Challenge Week: The Plan From Beginner to Advanced

We’re getting ready for Challenge Week which starts tomorrow!  Start planning out your week to incorporate the information below.  I’ve broken it down from couch potato/beginner to star athlete/advanced.

Beginner / Find Your Motivation:

  1. Write out what you hope to achieve this week.  What are three goals that you have?  Yes three!  We’re being ambitious here.
  2. Plan three cardio sessions of 20 minutes each.  You’ll need to introduce cardio into your life if you want to live well.  Look at your calendar and plug times in.  Share them with your housemates.  If you don’t have housemates then email a friend or your Mom.
  3. Plan one weight training session this week.  Either do the circuit at the gym or use bands and/or free weights at home.  You’ll need a minimum of 20 minutes and a maximum of 60.
  4. Plan one mind/body training session this week.  This will be resistance training of some sort — yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi.  Since you’re reading this on your computer you can look online for a free yoga program (iTunes has tons) or you could get a DVD at the store or you check your TV’s On Demand shows to see if it offers a yoga or Pilates class.  My cable company has many offerings and they’re all free.
  5. Plan one simple meditation this week.  The easiest thing in the world is to sit quietly and simply breathe, counting 41 inhales and 41 exhales.  There’s no dogma or beads required because you’re clearing your mind as you focus on the numbers.  If you’d like something more complicated, there are plenty of online resources.  Check out Transcendental Meditation, a very popular option.
  6. Plan one meatless meal this week.  Yes you can just do pizza or pasta with tomato sauce but try to get more creative.  It’s just one meal.  You can do it.
  7. Plan to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.  Just for this week.  This will probably take the most planning, but it’s totally possible.  Put together a list of veggie snack food (not just carrots and celery but also cherry tomatoes, peppers, and more) and a list of fruits and other vegetables to get at the grocery store.

It’s not too much but it is a little push.  You’ll have to focus to execute everything and that’s the whole idea; to pay attention to what you’re doing, to move away from auto-pilot this week.

Intermediate / Get Even Healthier

  1. Plan three goals for this week.  What do you hope to get out of this?  Maybe you’re great with cardio but slack off on resistance training.  Maybe you’re a workout diva but you’re so stressed that you collapse at the end of the day.  How would you like to live better?  Do you eat well during the day but can’t fight off the snack attacks at night?  Then make that your goal.
  2. Plan four cardio sessions of 30 minutes each.  If you’re already doing this then make it 40 minutes each, but keep in mind there are probably other things below you’ll be scheduling over the week.  Make sure there are two different types of cardio on the list.  If you’re a die-hard runner, bring in something different from a group exercise class at a gym to a spin on your bike.  It’s time to think about mixing it up to increase your cardiovascular benefits and to give your metabolism a little boost.
  3. Plan three weight training and mind/body sessions this week.  You can go simple using your body weight and a patch of rug at home or you can go all out and hire a personal trainer to freshen up your routine.  It’s your choice; try to push yourself a bit here.  You’ll need a minimum of 20 minutes and a maximum of 60.  At least one of these workouts needs to be mind/body, so think yoga and Pilates or another form of mind/body movement.
  4. Plan two simple meditations this week.  The easiest thing in the world is to sit quietly and simply breathe, counting 41 inhales and 41 exhales.  There’s no dogma or beads required because you’re clearing your mind as you focus on the numbers.  If you’d like something more complicated, there are plenty of online resources.  Check out Transcendental Meditation, a very popular option.  I personally go for a 108-bead rosary and a little prayer to Ganesh, but that’s me.
  5. Plan three meatless meals this week and schedule them into your calendar.  Think a salad with a veggie protein for lunch or a gourmet pizza you make yourself.  Experiment with an unfamiliar grain like couscous or quinoa. You’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll feel and it’ll help alot with the next item below.
  6. Plan to eat seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day, just for this week.  This will take careful planning, but it’s totally possible.  Lots of people just pile on starches in the morning for breakfast; skip those and think about a fruit smoothie or a small piece of toast with fruit.  By the way, fruit juices do not count as a serving!  They’re really just sugar delivery systems.  For this week, skip ‘em.  Put together a list of veggie snack food (not just carrots and celery but also cherry tomatoes, peppers, and more) and a list of fruits and other vegetables to get at the grocery store.

Advanced / Fine Tuning

You don’t have to worry about your weight because it just naturally stays at its set point.  You eat pretty well and only slack off here and there.  Moving and working out is just a natural part of life; you enjoy it and have fun with it.  Here’s how to get a little bit healthier:

  1. Write down three goals for the week.  Be very specific.  You’re already doing a great job, so where can you do a little bit better?  I’m sure there’s something you’ve been curious about or wanted to change a bit.  Write those down.
  2. Keep your cardio levels where they are but mix it up.  Do three different types of cardio this week — your usual, then one thing you used to do but stopped, then add a third new thing.  Indoor floor hockey? Swimming laps in the local pool?  Something that intrigues you and will get you outside your comfort zone.  My personal fave? Hula hooping.
  3. You should have three sessions of resistance training but make sure that two are mind/body.  Plug them into your schedule and again stretch yourself.  If you always do Hatha yoga try Kripalu; if you’re really a Power Yoga dude, take a meditative yoga class.
  4. Plan three meditative sessions this week.  If you’ve been incorporating meditation regularly, though, keep doing what you’re doing.  If you’re regularly doing meditation three times a week, add one more to the schedule.  As mentioned above, you could combine a yoga/meditation class.  Also think about meditation in movement.  You can mindfully walk a path in the woods or mindfully clean the house.  I’ve been known to chant as I vacuum; it’s really calming for me and my husband and son just roll their eyes and let me be.
  5. Plan five meatless meals this week.  Make sure you’re eating at least two things that you haven’t eaten before. Stretch yourself.  I am not encouraging you to become a vegetarian, although if you wind up going that way that’s fine by me.  I personally consider myself a Flexitarian, low on meat but still incorporating it regularly.
  6. Eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day.  I only recently started doing this myself and if I don’t plan I can never get them all in.  I’ve switched the granola bar in my purse to an apple or a plum and I almost always have a big salad for lunch.  Dinner tends to be a small protein serving and two vegetables and I skip the starch. But that’s me.  How would you do it?  Plan it out for the shopping list.
  7. Pay it forward.  Work with a friend or relative to help get them to the next level.  Invite someone over to share one of your healthy vegetarian meals.  Peel your kid away from the screen and play ball with them in the park. Make a workout date with a friend instead of just getting together for drinks.  You get the idea.  Maybe you’ll be the spark someone else needs to reach their next level of wellness.  Wouldn’t that be cool?

So there it is.  What do you think?  A lot to digest here in preparation for the kickoff of the week.  Are you still with me? If you’ve got any questions, ask away …

Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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4 Responses to Challenge Week: The Plan From Beginner to Advanced

  1. Gail @ Shrinking Sisters September 26, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    I am SO doing this! I need the kick in the butt.

  2. Tara Burner September 26, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

    well, the meatless meals and fruit servings are easy since that’s every day! LOL
    meditation and yoga are daily soooo my hardest ones are going to be doing the cardio training…which I should be doing, seeing how I have a 5K coming up I’m in and haven’t laced up my running shoes for awhile…infact, have brand new ones sitting in box…going to bust those out this week :)

  3. Lisa Johnson September 26, 2010 at 9:10 pm #

    Welcome Gail! Happy to have you. :-)

  4. Lisa Johnson September 26, 2010 at 9:13 pm #

    Tara you should definitely be working the advanced program. I was actually thinking of you while I wrote it. It’s for the person who is already doing lots of things right but just needs to tweak a little bit. I notice you didn’t mention vegetables … do you need to sneak a few more of those in there? :-) L–

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