A Season of Challenges

Summer is coming to a close. It's pretty much over. Pack up your beach towels, sunscreen and bikinis; and trade them in for cardigans, pumpkin spice practically everything, and feeling the pressure of the holidays. 

However, now that this new season is upon us, there is time for change and improvement! Here is a list of challenges to try this fall to better yourself, health, wardrobe, relationships, budget, etc.

Prepared Meals For A Month

Okay, so I know I'm not alone in this, but I find myself on campus getting a Diet Dr. Pepper and a bag of Cheddar Chex Mix nearly every day. Now, in Philly, that costs $6.00. $6.00 a day x 5 days = $42 that a broke college student like myself can't actually afford to spend. Plus, let's be honest, a diet consisting solely of 30th Street Station snacks is not exactly good one. 
Goal: Create healthier eating habits, budget money
Rules: For the entire month, all meals and snacks will be prepped at home, no food will be purchased outside of the two designated shopping days in the month. The two shopping trips will not exceed $100 each--creating a $200 food budget. These prepared meals can be anything from frozen prepped meals, to salads, to simple snacks. Here's a Pinterest board I created: Prepped Food Challenge with recipes, prep tips, and more.

The Get and Give

You probably have a lot of clothes that you don't wear, like, or still have the tags on but lost the receipt for. That's fine, but there are clothes that you will want to buy this fall, and you'll definitely get more around the holidays. So here's a solution to do some good with those old clothes, while rewarding yourself with something more than just good will.
Goal: Clear out and organize clothes, give back to the community 
Rules: Go to your closet, the stack of boxes in the basement full of clothes you haven't seen since the eighth grade, the garage, wherever you have clothes and go through it. For every ten articles of clothing you can donate, equals one article of clothing you can purchase on a shopping spree. You can donate clothes to clothing drives, Goodwill, Salvation Army, consignment shops, yard sale, and even shop your clothes to your friends and family members.

Fall Photo Challenge

Photos are fun and creative. Taking photos can be fun and creative as well. Doing creative projects is actually helpful in continuing to be productive. Some of the worst procrastination you can find yourself doing is unproductive, but if you procrastinate something important, with something productive, you are more likely to continue being productive and get things done.
Goal: be creative, share photos and ideas with people
Rules: Find a photo challenge list, write a photo challenge list, etc. Start as soon as you can. Take photos on your phone, with your camera, even draw if you want to. Share the photo that day, and pass the challenge onto someone else. At the end of the designated time (Depending on personal preference or challenge selected) you will have a whole bunch of amazing photos and experiences.

31 Days of Halloween

This is another fun creative idea. This challenge allows you to get your spook on as well as help someone else spread his or her creative wings. 
Goal: Complete 31 writing pieces, get someone else to complete 31 writing pieces, improve as a storyteller/writer
Rules: From October 1st and ending on November 1st, you and a partner will write scary stories based off of prompts you give one another. You will give the prompt on one day, both you and your partner will write that prompt. Then the next day, your partner will come up with the prompt. After the day is over, you swap the stories that night and give each other feedback. You set up parameters, word/page counts, story mediums, etc. 

Days of DIY

Do you have things in your house or apartment that could use some fixing up, sprucing up or simply you just want something new in your place? Probably. Well, Pinterest projects are really pretty and everyone wants to be as great as those projects, but sometimes they are more expensive than just buying the thing you want to DIY, and they can end up a disaster. Attack projects you need to do and know that you can do, as well as give yourself a challenge!
Goal: complete at least 10 DIY projects, stay under budget, try something new
Rules: This is a weekly challenge. Find at least 10 DIY projects that you can do--either online or basic projects around your house you know you need done. Create a budget for your projects--try not to go over $100 for your 10 week budget. Don't forget to ask for help! Keep a calendar so you know when you need to get stuff done by.

Rainy Day Fund

Have a major issue saving money? Same. This challenge is super simple and a challenge that you can do for however long you want. You can even set a goal in mind, or an end date. You can create a fund for something specific as well.
Goal: save money, raise money, budget money
Rules: At the beginning of the month, write down how much money you have in your account. Budget the money for the month (groceries, bills, gas, fun). Then take is a step further and budget that money for daily use. Use cash. Any change you get from these interactions (coins), put away in a rainy day fund.

Try Something New

Goal: trying new things
Rules: Try something new every day. It can be something small or big, but try something new. If you think the new thing was positive, write down it was positive. If it wasn't all that and a bag of chips, mark it with an X. At the end of the month, look at your calendar and see if trying new things was a positive experience for you.

Fall Fit Fun

Exercising is hard and it's not fun for a lot of people. The biggest challenge for people when it comes to exercising is keeping at it. So, here's a challenge that makes it simple and you'll hopefully feel like you're accomplishing a goal.
Goals: feel healthier, exercise, find a routine
Rules: Get a calendar for the month you want to do the challenge. Label every day with an exercise. Do that exercise. Mark off the days as you go along. See if you can challenge yourself further as the month goes on, but as long as you complete your daily goal, you have accomplished something. Now, here's where the "for everyone and anyone" part comes into play. These fitness goals can be in tandem with exercises. For example, take the stairs everywhere. Exercises can be crunches, push ups, running up and down the stairs, walking around with bags of flour on your shoulders, etc. Get fit when you can, however you can.

Replace and Refresh

New is never a good thing for me unless it's a new episode of Elementary on CBS. However, I have found copycat recipes, and even replacements for some of my favorite foods and activities have helped me be healthier and more productive.
Goal: create healthier habits, find alternatives for habits.
Rules: Make a list of 50-100 things that you eat all of the time, or habits that you do a lot that you can cut down on by sharing that with something else. For example, instead of rice and pasta, try quinoa and cauliflower. Or instead of writing on the computer, write in a notebook. Instead of watching TV, spend an hour reading or walking. Wheat bread for your grilled cheese instead of wheat bread. Sleep with just a sheet instead of blasting the AC. Work at the kitchen table instead of in bed.

SMILE

Your dentist will lose it after this month's challenge. This challenge is for dental health. Now, this might sound odd to some people--but not everyone flosses. This is a fact. This will help improve your smile.
Goal: improve dental health, boost confidence when smiling
Rules: Brush your teeth twice a day. Floss twice a day. Whiten your teeth using an at home kit. Take a photo every day of your smile and see if these habits improve your smile at the end of the 30 days.

Check out these other challenges for more inspirations and ideas!
52 Fun Things: Try a New One Each Week of the Year
100 30 Day Challenges Ideas
30 Day Challenge Ideas to Turn Your Life Around
30 Challenges for 30 Days

 

Quick Exercises to Help You Keep Your New Year's Resolution

Now that you have a bunch of new clothes and hopefully Redneck Couture to wear this year, it helps to maintain your body. Keeping up at the gym and with an exercise routine can be tough for busy individuals so here is a list of simple exercises that you can do in 10 minutes or less, anytime and anywhere. Get ready to rock those Daisy Dukes this spring with these exercises:

1. "Grocery Runs"

You know that burn you feel when you refuse to make more than one trip to and from the car with your groceries so you pile all of them onto both of your arms and charge your way into the house? This is something similar! Load up a few bags with items (groceries, cookbooks, textbooks, laundry, etc) to give it some weight. You can also use pet food or kitty litter. Then, take a few laps up and down the hallway or driveway. 

2. "Butterfly Abs"

This is a modified ab workout that not only targets your abdominals but your thighs as well. 

(parenting.com)

3. "Jumping Jacks"

While watching TV don't fast forward through the commercials. Instead, do a few sets of jumping jacks. As ridiculous as they may seem, an average woman can burn up to 90 calories from 5-10 minutes of jumping jacks.

4. "Squats"

Squats are great for your booty and your legs. There is such a wide variety of squats that you can do depending on what you want to focus on, your comfortability and flexibility.

(realsimple.com)

5. "The Superman"

This is a core exercise that will also help tone your upper arms. Simply lie on your stomach with your arms stretched up and out and your legs up and feel the burn! Maintain each position for 30 seconds during each rep.

(skinnyms.com)

6. "Modified Plank"

Another core exercise that works your upper arm strength. It seems to be just a simple push up position and it pretty much is. However, you position yourself on your tip toes and you tighten your stomach in order to create resistance. Maintain pose for 30 seconds during each rep.

(realsimple.com)

7. "Chair Lifts"

This exercise mainly focuses on your core but also works on your calves, thighs and upper arms. Using a chair, lift yourself up and down from a squatting position.

(parenting.com)

8. "Crunch Cycles"

When you wake up in the morning, start your day off with some crunches. 

From military.com:

- Regular Crunch: 10-20 reps - Just lift shoulder blades off the floor 
- Reverse Crunch - 10-20 reps - Lift hips off the floor 
- Double Crunch - 10-20 reps - Lift BOTH hips / shoulders off the floor simultaneously 
- Left Crunches - 10-20 reps - Take right elbow to the left knee 
- Right Crunches -10-20 reps - Take left elbow to right knee 
- Bicycle Crunches - 10-20 reps - Take right/left elbow to left/right knee by bicycling the legs 
- Plank pose - 30-60 seconds 
- Stomach stretch - 30 seconds

9. "Grocery Bag Curls"

Similar to the run, use "grocery bags" or one of the previously mentioned options to lift as weights. Do a few different lifts and rows.

10. "Take The Stairs"

During your lunch break, commercial break, or simple down time go up and down the stairs for a few reps. Start out just walking up and down like normal, then pick up your pace. Soon you'll be doing a Rocky! This improves your cardio as well as your legs.