Are You Ready for Move-the-Needle Monday?

Are you ready for week two of your Dream Big challenge? Let’s get serious about finishing that book, running our fastest, and intermittent fasting like a pro, starting now.

Real talk—we’ve all failed at a goal or two. But we’re willing to bet that one of the reasons we didn’t meet the mark was because we weren’t fully jazzed about said goal.

“I want to lose 10 pounds.” Mmmkay?
“I want to run more.” Like, how much more?
“I want to eat healthier.” Does that mean no chocolate chip cookies…ever?

These three goals, while lofty, have one thing in common: They’re not all that specific. And if we’re being honest, they don’t sound all that fun either.

One thing we’ve learned is that to crush a goal, it has to make you want to jump out of bed in the morning. You have to be excited about taking the required steps towards the goal. The goal should be challenging, but bring a smile to your face, nonetheless.

We are in week two of our June Dream Big challenge, and we hope that if you’re working on one of these goals with us, it makes you so happy that you want to tell the world about it. Or at least share your progress with us on Instagram or Facebook at #DreamBigGetThere. Let’s go!

Dream Big: Read an Entire Book This Month

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Week 2: Read 20 Minutes Every Day

The science: If you’ve selected a fiction title for this month’s book-reading challenge, research suggests doing so might actually make you a more empathetic person. A University of Toronto team asked 166 people a series of personality-assessment questions about themselves and then asked them to read a book. They assigned half of the group Anton Chekhov's The Lady with the Toy Dog, a fictional story of a man who has an affair with a married woman. The other half of the group read a similar story, but this one was a nonfiction report from divorce court.

Once finished, the participants answered the same personality questions they'd answered before the reading segment. The results? Many fiction readers now saw themselves in a different, more-empathetic light after reading about others' fictional experience. The nonfiction readers? Nope.

Move-the-Needle Monday: Now we’re upping our daily reading time to 20 minutes. If you’re reading a 300-page book this month, that means you should have half of it—about 150 pages—completed by the end of this week. Adjust your reading time accordingly (if you’re behind, add another five to 10 minutes in per day or set a page goal to get you there) in order to hit the ultimate goal of book completion by the end of our fourth week of this challenge.

The plan: If you’re having trouble finding spare minutes in your day, it might be time to embrace the early-morning reading session. LaShawn Wiltz, a Decatur, GA-based booklover, lifestyle blogger, Instagrammer, and owner of the book-subscription service Pouring Over Books starts every morning with a book. She wakes when the house is still quiet and no one needs her for anything. “I dedicate 30 minutes every morning to reading,” Wiltz says. “That’s my ‘me time.’” To get into your own morning-time reading groove, try setting your alarm for 20 minutes before you have to get up every day this week.

Top tip: If you’ve got time to scroll, you’ve got time to read! To get a few extra pages in, try this challenge for one entire day this week: Every time you find yourself phone-in-hand hovering your finger over a social media app, before tapping it, grab your book and read two pages, then reward yourself with a little social-media time.

Dream Big: Run Three Miles in 30 Minutes

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Week 2: Push Your Speed

Here’s the science: A study in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism found that when long distance runners incorporated short bouts of sprint work into their training, their 1500-meter run pace was a bit quicker. As a result, researchers suggested sub-elite runners try the strategy to increase their pace during endurance runs. Double knot those laces because this week you will put this science into practice.

Move-the-Needle Monday: Get ready to run faster for short bouts this week (you’ll be doing five-minute sprint repeats). “Pushing your pace and tempo will take you out of your comfort zone,” says Andrew Watkins, director of strength and conditioning at Sports Performance Lab in Middletown, New Jersey. But, remember—out of your comfort zone is where progress happens. Watkins suggests “attacking the distance.” In other words, try to cover three miles during each run workout. You may not reach the three-mile mark but by focusing on covering the distance instead of trying to go faster, you will naturally (and probably unknowingly) speed up.

As for your other two runs this week, you’ll be running at easy and moderate paces. Both are conversational paces with an easy pace scoring a 2 or 3 on a 10-point scale of perceived effort and the moderate pace scoring between 4 and 6.

The plan:

Monday: Running workout #1

  • Warm-up by walking for 5 minutes then jogging for 5 to 10 minutes.

  • Run as hard as you can for 5 minutes then walk for one minute. Repeat five times.

Tuesday: Strength-training (or rest)

Wednesday: Running workout #2

  • Warm-up by walking for 5 minutes then jogging for 5 to 10 minutes.

  • Run for 15 minutes at an easy pace then walk for one minute.

  • Finish your workout by running for 15 minutes at a moderate pace.

Thursday: Cross-training

  • Do 30 minutes of swimming, cycling, or yoga.

Friday: Running workout #3

  • Warm-up by walking for 5 minutes then jogging for 5 to 10 minutes.

  • Run for 15 minutes at an easy pace then walk for one minute.

  • Finish your workout by running for 15 minutes at a moderate pace.

Saturday: Cross-training (or rest)

  • 30 minutes of swimming, cycling, or yoga

Sunday: Rest

Top tip: Tech can be one of your best accountability partners by helping you keep track of distance, splits, and pace. If you don’t have a wearable such as a Fitbit, Apple Watch, Whoop or Garmin, there are running apps that turn your phone into a running log. A few apps we like include: Nike Run Club, Map My Run, and Strava.

Make it harder: “Running harder paces and pushing tempo is difficult,” Watkins says. But if you really feel the need to challenge yourself, sprint the last five-minute interval during Friday’s workout.

Dream Big: Intermittent Fast for One Week

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Week 2: Extend Your Fasting Window

The science: Intermittent fasting (IF) is not such a new concept. In fact, it’s an ancient one, even if fasting back in the Stone Age wasn’t intentional. Unlike humans today, our ancestors did not consume three large meals (plus snacks) each day, nor were they sedentary, since they had to farm, hunt, and gather for their food to survive. They were also focused more on going to sleep once it was dark in order to be rested enough to get up and gather more food the next day.

Chronic disease and obesity did not dominate the landscape. So, it makes sense that we should mimic the lifestyle of our ancestors to reduce our risk of disease. And, since it took hundreds of thousands of years for humans to evolve, we can’t expect our physiology to instantly adapt to our more modern lifestyle without there being a serious hiccup or two.

Bottom line: Reducing overall food intake (within reason) actually increases human lifespan, according to an IF study review published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Move-the-Needle Monday: Your goal this week is to extend your fasting window by an additional two hours—meaning, you up your no-eating game from 12 hours to a full 14. Still not convinced that this simple change will help you lose weight? “Intermittent fasting seems to provide as much weight loss benefit as steady dieting does, while being easier to adhere to,” says Larry Cheskin, M.D., a professor of food and nutrition studies at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. Research shows that giving your body an extended period of time without food makes your body exhaust its sugar stores and burn body fat, leading to weight loss.

The plan: Delay your breakfast for an additional hour and eat your dinner one hour earlier than you did last week. So, if you were fasting from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. last week, your goal for this week should be to eat all of your meals between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. This may be tricky if you get home from work late or plan on going to the gym in the evening, so you’ll need to prepare a plan to adjust your eating schedule accordingly. Consider packing nutrient-dense snacks like nuts, dried fruits, cheese, or protein bars when you travel to help you stay on track.

Top tip: If you’re feeling lightheaded, be sure to stay hydrated, since water loss also occurs with weight loss. (Makes sense, when you think about it, but it might not be the first thing that comes to mind during a fast.) You may also need to cut back on more intensive exercise until your body adjusts to its new schedule.

Also, take note of when you’re feeling hungry. Is it late at night? First thing in the morning? You might have to create some distractions to take your attention away from the fridge. Retire to bed an hour earlier, read a book, or sip on some unsweetened herbal tea at night to calm the hunger pangs.

Danielle Gamiz, Carey Rossi, Carmen Roberts