I am planning to do the same thing again this year, but this time I wanted to invite you to join in, and do it with me, and get your off to great start as well.
The challenge will begin on Monday the 16th January.
Are you keen?
- Eat clean.
- Drink approximately 2 litres of water per day. Or more specifically 1 litre of water for every 40kg of body weight.
- Do 30 minutes of movement/exercise a day.
- Perform 5-10 minutes of diaphragmatic breathing practice a day.
Creating habits is not always easy, it often comes down to time and consistency. It’s amazing how small consistent changes can lead to staggering long-term results.
In his book “Atomic Habits’, James Clear talks about getting 1% better every day, and if you did this every day, at the end of the year you would 36x better than you were at the start.
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity”. James Clear
So, the overarching goal of this 6-week challenge is to try and help you create some of the simple healthy habits that are essential to live a healthy life.
I am aware we cannot be perfect all the time and there will be days that you won’t be able to follow all 4 rules, but don’t let that discourage you. It’s about getting into the routine and the ‘habit’ of doing these 4 things.
For example, I will be attending a wedding at the end of January and know I will likely not be eating as well as I would like and will maybe have a few more drinks than I should, but this is only 1 day and the next day I will get back on track.
When wanting to create new habits or change bad ones, the first few weeks are the hardest, it feels like you are putting in the effort but not seeing the results, however, eventually you will start to notice a few changes. You may lose a little weight, you may get some more energy, you may have a reduction in pain. Once you notice these, this starts to give you the motivation to keep going, and as you keep going you start to notice more changes and the motivation continues. This is the upwards spiral.
My hope is that at the end of the 6 weeks, you will be well into this upward spiral and out of the alternative and dreaded ‘downward spiral’.
What’s your goal
It’s always good with these challenges to have a goal. Mine is to tone up a little and get some size and strength back that I have lost recently.
It doesn’t matter what your goal is, but its important to write it down.
I would also suggest weighing yourself and taking a few ‘before’ photos to help you see what changes you can make in 6 weeks. Sometimes you may not notice any changes when you look in the mirror, but when you compare photos, the changes can be quite evident.
Note: Even if your goal wasn’t about weight loss, it’s interesting to see what changes have been made.
Not keen a challenge like this?
I know these types of challenges are not for everyone, and that's okay.
Even if you are not keen doing the whole challenge, I would suggest picking one of the rules and try incorporating it into your day. It will definitely help.
Rule 1. Eat Clean
For this challenge I am not going to tell you what to eat. I am not a registered dietician, so it is a little outside of my wheelhouse. What I suggest is to follow any diet/eating plan you like, but just stick to it for 6 weeks.
The idea behind eating clean is to minimize the sugar intake and processed foods and stick to the more natural, unprocessed foods.
I will be following the 721 eating plan which has worked wonders for me over the last few years. You can see more about it here. The reason I like this is that it is about an eating concept/plan rather than a diet (I’m not a fan of that word) telling you exactly what to eat.
If you don’t learn about the concepts behind things often the results are only short lived. That’s the reason most people who go on strict ‘diets’ often put the weight back on. They haven’t changed their thought processes behind what they are eating etc.
Unfortunately eating clean does not include alcohol. For the 6 weeks of the challenge, it will be good to stop completely or at least significantly reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.
We are often told to drink 2 litres of water per day and for most people this is probably a reasonable goal. If you wanted to be quite specific about it, I would aim for 1 litre of water per 40kg of body weight. Of course, if you are exercising a lot you will need to increase this a little to make up for fluid loss.
Water is one of the vital building blocks of health and you would be surprised how many people don’t drink enough water. I am sorry to say that tea and coffee don’t account for this water intake 😊 Hopefully at the end of the 6 weeks, drinking this amount of water will be a new healthy habit for you.
I honestly think that with my 6-week challenge last year, this rule made the biggest change for me. I have still been doing it just about everyday since.
My goal was to close the 30-minute exercise ring on my Apple watch every day. I aimed to do this with walking, but if I couldn’t do this I did it on my spin bike at home in the evening after the kids were in bed. You don’t have to have an Apple watch to do this, but I would suggest using a fitness tracker of some sort, or at least record what you have been doing, it really can help.
I found trying to get this done on my lunch break was best for me, not only did I get the walk out of the way, but it also gave me lots of energy for the afternoon.
I also did my calisthenic training on top of this, but you don’t have to do extra exercise for this challenge. If you want to add on some other exercise or resistance training as well, feel free, it will help.
The main aim of this rule is to get into the habit of going for a walk or adding some movement to your day. To me walking is probably the best (and simplest) exercise you can do.
“Walking: The most ancient exercise and still the best modern exercise” Carrie Latet
This may sound like a strange thing to include in this challenge, but it is super important. If you have read books like “Breathe” by James Nestor or “The breathing cure” by Patrick McKeown you will realize how important breathing is and how many people don’t breathe properly.
The 2 key reasons behind doing 5-10 minutes of diaphragmatic breathing are to 1) to simply practice the breathing technique (described below) and make sure you can do it well, and 2) this breathing technique is a bit like meditation or mindfulness that is also important.
The technique here is quite simple.
- Lay on your back (the best time to do this is when you are in bed before you go to sleep or when you wake up in the morning).
- Breathing through your nose only, inhale into your abdomen, trying to get it to expand in all directions (not just poke your tummy out) and then ideally breathe out again through your nose (or pursed lips).
- If possible, try to slow your breathing rate down to a 6 second inhale and a 4 second exhale. If this is hard, you could do a 5 second inhale and 5 second exhale. Try doing this for 3-4 minutes, have a break, and repeat.
Slowing the breathing rate helps switch your body into the Parasympathetic nervous system. This is when our body heals, it helps reduce stress and calms the body. It can also help you fall off to sleep quickly too.
It can also be done during the day if you are having a particularly stressful time at work or something like that. It’s just a great habit to get into.
I would love it if you would join me in the challenge, if you want to let me know you are joining in, send me a message or comment. I would love to hear from you.
As part of my process of being held accountable, I will again post a before and after pic at the end, I wonder if it will be like last year?
I will finish here with a quote I read recently.
“Fall in love with the process and the results are assured”.
I believe if you understand why we suggest you do things in a certain way or the ‘process’ behind it, it will go a long way to help you achieve your desired results.