Take the NEAT Challenge

I sometimes feel a little bummed when the holidays are over.  I love decorating the house, playing music, and finding gifts for family and friends.  I get into the baking and festivities.  Then it all comes to a screeching halt.

The holidays are over and with it comes the reality that we had a little too much fun over the past week.  The parties, the cocktails, the extra helpings at dinner, and don’t forget the treats.  It can be easy to get on the scale and feel overwhelmed, discouraged, and upset with ourselves.  While the culmination of the past few weeks can make us feel like we did some serious damage, there are some very simple ways to get back on track.

What we eat and how we choose to be active can have large impacts on our weight gain and loss.  Eating a healthy diet and getting in regular exercise are ways that you can control your health.

There is one other factor that we often forget about.  Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy you expend from everything that is not sleeping, eating, or exercise.  NEAT is all of the tiny little actions you do during the day that add up in caloric burn.

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As a health coach I often hear that people don’t have enough time to exercise.  It can be difficult to find the time to prepare healthy meals.  These are both understandable and they are great reasons to meet with a health coach to find solutions to help you carve out time for exercise  and meal planning.  Yet, if you are someone who is pressed for time, NEAT is where you can make giant leaps in your healthy living process.

Take the NEAT Challenge:  For the month of January, find extra little ways to burn small amounts of energy.  Instead of searching for a parking spot closest to the store, grab one a few aisles back.  You will save time by parking sooner, and you will get a few more steps in.

Stand up every time you talk on the phone.  Pace, walk around your house, and march in place.  We spend a lot of time at home and in the office on the phone.  Use this as an opportunity to get a little extra movement.

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Plan a family activity each evening.  Try a walk around the block after dinner.  Go for a quick bike ride.  Make a snowman and have a snowball fight.  Too cold to go out?  Build a fort in the basement.

Set an alarm on your phone and make sure you get up from the desk every house for a lap around the office and a refill of your water bottle.

The great thing about NEAT is that you don’t have to plan out the exercise.  It actually isn’t even exercise.  You just need to move.  Tap your feet at the desk.  Fiddle your fingers.  All of those little things add up.

What little ways could you add some extra movement into your day?

The Present Of Being In The Present

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone had a lovely weekend and enjoyed a Merry Christmas and beginning of Hanukkah.

Earlier last week I had a special moment with Mary.  We were playing in a new little tent that she was given and enjoying snacks in our “fort.”  She was giggling and just being so sweet.  It stopped me in my tracks.  I have had moments lately where I wish things were going a certain way or there were a few things I wish I had.  But being in the moment, right there with my daughter, made me realize that it is important to enjoy those times.  We need to spend less time wishing for what we don’t have and instead, spend some time thoroughly enjoying the blessings we already do have.  She is constantly growing and changing.  If I don’t take the time to enjoy each moment, it will pass before I have a chance to appreciate it.

I made a mental note to do this during our holiday weekend…..

On Thursday we headed down to Chicago.  I had a humorous moment when we stopped at a gas station an hour and a half south of where we live.  We always stop at a particular place to grab Jimmy John’s sandwiches and “car snacks.”  If you know anything about me, I eat a rather healthy diet.  But when we load up in the car, we let loose.  I couldn’t decide on what snacks to get so I grabbed four medium sized bags of chips and two diet sodas.  As I was waiting to check out, I ran into a guy I know from high school who also goes to the gym I work at.  He knows that I am a certified Health Coach.  Busted!  He smiled at me and said, “No worries.  You don’t need to justify.”

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I didn’t even take a picture.  I’m just reposting from my last “road trip.”

On Friday we met with the family to make gingerbread houses. This is an annual tradition spearheaded by my mother-in-law.  She goes to great lengths to make this an extra special event for all of her grandchildren, family, and friends.  Mary “helped” me make a house. Basically she tried her hand at M&M’s, licorice, Sno-Caps, and many other delicious treats.

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Later that evening our family rented a small ice rink for another annual tradition, a skating party!  I was sort of dreading this and almost didn’t bring my skates.  I figured that with a 16 month old, we would just be chasing her around the lobby the entire time and no one would get to enjoy skating.  However, when we arrived I decided to take a peek at the rental skates and noticed there were some nice, relatively tiny ones.

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Mary loves to try on people’s shoes and wear them around the house.  I honestly would never recommend taking a child under the age of two (and as a professional skating coach I would actually say wait until they are 3 or 4) but I figured it might be fun to see if Mary would even just let us put them on her.  When she didn’t protest, I took her out to do some spins with me.  However, we were shocked when after a few minutes of help, she was actually skating on her own!

And then a few minutes later…….

Christmas Eve and Christmas day were filled with lots of family, festivities, and a lot of food.  Mary got her own Christmas pajamas to wear to bed on Christmas Eve and was soaking everything in all day.  I feel like this was truly her first Christmas, because she could understand it a bit more this year.  I can’t even imagine how much fun it will be in the seasons to come.

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I was also fortunate to get outside for a warm-ish (30 degree) run.  It felt so nice to run on pavement again.  Yesterday marked the first day of my Boston Marathon training.  I have to say that it felt fantastic to take a break in the middle of the day to get a sweat in after plowing through a beautiful Christmas brunch.

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Crazy hair.  Great run!

I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of people out running all day on Christmas.  Way to go runners!

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday weekend.  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays!

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How did you spend your holiday weekend?  What is your best recommendation for staying in the present when things get hectic?

Simple Ways To Utilize The Treadmill

I’m going to be real honest here.  I haven’t run outside in a few weeks.  We were “gifted” a heavy share of snow.  I tried running one day, shortly after we received 20+ inches and it was a miserable mess (or perhaps I should say that was miserable mess).  I slipped and slid everywhere. I cried during a few points.  I shouted profanities at other times.  It was ugly.

Since then I have been utilizing the small gym in our hometown when I have a quick chance, the treadmills at the gym where I work, and my parent’s stationary bike when I have no other option.  It is less than ideal, but I am not ready to get back out there.  Did I mention the double digit, below zero temps too?!

Boston Marathon training should be a blast!

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Many runners hate the treadmill.  I don’t mind it.  I certainly don’t love it.  But there are ways to make it less miserable.  Below are a few tips:

Create a workout:  The biggest complaint I get as a coach is that the treadmill is boring.  It certainly isn’t exciting.  But there are ways to break up the running into segments that cut down on the boredom.

Try doing a pyramid run:  Start at a nice and easy pace and bump the intensity up every minute until you hit a pace that is difficult for you.  You can then either go back to the start by slowing down each minute or just go right back down to your easy pace.

Create an interval workout:  After a brief warm up, try doing fartleks or intervals.  Start out with shorter intervals of hard intensities and longer bouts of easy paces, and then eventually begin lengthening your amount of time at difficult paces.

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Slow it down and enjoy the view:  It might be hard to flip through a magazine at your normal pace, but who says you have to run that way?  Slow it down a little and flip through something fun.  When I first started using a treadmill I relied heavily on US Weekly and People Magazine.  I used to have so much knowledge on celebrity gossip!

Keep in mind that there is no rule that says you must run fast.  In fact, there is a ton of added value in slower running.  Go ahead and enjoy a lighter pace.

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I also love watching episodes of HGTV while I am on the treadmill.  Cooking channels are also great because even if you can’t hear what is going on, you can easily follow along.  By the time you finish a workout you might know how to make a full dinner out of a basket of pasta, gummy bears, and Spam!

Keep it nice and flat:  Remember that rule about running on the treadmill and needing to increase the incline?  Great news!  Reliable research shows that is not the case (unless you run faster than 7:09 minutes/mile).  If you don’t feel like bumping it up, that’s not a problem.  Keep it at a happy zero!

Enjoy the sweat:  During this season of over indulgence, I feel like I just need a good old sweat to get out all of the crap I have been putting in my body.  Sometimes during cold runs, I come back feeling chilly.  Running inside almost guarantees that you will sweat all those extra work party cocktails out!

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Don’t fret the pace:  No two treadmills are created alike.  And one thing I have learned over the years is that you can almost never replicate your normal outdoor pace on a treadmill.  I often run 30 seconds to a minute per mile slower on the treadmill.  Sometimes it is even slower!  So find a pace that leaves you feeling comfortable and don’t worry about where you are.  Cover the console with a towel so that you can’t see it if need be.

No matter what you choose to do, just getting on the mill or heading outdoors is a step in the right direction.  Enjoy your run!

Avoid The Detox

The other day I was working at the fitness desk of the gym and admiring an awesome class that was going on.  The class is lead by a really fun instructor and despite the fact that I can’t hear what is happening, I can tell by how the trainer is working, that everyone is having a blast.  This particular class is a choreographed weight lifting session set to music.

A couple who I have noticed come in and lift frequently, stood and watched for a moment.  The woman stated that they couldn’t handle that class.  I smiled and said that I was almost certain they could do this class.  They lift all of the time!

“No.  Right now we are doing a serious detox diet and we both have zero energy.  We couldn’t even lift tonight.  It’s like we are in a fog.”  The husband pointed out that this is an amazing diet where they drink shakes every 2-3 hours for a week or two before Christmas.    But the downside is that they are foggy and exhausted right now.

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As a health coach, I am generally against detox diets.  This situation was an excellent example.  I’d like to share a few reasons why I feel detoxes should be avoided:

Any pursuit to improve your health should be a step towards permanent change:  When we do a detox, we are looking for a quick fix.  “Detoxes” and other diets are a way to rapidly lose weight.  However, once the detox or diet is over, and you go back to your normal every day ways, how do you continue to keep the weight off?  This is where yo-yo diets and weight fluctuations occur.  The best step to good health is a lifestyle plan.  When we aim to eat healthy and be active every day, we are making a step towards living well every day.

Losing weight shouldn’t make you feel like you are living in a fog or down right miserable.  The fact that these regular exercisers couldn’t get through their workout and acknowledged that they wouldn’t be able to get through a class is a major bummer.  Getting healthy and even losing weight should include a regular exercise plan.  Exercise increases our metabolism and is the best way to keep our hearts and bodies healthy.  Regular exercisers are less likely to have diabetes or cardiovascular disease.  Exercise is also essential for improving diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

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Food should be enjoyed in moderation.  Taking food off of the table is not a good way to learn how to live a healthy lifestyle.  It is important to focus on eating a well rounded diet.  Using the MyPlate Guidelines is a great way to ensure that you are getting enough essential nutrients in your diet.

Did you know that the USDA no longer uses the Food Pyramid?  To make things easier we now follow the MyPlate guidelines.  Check out their website to get customized information for you!

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A healthy “diet” should give you energy.  Have you ever gained a few pounds and worked to lose it?  Did you notice that as you started to lose weight and get healthier, you began to sleep better, wake better, and feel better in general?  When we lose weight and get healthy in a proper manner, you should notice positive changes throughout the course.  Getting healthy should feel good.

When we detox we lose more than just weight.  Food is delicious.  It serves a wonderful part of our lives on a social level.  It also has a very important role for our bodies.  Not only is it the fuel that drives us, but it also contains essential vitamins and minerals.  No one food contains every single thing we need.  This is why we need to eat a variety of veggies, fruits, meat, and even dairy.  When we eliminate certain foods from our diet we have to be very careful to ensure that we are still getting these essential nutrients.  This is why vegetarians need to carefully construct their diets.  If you eliminate meat products from your diet, you need to make sure you are still eating necessary proteins, etc.

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Therefore, it is very difficult to find a “detox” that is still ensuring you are getting all of these necessary nutrients.  All of these vitamins and minerals seem very small but they form a powerful combination that keep our brains, hearts, and muscles functioning.  When we miss out on these, we are doing our bodies a serious disservice.

Long story short, the healthiest way to lose weight is a lifestyle change.  It doesn’t need to be drastic.  Small changes add up to make large impacts.  If you are not sure where to start look for help from a nutritionist, dietician, or health coach.  

What is your best kept secret for staying healthy?

Simple Ways To Enjoy The Holidays

It’s no lie that I love the holiday season.  If you were around a few weeks ago, you know that I had to exhibit some serious restraint in the holiday section of Ikea.  I love baking, gifting, and making things to share with others.

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I see the holiday season as a wonderful time to put up some lights, decorate the house, and a perfect excuse to bake treats for friends and family.  I love making things for others, as you noticed in my DIY coaster project.  Mary has also been making gifts for friends and family because I think it is never too early to share the giving part of the holiday spirit.

However, I do acknowledge that for many the holiday season can be quite difficult.  With the recent passing of a few of our beloved family members, I know that many people experience loss and sadness.  People feel alone.

Times are difficult for many.  Finding the resources to provide for family and share gifts can be a difficult and stressful time.

Others struggle with balance and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  This can weigh heavily on our minds.  As we experience office and family parties and are often gifted delicious treats, it can be overwhelming.

Below are a few ideas for finding balance during the holiday season:

Sometimes the best things are the littlest things:  I love that first section of Target.  Last year I found the most adorable mini cake platters for $3.  I made fudge and other goodies for family members.  One year I utilized my mediocre knitting talent to make small gifts.

This year I collected walnuts from our giant tree.  I have been slowly baking treats and freezing them. I also made coasters for my clients.  Mary decorated baked ornaments to gift to family.

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I found some really great gift ideas from fellow bloggers and even found a few used items on Amazon!  The gift itself is really thoughtful and the recipient will never even notice that it is used.  They will just be surprised by the idea.

Sharing and volunteering can be so helpful when we are at our lowest:  The greatest gift you can ever give to others and to yourself is sharing the holiday season with someone who needs assistance.  This doesn’t mean you need to shell out money.  I recently read a friend’s Facebook post seeking volunteers to help with feeding the homeless for a holiday dinner.  She mentioned that they have a wonderful homeless community and that being a server would be one of the most rewarding opportunities you might have.  Being able to share your gifts or talents with those who need help can be a very special experience.  If you are feeling alone or down this holiday season, this can be a great way to bring some warmth into your heart.

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Rock is getting into the holiday spirit as a snowman artist!

 

Food should never make you feel bad about yourself:  I had the most wonderful discussion with a client the other night.  At one point during our discussion we both had an “Aha moment.”  The holiday season is an epic time for eating.  There are parties and goodies in the office.  Friends are gifting treats.

We are going to find ourselves eating too much.  We are likely going to eat more decadent things at a meal or two than we normally would.  But here is the deal: You should never feel guilty or bad about yourself because of what you eat.  Food is a wonderful part of our lives.  It is a part of our culture, our families, our socialization, and who we are.

Just as we find a balance with everything else during the holiday season, it is important to find that balance with eating and exercise.  Step into your week prepared.  If you know that there will be an office party after work, try to get a walk or a workout in during lunch.

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It’s okay.  This is how I tend to eat pizza.  #scaryscenario

If you find yourself at a buffet, stick to a one plate rule.

If you are meeting a group at a restaurant, check out their menu ahead of time and stick to a plan when you walk in.

Life is meant to be enjoyed.  Find little ways to indulge and enjoy yourself.  Look for ways to stay active during the day.  Don’t ever beat yourself up over what you do or choose to eat.  The holidays are meant to be enjoyed.

Everything in life is about moderation from our holiday shopping to our holiday eating.

How do you try to find balance?  What do you enjoy most about the holiday season?

 

Healthy Through The Holidays

Can you believe it is already November?!  Halloween has left us in it’s dust and we are quickly approaching Thanksgiving.  I keep seeing posts on Facebook pointing out that there are only a few weekends left until Christmas.  Where is time going?!

As a health and running coach, I read a lot about holiday weight gain.  To be quite honest, most of it drives me crazy.  It is true that many of us will put on a few pounds during the holidays.  We will all likely over indulge at some point on holiday treats or drinks at a party.  Most of us will overload our plates at Thanksgiving and again at Christmas (and probably a few other parties along the way).

What drives me nuts is how the fitness industry preys on this fear.  It’s almost like they lurk in the background waiting for us to feel guilty about our overindulging.  They wait until that guilt has set in and we approach the New Year ready to make resolutions.

There is no reason to approach the holidays with fear!

Gyms are just waiting for you to come in on January 1st, all giddy to lose weight and ready to fork over money not only for a gym membership but also initiation fees.  They know that the majority of people who come in with New Year’s resolutions, will quickly abandon them by February.

If you have a gym membership you know exactly how this goes.  Come January, the gym is packed.  You can’t find a treadmill or an elliptical.  You look around and wonder what the heck happened to your normal routine.  Then a few weeks later, the gym is back to it’s quite self and you can hop on just about any piece of cardio equipment your heart desires.

We all have best intentions in the New Year.  We want to make changes. We feel the pressure to make  these changes.  You think now is the time to lose that weight.  Now is the time to get healthy after a wild holiday season.

But what if we turned the tables?  What if we approached the holidays with a different mindset?  Take the notion of diets out of the picture.  If we stopped thinking that to be healthy we need to eliminate certain “bad” foods from our diet, and instead work to find a healthy balance, could we approach the holiday season from a different angle?  

Being healthy is a year round approach with splurge days along the way.  Food and drinks shouldn’t be “off limits,” but instead enjoyed in moderation.  Goals should lead us toward a life of happiness instead of a period of deprivation followed by a temporary phase where we feel “skinny” and accepted.

This holiday season, I am taking a healthy approach to exercise, eating, and well being.  I am going to enjoy exercise in moderation because it is a part of my life and it keeps me healthy.  I am going to focus on healthy eating and plan for some fun holiday celebrations along the way.

I have a special offer for you to join me in staying healthy and fit through the holidays.  Avoid the guilt from over indulgence.  Learn how to make small changes that lead to healthy results.  My Healthy Through the Holidays Plan is a 13 week program that begins next week and lasts through the first week of February.HealthyHolidayAd.jpg

Together we will explore simple ways to make moderate lifestyle changes that allow for both healthy eating and holiday indulgences.  We will practice ways to prepare for obstacles during parties and celebrations.  Learn how to prep meals to survive the holiday season a little easier.

Here’s what you receive for 13 weeks of Healthy Through the Holidays training:

Weekly newsletters and worksheets focusing on topics that will help keep you on track.

•Weekly personalized check-in e-mails from a Certified Health Coach to discuss your  personal nutrition and exercise needs.

•Simple, short, customized workouts that can be done throughout the day to fit your personal schedule.

•24/7 access to e-mail, phone and text to address all of your needs.

•Guilt free living to get you through the holiday season for 13 full weeks.  No need to make any resolutions!  My goal is for you to independently follow your healthy lifestyle after 13 short weeks.

•Nutrition, fitness, and behavioral approaches to ensure that we focus on the whole you; mind and body.

•Virtual training with unlimited phone calls, e-mails, and texts.

•Local participants can join me for a night of cocktails and weekly meal prep tutorial.  Stick around and dine!

Special holiday pricing of $150 for 13 weeks of Health Coaching and Training.

Sound like fun?  Reach out to me through my e-mail address or phone number on the website sidebar.

What is your best approach to surviving the holidays?   Do you tend to make resolutions?

 

Combating Running Boredom

One of the biggest complaints I hear about running is that it is boring.  If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they tried to run but it was too boring….well I would have a lot of dollars!

I am not going to completely disagree, because the truth is running has the potential to be pretty dull.  But my mom used to ban this word from our house as kids because she said boredom is a state of mind.  If you are bored, find something to do.

Even the treadmill can have it’s redeeming factors.  So let’s take a look at a few ways you can make running a bit more interesting.

Trashy TV and magazines.  When I first got back into running, I was an exclusive treadmill runner.  To get through my runs I started using “US Weekly” as my method to nail my workouts.  In fact, at one point I used to say things to Rock like, “They say that Angelina and Brad are splitting up.”  Rock would respond with, “Who is they?!”  And I would have to confess that my sources were US Weekly and People Magazine.  But I thoroughly enjoyed my time with these pages and lots of reality TV.

Change it up buttercup.  If you ran loops around a track all day you would most definitely be bored.  Talk about a hamster wheel!  And the same thing holds true to running the same route day in and day out.  But if you were to start trying new routes or even hit up some trails, you would notice that an environmental change does wonders for your workouts.  This is what I love about running.  You can explore so many great places!

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Tune into something enjoyable.  I use music a lot when training.  It can be a really effective tool to help you.  Music can motivate and also help you maintain your pace.  It doesn’t have to stop with a play list either.  In fact, right now I can’t figure out how to get my voice commands to not pop up as I run, so I swapped my iTunes for Pandora.  This is fun because I just plug in different genres and listen away.  Everything is unpredictable and with the right channel, I find myself enjoying new songs to add to my playlist for marathon training.

You can also listen to podcasts or radio shows.  I’m a big fan of Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me! and listen to this if I happen to run on a Sunday.  Other runners love TED talks.  The possibilities are endless and with a little noise to block the boredom chatter in your head, you will get lost in the miles.

Solve a problem.  Make a list.  I cannot tell you how many times I have solved a problem during a run.  From dealing with a sad time to figuring out how the heck to get organized, running seems to make everything less frazzled.  In fact, on Saturday I ran 12 miles and figured out just what to pack for an upcoming trip.

Sometimes I go over grocery lists and think of which recipes to use for the week.  I build the grocery list in my head during my run and then repeat it to myself for a few miles so that I don’t forget.

Find a friend or a group.  Misery loves company.  Find some other bored runners or a running group and chat the miles away.

I know that running isn’t always the most enjoyable sport.  But the boredom excuse can easily be combatted.  Try a few of these tricks or share with me a few of your favorite ways to enjoy the run.

 

Break It Down: Resolving Incrementally.

I am sure you have heard that the majority of people who make big New Year’s resolutions, go back to their old habits within one month.  It’s true.  Most New Year’s resolutions don’t last.

Many of us feel pressure as the year begins to pick something to change.  We often over indulge during the holidays and that adds to the pressure and guilt which leads us to decide on these major changes.

However, major changes can only come in our lives when we are truly ready both mentally and physically.  While we often say that we need to start a diet or pick up an exercise habit, those are usually just comments made in passing.  Changes don’t come about by simply stating you are going to make a difference.  You have to be fully engaged in the process and be at a point where you truly are ready to commit.

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This is why many people who try to quit smoking have such a difficult time.  They know they should quit and often feel pressure to quit.  But until they are seriously ready to put down their cigarettes, they will continue to come back to their old habits.

Instead of putting yourself in a position that leads to failure and feelings of guilt or disappointment, set yourself up for resolutions that will create an environment of success.

Small changes add up in big ways and are easier to implement.  Try choosing a monthly habit to take on or give up.  They can be small and simple.   You can add a serving of daily veggies to your diet one month.  Then you can decide to walk for 30 minutes each day the following month.  Or you could opt for drinking more water the next 30 days.

The best part of this plan is that it takes about a month for a new habit to form and stick.  By making small monthly changes, you are creating long term habits that will make you healthier.

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Remember, small changes add up in big ways!

What kind of small changes would you like to make?