A 40 Day Challenge: Paleo, Yoga or Whatever You Want

October 6th, 2013 | Posted by Alison Spath in Motivation

Zak’s been talking about doing a “40 Day Paleo Challenge” for a couple of weeks now and he’s invited all of his (Facebook) friends to join him.  He asked me to write up a brief guide to Paleo for anyone who wants to play along, and when I was putting it together I decided to extend the invite here to you too.  It’s not a contest or competition, just an opportunity to try the Paleo lifestyle for 40 days, to give it a fair shot and to see if it might make a difference for you.

If you’re interested, I’ve got a couple of thoughts.  (Take’em or leave’em or tell me to shove it – your choice.)

1.  If you already eat, move and live pretty well OR if you love a good challenge and the idea of giving up bread for 40 days* doesn’t make you want to run screaming into the night, then by all means – go Paleo!**

Obligatory disclaimer: talk to your trusted health care professional before making changes concerning your health.

2.  If your diet, fitness level or health isn’t where you want it to be right now, my advice is to go slowly.  Commit to spending the next 40 days simply learning more about what means to be Paleo and trying out some of the principles behind the Paleo lifestyle.  (There are lots of links and resources in the little guide above.)  You can try it without completely overhauling your entire life – too much change at once often leads to burn out!  If you want to make changes that are sustainable, give yourself lots of time and space to ease into it.  Be gentle and forgiving with yourself – focus on progress, not perfection.

This picture is my segue into my own little 40 day challenge, and maybe to your own personal challenge if you don’t give a rats ass about going Paleo.

Rochester Wall Therapy River Path

(You can click the image to enlarge it to get a better look, it’s one of many paintings around Rochester that are a part of the Rochester Wall Therapy project, more on that here.)

I saw this last week while riding my bike to yoga, and given I’ve already done 11 weeks of fairly strict Paleo, I’m going to practice yoga every single day for the next 40 days.  I actually started last week (today is Day 8!) and have noticed a difference in my practice already.  I’ll write more about my own little yoga challenge soon.

So what if you’re not interested in going Paleo?  (Or doing yoga?)  Then how about 40 days of doing whatever challenges you?  40 days straight of eating something green.  40 days of drinking nothing but fresh juice.  Commit to going for a walk every day for the next 40 days, even if some days all you have time for is 10 minutes.   40 days of flossing your teeth.  40 days with no soda.  40 days of mediation.  40 days tracing your hand and coloring it like a turkey.  (40 days from now puts us right before Thanksgiving in the U.S. – think of all the decorations you’ll have!)  Maybe 40 days using 40 exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Or 40 days of using no exclamation marks.

40 days could be just what you need to form a new habit.  (Or maybe 21 days is all you need!)  Now please scroll back up and read my disclaimer one more time.

Zak’s Paleo challenge starts today!  (Uhh, sorry for short notice.)  If you’ve already had toast/oatmeal/Pop Tarts for breakfast today, no problem, you can start tomorrow!  Or start next week if you need more time to prepare yourself.  Pick a day to start and just start!

* – by request of one Zak’s friends, the rules of Zak’s 40 Day Paleo Challenge say you get one “cheat meal” per week

** – also by request, you could also go Primal for the next 40 days.  Primal is basically Paleo, but is a little more lenient with dairy.

Think about it.  If you decide on something and want to make a formal declaration of your intentions (big or small!) for the next 40 days, slap it into the comment box below.  Or paint it on a wall and call it “therapy”.  Whatever floats your boat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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9 Responses

  • mike lally says:

    Karen just left for a work trip (9am Sunday morning….that’s dedication!) Erin and I are sitting here combing through our favorite Paleo recipes to make this week. Asian short ribs, meatloaf muffins, paleo wings. We are off to Wegmans in 30.

    I hit 10,000 steps – legit – for the first time yesterday! 40 days here I come.


  • Arianna and I are cutting out white sugar; she started on Saturday and I am starting tomorrow. Not sure about Andrew, he’ll have to speak for himself. And we all know O would die without her peanut butter and jam sandwich every day!

  • jill says:

    thank you for this useful article.
    I found a yoga training at : http://yogafitnessflowreview.com/ , I thought maybe useful for others.
    good luck

  • Michele says:

    Zach would love to hear more about what you’re doing for yoga. : )

  • Good luck with your challenges! I challenge myself to walk at least 10,000 every day (I pretty much do this already but usually fall short once or twice a week).

    I stopped getting your updates in my reader and am glad I saw this on FB! Looking forward to seeing how the Paleo challenges will go for Zak!

  • This is awesome and just what I need! I definitely fall into the Primal category, as I need my heavy cream in coffee. But I definitely get out of control with the dairy. I think I will allow myself heavy cream in two cups of coffee and one string cheese a day. Thanks for the motivation!

  • B. Gomicchio says:

    That is some awesome artwork! I’ve recently seen a bunch of those images around town and didn’t know what I was looking at. How cool! I’m feeling inspired . . . maybe 40 days of sketching? I used to love drawing and haven’t done it in so long . . .

  • The good news is: Arianna is doing great with staying away from white sugar (she’s already gluten-free). The bad news is: I’m no longer master of my domain! I have to drop out of the challenge. I think I rely on my small square of chocolate every night as a mood booster and I just can’t live with my cranky self any longer. Good luck to the rest of the 40 day challenge folks!