GTS Total Health Challenge
Let's get you ready to start the challenge!
This week is about making sure you have all the tools and food you need to succeed.
There is a lot of information to process so I'll do my best to break it up bit by bit each week.
SET YOUR GOALS. SET UP FOR SUCCESS
While this challenge is mainly designed to improve health habits, you'll likely have your own goals coming into these next six weeks and beyond.
Being clear about your goals is important for long-term success and satisfaction with your lifestyle.
Take a moment to think deeply about your goals and write them down somewhere (notebook/journal/note on your phone/etc).
Learning to measure your progress is a great way to keep track of your hard work and give you objective references!
The GTS Total Health Challenge is set-up for your to see how your health habits are improving from week-to-week, but you'll also benefit aesthetically via body fat loss and lean muscle gain.
The simplest ways to track progress with your body composition are:
1. Waist measurement (1-3x/week)
2. Weight (3x/week)
3. A progress picture "selfie" (1-3x/week)
We'll get into more detail on these a little later...
Having your kitchen stocked with nutritious foods is essential for your success in the challenge!
If you build your refrigerator and pantry around lean protein and vegetables, you'll have a much easier time eating well when life gets busy.
I recommend building in a base set of calories each day that include several servings of protein and vegetables.
If your goal is fat loss, proteins and vegetables will give you much more bang for your "caloric buck". You will be able to eat a larger volume of food, feel full longer and have more consistent energy. We'll dive more into meal prep, recipes, etc in the future.
To get you started, we have included a variety of staple items you'll want to add to your shopping cart each week. These are just suggestions to get you started.
Shopping Idea Videos to get you started...
Other Recommended Items
Instead of the extra calories from oil.
Flavor Enhancers & Seasonings
Pick up a few sauces, soups, hummus, broth, salsa's, etc to add to your meals and enhance or change the flavor from day to day.
Pick up several seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic, 21 season salute (TJ's), Everything but the bagel (TJ's), fennel seed, crushed red pepper, etc.
In the context of the challenge, fats should be used either for your flavoring or towards your flexible calories.
I typically don’t recommend purchasing a lot of pure fat items as you'll tend to get a lot of trace fats from various protein rich foods.
Fat calories will keep you satiated but are very calorically dense (9 calories per gram) so it’s easy to go overboard if you aren’t measuring and keeping track.
For reasons related to general health, it's best to have most of your added fats come from monounsaturated fats (bolded).
Here are some options to use in moderation...
Oils (Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, etc.)
Seeds/Nuts/Nut Butters (super easy to go overboard if you aren't measuring)
Half and half
Water, Unsweetened Iced Tea, Coffee / Tea
Make sure to measure anything you add because these calories count and add up quick!
Limited Flavored (Calorie Free) Drinks
Generally limit to 1-2 per day.
La Croix (or flavored sparkling water)
Diet Soda or Zevia (Stevia sweetened soda)
See Video on Drink Options and Snacks
General recommendation is to limit alcohol consumption.
But, if you plan to drink, log it and count it toward your flexible calories!
Note on Flexible Calories
Treats, and snacks are permissible, just know yourself and if you’re opening pandora’s box. I know there are many treats that are off limits for me because once I start I can’t stop… choose items you enjoy but won’t binge on.
Use a cup or something measured to keep your snack in. Open bag situations are generally bad. Measure out what you plan to eat and stick to that!
Download MyFitnessPal Or Keep Journal
What gets measured gets done...
During this challenge we'll recommend you keep tabs on things like your body weight, waist measurement and progress pics. We recommend downloading a calorie tracker app like MyFitnesspal. It has a great system for tracking progress and it's FREE.
In addition, while you're not required to log your calories for this challenge, a calorie tracker app can be a quick reference guide for helping you measure your daily flexible calories.
(Alternative) keep a food journal
If you're completely new to tracking your food, it's totally okay to start simple by keeping a food journal.
Any notebook will do just fine. Simply write down everything you eat during the week!
As you get more comfortable keeping track of your food, using an app like MyFitnessPal will help you be more accurate and precise with your tracking.
Weigh In / Progress Pictures[Optional]- 3x Per Week
While this challenge is designed to build and improve upon healthy habits, depending on your average daily calories fat loss can be a nice byproduct.
We recommend weighing yourself 3 days per week, first thing in the morning, preferably around the same time. Get started logging your weight and progress photo right away.
Prior to logging your weight, take a progress picture (bathroom mirror selfie from front or side). When adding your body weight to MyFitnessPal, add the photo to the progress picture section. I have found taking a picture on your phone first (vs. using the in-app photo feature) will capture a better quality that's easier to zoom in on in the future. Alternate taking pictures from the front and side so you have options to compare in the future.
DO NOT weigh yourself several times per day. Try to focus on tracking averages over time. Fat loss or weight gain is not always linear and you'll drive yourself insane trying to understand day to day and hour to hour fluctuations. Again, focus on trends over time!
Some of you might hate the idea of taking a picture now, but I assure you, you'll be very thankful later when you have something visual to compare your progress to.
You are NOT required to submit a progress picture each week. You're more than welcome to share your progress, but you don't have to share anything you don't want to.
Waist measurement 1-3x per week
Taking a waist measurement is an easy and effective way to monitor whether you're losing fat or building muscle.
One to three times per week, take a waist measurement first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach.
Most tape measures will do the trick. MyoTape is a good option!
Here's how to do it correctly:
1. Feel for the highest point on your hip bone.
2. (optional) Mark that spot with a cosmetic pencil.
3. Pull the tape measure straight across and around your waist.
4. Breathe out. The tape measure should be snug, but not pinching or indenting your skin.
5. Record the number to nearest centimeter (cm) or inch (in).
Make sure you have the right tools!
Digital scale to track your body weight.
Digital food scale to measure the quantities of flexible calories and flavor enhancers.
You can estimate sizes, but most people (myself included) are very off in their estimations.
Measuring cups and spoons.
Pots, pans and cooking utensils.
Glass containers or Tupperware like containers to store food.
Final Thoughts & Other Helpful Links
Remember go easy on yourself! Try not to stress about being perfect. This will be a journey, let's just aim for small victories and improvements each week.
We'll be creating more content which we'll send out throughout the 6 weeks to keep things digestible.
Comments, Questions, Feedback?
Have questions? Layout or content improvements?
General comments? Catch a spelling mistake?
Let us know and help us improve!