Does eating healthy and staying in shape come naturally to you? It’s tough for me too! To feed my motivation, I participate in a 10-week health and fitness challenge with SparkPeople.com four times a year. During the past five years, I’ve completed the seasonal Biggest Loser Challenge on their site 15 times. The first year I took part in the challenge, I dropped a whopping 35 pounds!
I’d be lying if I told you I never gained an ounce back. After I reached my goal, I walked away from the challenge. Keeping the weight off would be no problem, right? I assumed that I had nothing to contribute to the team anymore. I was wrong! Without the motivation of the challenge and support from my teammates, my weight crept up again. Fifteen months later, I realized my mistake and rejoined the challenge. By then I had regained twenty pounds of the weight I had worked so hard to lose.
This year’s “Swing into Spring” Biggest Loser Challenge began as February ended. Having taken three weeks off after our “Snow More Excuses Challenge”, I was ready.
As the challenge began, I set two fitness goals for myself. Since I had not been exercising very often, the objectives were small: 10 minutes of cardio and 5-10 minutes of strength training for at least 5 days of the week. I planned to walk outside to enjoy the beautiful spring weather and use some short SparkPeople workout videos to build strength. I alternated between upper body, lower body, and abdominal workouts to allow my muscles to recover between workouts.
My exercise plan was a great fit for the week’s Biggest Loser “Spring Jamboree” challenge. Each team member could earn points for time spent strength training. I easily blew that fitness challenge away.
That week, the Biggest Loser “Survivor Challenge” helped me remember to eat healthy foods. I consumed leafy green veggies, included alternative proteins, ate healthy snacks, and avoided unhealthy foods. Earning points for building these habits helped feed my competitive nature.
Since I’d had an easy time achieving my first-week fitness goals, I increased them the second week. While continuing the short strength workouts, I added 5 minutes to each daily walk. It was fun having my amateur photographers tag along on a couple of these outings.
Once again, my fitness goals meshed with the week’s fitness challenge: Biggest Loser “Cardio Hoedown”. Could I tackle cardio 5 days and reach 60 minutes of exercise? Piece of cake!
Biggest Loser “Nutrition Monopoly” helped me stay on track as I made my way around the board and completed healthy eating tasks to earn points.
I continued to increase my exercise goals. By the third week, I was walking 20 minutes each day. One rainy evening, I opted for an indoor walking workout with my YouTube buddy, Jessica Smith.
While continuing to use the short SparkPeople videos for strength training, I increased my workout time by adding a second short strength workout each day. When my lower back became sore, I focused on exercises that wouldn’t aggravate it.
With all the toning exercises I was doing, I was prepared for the fitness portion of the week’s Biggest Loser “Spring Forth Challenge”. I had to work a little harder though. One of the tasks required me to try a new or seldom-done exercise. What exercise had I not tried in a while? I searched the workout videos and found some new moves. The video I chose focused on the glutes, allowing me to fulfill another challenge requirement at the same time.
The week’s nutrition challenge encouraged me to add some spice to my meals and slow down and taste my food. I spent some time getting things in my kitchen organized so it’s easier to prepare healthy meals.
Four weeks into the challenge, I’m still going strong. The lower back strain from week three has healed, so I can gradually add some abdominal moves back in. I’m walking the neighborhood at least 25 minutes each day. Since the Homeschool Curriculum Online Summit is happening this week, I can listen to a session while I walk. As the speakers teach me how to homeschool my kids more effectively, I often double my cardio goal time.
Because of this week’s Biggest Loser “55 Workout Plan Challenge”, I’m stepping away from strength training videos and branching out on my own. The first morning’s workout included 55 triceps extensions and 55 biceps curls. In between sets, I added some upper back, chest, and shoulder exercises. On alternate days I complete 55 calf raises and 55 squats; in between sets, I add other leg and core exercises.
The week’s Biggest Loser “Healthy Eating Challenge” makes nutrition simple. Each day, I make sure at least two of my meals are healthy. To do so, I’m striving to add whole grains, fruits, and vegetables while keeping sugars, fats, and processed foods to a minimum.
In the next six and a half weeks, I am counting on the Biggest Loser Challenge to help me stay motivated to eat healthy meals and spring into shape. I am hoping to drop five pounds this spring and another five in the summer challenge. Wouldn’t it be awesome to reach my goal weight before my end-of-summer birthday?
Regardless of my weight by summer’s end, I plan to continue competing in the challenge each season. Even after I reattain my goal weight, I can help my team by earning points for weekly challenges and racking up fitness minutes. My Biggest Loser Team provides the accountability I need to focus on caring for my body, and I can encourage my teammates as we reach together toward a healthier lifestyle.