When it comes to meeting your wellness goals, what do you do to press ahead? Whether it's waking up an hour earlier to get your morning sweat in, taking a few minutes in the middle of the day to meditate, or reaching for a handful of nuts instead of an unhealthy snack, you're finding ways to keep your health journey on track. To keep you inspired, mindbodygreen and Evolution Fresh invite you to join our #PressAheadChallenge series, which concludes with a focus on fitness.
For the next two weeks, follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for advice that will empower you to make more nutritious decisions. Here's the full challenge. (And always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.)
It's no secret that regular exercise can have some pretty profound effects on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. From combating depression to improving memory to preventing heart disease, the benefits of moving your body play a big part in you becoming your best self.
While staying fit has never been more within reach, we all could benefit from fresh inspiration and motivation to kick things up a notch. At the end of the day, progress is the ultimate goal—and it doesn't happen when you get bored or stuck in a comfortable workout routine. Challenging your body to go beyond its limits and adapting to whatever you throw at it has been shown to be one of the most motivating factors in adhering to a fitness routine.
Are you ready? Take our 10-day challenge designed to get your body moving, reach your fitness goals, and keep you feeling revitalized all day long.
Day 1: Do a full-body stretch the moment you wake up.
You have two options when you wake up every morning: hit the snooze and roll over, or start the day strong by energizing your body. When you sleep, your muscles lose flexibility as fluid builds up around your joints. And if left unattended, this becomes more restrictive over time, putting you at greater risk for injury.
Stretching will kick-start your body for the day ahead by increasing blood flow and returning your stiff muscles to their normal state. Need some help? Check out some handy, early morning stretching routines we love for shoulders, hips, and feet.
Day 2: Do a workout you've never tried before.
Whether it's a kickboxing class your friend raves about, a hip-hop cardio studio that you always walk by, or simply venturing into the free-weight section of your regular gym, do something different. Step outside your comfort zone and challenge your body to perform in a way it never has before, and who knows, you might just find your hidden talent on the dance floor.
Day 3: Increase your physical activity outside of the gym.
Around 20 percent of the calories you burn in a day come from physical activity—and that's not limited to your time in the gym. One of the most underrated ways to increase your energy output is through non-exercise activity thermogenesis (or NEAT, for short).
This can really be anything: taking the stairs at work, parking a little farther from the grocery store, or helping a co-worker carry a box downstairs. While they may sound inconsequential, research shows that these small, seemingly innocuous changes to your daily routine can actually have more of an impact on your energy expenditure than traditional exercise (sometimes up to 1,000 extra calories!).
Day 4: Maximize your protein intake.
Protein is an essential nutrient that's responsible for way more than muscle growth (think hair and fingernails). But in the context of fitness, adequate intake is imperative if you want to maximize your progress. When you exercise, you increase the amount of amino acids—the building blocks of protein—available for protein synthesis, which repairs muscles and other tissues.
And if your goal is to make the most of your workouts, a recommended daily intake is up to 1 gram per pound of body weight. Getting there is easy: Add another egg white to your breakfast, some chia seeds to your smoothie, or grab an Evolution Fresh smoothie made with plant-based proteins.
Day 5: Do 100 push-ups in a day (hear us out).
Push-ups are one of the best upper body moves out there. Aside from building strength in your arms and chest, they also stabilize your core and develop your back muscles, paving the way for a ton of holistic, whole body benefits.
Time to reap all those benefits for yourself by performing 100 push-ups in a single day. Whether you do them in increments of 5, 10, 20, or (if you're up to it) 50, you've got 24 hours to hit triple digits. You got this!
Day 6: Make the world your gym.
Who says you need shiny equipment or an energetic instructor to get a great workout? There's a slew of evidence that shows how exercising in the presence of nature can be better for you than doing so indoors. Need ideas for some do-anywhere moves? Why not work on your balance, strengthen your core, or jolt your metabolism. The only equipment you need is (1) your body and (2) a positive attitude.
Day 7: Set a personal best for planks.
Loved by some and dreaded by others, planks are undoubtedly one of the best exercises you can do for your core. Aside from strengthening the muscles in your abdominal region, they've been shown to improve your posture, reduce the risk of spinal injury, and even make the act of exercising more enjoyable.
Set a daylong goal for yourself—let's say five or 10 minutes (although feel free to do more!). Challenge yourself to hit that goal in as few rounds of sustained planks as possible. Do this throughout the day, and each time, aim to beat your last round by 10 seconds.
Day 8: Make post-workout nutrition foolproof.
After a good sweat-inducing workout, your body is depleted of more than just water. A proper post-workout recovery routine allows you to restore lost nutrients, rid your body of waste products (like lactic acid), and replenish your energy storage.
Set yourself up for success by creating a dedicated space in your fridge that's fully stocked with everything your body is craving after a workout. Having an array of wholesome, vitamin-rich options on hand ahead of time will ensure you're giving your body the replenishment it needs—without even having to think about it.
What would an mbg-approved fridge look like? Some muscle-repairing grab-and-go protein bars (here are our favorites), plenty of water (because you already know that rehydrating is essential), as well as something to replace those depleted electrolytes. And while there are many sources to get these electrolytes from, some provide a whole host of holistic benefits that others simply can't. Keeping some bottles of Evolution Fresh Organic Essential Greens on hand is a great way to provide the nutrients your body is craving, without the sugar you don't need.
Day 9: Work out before you get to work.
The nice thing about working out at home is that it's the only true judgment-free zone (unless you count your cat). Kick-start your day and get your heart racing by doing a quick 20-minute workout. You'll walk into the office feeling empowered, invigorated, and accomplished.
Need some guidance? Here's a quick circuit that will get every muscle in your body feeling energized.
2x rounds (1 minute each)
- Body squats
- Knee push-ups
- Wall sits
- Russian twist
- Standing lunge jump
- Bench dips
- Mountain climbers
Day 10: Learn to love your body.
You made it! To reward yourself, today's challenge has nothing to do with exercise (although, feel free to do that as well).
Self-compassion is a powerful tool to improve your self-esteem. Actively taking time to practice loving yourself has been linked to fewer body concerns, less eating guilt, and an overall positive outlook on life. So take a few minutes in front of the mirror to make note of everything you love about your body, then write them down so you don't forget.
Maybe you're proud of your excellent posture; maybe your legs have gotten more muscular since last year; maybe you just love the way that shirt fits your shoulders. Whatever the case, there are plenty of reasons to love yourself.