Are YOU Up for the Challenge?

exercise-buddies-2.jpgI have always found that a buddy, someone to lean on when the crunches get tough, is the best “tool” for any successful exercise or diet plan.

And for those of you who may be looking to lose weight or just to get back in shape, I have found the perfect tool for you and your closest buds!

The 2008 SELF Challenge was recently released online and in their March issue. I have always been a big supporter of the plans that SELF puts together; I love the fact that they really require little work to follow — the eating and exercise plans are completely laid out for you — and it is a regimen that you can follow with friends.

This year’s challenge really tops the ones that I have seen in the past. First of all, the nutritionist, Katherine Brooking, put together a 1,600-calorie food plan that includes easy-to-use blocks which are required to put together meals. Each block — dairy, protein, healthy fats, whole grains, fruit and veggies, an one treat — is equivalent to a specific food and portion size. For example, one treat block — the best one! — is equal to 3 Dove Dark Chocolate Miniatures or 16 oz. Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino Light. Even if you are someone like me, who is not necessarily trying to lose weight, but just eat more healthfully, this system is awesome because it allows you to learn how to put together healthy, balanced meals.

The second part of SELF’s Challenge is the exercise. For this aspect of the program, SELF has put together a cardio and strength plan which, for the first month of the program, includes 2 strength and 3 cardio sessions per week. The strength exercises come equipped with tear-out cards that include instructions, and no fancy equipment is required — just a pair of 3 to 10 lb. free weights.

As for the cardio, the thrice-weekly sessions are 25 minutes each and vary in intensities. For example one cardio workout is called “Get Slim, Gain Energy” and uses different intensities to build endurance. SELF also includes 1-minute “Bonus Burners,” such as jumping rope, which burns thirteen calories per minute.

The online portion of the program also includes down loadable video and MP3 workouts, food and exercise diaries for you to keep track of meals and workouts, and a progress chart where you can document your starting weight, measurements and ability to do exercises, such as push ups. That way, as you continue on with the program, you will be able to track your weight and health progress.

I signed up for the program today,and signed the Challenge Pledge — because putting it in writing always makes it more official! My goals this month are to get stronger and increase my endurance. What I am saying here is that I would like to be able to do more than 2 3/4 push ups, people!!

I also think that the Challenge will help me to continue to be motivated to get out there and get moving. What’s more, it could not come at a better time, seeing as how my family, friends, this community and I are preparing to participate in the 2008 Pittsburgh Race for the Cure (see sidebar for more information about our team and how to join).

I hope that each one of you, too, will sign on for the challenge. No matter what our individual health or weight loss goals are I think it is fabulous that we can use a forum such as this to support each other in our combined goal for healthier lives.

Now, get goin’!

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4 Comments

Filed under Eat, March 2008, Run

4 responses to “Are YOU Up for the Challenge?

  1. Cristina

    I’m doing the Self Challenge too! I’ve completed Week One of the Challenge, and now I have a better suited Challenge meal plan to satisfy my hunger because the bare bones plan wasn’t doing it for me. And I have a Nutritionist who is supporting me while I’m on the Challenge! Awesome.

  2. Cristina — Thank you for sharing! It sounds like you are on a fabulous path to total health. Just great!

  3. Cristina

    If you’re looking to cut out caffeine and soda from your Challenge, the light version of the Cinnamon Dolce frappucino doesn’t come in decaf. It’s either light or decaf, not both. They are very tasty.

  4. Amanda

    Well, I think I will take your advice and follow the strength, but not the cardio. And the eating is a good guide of course, but I am not looking to lose weight. I need to work on strength. I lift 3 days a week, but I am still not very good at pushups. Mom’s pilates class kicked my butt the other day! So, count me in, I will work on strength!
    xoxo 🙂

    P.S. By the way, my sister is not a good candidate for the SELF Challenge cardio plan because she just finished a freaking marathon and runs almost every day. Therefore, 25 minutes, three times a week is hardly a “challenge” for her. But I do think it is a fabulous cardio plan for people looking to get back on track — like me! — Caroline

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