Eight-Week Challenge

eight week challengeOne of my favorite bloggers is Queen of Blank (real name, Danielle). Her blog is The Caffeinated Writer (from which I nicked the image for this post since I’m following her lead, but you can see that because it is part of the image). She’s on the East Coast, where I came from back in 2012 when my husband and I moved to San Diego. And she’s moving soon–back to Texas. Oh, and she’s getting married–all the best to you, Danielle and Brad.

To prepare for the move, she has set herself an eight-week challenge. And she has inspired me to set up my own eight-week challenge, though I won’t have the same big change in my life at the end of the eight weeks. But I know setting goals as New Year’s resolutions rarely works, so why wait for a specific date on a calendar to begin working towards goals? I have at least as high a likelihood of succeeding if I start the last week of May.

Danielle’s goals have to do with losing weight, reading more, and writing more. So I’m taking on goals with a similar theme: eating better, reading more magazines, and writing more regularly.

So here are my goals in my personal eight-week challenge:

  • eat more nutritious food with fewer empty calories,
  • spend one day a week reading the backlog of magazines sitting on the end table, and
  • write at least 500 words per day for at least five days each week.

Eat more nutritious food

I admit that I’ve already begun working on the first one. When my doctor prescribed medication to address my type 2 diabetes, I started reading about other options–mostly significant changes to my regular eating habits–that may get me off medication. I found two books in particular helpful, though I also did more online research as a result.

After reading these two books, I thought back to the advice I had received when I was first prescribed a statin for high cholesterol levels at least fifteen years ago as well as the dietitian’s more recent recommendations for adjusting my eating habits to address diabetes. In the first case, what I recall of what my doctor said was that once I began taking a statin regularly, I could eat whatever I wanted to eat. In the second case, the dietitian recommended I eliminate only five foods from my diet.

If only addressing medical conditions were so easy. The first solution was like assuming a magic pill would erase the problem. And the second solution assumed I would resist making bigger changes.

I also searched online for reports on the effects of taking statins for women. While I could find many reports that included the standard advice that taking statins preventatively will reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems, I was startled to find other reports that indicated women who have never had a heart attack or stroke are unlikely to benefit from taking a statin. In addition, there is evidence that for women, statins may actually bring on diabetes and memory loss. Even the Mayo Clinic admits there is a relationship between statins and increased glucose levels or type 2 diabetes. WebMD.com lists a number of possible side effects, though it continues to make the case for more people being prescribed these drugs.

After reading the books and doing the research, I decided to do two things.

First, following Dr. Fuhrman’s recommendations, I am now eating a plant-based diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and unrefined grains, with no meat, dairy, eggs, or oils and very limited carbohydrates. On the weekends, I will allow myself to have one traditional dessert when we are out at a restaurant or at someone’s home.

Second, I’ve stopped taking the statin. After all, since the purpose for taking the statin is to reduce the cholesterol in my body, I shouldn’t need it any longer since I am no longer eating foods with cholesterol.

I’m still taking the medication prescribed for diabetes because I have an appointment with my endocrinologist at the end of the month. I plan to tell her I wish to stop taking the medication and continue eating the plant-based diet instead, to see if my body can control the glucose levels in my blood in that way.

Oh, and I know I need more exercise to go along with this diet, so my pedometer is once again my friend.

Spend one day a week reading magazines

I read something every day. I set a goal of reading at least 50 books in 2016 through the Goodreads.com challenge and I am well on my way to meeting that goal. But I need to cull through the backlog of magazines that keep piling up as reading the next book looks more enticing. This week I got through seven magazines in one day–but they were the short ones, the ones I just skim through, scanning most of the pages to see whether anything is worth more time. Those left are the big ones, Writer’s Digest and The Sun, magazines that have so much of value in them I need more than a day to get through them.

Write at least 500 words per day for five days each week

I don’t plan to count words I revise in what I have already written. I will count only words put down to flesh out the many chapters of my memoir that right now contain only a title. Or a new blog post. Or maybe something completely new. Back in 2013 I set out to write at least 500 words a day for 365 days, so I know I can do it. I just need to put the seat of my pants into the seat of my chair and then do it.

At the end of each of the next eight weeks, I’ll report on whether I have been able to stick with my plant-based diet as well as on how many steps my pedometer reports each day. I’ll report on the number of magazines I have managed to knock of the stack. And I’ll provide a list of the number of words I’ve written each day.

Thanks in advance for keeping me accountable for these goals.

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6 thoughts on “Eight-Week Challenge

  1. Pingback: A New Hope – Dana Ellington, MAPW

    1. Thanks, Sarah. I was delighted when I saw Danielle’s post about her eight-week challenge. She has a specific reason for setting her goals for the upcoming eight weeks. But the beauty of the idea is that any eight weeks will do. And any goals will do.

  2. @breakerofthings

    Hi Sandra, Had a quick look a this post after looking at your update. Good plan and well done for sticking to it. With regard to cholesterol, one of my friends and I used to meet for coffee a couple of times a week – fresh brew ground – and plan out what needed doing in the lab over the next few days/weeks/months. Sadly we had to switch to instant because something in the ground coffee raises the really bad cholesterol reading (there are three, from memory). Not something I worry too much about (yet), but I tend to regard fresh coffee as a treat these days, rather than as an I alienable right!
    Good luck!

    1. Thanks for the comment. I’ve been avoiding both coffee and tea because of the caffeine since I have come to learn that caffeine inhibits the absorption of calcium, too. I’ll check out the relationship between coffee and cholesterol, too.

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