Four Week Upgrade Challenge: Mind & Soul

I’ve decided to put the mind and soul explanation together because in general these goals are a lot less complex from the body section. When it comes to upgrading my mind I have two ways I’d like to expand my knowledge. I want to do a better job of keeping up with global news, and no I’m not talking about becoming a member of the Royal Baby Watch journalism team. My goals are to educate myself more on current affairs and to challenge my beliefs by reading books or watching documentaries which push the status quo.

Upgrade Mind Challenge – this section involves three different categories which relate to mind: Current Affairs, Books & Documentaries
Week 1: Read 1-2 news articles on any topics relating to current affairs, watch 1-2 documentaries relating to a new topic or one I have less knowledge about.
Week 2: Read 2-3 news articles on any topics relating to current affairs, watch 2-3 documentaries relating to a new topic or one I have less knowledge about.
Week 3: Read 3-4 news articles on any topics relating to current affairs, watch 3-4 documentaries relating to a new topic or one I have less knowledge about.
Week 4: Read 4-5 news articles on any topics relating to current affairs, watch 4-5 documentaries relating to a new topic or one I have less knowledge about.

I think journaling and giving of your time or things are really good for your soul. In this part of the challenge I want to take the time to tell people how important they are to me and find ways to try to give to others because I know I am so richly blessed. I was inspired to be intentional about donating things when reading the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.
Upgrade Soul Challenge – this section involves two different categories which relate to soul: doing for self and doing for others
Week 1: Journal for 3-4 days, write 1-2 thank you notes, go through my cabinets for items to donate.
Week 2: Journal for 4-5 days, write 2-3 thank you notes, go through my closet for items to donate.
Week 3: Journal 5-6 days, write 3-4 thank you notes, find an event to volunteer for and go through my drawers and bookshelf for items to donate.
Week 4: Journal 6-7 days, write 4-5 thank you notes, find an event to volunteer for and go through storage for items to donate.
Have you ever taken on the challenge to write thank you notes or volunteer more? Any tips for how I should go about finding a need in my community? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Four Week Body Upkeep Challenge: No-poo & dry brushing explained

I’m in the middle of the first week of my personal mind, body & spirit upgrade challenge. This first week has been pretty breezy so far, which was kind of what I had intended. I made most of my challenges progress to be harder as each week passed so when setting up my first week I chose goals which were already commonplace for me. In this blog I’m going to explain why I included no-poo and dry brushing in my Upkeep challenge.

NO-POO – I should start by saying the ‘no-poo’ phrase has nothing to do with your bodily functions, much to everyone’s relief right? No-poo has become more popular over the past few years in the natural/organic bloggersphere and after reading this article and this one my curiosity was piqued. People try the no-poo for several reasons, I’ve listed some of my own below. The basic idea is to stop shampooing and conditioning your hair – which does NOT mean you stop showering albeit you do shower a bit less often :). I like to workout in the morning so I think the biggest challenge for me will be resisting the urge to use the free shampoo and conditioner provided at the Fitness Center where I work. My lovely friend Betsy has been using the no-poo method for several weeks now and she brings her own bottled baking soda and apple cider vinegar (from here on referred to as ACV because I’m too lazy to type it again) to mix with water when she’s ready to shower. She’s brilliant and I’m going to be stealing her idea! Day 2 of my challenge I had already scheduled a haircut so my hair was shampooed there which means I will probably won’t be washing my hair (even with the baking soda mixture) for several days. I’m excited to get this started and even try some new shampoo and conditioning recipes I recently posted on my pinterest board! Doesn’t the Coconut Milk Shampoo sound divine?

* It’s cheaper than standard shampoos/conditioners * I want to use products more natural on my hair * Using natural products is better for the environment * It can conserve water which is also better for the environment * It can reduce scalp irritation and produce a natural shine *

My sweet friend Betsy taught me all she knows about experimenting with no-poo

My sweet friend Betsy taught me all she knows about experimenting with no-poo

DRY BRUSHING – I first read about dry brushing when reading Kris Carr’s book Crazy Sexy Diet. I’ve mentioned this book several times on my blog and if you’re interested in the reasons why I have chose this particular path to healthy living you should buy yourself a copy or checked it out from the library! Dry brushing boasts many benefits for your skin, as I’ve outlined below, and it is incredibly simple to do. You start with a body brush – there are several varieties available in almost any drugstore. Many will be labeled as wet or dry body brushes. Choose one in which the bristles are not synthetic and have a softness about them. You can control the amount of pressure put onto your skin as well, the idea is it shouldn’t lead to skin irritation but circulation.  You should brush your body in long sweeps towards your heart, I use some circular motions when I’m getting rougher areas (like my elbows), but the lymphatic system benefits stem from brushing towards your heart. I usually dry brush in the morning before my shower or at night before bed. If I do it at night I usually try to apply a moisturizer, like coconut oil, on the rough patches a few minutes after the dry brushing.

* It promotes tighter skin and can reduce cellulite * It sloughs away dry skin, improving skin texture and feel * It can increase cell renewal and blood flow * It helps your lymphatic system release toxins aiding in digestion & kidney function  *

Has anyone else tried dry brushing or a no-poo experiment? I love hearing what you think about your own missions to improve your life and your health!

Four Week Upgrade Challenge: Body, Mind & Soul – Part 1 Body

In the words of Beyoncé, ‘lemme upgrade you’. It’s time to upgrade and eliminate – but in a manageable progression. I’m sure everyone has heard you can make or break a habit by doing it again and again over an extended period time, i.e. 21 days, 30 days or 4 weeks. The science out there is usually based on experiences rather than clinical experiments, but we all know someone who started getting up early for 3 weeks straight and now, “it’s just habit”. In the spirit of this thought and the idea that practice might make perfect I’ve created a four week challenge for myself that will cover three different aspects of my life which I’d like to upgrade. Read more about creating and breaking habits here, I found the article very intriguing.
This first post is going to cover the Body part of this challenge. I started this challenge yesterday so I’ll be posting my progress as I go!

Upgrade Body Challenge – this section involves three different categories which relate to body: Diet, Exercise & Upkeep

Diet – I’ve broken down my eating challenges to progress as the weeks pass. My goals include cutting back on dairy, gluten, alcohol and increasing the amount of raw meals I eat each week. My challenges each week are broken down like this:

Week 1: Only consume dairy & gluten 3-4 days. Limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks for 4-5 meals. Prepare 2-3 raw meals for lunch or dinner.

Week 2: Only consume dairy & gluten 2-3 days. Limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks for 3-4 meals. Prepare 3-4 raw meals for lunch or dinner.

Week 3: Only consume dairy & gluten 1-2 days. Limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks for 2-3 meals. Prepare 4-5 raw meals for lunch or dinner.

Week 4: Only consume dairy & gluten 1 day. Limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks for 1-2 meals. Prepare 5-6 raw meals for lunch or dinner.

I’m really interested to see how my body will react to this slower progression of eliminating some of these foods from my diet. I don’t consider myself a big dairy or gluten consumer, but I am interested to see how hard it is for me to get through week three and four. I have done elimination diets which were much stricter and I do find eliminating dairy and gluten from my diet leads to a flatter stomach and less problems with stomach cramps and bloating. I’m never going to be able to keep away from bread and cheese forever, but I am willing to upgrade my eating habits and enjoy it less often. When I do eat it, it is going to be as close to the farm or as fresh from the oven as I can find. I’ll pay a bit more, but since I’ll be eating it less often the expense should even out.

Exercise – I’ve always loved to be active, I am an avid runner and an amateur swimmer and weight lifter. I enjoy yoga, pilates and spin classes and really think when it comes to exercising variety is the spice of life! My goals include getting a proper sweat and keeping my body toned while keeping a little jolt of something new into my exercise routine. I also have had a goal I’ve been working on for a while to be able to do the splits and so I’m including my split stretches in the challenge to keep myself on point. Over the entire challenge I’ll be doing some sort of exercise at least 5 days a week, reserving the 6th day for at least Yoga or Pilates workout.

Week 1: Exercise 5 days. 1 day swim or spin. 1 day yoga or pilates. Split stretches 4-5 days. Full body weights 2 days.

Week 2: Exercise 5-6 days. 2 days swim or spin. Yoga or Pilates 2 days. Split stretches 5-6 days. Full body weights 2-3 days. Try a new workout class.

Week 3: Exercise 6 days. Swim and spin 2-3 days. Yoga and Pilates 2 days. Split stretches 6-7 days. Full body weights 3-4 days. Try a new yoga class.

Week 4: Exercise 7 days (one day is light yoga or Pilates). Swim and spin 2-3 days. Yoga and Pilates 2 days. Split stretches 7 days. Full body weights 4 days. Try 2 new classes.

In general my goal is to make sure I do get my heart rate going at least once everyday, even if it is a gentle stretch yoga class or online video. Also, I want to incorporate more swimming or spinning into my routine and this challenge will keep me in the water or on the bike. Don’t get me wrong I love the pavement and running is always my go to, but this will be a nice change.

Upkeep – My love for life means I intend to live a long and healthy one. Which means I have to take care of myself and taking care of my outside is what this section is all about. My goals in this section are to be diligent with dry brushing, taking care of my skin and avoiding products which contain toxins that could be harmful to your body. Also – always wearing sunscreen! Throughout the blog posts I’ll get into more detail about dry brushing, no-poo project and cleaning out my cabinets of toxic products. Since I had already started to adapt these practices into my daily routine I’m not going to progress into these habits, but instead set them for the entire 4-week period.                                                                                                                                                                                                            4 Week challenge: Sunscreen every morning and before going out in the afternoon. Dry body brush and moisturize every night. Begin the no-poo project in lieu of shampooing my hair. Once a week do the coffee scrub detox. Purge all products which score above a 2 on the EWG Skin Deep website.

So I’m on day 2 of week 1 so there’s not really much to report just yet, this weekend I’ll have successes and road blocks to share I’m sure. Tomorrow I’ll blog about how I’m challenging my Mind in this three part upgrade 🙂 . Have you ever challenged yourself to make or break some habits? I’d love to hear what helped and what to avoid as I venture into this journey!

My very best,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     J’aime