An 8-Week Spring Challenge

Now that the weather is warming up and it’s officially Spring, it seems like a good time to take on a new challenge. We only have 8 weeks until June is here!

(How is this year flying by so quickly?!)

8-week spring challenge

Rather than tackling a massively restrictive challenge, like cutting out all sugar, or eating only raw foods, or exercising twice a day, I prefer to take a more moderate approach to change, and I’d encourage you all to do the same. Permanent change takes time, and if you do too much, too fast, you’re doomed to rebound!

For years, I suffered on a “diet roller coaster,” where I was either on a diet or I wasn’t–and when I wasn’t, I was diving head-first into every food that had been temporarily off-limits to me! Let’s just say, I didn’t end up losing ANY permanent weight that way… and I ended up miserably obsessing over food as a result. There’s a reason why diets don’t work: most tend to be too restrictive and unrealistic! Studies have shown that once a diet is over, most people end up weighing more than they did in the first place. Why go through that, only to be worse off than you started?

That’s why I’d like to challenge you to make just one or two manageable changes over the next several weeks– changes that you’d like to keep up for the rest of your life. (So, unless you want to juice fast for the rest of your life, pick something a little easier.) Because those are the kind of changes that stick! And eventually, they won’t feel like a change… they will become an automatic habit, just like brushing your teeth before bed or looking both ways before you cross the street.

So, what new habit would you like to develop by summer?

Here are some possible ideas:

  • Cut out all sodas
  • Move your body at least 30 minutes a day
  • Make your own salad dressing instead of using store-bought varieties
  • Replace refined sugar treats with homemade naturally sweetened versions
  • Eat at least one large salad a day
  • Have a green smoothie for breakfast each morning
  • Eat one meatless meal each day
  • Eat one dairy-free meal each day
  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine
  • Commit to a workout class or DVD 3 times a week
  • Meditate each morning
  • Read 25 pages of a book each day

Being the planner (and graphic designer) that I am, I created a printable chart to keep myself accountable over the next 8 weeks, and thought I’d share it here, below, in case it might help someone else. I love to cross off each day as I go, starting a streak! There’s something very satisfying about seeing your progress on paper, especially on days that feel more challenging. Eight weeks isn’t that long in the grand scheme of things, but it can also make a huge difference!

To download the chart yourself, just click on the image below for a full-size PDF.

8 week challenge

Tip: Make sure your goal is action-based, rather than results-based. For example, you can’t control how long it will take your body to lose a certain number of pounds, so it will be frustrating if you can’t meet that goal in the allotted time frame. However, you can make an action-based goal to “workout 4 times a week” or to “enjoy a green smoothie every morning”– which will help you reach that result eventually, without the disappointment. 

I’ve designed the chart above to accommodate two goals at time, because I prefer to multi-task, but both goals should still be manageable. For example, my own two goals are as follows:

  • Satisfy my sweet tooth with fruit-based desserts
  • Perform 30-minute strength training workouts 3 times a week

So, I’ll cross off each day as I go, and on the days that I do my strength training workouts, I’ll also check off the little box in the bottom corner for that day. The same method could be used for any number of goals, so feel free to use the chart however you like.

it won't be easier tomorrow... unless you start today

Here’s to a healthy and happy Spring, and I look forward to hearing about your progress over the next several weeks!

Reader Feedback: What goals will YOU tackle over the next 8 weeks? Share them in the comments below, if you’d like!

(P.S. I have an amazing vegan and grain-free brownie recipe for you coming up this week, so I hope you don’t give up chocolate!) 

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Comments

Missy

Definitely starting this today and excited about it. This is”doable” and I will be so much healthier in 8 wks than I am today. Thank you for posting……on the brightside….when this is finished I will hopefully be getting your book in the mail! Thank you for everything you do, SO HELPFUL AND LIFE CHANGING!

Jenn

Love your idea and examples of a challenge we can do. One of my goals is to buy your new book and make a recipes a week from it. I already exercise 30min everyday so I think I will cut out refined sugar like you said, make my own healthier ones. Thanks for this idea, it’s really motivating me!

Amelia

I’m going to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day and either have a green smoothie or a big salad every day! Thanks for inspiring 🙂

    Laura - RYG

    I love the big salad idea. You nailed it with manageable changes. After gaining 60 pounds with baby number 2 I went insane. No carbs for a year. I didn’t gain much weight back but learned an important lesson: balance. Life with no pizza, chocolate or peanut butter isn’t living.

Jodmaxfeldt

I love this chart! I love so much of what you write and create. My first two challenges will be running 4 days a week (time to get back into it after a long NE winter) and not nibbling all day but eating three solid meals and one afternoon snack. I’ve mapped out the whole 8 weeks, but some may change as the weeks move along. My focuses are being active, eating right, connecting with my family and husband, and relieving the never-ending stress I often feel!

Please continue with What I Ate Wednesday. That’s a great piece you share along with so many delicious recipes.

peace. 🙂

Vibeke

Hi. This is very timely. I am starting a 14 day detox with some friends today on Facebook. My goals for the next eight weeks include:

30 minutes walking every day
1 large salad every day
8 hours sleep every night
3 L water every day minimum
greatly reduce coffee consumption, no more than three times per week
3 x per week exercise video or exercise class
no meat until my birthday (May 24)

Sherri

Thank you so much for sharing this!! I am so excited to start this! I absolutely love all your recipes! Thank you for taking the time to post and share with us! My goals would be to eat less carbs and sugars (processed)! And exercise (run or walk) 4 times a week!

Suzanne

Thank you so much! I just wish your book was here to read:-)

Cathy

Hello,

Thank you for all this wonderful information. Do you have a daily plan of meals I can follow with easy recipes. I tend to have more success when I can follow a plan that’s spelled out.

Thank you!
Cathy

Supriya

This is a great idea Megan,

I will start with 1. Have a green smoothie every morning and 2. walk 10,000 steps every day!

Hopefully I get through the 8 weeks! 🙂

RedPetals

I’ve been wanting to do this on my own but been struggling to keep up on myself.
I’ll have 3 goals~
1) Dairy-free
2) 20 min exercise 5x/week
3) Meditate 2x/week

I want to get little cow stickers for dairy free 🙂 and will mark off for exercise and meditation.
Thank you for the motivation! Looking forward to structured progress, and a daily to be purposeful in my health and happiness.

Amy Katschke

This is just what I needed today!! Thank you!!

Sandy

I knew there was a reason I related to you so much. I love, love, love your recipes … haven’t tried one I didn’t like. Even my husband likes your recipes which says a LOT! I’m a nutritionist and am always on the lookout for new ideas. Even though I made drastic changes to my life all at once, I generally don’t recommend it for most people. I was in the right place at the right time.

Thank you for this post … this is basically my philosophy as well in helping others lead healthier lives.

Can’t wait to get your book!

Katie G

A good motivating post! And thank you for the downloadable spreadsheet. i’ve already cut out all processed sugar so my main goal is to only have a naturally sweetened dessert 1-2 times a week tops to cut down on my sweet addiction 🙂

Aubrey

I love this! I just discovered your site and I love the recipes you share. I can’t wait to try them. This printable is great and I am putting it on my fridge. I am eliminating refined sugars for this challenge. I will definitely be baking more homemade goodies, since life is just boring without a treat occasionally, but the refined stuff needs to go.
Thanks!

Annette

Thanks for the encouragement….I will have to get back to you on what I choose. I better not wait too long. I will try to do it today. I have my chart. Thanks! BTW, please share your goals with us too! I move detoxinista. Thank you for sharing your life and thoughts with us!

Laurel

I love this! I will definitely participate. I cannot wait until to June for several reasons, one of them being because I will be receiving your book that I pre-oredered!! Thank you for the inspiration, and excited to see the brownie recipe!

Jackie Layton

I like this. My two goals are to exercise 15 minutes before work and 15 minutes after work. I’ll eat a salad, or at least fresh veggies, every day.

Thanks for the challenge!

Jessi

I haven’t really done something like this before, but seems fun and like a great idea. Thanks Megan for the inspiration. Here are my four goals:
1. 15 min walk 2x a day( more for my puppy than me)
2. Cut out all soda
3. Read 50 pages a day of my book
4. Meditate every morning

Kirsty

Such a great idea. You don’t have any tips with diet for someone who has just had their gall bladder removed do you? TIA Kirsty xx

pammy

Great minds do think a like. My hygienist always tells me I need to floss more. I decided at the end of January to try and floss every day for the month of February and it was a great success. It inspired me to think of other habits to form for the following months of the year. For March I involved my husband. I asked him to pray with me every morning before we start our day. That has been such a blessing. I didn’t get started on anything new for April yet but you’ve re-inspired me. My exercise routine has dwindled because of weather so I’m going to track my activity for the next 8 weeks. Thanks for the inspiration and wonderful recipes.

Eliz

#1. Do my stretches and foam roll twice a day.
#2. Have a fruity green smoothie for breakfast every day.

Very good timing. Passing on to the boyfriend to get him started on the workouts he’s been talking about since last year. LOL!!!

If I do well at this, I’ll pick something else for 8 more weeks. That’s a good time frame for small goals.
Thanks for the motivation!

Dr. Deborah @ PeriodCrampsRelief.com

A patient of mine just mentioned your 8-week Cleanse to me so I thought I’d check it out to make sure it’s not in conflict with anything I’m telling her to do :).

This is a great and inspiring post. It’s so much easier for people to make changes when framed as what *to* do, rather than what to stop doing. A positive, rather than a negative. Lifestyle change in doable bits, rather than being overwhelming with big huge changes. Some personalities can do big change. But some people freak out with bigness. Myself included. Yesterday as I was staring at my to-do list it all seemed so hard and dreadful, so I picked the one easiest (even nonsense) thing to do, at it got the ball rolling so I could quit overthinking and just do.

Anyway, nice to “meet” you and happy to learn about your blog!
Dr. Deborah

sandi

will continue with hubby’s smoothie he makes everyday. will also put on goals 1) ride bike for at 1 hr 5 times a week; 2) eat a balanced meal including a salad.
getting ready for first bike rally June 6th and a 2nd on June 13th.
when weather does not permit outside activity, i’ll make sure to be active by walking around the house.

Jessica Schroeder

Thank you for creating this calendar! This is a great idea. I like the idea of just doing 1-2 small goals for 8 weeks. I get so caught up in the RIGHT NOW instead of long term! I am using it for water and eating under maintenance calories. Kinda excited to see the results at the end of 8 weeks.

Will def be using this calendar again after the 8 weeks is up, but with new goals!

Nadia

I’m so excited! I’ve been needing something like this. I’m very active (run 3x/week and strength train 2-3x/week) so my goals are food based.

1) No snacking in between scheduled meals (a pre-workout small snack in the early morning, 3 solid meals and 1 afternoon snack) and no seconds.
2) No added sugar/junk food except for 2 servings a week (I need to start small. Hopefully I’ll work myself up to once a week).

Jill

Love this post! My goals are my biggest downfalls so I choose to work in them.
1) move 30 minutes a day
2) do HIIT training 3x/week
3) cut out all processed food
Love the calendar!

Amy

This is such a great idea. I just printed off the PDF. I have a hard time with food to be honest. If I eat something “bad”(meaning chocolate bars,cookies, processed foods) I just go on this roller coaster and it’s an awful feeling. I have an event in the early winter so this will be my focus…my goals will be to eat less carbs (I’m a carb fanatic..bread..pasta..ugh my favs), no added refined sugars & exercise 5 times per week.

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