March Madness Challenge ~ Making Weight Management Fun & Functional

“People always call it luck when you’ve acted more sensibly than they have. ”
― Anne Tyler

Is there anything lovelier than fresh greens?

Is there anything lovelier than fresh greens?

Welcome March. I am not Irish, but I do love the color green. Green smoothies, recycling and re-purposing furniture, avocados, fresh produce, dark green bars on my Active Link, and the luxuriant smell of spring buds tingling with life.

Phoebe eagerly awaits the return of spring.

Phoebe eagerly awaits the return of spring.

It has been a long winter in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and I am thankful that the deep blues of February have passed. Even our dog Phoebe has felt a melancholy lingering as she misses our long family walks together. Icicles make impressive glittering works of art in our neighborhood and I am hard pressed to remember a winter when our snowbanks loomed quite so large. Though there is something about the herald of March that makes one feel that we are turning a corner and ushering in spring.

Icicle art on our house.

Icicle art on our house.

This Saturday, after I returned from the Marquette Food Co-op, I asked Mike to snap a few pictures. Earlier that day I had marveled over the gorgeous selection of greens. Once in

My favorite kind of fresh cut bouquet: Green Chard, Dandelion Greens, and Kale.

My favorite kind of fresh cut bouquet: Green Chard, Dandelion Greens, and Kale.

In my hands they felt like a lovely, verdant bouquet of potential energy. Mike often muses that he is a lucky guy because I am the only woman he has met that does not demand fresh cut flowers for a gift. In the budding stages of our relationship I told him that I did not think a gift that dies in a few days is a profound symbol of lasting love. He laughed when I told him that I did not want flowers unless I could plant them in a garden and enjoy  their perennial blooms. Over the years we have planted lilacs, roses, bleeding hearts, star gazer lilies, and other offerings to nature together that we enjoy watching flourish each summer. Last June for my birthday I received a gorgeous red rose bush from my Saturday Weight Watchers friends for my birthday. I am so excited to watch it come to life and blossom this summer. Summer somehow seems sweeter after a long and bitter winter.

Mike and I found two four leaf clovers when hiking the Heritage Trail in Negaunee in June of 2009. I seek out this image often for inspiration.

Mike and I found two four leaf clovers when hiking the Heritage Trail in Negaunee in June of 2009. I seek out this image often for inspiration.

However, an unforgiving winter can make weight management seem very daunting and I am sure that many of us wish that we had the luck of the Irish to keep ourselves centered and on track. Though, we all know that weight loss has little to do with luck and much to do with hard work and reshaping, not only our muscles, but our lifestyle as well.

My Saturday Weight Watchers team often discusses how we can help make things manageable for our members and ourselves. We strongly feel that the journey we share is reciprocal. Regardless of our age, where we are in our journey, or if we have to lose 5 pounds or 100, we can learn from each other.

Each week of our 12 Week Challenge participants get a sticker for each meeting they attend. Each sticker equals a ticket for the drawing at the end of the challenge.

Each week of our 12 Week Challenge participants get a sticker for each meeting they attend. Each sticker equals a ticket for the drawing at the end of the challenge.

Brenda, is a receptionist for our Saturday meeting and she invited our members to participate in a 12 Week Challenge. We each chose a realistic goal that we wanted to attain within this time period. At the end of the challenge we will hold a drawing for prizes. Participants have generously been bringing in prizes for the drawing. Our meeting team always recommends green prizes that are gently used or even re-gifted.


Wendy's fantastic donation to Brenda's 12 Week Challenge drawing.

Wendy’s fantastic donation to Brenda’s 12 Week Challenge drawing.

In addition, Brenda and I discussed that we would encourage our members to join us in monthly challenges. In January we initiated a highly successful Green Smoothie Challenge and in February a Recipe Round-Up Challenge in which we all tried one new recipe a week that I will be compiling into a cookbook.

For March, we decided to put our heads together and come up with something fun and vastly different than what we have done before. We knew it was important to come up with a fun and functional challenge. So we decided on a March Madness Challenge to encourage our members to spend each day of March focusing on a different aspect of their weight loss/management journey.

This Saturday, our WW friends were given a printout of a calendar for the month of March. Along with the calender was a handout of thirty-nine tasks that Brenda and I came up with to challenge, entertain, reward, and encourage healthy habits. At the end of each day participants are to record the number of the task on the calendar that they completed. On Saturday, March 30th, those who have participated the challenge will bring in their calendar and their name will be put into a drawing to receive a Spring Salad Themed Basket that our Saturday team has created.

The second day into our March Madness Challenge there has already been a flurry of posts and photos on our facebook group page. I can tell already that our meeting will be full of fresh new ideas that we all can adopt to fit into our healthy lifestyle.

The Marquette Weight Watchers Saturday Team. Gini, Amy, and Brenda. We are so excited about the March Madness Challenge!

The Marquette Weight Watchers Saturday Team. Gini, Amy, and Brenda. We are so excited about the March Madness Challenge!

Thank you to Brenda for printing out sheets for all our participants.

Thank you to Brenda for printing out sheets for all our participants.

Here are the thirty-nine tasks that we unveiled to our members on Saturday. We believe that we came up with a challenge that will keep us all motivated, connected, and even inspire silliness and laughter.

March Madness Challenge

  1. Find a quote or mantra to display in an important place. The refrigerator, the bathroom mirror, your phone wallpaper, or on your desk at work.
  2. Have breakfast for dinner.
  3. Set your timer for 7 minutes (or longer) and dance. (If possible play music that was popular when you were in high school)
  4. Have popcorn for a snack and give it a zesty kick by adding one or more of the following: cinnamon, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, garlic powder, oregano, or a grating of parmesan cheese.
  5. Buy yourself a health or fitness magazine or read a few health/fitness articles on-line.
  6. Buy yourself something special: an article of clothing, a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of nail polish, lipstick, lip gloss, a book, jewelry, or perfume.
  7. Take five minutes and assess your strengths and weaknesses as a WW member. Write down one strength and one weakness and how you are going to build on the strength and improve on the weakness over the next few days.
  8. Write a thank you note to someone in your WW group that has inspired you or shared a tip that you found helpful.
  9. Think about where you want to be in your WW by June. Create a vision board with magazine clippings that represent this goal (a summer activity, the clothing that you want to wear, a special vacation you’re planning) Hang this vision board somewhere you will see it every day http://www.oprah.com/spirit/How-to-Make-a-Vision-Board-Find-Your-Life-Ambition-Martha-Beck
  10. Purchase a health or fitness related item: a new workout video, workout outfit, shoes, cookbook, food scale, measuring cups, etc.
  11. Pack daily snacks for the next week.
  12. Buy something silly to keep you accountable to healthy eating or exercise: stickers for your WW tracker or calendar, a weight loss buddy mascot, a fun plate/glass/straws (look in the children’s section for something brightly colored and whimsical), a fun piece of jewelry to use as an anchor.
  13. Turn off the television and computer, light a candle, and enjoy a hobby (read, knit, draw, listen to classical music, or just meditate).
  14. Commit to one Random Act of Kindness: buy a stranger a cup of coffee, pay for someone’s check at a restaurant, leave a large tip, fill out an employee comment card when you get exceptional service at a store, write a thank you note/card to a co-worker, make a food/clothing/cash donation to a charity, make a homemade gift for a friend, or bring in a healthy snack to work to share with a co-worker/work team.
  15. When out shopping or running errands park a few blocks away or take a few extra laps around the store.
  16. Get your healthy oils in with your breakfast.
  17. Write down your top excuse for your #1 WW struggle (exercise, cooking, tracking). Take the piece of paper and burn it, tear it up, or cut it into shreds.
  18. Choose a goal outfit and hang in plain view. (ex: a pair of pants, dress etc. that you would like to fit back into or a swimsuit).
  19. During a television program(s) commit to exercising during commercials (ab crunches, push-ups, lunges, arm weights, walking up and down stairs).
  20. Go without refined sugar for an entire day.
  21. When you feel the desire to mindless munch or snack, grab a piece of gum, have a glass of water, cup of tea, or coffee instead.
  22. Spend 15 minutes working on a project in the house that you have been avoiding (set a timer).
  23. Make sure that every snack you have includes protein.
  24. Compute how much weight you have lost on WW. Weigh corresponding household items that register the same amount. Lift up the items to get a sense of how much weight you have lost. Carry the items around in a backpack or bag for a minute or longer (if you can). Make a mental note or even snap a photo to remind you of how far you’ve come when you are struggling.
  25. Make a list of 5-10 lifestyle changes you have made since starting WW.
  26. Try a Green Smoothie or if you already make them, try a new combination.
  27. Try a new food or recipe that you haven’t made before and give a review on it.
  28. Have a Junk Food Free day.
  29. Drink a glass of water upon waking in the morning for 7 days straight, do you feel more hydrated?
  30. Get 7 or more hours of sleep, being over-tired can be a trigger for snacking and over eating.
  31. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier.
  32. If you Bite It, Write It, Track for 7 days straight and try and meet all of the GHG.
  33. Meal Plan for a week, check your pantry, make your grocery list and shop for what you need.
  34. Put a spare pair of socks and sneakers in your vehicle; you never know when there may be an opportunity to fit in a walk.
  35. Try a new whole grain like Quinoa.  It’s packed with nutrients, fiber and some protein, making it a more filling food.
  36. Write down 3 things you’re grateful for or start a Gratitude Journal.
  37. Try a new work out video or exercise. Check out free workout videos on YouTube or at your local library.
  38. Wait 15 minutes to eat something you think you want to eat.  If you are still thinking about it 15 minutes later, you  really want it; otherwise, it was a passing urge.
  39. Enjoy a piece of fruit with your breakfast today.
  40. Add your own healthy ideas:
    My March Madness Challenge #10: Fun & funky paring knives and an electric green cutting board. I can't wait to use them to cut up fruit and vegetables for snacks, salads, and smoothies!

    My March Madness Challenge #10: Fun & funky paring knives and an electric green cutting board. I can’t wait to use them to cut up fruit and vegetables for snacks, salads, and smoothies!

    I am so lucky to have an amazing support network for the healthy goals that I am chasing down. My Saturday WW meeting is full of inspirational individuals who eagerly take on challenges and accomplish remarkable milestones in the process. We all benefit from hearing a wide range of voices and different ideas, tips, and tricks. I love starting my weekend out with our meeting and it keeps me fueled for the entire week. We are welcoming March with gladness and full and open hearts. Join us for the March Madness Challenge! Best wishes for a strong, active, excuse-free, Power Food filled, and On Program month.

                                                                                                                                      1. l
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2 thoughts on “March Madness Challenge ~ Making Weight Management Fun & Functional

  1. First of all I would like to say superb blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to
    ask if you do not mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing.
    I have had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting
    my ideas out there. I do take pleasure in writing
    however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be
    lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or
    tips? Thank you!

    • Hello and thank you for your kind words about my blog. One of my “secrets” is that I keep a journal. I carry it with me everywhere and I am constantly jotting down notes and ideas. As an English teacher, I encourage my students to do the same thing. I highly recommend Julia Cameron’s, “The Artist’s Way” to help unblock creativity. Thank you again for your comment.

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