Week 8- Prepare and cook 7 vegan meals

Being vegan is more than just allowing you to be that annoying friend who feels oddly superior to the rest of us. You know who I mean, that person who can bore you and gross you out for hours about the state of their stools.

It can be a lot more. It can actually be a good health choice that has some real benefits.

A vegan diet is normally more nutrient rich and diverse than a typical Western diet. By eliminating some of the staples such as meat and dairy, vegans rely on a wide range of whole grains, fruits and nuts that are generally high in nutritional value. Not a bad thing.

An increasing number of people are turning to plant-based diets in the hope of shedding excess weight. Part of the reason for this is that the reliance on whole foods tend to keep people feeling fuller for longer, reducing the need to snack. Also, the total calorie value of plant based foods tends to be lower.

So, a diet that makes you feel healthy and lose weight? Why wouldn’t you go vegan?

Give it a go this week. Go without any animal based products for 7 meals. If nothing else, it will make you think about what goes into your mouth (and make you realise how much you REALLY do love steak).

If you are looking for some inspiration and some easy and tasty recipes to experiment with this week, check out https://emmaeats.live/. In particular, check out the “bounty bars” which look sensational.

Good luck.

Week 7- Cold Water Exposure

Everyone has seen those images on TV over the years of those crazy people in places like Russia or Germany jumping in to icy rivers or pools, looking obscenely happy, positively radiating with energy and smugness about how much tougher they are compared to the rest of us.

Well, maybe they are not as crazy as we thought. Science is starting to prove what they maybe always knew. Exposing yourself to cold water has some quite dramatic health effects and could be a simple way for all of us to look and feel better.

Possibly the most attractive of all these effects is that it can help us lose weight. Dealing with cold temperatures forces our body to work harder. It burns more calories. However, more importantly, over a period of time, with repeated exposure to cold water, our bodies start to develop something called “brown fat”. This fat actually burns energy to keep us warm, digging into our stores of white fat that most of us are carrying around. As a result, we will lose the white fat and trim down. Simply by having a cold shower a day, an average person may lose up to 5kg in a 6 month period.

There are other benefits as well. It can improve moods and cold water therapy is starting to be used to treat people with long term depression and other mental health conditions. The physical shock associated with the sudden exposure boosts production of feel good hormones like Dopamine, making us feel better and happier.

To read more about some of the health effects, https://www.selfhacked.com/blog/12-reasons-embrace-cold/ has a great description of the many positive effects of exposing yourself to cold water.

So give it a go. Start easy. Experiment with turning off the hot water at the end of your shower and stand under the cold water for one minute. Feel the effects. Stay until you can control your breath again. By the end of the week try and have a totally cold shower.

Let’s get out of our comfort zone and feel the effects. Have fun.

Week 6- Give 2 Hours of Your Time to Charity

We are so busy most of the time, we often don’t have time to think of others. It is so easy to get wrapped up in our own little world and all the problems we think we have. However, there are a lot of people worse off than us who are doing it tough in all sorts of ways.

Instead of giving money and feeling as if we have done some good, lets really make a difference. One way is to give some of our precious time. Helping others is one of the best things we can do, not only for other people but also for our social, mental and even physical health.

As an example, when we help others, we feel good about it. We perceive others with more compassion; we also feel a greater sense of community with others. It makes us recognise our own good fortune, boosts our self-image, and allows us to use our strengths in a helpful way.

Volunteering is also contagious. When you volunteer your time and other people know about it, they may want to volunteer, too. You can even make your volunteer day a chance to catch up with friends too (if you can still do your volunteer job well), or a way to bond as a family.

So give it a go: it is only two hours. Have a look around you in your local area. Who can you help?

Week 5- Walk 10000 Steps Each Day

Why 10000 steps? This is an arbitrary number often recommended by health experts as a good level of activity for adults. It equates to about 8km for the average person.

So why bother? There are plenty of benefits of walking more. The Heart Foundation says walking can:

• boost your energy
• aid relaxation and clear your mind
• provide a sense of achievement and satisfaction
• improve confidence and mood
• help manage your weight
• promote healthier blood cholesterol and blood pressure
• build stronger bones and muscles
• reduce your risk of heart attack

It is the most basic of human movements. Our bodies are designed to move and as a society we are suffering because for the first time in history we are not doing enough.

This has been supported by numerous scientific studies. In 2010, a study of 60,000 corporate workers in 55 countries found that after eight months of aiming for 10,000 steps a day, they lost an average of 4.5kg each, just from walking, and many reduced their blood pressure as well.

Walking is one of those activities that all of us can do. It is a simple, functional movement that can be added easily into our day.

To help you with your step counts, use your phone. Most smart phones have apps built in that will measure your steps and also how far you have travelled.

So get walking!

Week 4- Try Intermittent Fasting (5:2 diet)

Intermittent fasting has become increasingly popular over the last few years. The basic premise of involves restricting calories on 2 non- consecutive days each week and then simply eating normally on the rest of the week. It has had some proven benefits.

It reduces insulin resistance and lowers blood sugar levels. Our bodies react to high levels of sugars from carbohydrates by increasing insulin production. Insulin production is a major factor in weight gain. Fasting for at least 12- 16 hours also has the effect of causing the body to rely more on fat as an energy store, rather than the sugars that are normally found in our system. This aids in weight loss as well.

Fasting will actually change your relationship with food. We have become a snacking culture and very rarely ever feel hungry. On the fasting days, you will become more accustomed to the feeling of what hunger is really like. You will start to recognise if you are really hungry, bored or feeling emotional. Your relationship with food will change and you will find yourself eating less, and less often. This can’t be a bad thing.

More information can be found on https://the5-2dietbook.com/basics. Here you will find some interesting information and good ideas about types of foods.

Enjoy fasting. Enjoy feasting too. You can now do it guilt free.

Week 3- Subscribe and listen to a new Podcast

Podcasts are a wonderful new(ish) medium for entertainment, for learning or for the pure pleasure of tuning out of the here and now. There really is a podcast to suit every taste and to cater for every interest.

If you are a newbie to podcasts, this challenge is about opening up a whole new world of interesting listening that will entertain and inform you on those long commutes or exercising etc. You will struggle to listen to the radio again, with the endless inane chatter and same old repetitive songs being played.

If you are already a seasoned podcast listener, then you’re challenge is to expand your listening and to find at least one new podcast. Go out of your listening comfort and seek out something new, something you would never have considered listening to before. Broaden your horizons and learn something new.

Below is a list of some of the better known and more successful podcasts. This will be a good place to start. However, remember, there is a big wide world of listening pleasure out there so go looking for that one that is right for you. Enjoy.

Recommendations

  • Conversations- ABC Radio
  • Serial
  • How I Built This
  • TED Radio Hour
  • Revisionist history

Week 2- Learn to Juggle

Juggling 3 balls is one of those skills that is quite simple to learn but everyone is impressed by. It does not take long to learn but like any good challenge requires some persistence and patience.

So why juggling? Besides being able to “show off”, it can also be good for you.

It has been proven to improve your brain. Researchers have proven that practicing learning a skill like juggling can slow down deterioration in the brain and can actually grow both grey and white matter.

It’s also form of meditation. The act of mindfulness is hugely popular at the moment- being present in the moment and focusing on a single task. It is pretty hard to think about any stresses in your life when you are focusing on trying to keep the balls in the air.

Mastering the art of juggling will also make you feel good about yourself. It does wonders for your self esteem and is one of the skills often taught to young people in places like correctional facilities as a way to feel success in their lives.

So have a go. A good tip is to use something soft like pairs of socks to practice with. They won’t bounce away from you when you drop them. Also, try doing it over your bed or a lounge as they won’t drop as far.

There are literally hundreds of youtube videos that will show you how to juggle. Watch any of them and just practice, practice, practice. I have included one below. It will be a good place to start.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8QfqkSPxmo

Good luck.

Week 1- Get up 30 minutes earlier each day

Regardless of who we are,we all have 168 hours in our week. However, it is the reality of modern life that it feels as if we are busier than ever with work commitments, longer commutes, 24/7 access to technology etc. It just feels like we don’t have enough time to get everything done.

Making the effort to get up only 30 minutes earlier each day has proven benefits and is a common practice amongst many of the world’s most successful people. Here’s why:

It will make you more productive. You will be more efficient and have some time without interruptions.

You will eat better and feel better. You will have more time to “break fast” in the morning and as a result you will tend to avoid craving unhealthy snacks later in the day. Your body will thank you.

Getting up earlier will improve your mental health as well. By waking up earlier, you start to reduce the stress in your life by eliminating the need to rush in the mornings. This will add an incredible amount of positivity to your life and you will start to notice a change in your attitude.

Give it a try. Feel the difference. Leave a comment to share what you achieved with your extra time.

Welcome to Personal Challenges

Welcome to Personal Challenges. This is a great place for learning, trying new things, for growing and most importantly for having fun.

By constantly challenging ourselves to do something new and to learn new things, you will find yourself becoming much more confident, more resilient, more interesting and even healthier.

Each week there will be a new challenge to get you out of your comfort zone and to get you to re- think all those ideas about what you actually CAN do, as opposed to what you think you can do or just doing what other people think you should do.

Check the weekly challenges menu for the latest and greatest challenge.

The new year is a great time to set yourself a goal or a resolution for the year. Why limit yourself to just one? Here you will find one every week. By the time the year is out, you will have completed 52 new and exciting challenges.

So enjoy the process. If you have any great ideas about a challenge, please send me your ideas. I would love to hear from you.

Have fun,

Brian