I would like to help you to learn some new weight loss habits on your journey. I am going to issue challenges from time to time. I will be participating and I want to invite as many of you as I can to join in these challenges as well. Some may you may find really hard but most might are just a simple stretch for you. The challenge is for one week but the idea is to develop a habit that you will continue even beyond the time limit. Experts say that if you do anything for 21 days in a row it will begin to be a habit. Are you ready?

CHALLENGE ONE: “Write it Down” Challenge
Length: One Week
Journal all your food and exercise for one week. “If you bite it, write it”. This will show you how much you consume. It will also enable you to look up fat and calories for those things if you wish to keep a count. I’m praying you have a successful and productive week!

CHALLENGE TWO: Goal and Objectives Challenge
Length: One Week
Your journey will always go better with a goal in mind. I have chosen a long term goal to achieve based on my BMI (Body-Mass Index). However, I also choose several shorter objectives and goals along the way to encourage myself. My first goal is to lose 5% of my total weight. You may pick a weight, a dress size, a body-fat ratio, or even just a better state of health. Whatever you pick, make it stick!

CHALLENGE THREE: Planning Menu Challenge
Length: One Week –
This week you are to plan every meal for the day so that you can eat a healthier meals. Try to plan meals with more vegetable and fruit. Add a small portion of meat once a day. Also include whole grain breads, cereals and pasta. Remember not to over do the portions.

CHALLENGE FOUR: Prayer Challenge
Length: One Week
Okay, this probably should have been one of the first challenges as I think we shouldn’t start any journey without prayer. But if you haven’t done so, challenge yourself to pray each day for the strength that you need for this journey and to resist temptation.

CHALLENGE FIVE: Accountability Challenge
Length: One Week –
No one likes to be held accountable but we do need a cheering section on this journey. In my blogs I have recounted many times when someone helped me on my journey, either a friend or someone from my weight loss group. Use this challenge to find a partner or a group that you can join you on this journey.

CHALLENGE SIX: The Water Challenge
Length: One Week-
The idea is to drink at least 8 glasses of water each day. Water is good for you on so many levels. You need to keep hydrated to help your system flush the fat out.

CHALLENGE SEVEN: Vitamin Challenge
Length: One Week –
This is another easy one for you. If you haven’t already began to do so, start taking a daily vitamin supplement. Add this to the other challenges you have been doing.

CHALLENGE EIGHT: Fruit and Vegetable Challenge
Length: One Week –
This one could be an easy one for you. All you have to do is eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables each day for the next seven days. Try mixing it up. Go to the produce stand or supermarket and try some vegetables and fruits that you haven’t had before. Remember…juices count as your serving of vegetable or fruit but you also have to consider the extra calories from concentrates and any additives!

CHALLENGE NINE: Half Portion Challenge
Length: One Week
This may be a tough one for us big eaters. But the challenge is to only eat half portions. If you are eating at home simply take half of what you normally would eat (no seconds either). If you eat out, ask for a take out container with your meal and put half of it in your container to take home for another meal.

CHALLENGE TEN: “Move More” Challenge
Length: One Week
This week we have been talking about moving more and exercise. Take the challenge to move more this week. Go for a walk each day. Try some exercise for 5 of the 7 days. I am cheering you on.

CHALLENGE ELEVEN: The Meat Challenge
Length: One Week
Cut your meat consumption to a 4oz portion per meal. I must admit that this is a tough challenge for me. I love my meat and potatoes. But we Americans have too much fat and protein in our diets. We only need 4 oz of meat per day to get the proper protein for our bodies.

CHALLENGE TWELVE: Whole Grain Challenge
Length: One Week –
This week I want you to eat whole grain breads and cereal and brown rice. Simply substitute what you are currently eating with whole grains. Whole grains are more filling and better for you. They help the digestive system in several ways. Try it this week.

Length: One Week
This may be a little hard on those who are used to sitting on the couch or behind the desk. Get up and walk or run. I challenge you to walk or run at least one mile a day this week. You can do it (Read blog -4-15 -Philippians 4:13).

CHALLENGE FOURTEEN: The Olive Oil Challenge
Length: One Week –
Use two teaspoons of Olive Oil a day. You can use it to cook, coat, put it in foods in place of fats, or eat it plain. just as long as you are consuming the oil each day.

CHALLENGE FIFTEEN: Positive Attitude Challenge
Length: One Week
Attitude determines altitude. Make sure you are flying high this week. Get rid of things that bring you down and the negative talk. No excuses. No quitting. Keep going, each day is fresh and ready for your life changes.

CHALLENGE SIXTEEN: Lose at least 2 pounds Challenge
Length: One Week – April 21-28
Simple challenge. Put your money where your mouth is! You talk a good talk now lose 2 pounds this week by putting all the stuff into practice.

Length: One Week
Have two servings of low-fat or non-fat milk every day this week. The advantages of keeping some milk in your diet are great. See Blog, “Don’t Kick The Cow” dated March 11, 2013 for more details.

CHALLENGE EIGHTEEN: Bible Verse Challenge
Length: One Week
Memorize at least 3- 5 Bible verses to help you on your journey. You might chose some of the ones on my Bible Memory Verse page on this blog or you can pick your own. There are many great verse on strength, courage, and faith in the Bible. Use to look up some verses from your favorite translation of the Bible.

Length: One Week
Pick a song that helps give you inspiration in your weight loss or spiritual journey. You could look up and print the lyrics out and post them on the refrigerator, pantry door, or bathroom mirror. Download the song to your computer or MP3 player and play it whenever you are feeling weak on needing inspiration.

CHALLENGE TWENTY: Anchor Challenge
Length: One Week
Find an object or picture that you can use for an anchor. Use it when you need a little reminder of your goal or when you need a little strength. One of my favorite anchors is an old belt that I had when I started the journey. I continued to cut holes in the belt so that I could wear it as I lost weight. It was real encouraging as I found the belt wrapped have way around me again.

CHALLENGE TWENTY-ONE: Walk By The Spirit Challenge
Length: One Week
Psalm 46:10 tells us to “Be still and know that I am God.” God has given the gift of his indwelling spirit to every person who has been baptized into Christ. But how often do we actually walk with the spirit (See Blog “Walking By The Spirit” posted July 18,2013). Take the time to ask for God’s wisdom as we confront temptation. Then “be still” and listen for his response and guidance.

Length: One Week
I believe that one way to take our mind off our own situation is to serve others in need. Challenge yourself to volunteer at a soup kitchen, nursing home, or food panty. Look up to see what is in your area. If there are not organizations look around and see if there are any elderly or needy people in your area that could use a hand.

Length: One Week
Okay, I know you may be using this blog as a daily devotion and opportunity to get into the Word of God. But use this week to explore God’s word for yourself. Use or another sight to find more verses to study or memorize. You may also want to start your own Bible study group.

Length: ?
I want you to challenge yourself to sign-up and get involved with an organized run. OKAY, I know you are thinking this is too hard. I am not asking you to run a 26.2 mile marathon without training or preparation. Your health may determine how much you can safely do. But there are 1-mile fun runs in which you can run, walk, skate, ride a bike, or even skateboard. You can sign up with your friends or family and make it a fun activity that will benefit your health as well as assist a worthy cause. I started off with a 5K run and the first one my time was awful. But it was a great day with lots of outdoor fun and exercise.

CHALLENGE TWENTY-FIVE: Read The Label Challenge
Length: One Week
By now you are very aware of the nutritional values on food. You need to watch out for calories, fat, and carbohydrates. But you also need to be aware of the chemicals that in that food as well. Some are just not healthy for you. I was surprised to see what was actually in a bottle of Mio. I also heard a former chemist for a national soda chain say, “I know what is in it and I don’t drink it.” Challenge… read the label and make informed decisions on what you purchase for yourself and your family.

CHALLENGE TWENTY-SIX: Carry Your Cross Challenge
Length: ?
A friend of mine told me about this event around Easter. His church got together and built crosses out of four by fours. They then proceeded to carry their crosses through town to a field on the edge of town where everyone coming or going could see them. The crosses, about fifty in all, were on display until after Easter. It was a physically challenging event for some but it was a spiritual sign to all of what Christ did for us on that cross. It is also a reminder to those who were involved that we are to pick up our cross and follow Him daily (Luke 9:23)

CHALLENGE TWENTY-SEVEN: Celebration Challenge
Length: One Week
Come up with some healthy ways that you can celebrate your weight loss milestones and achievements. Think up some ways that you can celebrate holidays that don’t necessarily involve eating or drinking.

CHALLENGE TWENTY-EIGHT: Try Something New Challenge
Length: One Week
It is easy to get bored eating some of the same old foods and recipes on weight loss journey. That is why so many people quit a diet before they reach their goal. The challenge this week is to try something new everyday. Try a new recipe or a new food. Look for a new product in the grocery store that is low in fat and calories. Share some weight loss recipes with your friends. (Read Challenge Blog posted July 7, 2013)

Length: One Week
Grilling is a healthy way to cook. The grease drips away from the food and allows the food to retain its natural flavor. The challenge is to try some new things on the grill this week. Grill your veggies. Grill your desert. (Read Challenge Blog posted July 14, 2013)

CHALLENGE THIRTY: Work It Out Challenge
Length: One Week
There is a lot of work that can be done outside on these nice summer days. The challenge is for you to get out and do some work. Weed the flower beds, paint the house, mow the lawn, volunteer labor, rake the yard of an elderly woman, clean someone’s gutters. (Read Challenge Blog posted July 21, 2013)

CHALLENGE THIRTY-ONE: Forgive Yourself Challenge
Length: One Week
For many, this is a tough challenge. You must learn to forgive yourself of mistakes and indiscretions taken along the way. Each day is a new day and a beginning to your walk. Forgive yourself and move on. (Read Challenge Blog posted July 28, 2013)

CHALLENGE THIRTY-TWO: “Say Cheese” Challenge
Length: One Week
Take some pictures and make a scrapbook page or photo collage to inspire you on your journey. This is a great one for you artsy-fartsy types! LOL. HAVE FUN. (Read Challenge Blog posted August 4, 2013)

Length: One Week
Take your favorite recipes this week and rewrite them with healthier ingredients. Try getting rid of some of the fat, calories, and carbs. It’s fun to experiment and you might find that you actually like the new recipe better! (Challenge Blog posted August 11, 2013)

CHALLENGE THIRTY-FOUR: Gratitude Journal Challenge
Length: One Week to forever!
Get yourself a notebook, composition book, or empty journal. Now take a few minutes each day to write down things your are grateful to God for providing. Try to write them in sentence form as if you were talking to God. Challenge yourself to think of five or more things each day. After you have written them down, take a few moments to pray. (See Blogs from August 9, 2013 entitled, “Bless the Lord, O My Soul” and Challenge Blog posted August 18,2013)

CHALLENGE THIRTY-FIVE: Encouragement Challenge
Length: One Week
There is nothing like the encouragement that comes from a cheering crowd during a football game. WE ALL NEED ENCOURAGEMENT. But this week’s challenge is not about the encouragement that we get as much as the encouragement that we give. The challenge this week is to encourage five different people each day. You can do it in person, by sending a card, a phone call, or even a text message. At the end of the week you will have touched 37 lives with positive reinforcement. In a year you will have touched almost 2,000 people. Just think what you could do in a lifetime! Go get em! (See Challenge Blog posted August 25, 2013)

CHALLENGE THIRTY-SIX: Chewing Gum Challenge
Length: One Week
I recently saw a commercial for sugarless gum where the person was having a craving for dessert. Instead, she whips out a stick of gum and her cravings are gone. The commercial seems laughable but believe it or not it works! I have been doing this for years. Your challenge this week is to go and get you some gum and use it to curb your cravings. If you don’t like gum, try some sugar-free mints. (See Challenge Blog dated September 1, 2013)

CHALLENGE THIRTY-SEVEN: “Road Block” Challenge
Length: One Week
Road Blocks and sabotage will plague your weight loss journey. You need to plan ahead on what you will say or how you will react.
You also may have to make a plan. I almost always have an apple or banana in the car for those occasions where others are eating dessert. I often times bring healthy alternatives when their are covered dish dinners or church meals.
What is your plan to handle road blocks? (See Challenge Blog dated September 8, 2013)

CHALLENGE THIRTY-EIGHT: “Slow-it-down” Challenge
Length: One Week
We all get into a race when we sit at the table. It takes far longer to prepare the meal than it does to “wolf it down”. You brain takes time to process what you put in your stomach. We often are full long before we feel full. This week’s challenge is to slow down and enjoy your meals. (See Challenge Blog posted September 15, 2013)

CHALLENGE THIRTY-NINE: “Timmy Tooth” Challenge
Length: One Week
Right after eating a meal, especially dinner, go straight to the bathroom to brush, floss, and mouthwash so that your mouth is feeling nice and clean. Besides being good oral hygiene this makes it less appealing to eat more. It also helps stop cravings. (See Challenge Blog posted September 22, 2013)

CHALLENGE FORTY: “Less Is More” Challenge
Length: One Week
The mistake that most of us make when we try to lose weight is that we deny ourselves what we love most. Then we get frustrated and binge or cheat. This week’s challenge is to not deny your favorite foods but to eat them in moderation and track them. Read the label to find out what the suggested serving is and stick with it. Then eat it slowly and carefully. Savor the flavor of each morsel. Be satisfied with only a small amount. (See Challenge Blog posted September 29, 2013)

CHALLENGE FORTY-ONE: Bike Hike Challenge
Length: One Week
Take advantage of the beautiful fall weather to take a ride on your bike at least five times this week. Bikes are a wonderful way to exercise, take in the beauty of nature, and get some fresh air. (See Challenge Blog posted October 6, 2013)

CHALLENGE FORTY-TWO: “Spice It Up” Challenge
Length: One Week
It is a proven fact that spicy or hot food does two things: First, it raises your metabolism which means you burn more fat and calories; Second, it causes you to eat slower and drink more water between bites (seriously). Your challenge is to cook using some spices such as cayenne, curry, turmeric, or hot pepper. (See Challenge Blog posted October 13, 2013)

CHALLENGE FORTY-THREE: “Bigger is Better” Challenge
Length: One Week
Most of us eat light or skip breakfast and eat our bigger meals in the evening. But we should be eating our bigger meals in the morning and at lunch and eating lighter and healthier at night. Your challenge this week is to eat breakfast and a big, healthy lunch and go lighter fare for supper. Try not to eat anything at all after 8:00 p.m. to maximize your weight loss efforts. (See Challenge Blog posted October 20, 2013)

CHALLENGE FORTY-FOUR: Holiday Planning Challenge
Length: One Week
We have entered the season of the 4 most horrible holidays for weight loss. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Eve are all filled with tasty treats, delicious desserts, fattening feast, and delightful drinks. Your challenge for this week is to begin to make a plan on how to deal with the holiday temptations and come up with low-fat, lower calorie recipes for the holidays. (See Challenge Blog posted October 27, 2013)

CHALLENGE FORTY-FIVE: “Get Some Z’s” Challenge
Length: One Week
This is one of my favorite challenges. It has been proven that sleep, or a lack there of, effects every aspect of your life. Everyone needs 6-8 hours of sleep to operate effectively. Sometimes your body sends signals that it is hungry when it is actually tired. Your challenge is to make sure you are getting a good nights worth of sleep and to take a short nap (no more than 20 minutes) during the day. I know it sounds crazy but it actually works. (See Challenge Blog posted November 3, 2013)

CHALLENGE FORTY-SIX: “Tea Toter” Challenge
Length: One Week
There is nothing better on a cold night than a hot cup of tea. Tea is a natural antioxidant and it can actually curb your appetite. But don’t put a lot of sugar in it. If you have to sweeten it you should try agave sweetener or honey because they are actually better for you. I prefer my tea without sweetener and with a wedge of lemon squeezed into it. Your challenge this week is to drink more tea. (For more information, see the Challenge Blog posted November 10, 2013)

CHALLENGE FORTY-SEVEN: “Eat At Home” Challenge
Length: One Week
Most of us eat out way too much. When you eat out you are at the mercy of the restaurant as to the amount of calories, fat, sodium and other things that are in your food. Although more and more places are posting the fat and calories on their menu, most people are more likely to eat without restraint. At home, you have more control over what is going into you food and you are more likely to make better choices. This week’s challenge is to plan ahead and eat at home. (See the Challenge Blog posted November 17, 2013)

CHALLENGE FORTY-EIGHT: “Pickle Me” Challenge
Length: One Week
One thing that you will find in abundance in my panty are dill pickles and pickled peppers. Pickles can be made from just about any kind of vegetable. The are very nutritious and low in calories. Pickle juice can be drank after a run or hard exercise to replace salts and potassium lost in your sweat. They can actually help prevent muscle cramps. Your challenge this week is to eat more pickles. (See Challenge Blog posted November 24th for more information)

CHALLENGE FORTY-NINE: Identifying Triggers Challenge
Length: One Week
Triggers are conditions and situations that cause you to eat. Think about the times that you have given in to temptations and ate something you shouldn’t have eaten. What caused you to lose control? Some triggers may be stress, depression, loneliness, frustration, deprivation, sorrow, lack of sleep, thirst, or even joy. It is different for everyone. Once you identify your triggers you will be able to develop a plan to counter them at every turn. Your challenge this week is to discover your triggers and come up with a plan to overcome them. (See Challenge Blog posted December 1, 2013 for more information)

CHALLENGE FIFTY: Healthy Snack Challenge
Length: One Week
The market is filled with wonderful diet foods. It seems that their are hundreds of low-fat or sugar-free treats. But beware of what is in them. There are many that are loaded with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) as well as artificial colors, preservatives, and additives. Some of these items can actually be worse for you than their non-diet counterparts. It is important to make a list of good, healthy alternatives for snacks. One of my favorites is air-popped popcorn. Your challenge for this week is to make a list and buy some healthy snacks to keep around the house, office, or even in your car. I usually have an apple or banana stashed somewhere for emergencies. (See Challenge Blog posted December 8, 2013 for more information)

Length: One Week
The weather doesn’t always cooperate for exercising or walking outside. You might not have the room for exercise equipment or the money for a gym membership. So go to the store and look at the various exercise videos. There are a lot of videos for various levels of training and experience. One of my favorite videos is actually a Biggest Loser walking video. There are four segments on it and you can do one or more depending on your time and abilities. Your challenge is to purchase and use a video for exercising indoors.

CHALLENGE FIFTY-TWO: Kick the Craving Challenge
Length: One Week
We all have cravings at one time or another. Relying on sheer willpower to curb cravings may not be the way to work and may actually be more harmful to your efforts. Instead of trying to suppress the craving you need to address the craving. Research suggests when you actually spend time acknowledging the craving, recognizing, experiencing, and feeling the craving, you may be more likely to resist it than if you’d tried to suppress or ignore it. Your challenge this week is to address your cravings and kick them to the curb.

You have now completed a year’s worth of challenges! Congratulations. Now go back and see which ones you have made a part of your daily weight loss journey. Take a second look at the ones that you have not incorporated into your daily routine. Challenge yourself to put them to use in your weight loss efforts. You can go through this list as many times as you need to do so to make them a part of your new lifestyle.


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