It’s Monday—Are You Ready to Move the Needle?

Because good things come in threes, it's time for the third week of your Dream Big challenge. We've got all the details (and the science) to help you take your health to the next level.

You’ve passed the halfway point of our Dream Big challenges for the month of July. High five to you! But if you’re, well…human, you might not have been following our nifty goal-setting plans to a perfect T. And that’s okay; we haven’t either! Sure, having structure helps, but when you stray from that structure it’s important that you don’t see it as a failure.

It’s OK if last week you didn’t drink quite enough water, or eat quite enough protein, or you just couldn’t stay off of your phone. It’s not a failure if you sometimes miss the mark. It’s only a failure if you hit the roadblock and don’t keep going.

This week don’t let any setback SET YOU BACK. Instead, embrace and adapt to the change so that you can keep it moving. If you need encouragement, you can find us on Instagram using #DreamBigGetThere. You got this!

Dream Big: Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day

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Week 3: Drink 6 Glasses of Water a Day

The science: According to the Mayo clinic, about 20% of our recommended daily water intake usually comes from food. What’s more is that if you find yourself craving salads and watermelon, that may actually be your body telling you it needs more hydration, says Tiffany Ricci, a Billings, MT-based registered dietitian nutritionist and co-owner of Fueling Life Nutrition. “And having fresh fruits and veggies on board can help you keep that water content you’ve been getting,” Ricci says.

Move-the-Needle Monday: In addition to upping our water intake this week, we’re challenging you to think about including some water-dense foods in your diet. “Foods that are high in water content are perfect summer foods: grapes, watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, summer squash, and celery,” says Ricci. Consuming some of these tasty produce items can help you make up for those days when you’re not reaching your daily hydration goals, or if you’re spending time outside in the heat and just need more fluids.

The plan: Our goal is six glasses of water every day this week. If you’re using a water bottle, we’re aiming for 60 total ounces of water. Ricci recommends setting a timetable for your water consumption this week: Drink two glasses (20 ounces) by 9 a.m., another two glasses by noon, and two more by 3 p.m.

Top tip: If you’re struggling to meet your daily goals, attach mini rewards to them, Ricci says. Make yourself drink a glass before you have your morning coffee. If you’ve met your four-glass goal by lunchtime, reward yourself with a square of really good chocolate after lunch. Hit your six glasses by dinner? Maybe tonight you get a glass of wine. Or consider treating yourself to a bigger reward after a full month of meeting your hydration goals—you know, like one of those “save for later” items in your Amazon basket. That is, if a healthier you isn’t reason enough to stick to your goals.

Dream Big: Unplug for a Full Weekend

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Week 3: Set Boundaries With Others

The science: You may be asking yourself: In this digital age of remote work and texting as a primary mode of communication with friends and family, can you truly unplug for a full weekend? It’s a challenge, but here’s where those boundaries can come in handy once again—this time, with your relationships. According to the Crisis and Trauma Resources Institute, setting healthy boundaries in relationships is a way to teach others how we want to be treated and safeguard our personal needs. This week, we’re going to set healthy boundaries with the humans in our lives to help set expectations for our upcoming tech-free weekend—and to help you feel more comfortable with the process of unplugging in general.

Move-the Needle Monday: Are you the type to always respond to work emails even at night and on weekends, or find yourself feeling guilty about not immediately responding to texts or calls from others in your life? These are things that can make us feel glued to our devices and make unplugging feel almost impossible—but it is possible, with the right management of expectations. That means it’s time to set some healthy boundaries about our tech use so that our friends, family, and colleagues understand our need to unplug now and then.

The plan: Think ahead: Who might you usually communicate with on weekends, and how can you let them know in advance of your plans to go tech-free during this time? “In order to start setting boundaries, you need to let people know how technology has impacted you and the changes you are choosing to implement for yourself as a result,” says Veintimilla. In general, this can be a simple, direct conversation. Try these sentences to get you started:

I want to put my mental health first, so I will not be responding to work emails this weekend.

If I don’t answer you immediately, just know it’s because I am taking time for myself.

Please don’t reach out to me this weekend unless there is an emergency—I’m taking a tech break!

Top tip: When it comes to boundaries, it’s important to set them and uphold them in a clear and consistent way, according to licensed psychotherapist Nedra Glover Tawwab in her book Set Boundaries, Find Peace. Express your needs in a clear manner, without feeling like you must give a ton of detail—you don’t have to justify your need for time unplugged. Don’t be afraid to restate your boundaries if someone pushes up against them. And remember, says Veintimilla: “There was a time in life where we did not have phones and we made it out. We can set boundaries and come back to it.”

Dream Big: Eat Like a Pro Athlete

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Week 3: Befriend Carbs (They’re Not Your Enemy)

The science: Carbohydrates—the nutrient found in grains, fruits, veggies, and dairy products, and our body’s primary source of energy—often get a bad rap. But for athletes, they’re essential. Carbs fuel your muscles, so without adequate amounts, you can’t perform at your peak.

For athletes, it’s more about getting enough carbs—and not just protein. “I believe protein sits on a pedestal when it comes to nutrition because lean protein is lower in calories, and the general public doesn’t view it as badly as they view carbohydrates and fat. This is an unfair view that lacks scientific evidence,” claims Amy Goldsmith, registered dietitian, sports nutritionist, and owner of Kindred Nutrition and Wellness in Frederick, MD. “Athletes are usually surprised to find out that the ratio of carbohydrates to protein is either three-to-one or two-to-one, depending on the type of exercise and their individual needs. Eating any less than this will negatively affect performance and recovery.”

Let’s repeat that, just to be clear: For every gram of protein you consume, you need to eat two to three times the amount of carbohydrates.

Move-the-Needle Monday: The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that athletes consume 6g to 10g of carbohydrate for each kilogram of body weight. (To figure out your weight in kilograms, divide your body weight in pounds by 2.2.) That means that a 175 lb. athlete needs about 500g to 800g of carbs every day.

Endurance athletes (such as distance runners and cyclists) are on the higher end of this range, since long-term endurance activities deplete the muscle’s carbohydrate stores, and more carbs are needed to fuel you for longer activity. Note: Strength-training athletes (body builders, for example) tend to fall on the lower end of this range (and have slightly higher protein needs to rebuild muscle tissue broken down during weightlifting).

The plan: Complex carbs—such as whole-grain cereals, bread, and pasta, as well as fresh fruits and veggies—are the best source of daily carbs for athletes. To increase your intake, think about filling half of your plate with brown rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa, or another whole grain. Add fresh or dried fruit to cereal and yogurt, and snack on whole grain crackers or veggies and hummus between meals instead of reaching for that bag of chips.

Top tip: It’s important to eat enough carbs daily so your muscles are fueled for exercise, but what about during a workout? “Fueling for endurance events is a key element that is often overlooked by athletes," says Goldsmith. "I always recommend having a serving of a carbohydrate, such as fruit, 30 minutes before activity if it has been longer than two hours since a meal." If you're planning to exercise longer than an hour, consider refueling with 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrate every hour to allow for efficient fuel during the activity, she adds. A half-cup of fruit juice or a cup of Gatorade both provide about 15g of carbs and are quickly digested during a workout.

Contributors: Danielle Gamiz, Lara DeSanto, Carmen Roberts, R.D.