By Emily Hulse
Recently I had a chance to participate in a 6 week wellness challenge that one of my awesome friends put together. She created a Facebook group for the participants of the challenge, along with a weekly tracker form where we kept track of how many points we earned for doing things like getting at least 7 hours of sleep at night, eating 5 or more fruits and vegetables (at least 3 of them being vegetables), exercising for a certain # of minutes, and staying under a calorie goal of our choice. We also each set a personal goal for the 6 weeks and received points at the end if we achieved it. This challenge reinforced many of the following tips that I’m routinely teaching about to child care providers in the training module on Personal Health & Wellness, as well as some of the tips I mentioned in my “Re-think Your New Year’s Resolutions” blog post:
- Be ACCOUNTABLE to someone! You need someone to check in with regularly, someone to help remind you of your goals, someone to share ideas and experiences with, and someone to help you get back on track if needed. With our wellness challenge the Facebook page for our wellness challenge group allowed us to share recipes, give encouragement, report our points to one another, etc. Personally, I found this very helpful and I know if I would have done it on my own and didn’t have to report each week to the group then there’s weeks where I wouldn’t have made it to the gym as much or gotten to bed as early. If you have health behaviors you’re looking to improve or goals to reach, find someone, such as friend, co-worker, family member, etc. that can help hold you accountable.
- Realize LIFE HAPPENS and it’s OK! The first week of the challenge I happened to be the be the leader in points for the challenge but well week #2 became a bit crazy to say the least. I’m glad I didn’t give up on my goals though and instead moved onto the next week aiming to make it a better one. Sometimes this is hard to do but it’s so important.
- Set GOALS! As I mentioned, we each set a personal goal for the challenge. My goal was to not eat after 9pm; I typically am a bit of a night owl and unfortunately tend to sit and munch too much while working on my computer so I knew this was a habit I wanted to change. I am happy to say I met my personal goal and didn’t eat after 9pm (other than drinking water) for 6 weeks which I don’t think I would have met without this particular challenge and encouragement of setting a personal goal!
- Focus on HEALTH BEHAVIORS! The winner and runner-up of our 6 week Wellness Challenge both reported that they lost over 10 pounds as a result of the competition. It was a good example of how improving health behaviors, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water, exercising more, getting more sleep, etc. can lead to weight loss without the individual’s goal revolving specifically around losing a certain number of pounds. Even those that didn’t lose weight during the challenge reported feeling better in general.
- WRITE it DOWN! As I was tracking my daily calories for the challenge, it forced me to enter everything into my food tracker app. One of the nights towards the beginning of the challenge, I remember telling my husband, “I know of all people I should know this already, but man those calories add up so fast.” I think he nodded and laughed. Not that I am advocating that we always need to write down every little thing we eat but I think in a country where portion sizes are huge and food is so readily available it is good to be aware of how much food we are consuming in relation to how much food we actually need.
I know these tips might sound basic or ones that you’ve heard about multiple times before but I promise they’ll be helpful (as illustrated in my recent wellness challenge) in becoming a healthier you!
Wishing you a healthy, happy summer!