In all honesty challenge might be the wrong word but it can be challenging for some of us to do.
Here’s how I’d love for you to think about it:
Adding love to your life. Sound cheesy?
It’s completely not cheesy and even more so it’s about moderation and realistic expectations. One of our goals at Urban Athlete is to help you create an exercise plan along with supportive nutrition that is sustainable for the long haul. While that sounds great in theory, we also know that can be harder than what it maybe should be.
Why would it be hard to stick to a sensible and realistic plan that doesn’t include two-a-day workouts or a highly restrictive meal plan?! That’s a great question!
The simple answer is, the above might actually be easier to do for four weeks and you’d even see results. Yet, the reality is when you fall off the above wagon your results disappear pretty quick. If we can help guide you in sticking to a consistent plan for your exercise and a sustainable, supportive nutrition plan, not only can we help you reach your goals we can help you set and reach new ones!
Where all this goes astray is the attention that the word moderation brings. We highly believe in moderation not restriction however moderation, if not careful, can become too loose and retain zero boundaries. Moderation is important for mental sanity and long term success but it has to be true moderation. A favorite rule from Precision Nutrition is the 90/10 principle; follow the guidelines 90% of the time and allow for 10% deviation. More on that shortly.
As we set up to start this 6 week challenge I ask you to do some reflection.
What is ideal health, fitness and wellness for you? What does it looks like and how do you think it would make you feel? Write it out, you can type it or hand write it, either way – get the words so they are visible to you and read it often throughout the week.
Visuals often play an important role in seeing body composition changes. If body composition is a part of your goal for the challenge, take a front view and profile view photo of yourself to see the progress you make from week 1 to week 6.
Remember the intention is about a long term, sustainable way to live your life healthfully.
Lifestyle Challenge Nutrition Guidelines:
- Take time on either Saturday or Sunday of each week to reflect and plan.
- Look back on the previous week. What went well? What was challenging for you?
- Food prep for the upcoming week. Plan your meals in advance and make extra for lunch the next day. Meal planning does not need to be elaborate, simplify your prep so you can pull on your decision making where it’s really needed.
- At the bottom of this page are several recipes from Precision Nutrition to use in your meal prep. Keep in mind that proteins and vegetables can easily be swapped out in all recipes to make them varied.
- Additionally, you can grill or cook proteins, chop a variety of veggies and boil a dozen eggs at the start of each week to have go to food options ready.
- Schedule your four workouts for the week. If your weeks vary, this will be especially important so that you are getting to Urban Athlete each week without missing a session.
- Here’s the plan (adapted from Precision Nutrition)
- Eat every few (3-4) hours.
- You don’t need to eat a full meal every few hours, some can be more snack sized. Every few hours you should be getting a dose of good food that follows the other rules below.
- That may seem like a lot, but understand a) that each meal will be smaller than the ones most people eat, and b) that eating this way can drastically reduce your body’s inclination to store the calories you eat as body fat.
- Include protein-dense foods in each meal and snack.
- The most protein-dense and high-quality proteins come from animal foods; like chicken, beef, fish, dairy, and the like.
- If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, this rule still applies. You just have to be more vigilant about getting in all your key nutrients. If you aren’t sure just ask us
- Include vegetables in each meal or snack.
- One of the best and easiest things you can do to improve your health is to include veggies in each meal or snack.
- Psychologically, that’s a big change for most people. It makes such a difference physically that it’s well worth it.
- Save carb-heavy meals for after exercise.
- This includes things like things rice, pasta, potatoes, etc. You can eat them all but wait until after you’ve exercised.
- Plenty of research shows that the body is better able to process carbohydrates in the 3 hour period following a bout of intense exercise.
- Include a good balance of healthy fat in your diet.
- For a long time, dietary fat was vilified in the media. The truth is that dietary fat is absolutely essential.
- There are 3 types of fat: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Eating all three kinds in a healthy balance can dramatically improve your health, and actually help you lose fat.
- Your saturated fat will probably already be covered. Most foods containing protein also contain some saturated fat, and that’s okay. You can even toss in some butter or coconut oil for cooking.
- Your monounsaturated fat should come from mixed nuts, olives, and olive oil.
- Your polyunsaturated fat should from flax seed oil, fish oil, and mixed nuts.
- Determining your 90/10
- Remember moderation is good but we need to be aware of it.
- 90/10 looks like this. Assume you eat 5 small meals a day, that’s 35 meals a week. If you deviate from your plan 10% of the time, that allows you 3.5 times for moderation. That could mean one meal you have a glass of wine, one meal you skip, one meal you have over eat and one other time that week you have an extra snack.
- What about caffeine, alcohol and sugar?!
- Caffeine: yes, caffeine consumption is fine just don’t over do it. Hydration is important and for every cup of caffeine you need to hydrate with water.
- Alcohol: aim whenever possible to not drink your calories. Moderation means a glass of wine here and there is fine.
- Sugar: naturally occurring sugar, as in fruit and other carbohydrates is essential for muscle repair but let’s stay clear of added sugar and sweeteners.
Lifestyle Challenge Exercise Guidelines:
- Attend four sessions a week at Urban Athlete
- Coach led workouts will give you the most biggest bang for your buck. If you don’t already, think about it like group personal training.
- It is our belief that you want to be active at least half the days of the week. Scheduling four workouts a week is a great way to get set into that pattern.
- Group sessions at Urban Athlete are always different and vary in the type of workout response. Attending four sessions a week will give you a great balance between strength training and high intensity interval training.
- Workouts should feel challenging but not impossible or defeating
- Even if you’re a veteran to exercise, workouts shouldn’t feel like they didn’t challenge you. Conversely, they shouldn’t feel so hard that you don’t feel successful.
- There may be times in your workout, whether new to the scene or a veteran, that modifications are needed and this is perfectly ok as well as encouraged. Exercise should be a positive experience for everyone.
- Have 1-3 days of active recovery outside of your Urban Athlete sessions
- This means, walking, hiking, etc. Your choices do not need nor should be strenuous and lengthy, but continued movement even on your ‘off’ days is good for recovery from your workouts, joint lubrication and overall health.
- When and if possible, aim to go outside for fresh air.
- Challenge yourself
- It’s easier to opt out that to opt in but opting out doesn’t yield desired results. On the days you don’t feel like it or you imagine just going through the motions revisit the reflection statements you wrote out in the beginning of this challenge.
- Always try to do something that puts you just outside your comfort zone.
Lifestyle Challenge Recovery Guidelines:
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep each night
- We need sleep. Aim as best as possible to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
- If you need a little pick me up and have the ability to mid-day nap, only snooze for about 15-20 minutes.
- Stay hydrated, drink plenty of water daily
- Our bodies rely on water for proper function
- Soft tissue work and recovery are important
- Pre and Post workout stick around the gym for some soft tissue work with either foam rollers, lax balls or other equipment we have. Just ask us to show you.
- Post workout static stretching can be good for you as well.
- Active recovery days will also be essential, even if you can aim for just 15-20 minutes
- Be kind to yourself
- One thing most of us are really good at is being too hard on ourselves and not celebrating the little wins. Choosing a healthy lifestyle isn’t impossible but it also isn’t the easiest.
- Know that you are paving a plan for your future health and wellness. Remind yourself daily that you are indeed worth the time and effort it takes to make better choices for your long term health. Your body will thank you.
Veggie Loaded Zucchini Noodle Lasagna
olive oil, 1 tsp
extra lean ground turkey, 2 lbs
garlic, minced, 3 cloves
red onion, chopped small, 1/2
red pepper, chopped small, 1
spinach, chopped, 1 cup
dried parsley, 1 tsp
dried basil, 1 tsp
dried oregano, 1 tsp
sea salt, 1/4 tsp
whole tomatoes, with juice, 1-14 oz can
tomato paste, 1-6 oz can
zucchini, sliced lengthwise, about 1/4 cm thick, 4
ricotta, low fat, 15 oz
mozzarella, grated, 3/4 cup
Parmesan, freshly grated, 1/4 cup
parsley, fresh for garnish
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 60 minutes Yield: 8 servings
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Slice the zucchini’s lengthwise using a mandolin or as thin as you can cut them intact (1/4 cm).
- Next, chop the red pepper, onion, spinach, and garlic. Set aside.
- Grate mozzarella and parmesan separately and set aside as well.
- Now, add olive oil, onion, garlic, and ground turkey to a pan and cook until the turkey is half done (half pink). Add chopped pepper and spinach and cook until turkey is fully cooked (no longer pink). Drain excess liquid.
- In a separate bowl, mix canned tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, parsley, oregano, and sea salt – reserve 2 tbsp and set aside. Add the remaining amount to the ground turkey and mix thoroughly. Remove turkey mixture from heat.
- In a separate bowl, mix ricotta with the eggs. Set aside.
- Spread the 2 tbsp of reserved tomato mixture on the bottom of your pan (approx. 12″ x 8″ in size or 2 smaller pans) and then add the first layer of zucchini noodles (1/3 of the amount you chopped) either lengthwise or widthwise.
- Add ½ of the meat mixture and then add another layer of the zucchini noodles (another 1/3 of the amount you cut).
- Add the ricotta/egg mixture and lightly sprinkle ¼ cup of grated mozzarella.
- Add the last layer of zucchini (last 1/3).
- Add the rest of the meat sauce (if you feel like there is too much, save a little for lunch another day).
- Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of grated mozzarella, ¼ cup grated parmesan, and either ½ tsp dried parsley or 1 tbsp fresh parsley for garnish.
- Bake 50-60 minutes until bubbling throughout and cheese is lightly browned on top.
Broccoli Salad with a Creamy Whipped Sauce
broccoli florets, small, sliced, 5 cups
red cabbage, chopped, 1/2 cup
carrot, peeled and grated, 1
garlic, smashed and chopped, 1 clove
ginger, grated, 1 tsp
sunflower seed butter, 1/4 cup
apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup
maple syrup, 1 tsp
extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup
water, 2-3 tbsp
cayenne, 1/8 tsp
currants, 2 tbsp
sliced almonds, 2 tbsp
shallot, sliced and cooked until crunchy, 1
butter, 2 tsp
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes Yield: 4 servings
- Chop broccoli into some florets and bring a medium pot to boil with about 1 inch of water. Once boiling, add broccoli and steam covered for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, drain water immediately and add broccoli to the bowl you will be serving the salad in to remove it from any heat.
- Slice and chop the red cabbage and peel and shred carrot. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tsp butter in a small skillet. Finely dice the shallot and cook until browned and slightly crunchy, even burning it slightly.
- In a food processor, add all the sauce ingredients except the water. Blend well for 30 seconds until it looks whipped. Gradually add 2-3 tbsp of water to make it light and fluffy – it will not be the consistency of a salad dressing, it will be more like whipped cream.
- In the large bowl where the broccoli is, add the cabbage and carrot and toss with dressing – add the dressing gradually, just enough to coat the vegetables lightly. Then top with almonds, currants, and shallots.
Chicken Tacos with Raspberry Salsa and Cojita Cheese
raspberries, fresh, 1 cup
red onion, finely minced, 2 tbsp
extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp
lime zest and juice, 1/2
sea salt, 1/8 tsp
corn taco shells, small, 6
Cotija cheese, crumbled*, 1/2 cup
cilantro, stems removed, 1.5 cups
grilled or roasted chicken breast, sliced or shredded, 1 large
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 0 minutes Yield: 6 tacos
For the Salsa:
- Add all prepped ingredients to a bowl and mash together with a fork. Reserve for taco assembly.
*This is a salty, crumbly traditional Mexican cheese. If you can’t find Cotija cheese, substitute a cow, sheep, or goat milk feta.
For the Tacos:
- Lay your tacos shells out and layer with chicken, salsa, and cilantro, and then garnish with a sprinkle of crumbled cheese. Eat immediately!
Egg Stuffed Potatoes
baking potatoes, 2 large
salsa, 1/2 cup
grated cheese (optional), 1/2 cup
salt & pepper, to taste
Prep Time: 25 minutes Cook Time: 85 minutes Yield: 4 potato halves
- Wash the potatoes well. Pierce them with a fork and wrap them in tin foil. Bake the potatoes in preheated 400F oven for 50-60 minutes or until very soft when poked with fork. Once done, remove the potatoes from the oven, remove the tin foil, and let cool for about 10 minutes.
- Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh leaving about ⅓ inch of flesh and skin. Place the flesh into a bowl. Add salsa (and cheese if desired) to the bowl and stir until well combined.
- Place the potato shells on a baking tray lined with tin foil or parchment paper. Fill the potato with the salsa + potato mixture. Press the filling down firmly and create a small divot in the center. Crack an egg over the divot.
- Bake the potatoes in 400F oven for 20-25 minutes or until the eggs have set. Depending on your preference, you can wait until both the white and yellow of the egg are fully cooked, or remove the potato from the oven before the yellow is fully set.
- Remove from oven and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
- Store leftovers in fridge.
Fiesta Chicken Soup
olive oil, 3 tbsp
garlic cloves, minced, 5
chicken thighs, 6 boneless
chicken or vegetable broth, 10 cups
oregano, dried, 2 tbsp
tomatoes, diced, 6 medium
jalapeno peppers, seeds removed and sliced, 3
cilantro, avocado, lime, tortilla chips – to garnish
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 90 minutes Yield: 6-8 servings
- Begin by adding the olive oil and garlic to a large pot. Cook over medium heat until garlic is lightly browned and roasted.
- Next, add chicken thighs to the pot, and cook them until they are lightly browned on both sides.
- Once the chicken thighs are lightly browned on both sides, add the broth and oregano. Turn down the heat to medium-low, cover your pot, and cook for about an hour, or until chicken has lost its rubberiness and starts to break apart easily.
- Once the chicken has been tenderized, add the tomatoes and jalapeno peppers, and cook for an additional five minutes, then remove the soup from heat.
- Once the soup has cooled slightly, taste it. Depending on the broth you used, you may need to add salt.
- Before serving, top each soup blow with a small handful of chopped cilantro, half a sliced avocado, the juice of half a lime, and a handful of tortilla chips.
- Serve and enjoy!
Sesame Ginger Mushrooms with Tofu and Charred Broccoli
mushrooms (shitake, oyster, or maitake), 200g
sesame seeds, 1 tbsp
tofu, cut into 1/2″ cubes, 80g
onion, sliced, 1/2 small
ginger, chopped, 1 tbsp
garlic, sliced, 1 clove
broccoli florets, 2 cups
cilantro, chopped, 1/3 cup
Tamari soy sauce, 1 tbsp
rice vinegar, 1 tbsp
sesame oil, 2 tsp
olive oil, 2 tsp
salt, to taste
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Yield: 4 side portions
- Combine the mushrooms, tofu, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and tamari in a bowl and mix to combine.
- In a large wok or frying pan, toast the sesame seeds on high heat until they turn golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove seeds to a small bowl, and return the pan to high heat. Add the mushroom mix to the pan, spreading them out into an even layer as much as possible.
- Add the olive oil, onion, garlic, and ginger. Stir once every minute or so, until mushrooms and tofu caramelize and darken, about 10 minutes.
- Remove from the pan into a bowl and add the broccoli florets in a single layer on the bottom of the pan. Cook on high heat until the broccoli gets charred and is cooked about halfway through.
- Mix with the mushroom mixture, toss in the cilantro, and garnish with the toasted sesame seeds and salt to taste.
- Store leftovers in fridge.
Kale Berry Smoothie
baby kale, raw, packed, 1 cup
strawberries, frozen, halved, 1 cup
raspberries, frozen, 1 cup
protein powder, vanilla, 1 scoop
almond butter, 1/4 cup
oats, 1/2 cup
water or unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 cup
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 0 minutes Yield: 2-4 servings
- Put all ingredients into your blender or food processor and blend until smooth, scraping the sides of your blender or food processor as needed. The liquid will be fairly thick. If you prefer a smoothie that is more liquid, add a bit more water.
- Once blended, pour into 2-4 cups (depending on the size of your cups).
- Best enjoyed right away. If there are leftovers, store them in the fridge or freeze and turn into popsicles!