew it, it was New Year’s Eve and I was (yet again) making a resolution to get myself back on track after weeks and weeks of overindulgence and inactivity.
So, to head off this phenomenon, a few years ago, I started a challenge which was designed to help give me some healthy momentum heading into Thanksgiving. The idea: it’s much easier to stay on track with a healthy lifestyle in the face of holiday temptation when you’re already chugging down the healthy path anyway.
And, I’m happy to say, it works! Every year that I’ve done a lead-up challenge to the holidays, I’ve come through them relatively unscathed healthwise. It doesn’t mean I skipped cookies or eggnog, but it does mean that I was more moderate with my choices and tried to achieve balance (instead of just throwing caution to the wind as I was apt to do in years prior).
In previous years, the challenges have been multi-faceted, with 10 or so different areas to address. And while that’s a nice comprehensive way to go about it, it also tends to get a bit complicated. So, I’m keeping it simple this time.
We’re picking four goals, in each of four categories—nutrition, fitness, self-care, and family—and we’re going to focus on them for 40 days. The goals themselves are up to you—so it’s completely customizable to your lifestyle—but the format and categories are locked in, so we’re all in this together.
I know I myself could easily pick out 10 things I’d like to accomplish in each category, but this challenge isn’t about quantity of tasks, it’s about building momentum and self-confidence one task at a time. Sure, it’d be awesome if you stopped eating processed food, drank more water, ate more veggies, started weighing your food and cut down on sweets, but those big sweeping changes are hard to implement, and more often than not, end with failure. By focusing on one item—say, drinking more water—and getting really good at it, you’re not only cementing a healthy habit in your life, but you’re building your healthy momentum. You’re giving yourself a win! And we could all use a win (or four) going into the holidays.
Of course, I made a printable to go along with this. For each category, you have an area to write down your goal, plus 40 checkboxes to mark off as you do it. So you can set your own goals, I demarcated the boxes in 5-day increments. Would hitting your goal 30 days out of 40 be good for you? Awesome! Want to fill in all 40? That’s awesome, too. Just make sure you set your goal to start.
Each printable also has a spot for your reward. Because what good is a challenge if you don’t give yourself something to work toward? My reward: I want some extra cash to spend on Christmas decorations. We absolutely do not need any more than the 6+ boxes of Christmas decorations we already have, but I love Christmas, and getting that $50 to spent on Christmas-y loot would be an awesome way to welcome in the holiday season!
The challenge doesn’t officially start ’til Saturday (that’s 40 days to Thanksgiving), but now is a great time to start thinking about what your four goals could be. Because this challenge is marked in days, you’ll want to write goals that work in that format. So instead of, “Run 3 times a week” try “Run 30 minutes” and then set your goal as 15 times over the 40 days (which equals out to roughly 3 times a week).
Here are a few ideas for goals (but don’t let this list box you in):
- Eat 5 servings of fruit and veggies
- Drink 8 glasses of water
- Eat breakfast
- Pack a healthy lunch
- Eat something green at every meal
- Have a meatless day
- Run 30 minutes
- Go to the gym
- Do 15 minutes of stretching
- Go for a walk
- Take a fitness class
- Get 15 minutes of activity
- Take a bubble bath
- Read a book or magazine
- Get a pedicure/manicure
- Go to bed early
- Have tea/coffee time
- Have a date night
- Play with your kids
- Send a letter to a loved one
- Eat at the dinner table
- Have a no TV day
- Tell someone you love them
I can’t wait to see what everyone picks for their goals! Keep up with my progress in the challenge (and other’s, too) by following the hashtag #440Challenge. Have an awesome weekend, friends!