The 2 Week Challenge
A fortnight, 2 weeks, 14 days: Whichever way you look at it, it’s nothing in the grand scheme of things. If you had to completely change your lifestyle for just 2 weeks, you could absolutely cope. Let’s be honest, it’s only a couple of weeks isn’t it?
That’s why I’m challenging you to change your diet and fitness routine for just 14 days. If you feel amazing by the end of it, have lost a little weight, and are looking and feeling younger and healthier, my hope is you will stick with some of it. And if you don’t, well, what have you actually lost by trying?
This challenge has been designed to be completed over 2, full weeks, but, if you really, really can’t manage that, then 12 days will suffice. During the challenge you may find some bits work for you and some don’t. Celebrate the bits that do and don’t dwell on the elements that don’t. Before you start, I also suggest that you also weigh yourself, as this will help you see when you make progress. Trust me, this is a great mental boost!
Please bear in mind that everybody is different, so before you begin you should seek professional, medical advice. This programme, which I have followed myself, is only meant as suggestion, and should not be taken as nutritional, health or fitness advice.
Best of luck and best of health!
Start the day with an awesome routine.
- Drink ½ pint of water
- Do 30 press ups (if you can’t manage 30 yet, keep your knees on the floor, and if that’s still a struggle, put your hands on a step or similar)
- Do 30 sit ups
- Perform 5 Yoga poses of your choice. My suggestion is the following:
Belly Twist ( http://www.yogabasics.com/asana/belly-twist-version-a/
High Lunge http://www.yogabasics.com/asana/high-lunge/
Hold each position for 30 seconds on each side. This whole routine will take you less than 10 minutes and will help you feel amazing. You can do more or build it up gradually if it works for you over time. You can also find other poses on http://www.yogabasics.com ,but this list is a good starting point.
Tip With all Yogic positions, listen to your body. If it hurts, don’t push yourself; some positions may take some time to master. Yoga will help to build your flexibility and strength, so be patient and time and practice will help you to improve. If you are unsure about any of the positions, I would recommend seeking the advice of a professional yoga teacher.
De-acidify Your Blood
Boost the detoxification of your blood by adding wheatgrass and spirulina to your diet. Avoid toxins such as caffeine, dairy, wheat, sugar and alcohol.
Many of the ‘toxins’ and ‘poisons’ we consume turn our blood slightly acidic, which makes it thicker, more gloopy and saps your energy. In order to start to correct this, try the following during the 2 week challenge:
Before you eat your breakfast, have a heaped teaspoon of Wheatgrass (http://tinyurl.com/pm475x7) and Spirulina (http://tinyurl.com/qgxgeq4) mixed into water. Also have 1 Omega 3 (http://tinyurl.com/pq22mvq) tablet and 1 Acidophilus tablet (http://tinyurl.com/nbem79g).
During this challenge none of the following should be consumed:
- Caffeine. If you must drink coffee or tea, get water based decaffeinated products, such as Nepresso coffee capsules, and Clipper instant coffee or teas. Redbush tea is also a great, naturally caffeine-free tea, as are herbal teas like lemon and ginger, peppermint or detox blended teas. http://www.clipper-teas.com/whats-brewing/decaffeination-the-clipper-way/
- Wheat, with the exception of all bran based breakfast cereals
- Added sugar
- Carbonated drinks
Tip Try adding lemon to the water you drink, as this helps to turn your blood back to the slightly alkaline pH it should be.
Eat Food That Energises You
Eat an energising breakfast, a lean lunch bursting with nutrients, plus one protein meal or one carbohydrate meal per day. No dairy and no bread allowed!
For westerners, breakfast is the most difficult meal of the day because we are programmed to view it differently. Typically a western breakfast consists of starchy, carbohydrates and fatty proteins; the truth is that ideally we should aim to have breakfasts like broccoli! But I am going to go easy on you here.
Start the day right and have water and lemon to drink, as this will help de-acidify your blood.
For breakfast have some fresh fruit (not tinned, fresh) plus one of the following:
- Omelette (with something like spinach)
- Bran based breakfast cereal with small amount of good quality granola (homemade is best) plus some milled seeds with orange juice or almond / soya milk
- Porridge with almond / soya milk
- Muesli with almond / soya milk or juice
- Other low sugar cereals with almond / soya milk or juice
- Scrambled eggs (no milk or butter added)
For lunch have one of the following:
- A salad with a lean protein such as tuna, hummus, chicken or smoked mackerel. Whichever you chose, 80% of the content should be raw vegetables. Dress the salad with a little extra virgin olive/rapeseed oil and a small splash of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. The gift of oil ones are amazing, particularly their infused pomegranate and fig balsamic vinegar (http://www.thegiftofoil.co.uk/). Remember, no bread and no diary.
- Soup, such as pea and mint, butternut squash, Thai beetroot, mushroom, tomato or vegetable. Again, if you are not making it yourself, buy good quality soup and avoid the diary and the bread!
For dinner, have one of the following types of meals:
- Protein Meal: Anything with white meat or fish, with plenty of vegetables, but no starchy carbohydrates, such as potatoes, rice, pasta and certainly not bread! Replace these with sweet potatoes, butternut squash or, my favourite, courgette noodles. A few meal examples could be:
- Gluten free pesto topped poached salmon with a splash of white wine (the alcohol will be cooked off), served with steamed broccoli, French beans and roasted sweet potato.
- Chicken with roasted vegetables and roasted butternut squash (spice up the chicken with something like Jerk seasoning).
- Curried chicken and vegetables with cabbage instead of rice.
- Baked fish in foil with plenty of fresh vegetables.
- Turkey cottage pie, replacing potatoes with sweet potatoes.
- Gluten free sausages (good quality and at least 80% pork) with sweet potato, thyme and olive oil mash and red onion gravy.
- Carbohydrate Meal: Carbohydrates and protein should not be eaten together. Therefore your carbohydrate meal should not contain any meat, fish, nuts or protein rich pulses. Avoid bread, wheat and potatoes and focus more on meals with rice or gluten- free rice pasta. Examples of these meals would be:
- Asparagus, lemon and mint risotto
- Vegetable curry
- Vegetable stir-fry, ideally with rice noodles
- Mushroom risotto
Tip You can chose which type of meal you have each day, as you don’t need to have them in a certain order. However, to keep you interested in your food, I wouldn’t recommend that you have the same type of meal back-to-back for days on end! If you tend to eat your main meal at lunchtime instead of dinner time, simply switch the above meal suggestions: Have you carbohydrate or protein meal at lunchtime and your salad or soup in the evening.
Some great websites to help you find some delicious recipes that work for you:
Some great recipe books for eating this way are:
- Dr. Gillian McKeith’s ‘You Are What You Eat’
- Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall’s River Cottage ‘Light and Easy’
- Gizzi Erskine’s ‘Skinny Weeks and Weekend Treats’
- Sarah Wilson’s ‘I Quit Sugar’
If you need a snack between meals, try a handful of nuts or dried fruit or a piece of fresh fruit. Remember though, if you feel hungry there is a fair chance that it is actually because you are dehydrated, so drink water first.
Most people don’t drink nearly enough water. As a 5ft 8” male who weighs about 11.5 stone, and does about 30 minutes of exercise during an average day, I need to drink around 3 litres of water every 24 hours! That might sound like an awful lot, but it’s not. I’ve built that up over time and it’s made a massive difference to how I feel, how I look and how much I eat. Why not try it yourself: It can take years off you by being correctly hydrated! The best method I have found to calculate how much water I need, is by using this tool: http://nutrition.about.com/library/blwatercalculator.htm
Make sure you build up to drinking this amount each day, and if you can add a slice of lemon to it, even better.
Avoid using toxin filled products such as some deodorants and shower gels and don’t cook using anything in plastic containers.
The buildup of toxins over many years is shown to cause a wide array of medical problems. Many medical professionals also believe that toxins may one of the main culprits of the increase in cancer cases in modern times. Whilst this will take longer to correct than 2 weeks, you can start now by:
- Use Aluminum Free deodorant like http://tinyurl.com/nojubj8. Read http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/miscellaneous-health-and-wellness/aluminum-free-deodorant to learn more.
- Use Paraben Free shower gel like The Little Bubble Company from Boots or Waitrose. Read http://www.realsimple.com/beauty-fashion/skincare/worry-about-parabens to learn more.
- Don’t cook anything in plastic or drink water from a plastic bottle that has got warm. Read http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/may/26/is-plastic-food-packaging-dangerous to learn more.
‘Skinny Weeks and Weekend Treats’, Erskine Sums It Up Perfectly
As in the wonderful game of golf, when it comes to living a healthy life, celebrate ‘progress not perfection’. Dr. Bob Rotella, the amazing golf psychologist, says that “golf is not a game of perfect.” If it was, it would be a seriously dull game to play and to watch. Life is the same. Life is not a “game of perfect” either.
I am a big fan of cooking lovely foods and eating out in great restaurants. I am a lover of good wine and of fine real ales, so trust me, I am not suggesting that you give these things up forever! But, if you want to, that’s great.
But after the 2 week challenge, there was one thing that I did quit: Giving up caffeine to me was easy and made a marked difference. Quitting the caffeine boosted my energy and made me and my wife feel fantastic. Once you have no caffeine in your system, good decaf coffee tastes just as good as the ‘full fat’ version. My wife Caryl also drinks as much Red Bush tea as she did normal tea, so neither of us feel like we’ve given anything up or are making compromises on taste.
It is my hope though that you will do the 2 week challenge, as I did some 4 years ago, and feel so good that you will want to continue it in some way. You may not want to live the same lifestyle all of the time but, if you can create some simple rules for yourself, you will be amazed at what you can achieve over time, without giving up some of your treats.
Now when I say “simple rules”, I really mean very simple rules. Whilst my simple rule was created after I finished Robbins’ ‘Unleash the Power Within’, it is best summed up by the Gizzi Erskine book, ‘Skinny Weeks and Weekend Treats.’ When my rules started out they were incredibly complicated, but gradually they were refined down to the following:
- To live by this healthy lifestyle from Monday morning to Friday afternoon.
That’s it! For others that have successfully changed the way they live and lost considerable amounts of weight, they have been different. The key to success is establishing what your simple rules are, and sticking to them. This isn’t some fad or diet, it’s a lifestyle.
From Friday at 5.00pm, I can enjoy a pint of my favorite real ale of the moment and open a bottle of nice, red wine, without feeling any guilt. In fact, some research suggests that having ‘free days’ when it comes to your healthy lifestyle actually increases the impact of the healthy days. From personal experience, I can see how that could be true, but I’m not going to suggest that you go completely off the rails! In actual fact, what tends to happen is that, overtime, your ‘free days’ become healthier and healthier, because you notice how much better you feel living this way. The worst I feel each week is Monday morning, by which time my body is craving the return of my healthy lifestyle. How amazing is it to be craving the lifestyle that is good for you, rather than the other way around!
So set some simple rules and stick to them. Accept that there will be times you can’t: If I am attending a conference that only has sandwiches for lunch, don’t beat yourself up about it; life is not a “game of perfect”! But with prior preparation you can keep these to a minimum. When those times come along, you suddenly really notice the adverse effect they have on you and your energy levels. This will help keep you on track even more.
Part of the key to success, particularly if you are on the move a lot, is to think ahead so you can avoid some of these situations. For example, on the days when I work in London I need to have breakfast on the train. For a while this frustrated me, as I would end up with bacon sandwiches or croissants. But now I take my cereal mix with a bottle of juice in a collapsible lunch box. I am the only person on a packed train that has brought their own lunchbox breakfast, and that makes me feel even better!