My Personal 21-Day Back on Track Challenge

Back on Track to Health and Wellness.

Getting back on track with our health is different than when we’re just starting out. We know we can do it. We know what the benefits are and have experienced them before. And we know generally what we need to do to get back to feeling the way we want to.

Life simply happens sometimes. Instead of beating ourselves up about it, we just need to guide ourselves back to where we want to be. That’s where I am at this point. Life not only happened recently; it body slammed me. While my health and wellness habits are part of what helped get me through, they also took a beating. That’s why I need a tune-up. While everybody’s version of getting back on track is and should be different, I wanted to share what I’ll be doing over the next 21 days to get myself back to where I want to be.

Drink 96 Ounces of Water a Day

This is the amount that Brooke Goldner, M.D.  recommends so that we can survive and thrive. Dr. Goldner is the founder of, and creator of the Hyper-Nourishing Nutrition Protocol for Lupus Recovery.

I can vouch for the fact that when I drink this much each day, I simply feel better. It also makes me feel full so that I’m not snacking throughout the day. I know that the key for me is to finish my 40-ounce water bottle by the time I’m done with my morning workout. Since I’ve already had 8 ounces with my tea and 8 ounces in my smoothie, all I need is another 40 ounces throughout the day.

Cut Out Wine

This is my version of Dry January. I don’t feel like I need to cut wine out of my life completely, but after extremely stressful times, I think it is helpful to take a break and get back on track. If I drink a glass here or there, I want it to be out of enjoyment, not because I rely on it as a coping mechanism.

Move More

When I don’t make getting enough movement into my day a priority, things go south pretty quickly. I need it to feel better physically and mentally. Five days a week at the gym for an hour each day is my goal. I’ll also be working in some type of movement on the other two days. I’ve found that I need a combination of cardio to de-stress and to just get my energy going, strength training to keep my muscles strong and stretching to keep my body flexible. Since I sit at a desk all day, I’ll also be working in hourly breaks to just get up and move for a couple of minutes.

Eat a BIG Salad Every Day

This is another Dr. Goldner recommendation that goes with her suggestion of eating eight cups of raw vegetables every day. While I don’t need to get all of that through my salad, a big serving bowl full is about 5 cups – just the right amount.

Dramatically Reduce Refined, Added Sugar

When I feel my best, I’m eating virtually no refined, added sugar. The problem though is that I am without a doubt a stress eater, and when I stress, I often want chocolate (or popcorn). There are plenty of times when I have a great deal of self-control, but when I’m stressed is not usually one of them. If I know it’s going to be a stressful time or now, as I’m trying to wean myself off of too much sugar, I’ll try to keep 85 percent chocolate around or bite-sized servings of something that’s naturally sweetened. I still have to limit myself to small portions of those though because even natural sweeteners can spike blood sugar.

Write in My Gratitude Journal

Writing in my gratitude journal forces me to take a few minutes every day and appreciate my life. It’s hard to get too down or stressed when I can recognize everything that I have and the lessons that I’ve learned. I will spend a few minutes first thing each morning writing down at least five things that I’m grateful for. This will help add perspective as I start the day.

Meditate Every Morning

Since my head tends to flood with thoughts, worries and to dos the second I wake up, meditating helps to counter the “noise” with some balance. As a naturally fairly intense person, it helps me to step back and be more thoughtful for myself and others. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, it’s safe to assume that it’s been a while since I’ve meditated. When I meditate regularly, I simply don’t get like that. That’s why strengthening my meditation practice will be a big part of my getting back on track over the next 21 days.

Connect More with Others

Working from home is a good fit for me because I need quiet when I’m truly thinking, and I think more creatively when I’m by myself. I honestly believe that’s my brain’s retaliation for the years of sensory overload from working in a noisy and hyper-vigilant newsroom. The challenge though is making sure that I’m not too isolated and that I make an effort to connect with others.

That’s why I’ll be pushing myself over the next three weeks to find new communities that fit my interests and to take more initiative in getting together with friends. I certainly don’t feel the need to fill up all of my spare time just being “busy,” but I know that I need more meaningful connections and the only way that’s going to happen is by putting myself “out there.”

Eat 100 Percent Plant-Based

Let me be clear. This is a personal goal for me. I do not believe that a purely plant-based diet is best for everyone. It can be a healthy choice for some, as much as I know that eating meat as a source of protein is better for others. I have eaten what I call a 98 percent plant-based diet for several years now, and I know that I simply feel better eating that way.

My two percent not counted in there is the fact that I love cheese. While I don’t eat it most of the time at home, if you put a platter of cheese and crackers or a pizza in front of me, I’m going to have trouble saying no. It’s also a way of participating in social situations without eating meat. This wouldn’t be such a big deal except that as I’ve gotten older, I simply don’t feel as good after I’ve eaten cheese. Since real health is about finding what makes us feel the best individually, I think cheese is going to have to go.

Ethical Considerations

The other major factor in my decision years ago to start eating this way is that even though I’ve eaten meat for all of my life and grew up on a farm, I realized that I truly don’t want to do harm – either directly or indirectly – to another animal. That is my personal choice and viewpoint, but I do not judge those who do eat meat. My sons and husband certainly still eat meat, and I respect their decision as much as I expect them to respect mine. When I buy meat for my family however, I do try to buy it from farmers that I know at the farmer’s market so that I know that it was raised in the most humane way possible.

Have More Fun

There’s no doubt about it. As I’m getting back on track, I need to get more genuine fun into my life. I love to work and that’s an integral part of who I am, but it certainly can’t be everything. I’m also very good at handling crisis situations – whether they’re my own, my family’s or someone else’s – but when they’re done, it’s hard for me to remember what I’m supposed to do during regular times. Having fun should be a consistent part of the regular times.

These are the 10 things that I’m tackling for myself over the next 21 days. If you decide that you need a reset as well, feel free to use my challenge to begin thinking about how you feel and what you need to get yourself back on track. If you develop your own list, feel free to share it in the comments below or through social media.

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