Unbelievably, it is already September. And, being the first day of September, it is time to declare another 30-day Challenge. But before I go there, I need to give an update on the August challenge which was: to record everything I ate in the Lose It app. I explain my thinking behind that “strange” challenge in My NEW 30-Day Challenge. I regret that I cannot claim 100% completion of that goal. I was very faithful for the first 20 days of the month, but on the 20th, Steve and I boarded a plane and flew to Zambia, Africa. I never realized how difficult it would be to record my eating in a foreign country. Many times, I had no idea what I was eating, much less how many calories it contained. So I pretty much had to disregard the challenge for the 10 days that I was out of the country.
Nevertheless, I still consider the challenge a success. For the 20 days that I was able to stick with the plan, I was very mindful of what I was putting in my mouth. Furthermore, even though I did not actually record what I was eating, I did remain mindful of how much I was eating. And the proof is in the pudding—the scales have gone down 3 or 4 pounds! So my non-diet had the desired effect.
As we enter September, I think it is important to continue building upon the habits established in the previous challenges. For me, that means regular posting to My Pleasant Places; I had to slack up a bit while I was out of the country. Also, though I don’t intend to do this the rest of my life, I do plan to continue recording what I eat in the Lose It app for at least the first 10 days of this month. That habit will nicely compliment my September challenge.
My September Challenge
I do not take these challenges lightly. When I got up this morning, I was still not sure what my challenge for this month was going to be. It’s not that I couldn’t think of something; it was a matter of choosing which challenge I wanted to undertake this month.
I have been doing quite a bit of reading about healthy eating and the effects that different foods—good and bad—have on our bodies, brains, moods, future, etc. I wrote a little about this subject in Eating for a Healthy Brain. I get inspired by reading of research that showed that the blood antioxidant capacity surged after test subjects ate 10 ounces of fresh spinach or 8 ounces of strawberries (I like that there were near-instant results), or that in a group of older people, eating three servings of vegetables a day slowed the rate of memory decline by 40%, compared to eating less than 1 serving of vegetables a day (I like that “little improvements” made such an impact). Clearly from these two examples, there are “little steps” that we can take that will make big differences if practiced them consistently.
I confess that my eating habits are not the most healthy. I, like most Americans, take the easy way far too often, snacking on junk food or dining on fast food for the sake of convenience. I have decided to leverage the inspiration from my recent reading and make a serious effort at improving my eating (and my health). I can’t think of a better way to do that than to make it a 30-day challenge. And so, after much deliberation, I have come up with a plan that I consider to be realistic (feasible) and yet will stretch me, too.
My 30-day challenge for the month of September will be to eat at least three servings of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables a day. I will focus on colorful veggies and fruits that are high in antioxidants. White potatoes will not count, nor will corn. My goal is to raise the standard of my regular cuisine (aka, nutrient-dense). This challenge will require me to think ahead, plan, purchase, and prepare so that I am not tempted to do “drive through dinners” for convenience sake. This challenge will stretch me in more ways than one!
I’ll share more about what I am learning about food throughout the coming month (such as why white potatoes are not considered nutrient-dense, even though they are a vegetable) and the effect this rise in standard has on me (mood, energy, cravings, etc.). Maybe I will be an inspiration to some of you as I share my experiences. I hope so. And I hope that you will be an inspiration to me, too. So please leave me a comment and tell me how you fared with your challenge last month, and then state what your challenge this month will be. And you might want to review An Analysis of the 30-Day Challenge to prepare and strategize for your success in the coming month. I look forward to hearing from you!