It may be the final week of this month’s Dream Big Challenge, but it’s just the beginning of your Target Crushing status. Finish strong with this step-by-step guide.
On this page
Congratulations! Whether it It feels like it took forever to get here or it went by in a flash. You made it to the finals – week four of our month-long challenge where we master weightlifting, veganism, and the power of positive thinking. (If you’re new or need a refresher, click here before continuing.)
You have reached the top of the mountain (aka the goal you always wanted to get) that we know took a lot of hard work and dedication. We hope you’re basking right now, but we know you’re probably thinking, “What’s next?” Too.
Don’t stop for the beginning! You have climbed the mountain, so to speak. Now climb the mountain faster or a slightly larger mountain. There is always room today to be a little better than yesterday.
The other thing you can do is invite others on the next trip with you. There is power (and accountability) in numbers. They also have a virtual crew cheering you on on Instagram and Facebook – find us at #DreamBigGetThere. See you upstairs!
Dream Big: Think only about positive thoughts for 24 hours
Week 4: Practice gratitude
The science: positivity doesn’t just give your heart a visual boost. It can actually make your heart physiologically healthier. A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that people with a family history of heart disease who also had a positive attitude were one-third less likely than people with to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years a higher negative outlook.
Move-the-Needle-Monday: “Gratitude brings positive feelings back to you. It’s contagious, ”says Allison Chawla, a licensed social worker and clinical psychotherapist in New York City. This week is all about making gratitude a regular part of your routine. Showing gratitude really just means recognizing the good things that happen to you during the day and stopping to appreciate them. It recognizes and recognizes the good and the positive.
The Plan: This week’s plan is to find a way each day to show gratitude. It can be as simple as smiling at the person (with your eyes if you’re still masking yourself) who is giving you your coffee over the counter, thanking the taxi driver, or sending a short text to a friend to let them know how grateful you are for her. When you combine everything you’ve learned this month – realizing negative thoughts, mindfulness, movement, and ultimately gratitude – you can begin a cycle of positive thinking that will benefit you and everyone around you. After all, optimism will be your first instinct – and everyone will be better off because of it.
Top tip: “Remember, you are going to have bad days, but the main goal is to find tools that will help you manage them better and recover them faster,” says Chawla. Practicing gratitude can help you remember that even if things don’t go your way and you experience negative thoughts, the sun will still rise. “It’s about handling the negativity better and faster instead of being consumed by it, as has been the case in the past.”
Dream Big: Raise Your Body Weight
Week 4: Notice Your Profits
The Science: You may find that this week you can focus on your work, sharpening the lean, medium-sized muscles that you are building. A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that after five weeks of strength training, the brains of laboratory animals produced genetic markers that indicate the formation of new neurons. The researchers concluded that this suggests that exercise might help “restore cognitive deficits”. Muscles and brains made of steel? Count us!
Move-the-Needle-Monday: This week we invite you to pay attention to the changes in your body while exercising – you should feel more controlled, more confident in your movements and overall stronger. So, whether you are actually pushing your weight on the bench or just getting close to it, take some time to understand how much your body can do and celebrate your progress! Jamie Costello, MSC, certified personal trainer, functional exercise specialist and vice president of sales and fitness for the Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa in Miami, FL, recalls, “You’ve Reached a New Level!”
The Plan: Do three sets of these movements on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: bench press, chest fly, shoulder press (seated or standing), and triceps extension. For each, choose the weight that will get you to failure in 10 reps, then 6, then 2 to 3 for a 3% to 5% increase over the week before. Then Sunday is the big day – time to check your progress by repeating your basic test and hopefully using your body weight to the full!
Here’s a reminder of that test: after a warm up (10 minutes of light cardio followed by 10 bench presses with a weight that you can easily lift) and with an existing spotter, load the bar with a heavy (for you) feel Make sure you can push up once. After successfully lifting it, wait a few minutes, add a little more weight, and try again. Repeat this process until you have reached the absolute maximum of what you can lift at one time.
Top tip: Building muscle requires protein – 1.2 to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight, according to the Mayo Clinic. But that doesn’t mean you have to clear the chicken breast area of your local grocery store! “While you desperately need protein to repair and rebuild muscle, it doesn’t have to come with the amounts of animal meat people traditionally think of,” says Costello. Instead, get the essential muscle building from plant-based options like legumes, nuts, and quinoa.
Dream Big: Go vegan for a week
Week 4: Make a full week of vegan food!
Here’s the science: if you want to lose weight and keep it off, a long term vegan diet might be the way to go. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that a low-fat vegan diet compared to the Mediterranean diet had better results in terms of weight loss, body composition, insulin sensitivity, and cholesterol levels – another reason not just to go vegan for a week, but possibly for always.
Move-the-Needle Monday: What If You Feel Like Eating Only Plants? “Cravings can be tough to overcome,” admits Brandy Leno, a nutritionist and culinary specialist with the Howard County Office on Aging, Maryland. “In my experience, the longer I ignore a craving, the more likely I will want to forego this food.”
Fortunately, Leno points out that with things like dairy-free ice cream and plant-based “meat” items, it is easier than ever to find a vegan solution to those cravings. “Make sure you’re not just hungry,” she advises. “Food cravings can happen more often or feel stronger if you don’t eat enough throughout the day.” If the desire persists, it’s okay to give in every now and then. “Go out and order a small serving of what you crave or make something at home and share most of it with friends, family, or neighbors so you don’t get stuck with leftovers,” she says.
The plan: looking for a healthy vegan snack? “I like whole grain crackers and bean dip as a light lunch or snack,” says Amy Allen-Chabot, Ph.D., a registered dietitian and professor of nutrition at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, MD. Baked fries with salsa or guacamole can also be satisfying, she adds. Do you have a sweet desire? Try non-dairy ice cream, pudding or yogurt made from milk alternatives, or bake homemade vegan brownies.
Top tip: what if you fall off the cart or don’t want to give up your weekly burger night? Or have you tried the vegan experiment and found that you are simply not ready to give up meat altogether? Here’s the good news: Research shows that replacing just 3% of animal protein sources with plant-based protein resulted in 10% lower overall mortality rates in both men and women. Even if you make some herbal substitutions in your diet, you can get better long-term health results.