Weekly Wellness


Here at wellnessU, we talk a lot about the importance of making healthy behavior changes. Whatever you’re trying to achieve, learning proper self control is the hardest but most worthwhile aspect when taking charge of your own situation.

Many of you might just be ending the 40 days of lent in which you’ve practiced deprivation and self control (congratulations to everyone able to stick to it!). But, even if you’re not one that’s in step with the spiritual reasons surrounding the practice, you too can challenge yourself.

This challenge is  all about letting your mind be in control of your body. Do you have an unhealthy habit you’d like to stop? It could be as small as drinking soda, always taking the elevator or not getting enough sleep; it could be as big as smoking, biting your nails, fighting with a friend/roommate or a spending habit.

Whatever your habit is, you need to be aware of it in order to behave in ways that serve YOU well, instead of mindlessly allowing outside sources to influence your behavior. Target one behavior that needs to be reassessed, and commit this next week to working out the kinks, both mentally and physically.

Need inspiration?

  • Write your change down and frame it.
  • Create a vision board

Vision board courtesy of Thinking Park

  • share your change with a family member or friend so they can hold you accountable
  • Bet money on it through www.stickK.com

Take today to identify the one habit you’d like to work on, then use this next week to alter your thinking and actions. Be on your way to effectively breaking your less-than-desirable habit.



Most people wouldn’t think of skipping lunch or dinner on a regular basis, so why do we think it’s fine to skip breakfast? That’s right, as the next weekly challenge we’ll be making a conscious effort to eat breakfast every morning. Need convincing?


Boosts energy

Increases attention span

Increases efficiency

Heightens your sense of well-being

A morning meal is just as important as the other two, so what’s your excuse?

“I don’t enjoy breakfast food” Who says that breakfast needs to be eggs or cereal? As long as you’re eating something that will fuel your body, it doesn’t matter what you eat! You can have pasta, fruit salad, half a sandwich, a snack bar…basically whatever you have on hand. Just remember to stay away from highly processed or high fat choices, just like any other meal.

“I don’t have time” This is one of the easiest excuses to overcome. Find out what you like and make it easily accessible to yourself. Do you like granola bars? After you go to the grocery store, just leave the box in your car. This way, you won’t have to remember to pack one and you can easily eat breakfast during your morning commute. Yogurts, premade smoothies, fresh fruit and trail mix can all be grabbed on the go as well. For more time-saving breakfast ideas, check out an earlier wellnessU post here.

“I exercise in the morning and can’t eat before” Fortunately, there’s not a set magic window for eating breakfast. If you pop in a mini snack (hard boiled egg, handful of almonds) you can afford to wait 1-2 hours to eat your breakfast. Just make sure to refuel your body right away to unsure that your energy won’t be zapped later in the day.

“I’m not hungry” Either your body has become accustomed to not eating in the morning, or your dinners are too filling/too late in the evening. As long as you don’t feel stuffed (you shouldn’t), remind yourself that your stomach shouldn’t lead your nutritional choices.

“I want to save my calories” Not only are you missing out on jumpstarting your metabolism to work more efficiently, but you’re putting yourself at added risk of weight gain. By skipping breakfast, it’s very likely that you’ll eat more than needed at your next meal. In addition, skipping breakfast allows you to justify unhealthy choices later on: A 110 calorie bowl of Cheerios now could mean the difference in the 300+ calorie muffin snack later.



When was the last time you did something for yourself? I don’t just mean eating dinner or going to the gym, but making time to relax and enjoy the moment at hand. With such a fast-paced, jam-packed schedule, it’s a wonder more of us don’t burn out completely.

This week’s challenge is making time for you. Giving yourself at least 20 minutes a day, whether it be after waking up, before going to sleep or anywhere in between, will do wonders for your mental health.

While you’re the best judge of what works, here are some ideas to help you on your way:

  • Stretching
  • Walking outside
  • Reading
  • Taking a bath or long shower
  • Drawing or creating
  • Meditation or peaceful silence (without sleeping!)
  • Yoga

If you enjoy the relaxation benefits of yoga but can’t afford classes or fit an hour practice into your day, try a guided relaxation. Many guided relaxation podcasts are available to download free of charge and often take anywhere from 10-25 minutes to complete.

Not familiar with guided relaxation imagery? Find a quiet secluded spot (your bedroom would work for this), lie face-up on the floor or a mat in comfortable clothing, close your eyes and listen to a recording of your choice.

Quote of the Week:

Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.

-Lucille Ball

Remember to check back in throughout the week to see how the wellnessU contributers are doing!



It’s likely that you’ve encountered the food pyramid many times throughout your life. It’s also very likely that said pyramid has left you uninspired or even confused (how much is a serving size of broccoli anyway?). In an effort to make proper nutrition a little more…digestible, many health advocates are suggesting we go “half-plate healthy”. For this weeks challenge, we’re suggesting the same.

Plate by Jeffery Harris

For those of you who have trouble getting fruits and vegetables into your meals, we’re taking the science out of eating a balanced diet. Instead of bothering with serving sizes or daily recommended values, you’ll be judging the soundness of your diet based on one very simple visual: if fruits/vegetables don’t make up half of your plate, swap items out until they do.

Forget serving sizes if you can get half your plate filled with the right stuff. Not only will you be consuming less fat and calories, you’ll be providing your body with a wider range of nutrients.

If you think you can incorporate this challenge into every meal, more power to you! For the rest of you, try to put this new idea into practice during your largest meal of the day. Get creative and check back throughout the week to see how your wellnessU contributors are stacking up.



What behavior change can have a sudden impact on your energy, diet, mental health and physical ability?

How can you live a healthier lifestyle by doing absolutely nothing? More specifically, how can you boost your metabolism, feel more energized, lower stress, multi-task better, live longer and even lose weight while never lifting a finger?

Get. More. Sleep.

It’s no wonder drug, it really is as simple as that. And yes, sleeping can have an effect on all of the above: see here, here and here.

Unfortunately, the easiest change you can make for personal wellness is also one of the first to go when life gets hectic. As difficult as it may seem, sleep should be a priority that is planned around, not a chunk of spare time to dip into when life gets crazy. There will ALWAYS be something that seems more important at the time, this is why we’re including sleep as a challenge.

How much sleep is enough? While it varies from person to person and may take some experimentation, most experts agree that 7-9 hours is appropriate for most adults.

Make a few adjustments in your weekly schedule to fit in some more zzz’s and you’ll see for yourself how important sleep really is. If you haven’t been too successful with our past two challenges, this one may be right up your alley! You may even wonder how you ever managed without the full 9/night.

***NOTE: While you may not be suffering from insomnia, sleep deprivation is just as serious. The difference? Insomnia is allowing enough time for sleep but being unable to fall asleep, stay asleep or go back to sleep. Sleep deprivation is not allowing yourself the amount of sleep your body needs to function correctly. If you think you may suffer from either, try this quiz and definitely speak with your doctor.



Personal wellness shouldn’t just focus on diet alone; continuous physical activity is a huge aspect. This shouldn’t (and probably won’t) come as a shock, but most people don’t get enough exercise throughout their week. These reasons are exactly why our second weekly challenge is all about meeting recommended physical activity levels


Image courtesy of wellsphere.com

First thing’s first: what exactly are the recommended levels?

  • According to Fitness.gov, the least amount of time an Adult should spend exercising is 30 minutes, five days a week.
  • For increased benefits (this is what you should really be aiming for) you should spend 5 hours a week working out at a **moderate-intensity level. You can split this up any way you’d prefer, but for those who like a couple days off, that’d be 1 hour 5x/week.
  • **For those of you who work out at a vigorous level (running, rowing, jumping rope, etc.), you can halve your workout sessions while maintaining the same results. Keep in mind though that vigorous exercise means really pushing yourself and should feel strenuous on the body.
  • In addition to your daily aerobic recommendations, aim to incorporate muscle-strengthening moves that work all major muscle groups at least 2x per week.

Remember, any physical activity can count! Take some time and find what you really enjoy, it will take the “work” out of your workout. As for me, you can guess what I’ll be doing in the warmer weather…



For our first challenge we’re starting with a behavior change that shouldn’t be difficult to incorporate into your schedule: Drinking more water

Benefits include healthier nails, skin and hair as well as easier digestion and in many cases, weight loss. For less visible but vital benefits, check here.

How much water do you actually need? Some recommend this easy calculation: your weight divided by half. This is how many ounces* you should have per day. Of course, if you drink alcohol, workout, or consume a lot of caffeine, you should up your ounces.

The easiest way to drink more water is to invest in a reusable water bottle. If it’s within your budget, a brita (or similar brand) water filter will encourage water consumption. Although it took awhile to get into the habit, I don’t leave the house without this little beauty:

*While eating fruits and vegetables high in water is helpful, it shouldn’t count toward your water consumption totals.

Explore more: CNN

How much water are you drinking right now? What are you doing to incorporate this challenge into your lifestyle? Stay tuned in the daily posts to see how your contributers are doing!



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