Laboring on the Two Greatest Challenges in a Personal Health Challenge

It all began 1 week ago…

Our college began a campus-wide health challenge, calling out the faculty & staff of various divisions to compete with one another in the categories of FITNESS and WEIGHT LOSS.

Our new secretary (yes, the one who puts out surprise flowers on our conference table because she likes to make everything beautiful) distributed an email amongst our department distribution list, sounding the call to respond!

We were allowed to have up to 6 members on our team. By the time the day was over, she had 5 (and one who at least committed to walking with us on days we did it on campus).

By the time we officially registered, one of our team members was adamant about our team name: The Rampaging Regionals. (It’s obvious who the seriously competitive one in the bunch is.) Hoo-ah!

Another of our team members has strictly a fitness goal. Even though I’m pretty sure my group was banking on me to get us some maximum weekly work-out points, I joined the others in deciding to take on both the fitness and weight challenge.  (You’ve, of course, heard of the Freshman Fifteen across campuses. I’ve decided this would be a good time to turn things around before I’m battling the Forty Fifteen!) Of course, I’m a little nervous, in case our Drill Sergeant member decides I’m not performing up to her standards!!

Here’s the thing about this battle – I mean, competition…Between gym workouts and cycling, I do a vigorous amount of exercise during the week. And, truthfully, I’m fairly diligent about keeping up decent eating habits. But I’m better at building muscle than losing weight.

So, I had to rethink some strategies. I thought I’d share them as I revisited some, maybe tried some new ones out, etc. That way, not only can you help me out by holding me accountable, but maybe I can help out my team (if they decide to reference this log) or someone else who ends up becoming an “extended member.”

I’ll try to remember to keep us all up-to-date periodically on how our 5-member team is doing.

Meanwhile, here are my first couple of strategies I’ve begun to implement:

  1. Ingesting 1 gallon of water per day. (That’s 128 oz. /or/ (16) 8-oz. glasses.)  Caveats/Challenges: I will HAVE to commit to keeping water with me throughout the day AND I will probably lose a little sleep in exchange for extra bathroom trips.

A gallon of water weighs about 8 lb. on a scale. Interesting that it’s one of the few things you’ll consume in your body that won’t do the same for you!!

Water keeps the toxins flushed out of your body, helping it to operate more efficiently in claiming nutrients and ridding waste products.

I’m going for the body flush! (and a few extra flushes of the toilet too)

2.   Exchanging vigorous exercise 3-5 days per week for daily moderate exercise 7 days per week.  Caveat/Challenge: I will have to SET ASIDE daily time in my SCHEDULE to assure I exercise each and every day (though the exercise has been spread out – which is better than other things that can be spread out if I don’t exercise – so time commitment can be less per day than I might otherwise need to do on a schedule of less days per week). 

I’ve been studying up on this one after a surprising frustration that, as much body-glistening (girl sweat), heart-pounding exercise as I was putting in, I was being encrusted with salt when my body dried, but my weight wasn’t changing.

Now, it isn’t all that bad. Much of that exercise was building muscle tone – and that’s a good thing.

As a matter of fact, I’ll be transitioning back to more vigorous exercise at some point because that’s just my preferred style that matches my activities (i.e., cycling, circuits).

For a few weeks, I’m going to throw my body off a little, though, and follow some suggestions I’ve been reading – the main one being that MODERATE EXERCISE with reduced caloric intake (yeah, that part’s important) assists with burning fat off the top – the kind of weight loss I’d want) – without eating away at muscle (the kind of weight loss I wouldn’t want).

The kind of moderate exercise I’m after is this:

-60-70% of my maximum target heart rate

-for approximately 35 minutes per day (45-50 minutes if later in the day, because the metabolism slows down as the day progresses).

Want to know how to calculate your own target heart rate? There are several places online, but here’s a step-by-step Wiki link: How to Calculate Your Target Heart Rate.

Now, you can run out and get a fancy heart monitor. There are several styles, from inexpensive wrist watches to extra-pricey EKG-looking contraptions.

But if you haven’t thought about it, let me let you in on a little secret (because I’m a cheapskate) – you can monitor your heart for practically FREE (except you do need to have a device that displays seconds for you – Oh! and someone else to watch it & call time is a Buddy Bonus!).

The easiest method is to pause periodically with your middle and ring finger against the pulse in your inner wrist (most people have more luck finding it on the radial/thumb side) /or/ your carotid artery in your neck (under your mandible/jawbone about 1/3 of the way up towards your ear from your chin). You may have to stop walking briefly to be certain of the beats you’re getting. You’ll definitely want to stop talking. 😉

Now, count the number of beats in your pulse as 6 seconds ticks off. Then multiply that number by 10. That’s your current heart rate.

Once you know what your target rate range is (I want mine to remain between 60-70% of the max rate I calculated), then you’ll know whether to speed up or slow down for the remainder of your time.

Ex: If my target moderate exercise rate is 110-125, and I find I’m only at 10 beats in my 6 seconds, I need to get a move-on. I can recheck within 5 minutes. If it’s up to 14, I know I need to slow down my activity just a bit.

Trail walks make for keeping your heart rate at a consistent moderate exercise rate.

Trail walks make for keeping your heart rate at a consistent moderate exercise rate (and holding hands burns a few extra friction calories!) 😉


I think those are 2 important strategies for me to work.
And, guess what? I have a feeling they might work for some others too, so I thought they were worth sharing (because every once in a while, even when we know what we OUGHT to do, we could use a little push or a reminder).

Feel free to add any of your own insights, successes, etc. on either of these two topics – WATER INTAKE /or/ MODERATE DAILY EXERCISE.

And I’d love to know if you decide to informally join our “team” and report on your progress, as well.  🙂

Here’s to your Hearty Health,


2 thoughts on “Laboring on the Two Greatest Challenges in a Personal Health Challenge

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