A friend and I are about 15 days into a 30-day pushup challenge.
It started innocently enough; I needed some external motivation to work on building my upper body strength, and I knew he would be up for some friendly competition. So, I found a simple month-long push-up challenge and off we went, smack-talking our way to stronger muscles.
It didn’t take long before we decided that our next challenge would be pull-ups. I’ve never been able to master them, and it’s been a goal of mine for years. Surprisingly, I was able to find a program that will allow us to start with being able to do zero pull-ups, and it is set for February.
Soon after, it became apparent to me that what I really needed was an ab challenge. Perfect for March! But March seemed kind of far away, and I wanted to get started. Thankfully, that wise, practical voice of reason tapped me on the brain and whispered, “pssst! Heather! You know abs start in the kitchen!”
Have you ever heard that abs are made in the kitchen? You may also hear your health guru friends say that fitness is 80 percent nutrition and 20 percent exercise. It’s a reference to the power of nutrition in building a better body, and the amazing head start we can give ourselves when we let our workouts and our nutrition be best friends forever.
So, I created this 4-week abs challenge that requires no exercise. If you keep saying you don’t have time to exercise, this is definitely the plan for you! Just follow these week-by-week instructions and you’ll see amazing changes in your body! This is a progressive challenge, so each week you will add to the skill set you have established. Don’t worry, you can totally do this.
In the first week of the challenge, do three sets of not going through the drive-through for any meal. That means three times during the week, do not buy food through a window. Or over a counter of an establishment that also sells food through windows. Also, add in three sets of drinking a bottle of water with each meal. Add some lemon, mint, and cucumber to that water and let it steep overnight to create a tea that further eliminates belly bloat.
In addition to the week one tasks, in the second week we will add four sets of replacing animal fats with plant-based fats. That means four days out of the week, eliminate butter, cheese, cream, and red meat and replace it with fats that come from plants, such as avocado, nuts, olives or soybeans. Then, add three sets of including leafy green vegetables in your meals. You don’t have to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet to see changes, just some of the practices. Don’t worry, if the vegetables make you hate the way you feel, you can always go back to your old ways.
In week three, you get a little bit of a break. You’ve been making a lot of changes, so this is an easy week. In addition to the habits of the first two weeks, add four sets of decreasing the amount of sugar in your beverages. Opt for plain coffee or tea instead of a frozen coffee drink. Skip the sports drink and drink water instead. Hey, you asked for a challenge, right? Real change comes from real change!
By now, you may be feeling lighter, more energetic, and slimmer around the middle. It’s working! Now we’re ready to increase the intensity. In week four, continue the practices of the first three weeks and add two sets of fewer alcoholic drinks and five sets of replacing anger with gratitude. Relax, you don’t have to give up alcohol entirely, just drink less of it less frequently. When you start to feel aggravation or anger brewing inside of you, stop and redirect that energy into gratitude for the opportunity to grow and evolve as a person.
Just go with me on this one, I promise you’ll like it.
Once the month is over, if you want to stop doing the habits that have brought you such great results, you are welcome to do so. Begin by slowly reintroducing each unhealthy habit one at a time. If you begin to notice a reaction, such as your waistline increasing in size, that may indicate a habit that you are sensitive to. Speak with your doctor to determine whether you need to be worried about that.
No time to exercise? Hate doing crunches? Bad back? Not a problem. Give this four-week abs challenge a go and results are practically guaranteed. I can’t promise it will be easy or that you will not need to do it more than once. But, if you don’t like the results, let me know. I like a challenge.
About This Blog
Each week, I write the "Healthy Heather Blog" in the Tallahassee Democrat. It is republished here in case you are not a subscriber (what???). Sometimes it is really good and other times it is just okay. Thanks for reading it regardless of your opinion!