Jenna’s 28-Day Wellness Challenge

Welcome to 2021!


Welcome to my 28-day Wellness Challenge--for anyone interested in trying health-promoting activities for the next 28 days!  You may already do some of these things, or you may just be starting on your wellness journey, but there is room for everyone to try something new. I encourage you to reflect on how you feel each day after doing the recommended activity which can help you decide which activities you want to make into habits moving forward.  Each day I will share a more in-depth explanation of the activity and some resources to help you complete it. And if you like doing these healthy activities but are having trouble making them habits that stick or want to talk about more individualized recommendations, please schedule a time to discuss with me further. -- Jenna, PA-C



Day 1 ~Eat all the colors of the rainbow this week

Colorful foods are not only fun to look at, but they are also full of phytonutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins that are incredibly beneficial to numerous aspects of our health. Try to include as many colors and varieties as you can throughout the week. Bonus if you can eat all the colors in one day! Next time you’re at the grocery store or farmers market, see how many colors you can buy to keep a rainbow of options ready at home. My current colorful favorite foods that I get at the farmers market are- oyster mushrooms, watermelon radish, butternut squash, tokyo bekana, purple daikon, and murasaki (purple outside, yellow inside!) sweet potatoes. –Jenna, PA-C


Day 2 ~ Listen to Guided Meditation

According to Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), mindfulness is “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally”.

Mindfulness and meditation are shown to improve mental health, reduce stress, decrease inflammation, increase focus, improve sleep, and more. There are many ways to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into your daily life. One of my favorite ways to start is by listening to a guided meditation. There are now countless guided meditations available online (mostly free) about a wide range of topics, varying in length from 5 minutes to 60 minutes or more. Taking the time to listen to one today will be well worth it.–Jenna, PA-C

 Resources: Mindful.org, Breathe by Dr. Jud app, Insight Timer app, HeadSpace App, Calm app, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction classes, HeartMath, 101, led by Judy Grupenhoff, Meditation Is Medicine, led by Dr. Wendy Chabot

 


Day 3 ~ Avoid Using Technology/Electronics/Screens at Each Meal

The pandemic has made technology and screens even more pervasive parts of our lives — and for good reason, they are helping people safely work, learn, and stay socially connected while being physically distant. However, we all could use a break from screens, especially if it involves mindlessly scrolling while eating. I challenge you to avoid technology and screens at each meal today and instead be more present and mindful while eating. While avoiding the distraction from technology, you may be able to be cognizant of where your food came from, acknowledge the effort that was taken to prepare it, and savor the unique flavors. You may even find yourself more in tune with when your stomach is full and how your body feels after eating. –Jenna, PA-C

 

 


Day 4 ~ Go For a Walk at Lunch

Walking is one of the best and easiest things to do for your health. Whether it is a 5 minute or 45 minute walk, get up and get moving on your lunch break today. You may find that your mind is clearer and you are able to focus better after walking. Walking post-meal can aid in digestion and improve blood sugar. Bonus if you are able to get outside safely with a coworker or friend (masks on!) and walk together. –Jenna, PA-C

 100 Reasons to Walk https://walkwithadoc.org/join-a-walk/why-walk/100-reasons/

 

 

 


Day 5 ~ Thankful Thursdays! List 3 Things You Are Thankful For

According to Robert Emmons, perhaps the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, gratitude has two key components. “First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good thing in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life. The second part of gratitude is figuring out where that goodness comes from. We recognize the sources of this goodness as being outside of ourselves. It didn’t stem from anything we necessarily did ourselves in which we might take pride. We can appreciate positive traits in ourselves, but I think true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others: We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good

Practicing gratitude can benefit our mind, body, relationships as the infographic below explains. Try writing down or saying out loud three things you are grateful for today. –Jenna, PA-C

 

 

 


Day 6- Start your day off with drinking a full cup of water before anything else

After you wake up and before doing anything else to start your day (especially before using phone/computer/tv and before drinking coffee/tea or eating anything), try drinking a full cup of water. Drinking water can help refresh body, mind, and spirit to start your day and set the pace to continue hydrating throughout the day. Your body is dry from not drinking anything overnight while sleeping, so drinking water first thing while help hydrate you and get your body going. Adequate hydration helps stool move through the colon and can decrease constipation. Ample hydration is also important for brain function. Taking the time to drink a cup of water can also help you start your day grounded and ready to tackle the day ahead. You can try drinking cold, room temperature, or warm water and/or adding lemon/lime juice to your water to see how you enjoy it best! –Jenna, PA-C


Day 7- Declutter/organize one space in your home

"Take some time today to declutter and/or organize a space in your home. The chaos of clutter can contribute to feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Even with as little as 5 minutes of decluttering you will likely feel more organized, be able to find things better, have more space for the things you truly love. One great way to start is to create three piles- things to donate/sell/throw out, things to put in storage, and things to keep." –Jenna, PA-C


Day 8- Go outside for at least 10 minutes every day this week

Try to schedule time to go outside in the fresh air at least 10 minutes every day this week. Whether you go for a walk, sit and read, eat a meal, play catch, watch the sunrise or sunset (safely with masks on or with your pod of course!), find a way and time to get outdoors. Especially with being cooped up with the pandemic, it is important to find safe ways to get outside. –Jenna, PA-C


Day 9- MEATLESS MONDAY!  Try meatless versions of your favorite meals

Eating meatless is good for your body and the planet! Reducing meat and eating fiber-rich plant-based foods instead is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes. Decreasing meat consumption can help reduce greenhouse gases and lessen demand for land, water, and energy used in livestock production.

Try eating plant-based for one or all three meals today. Search online for plant-based versions of your favorite meals. Or maybe you already eat plant-based -- try searching for a childhood or restaurant favorite that you’ve never made plant-based at home before. You’ll be surprised how good the same spices and flavors can taste without the meat and animal products. You may even find yourself feeling full more quickly with increased fiber from the plants.

https://www.mondaycampaigns.org/meatless-monday


Day 10-Practice breathing exercises upon waking and before bed

Deep breathing exercises have been shown to possibly be helpful for insomnia, anxiety, depressive symptoms, stress, immune system response, alertness, concentration, and vitality. There are many breathing techniques you can practice (two pictured below), ultimately it is best to find the one you like and are most likely to do! Try starting with 2-3 minutes of breathing exercises in the morning and again before bedtime. Stop the exercise if you feel dizzy at any point and as always, talk to your provider if you have any questions about your specific health, medical conditions, or medications. You can also schedule to join Judy’s next HeartMath 101 series to learn more about specific breathing exercises. –Jenna, PA-C

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/05/27/862963172/how-the-lost-art-of-breathing-can-impact-sleep-and-resilience

https://www.healthline.com/health/breathing-exercise

Image
Day 11 -- GET UP AND MOVE YOUR BODY AT LEAST ONCE EVERY HOUR
 
"From an evolutionary perspective, humans were designed to move throughout the day. However, modern technology is contributing to most of us moving less and sitting more. Recent epidemiological evidence has suggested that sitting too much has negative metabolic and long-term health consequences that are distinct from those risks associated with too little exercise. So not only is it important to aim for dedicated exercise most days of the week, it is also important to avoid prolonged periods of sitting each day. Today I encourage you to try to get up and move your body in any way that feels good at least once every hour! You can get up and walk around the room you are in, stretch, or if tolerated, try a brief burst of more vigorous movement like jumping jacks, squats, wall pushups, etc (see infographic for more ideas). I’m reminded to do this every day when I see my dog intermittently get up and do a down dog and up dog stretch numerous times a day (generally I count him averaging at least 6 down dogs a day! watch video below to see his excellent form)." –Jenna, PA-C
 
REMEMBER: Post pictures of you and your family taking part in Jenna's challenge! #jenna28daychallenge
 

Day 12 -- NO SCREENS (PHONE, COMPUTER, TV, ETC) FOR 1-2HOURS BEFORE BEDTIME
"Adequate and high quality sleep is essential to our overall health and wellbeing. Sleep has been shown to have significant impact on physical development, emotional regulation, cognitive performance, and quality of life. Exposure to blue light from screens suppresses the body’s natural melatonin production which has been shown to delay sleep onset and reduce duration and quality of sleep. Consider incorporating reading, journaling, meditating, breathing exercises, and other de-stressing activities as part of your bedtime routine." –Jenna, PA-C
 

Day 13 — LIST 3 THINGS YOU LOVE ABOUT YOURSELF (BONUS: SAY THEM OUT LOUD!)
“We often take aspects of ourselves for granted and don’t give them the love they deserve. We also sometimes focus our energy outward and compare ourselves or wish we were like others. However, re-centering on the amazingness within you can be very powerful and freeing. When you flip the script from negative self-talk and criticism to positive self-talk and love, you open up space for more appreciation, happiness, and love.
Take time today to think about, write down, and/or say out loud three things that you love about yourself. If you are having trouble thinking of something, take the perspective of a compassionate friend and think what they might say they love about you. You don’t have to love all of yourself every day, but I know you can find three things you love about yourself today and every day!” –Jenna, PA-C

Day 14 -- AVOID ADDED AND REFINED SUGAR
"Refined sugars may increase your risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, dementia, liver disease, and certain types of cancer. Refined sugar is rapidly absorbed and increases inflammation versus natural sugars found in fruit with also contain fiber and water to slow absorption. These added sugars are not only found in desserts, soda, and candy, but also often hiding in salad dressings, bread, tomato sauce, ketchup, yogurt, breakfast cereal, and more (according to one research study, 74% of packaged foods contained added sugar!). Today, try to pay attention to food labels and avoid or minimize added sugars that you are eating and buying. Try fruit (including dates and figs some of my favorites!) to satisfy a sweet craving or making your own sauce/dressing from scratch to avoid added sugars."–Jenna, PA-C
 
https://sugarscience.ucsf.edu/hidden-in-plain-sight/#.YBNq0JNKjow

Day 15 --MEAL PLAN FOR THE WEEK!
"Meal planning and prepping often saves time and money, reduces food waste and the stress of preparing something after a hard day a work, and helps one eat more health-promoting foods. Take some time today to plan at least one meal each day (or all 3 meals each day!) this week. Taking it a step further after you plan what you’d like to eat, make a grocery list of the things you need, and wash and prep anything you can ahead of time. You may even want to cook a few dishes ahead of time and reheat them throughout the week." –Jenna, PA-C
 
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/meal-prep/
 

Day 16 --DRINK AT LEAST 8 CUPS OF WATER THROUGHOUT THE DAY!

"Water is essential for numerous processes within the body that are happening throughout the day. While individual water requirements can vary greatly on a day-to-day basis due to differences in physical activity level, climate, and dietary water content, it is generally accepted that most adults need to drink at least 64oz/2 liters (8 x 8oz cups) each day. That may seem like a lot, but if you have 1 cup after waking up, 1 cup before each meal, 1 cup mid-morning, 1 cup mid-afternoon, 1 cup late afternoon/end of work, and 1 cup in early evening it is easy to space out throughout the day. If plain water seems boring, try adding a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, mint leaves, cucumber slices, berries, etc to help the water be more flavorful and fun!"


Day 18- RESISTANCE TRAINING (bonus: with stretching after)

Inactive adults can experience an estimated 3% to 8% loss of muscle mass per decade after age 30 (and increases to 5% to 10% each decade after age 50). Numerous studies have shown that brief sessions of regular resistance training 2-3 days per week can increase muscle mass in adults of all ages. Additional benefits of resistance training include: improved physical performance, movement control, walking speed, functional independence, cognitive abilities, and self-esteem; prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes and improved insulin sensitivity; lowered blood pressure and increased HDL (“good”) cholesterol; increased bone density; and decreased discomfort associated with arthritis and fibromyalgia. You don’t need any fancy equipment- there are a lot of resistance exercises you can do with just your body weights or with items from around the house if you want more of a challenge (cans of soup, water jug, book, etc). Try 5-15 minutes of resistance exercises such as arm curls, wall pushups or regular pushups, wall sits, planks, lunges, etc. See the example 9 minute whole body resistance workout linked below or the infographic from MD Anderson Cancer Center. As always do what you are comfortable with and stop if you have any pain. Bonus take a few extra minutes at the end to stretch the muscles you just used!

https://www.nytimes.com/guides/well/strength-training-plyometrics

Source: Westcott, Wayne L. PhD Resistance Training is Medicine: Effects of Strength Training on Health, Current Sports Medicine Reports: July/August 2012 – Volume 11 – Issue 4 – p 209-216 doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31825dabb8


Day 19 –THANKFUL THURSDAY–Write a letter to someone you are grateful for
‘According to Robert Emmons, perhaps the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, gratitude has two key components. “First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good thing in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life. The second part of gratitude is figuring out where that goodness comes from. We recognize the sources of this goodness as being outside of ourselves. It didn’t stem from anything we necessarily did ourselves in which we might take pride. We can appreciate positive traits in ourselves, but I think true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others: We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.” ‘–Jenna, PA-C
 
https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good
 
Practicing gratitude can benefit our mind, body, relationships and more. Try writing a letter to someone you are grateful for today.
 

Day 20 — STRETCH BEFORE GETTING OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING AND AGAIN BEFORE GOING TO SLEEP
“One of the best ways to start and end your day is with stretching. After a full night of sleep, stretching can be a great way to transition to being awake, upright, and moving. Try taking a few minutes before even getting out of bed to slowly and gently roll your neck, shoulders, and arms, then twist and bend your back, then fold and bend your legs, then roll your ankles and wrists and spread your toes and fingers. You’ll likely feel more ready to tackle the day ahead! Then at the end of a full day take a few minutes to stretch again to release areas of stress and tension, help clear and quiet your mind, and increase blood flow to muscles to start the recovery process that happens while sleeping.”–Jenna, PA-C

Day 21 — SOCIAL MEDIA-FREE SATURDAY
“Just like technology has become an increasing part of our daily lives, social media too has become a dominant part of a lot of people’s daily lives. Social media can have its positives of connecting people of similar interests, staying in touch with people all around the world, seeing animals, plants, and landscapes that you may otherwise not see, and so much more. However, social media can also have a lot of negatives with comparison, idealization, bullying, misinformation, unrealistic standards, and much more. We can all use a break to step back and evaluate what kind of role social media (both the platforms broadly that we use and the individual accounts we follow) has in our lives. Try taking today off from social media completely and see how it makes you feel without it. Use this information to better interact with social media moving forward.”–Jenna, PA-C

Day 22- ESTABLISH A SET BEDTIME FOR EACH NIGHT THIS WEEK

“Adequate and high quality sleep is essential to our overall health and wellbeing. Sleep has been shown to have significant impact on physical development, emotional regulation, cognitive performance, and quality of life. Establishing a set bedtime for each night of the week is one of the keys to getting adequate and good quality sleep. Aim for a bedtime that will allow you 7-9 hours of sleep time (accounting for the time it may take you to fall asleep too!) before needing to wake up and start your day. Having a set bedtime (and ideally a set wake up time too) will help you synch with your body’s natural circadian rhythm to establish a regular sleep-wake cycle. It may be a little challenging to adjust to at first, but prioritizing a set bedtime will get easier the more you stick to it and pay off with how you feel and health benefits in the long run. If you’re interested in learning more about sleep, sign up for Dr. Wendy’s next sleep class or an individual sleep consultation appointment.”–Jenna, PA-C


Day 23 — MEATLESS MONDAY
“Another benefit of leaving meat off the plate, that is not often spoken of, is how it reduces suffering and increases compassion. A lot of people are so far removed from their food sources in our modern society that it is easy to not realize or appreciate where food is coming from. Taking a step back to bring awareness to the bigger picture can allow us to practice gratitude and compassion and make choices that reduce violence and suffering. There is so much violence and suffering happening all over the world in so many ways, and it can often feel hard to find a way to help. Choosing non-violence and compassion on our plates is a small action we have the opportunity to take every time we eat. Starting with this small step can then help us expand that compassion towards ourselves and others in our lives and around the world. This concept is summed up by ahimsa- an integral part of ancient Indian spiritual teachings, which literally translates to “absence of injury,” and is the practice of non-violence (in thought, speech, and action) towards all living beings, including ourselves.
 
“Here are some of my favorite food blogs with great recipes to try out just how tasty, satisfying, and compassionate meatless eating can be!”–Jenna, PA-C
 

Day 24 — REACH OUT TO FAMILY/A FRIEND YOU HAVEN’T TALKED TO RECENTLY

Cropped shot of a mature couple using a digital tablet while relaxing at home

“According to research published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, there is “significant evidence that social support and feeling connected can help people maintain a healthy body mass index, control blood sugars, improve cancer survival, decrease cardiovascular mortality, decrease depressive symptoms, mitigate post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, and improve overall mental health. The opposite of connection, social isolation, has a negative effect on health and can increase depressive symptoms as well as mortality.” The pandemic and physical distancing has further challenged our ability to connect with other humans. But it is so important to stay socially connected while staying physically distant and safe. Try reaching out to a friend or family member you haven’t talked to recently to help foster a sense of support an connectivity.”–Jenna, PA-C

 
Martino J, Pegg J, Frates EP. The Connection Prescription: Using the Power of Social Interactions and the Deep Desire for Connectedness to Empower Health and Wellness. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2015;11(6):466-475. Published 2015 Oct 7. doi:10.1177/1559827615608788
 
REMEMBER: Post pictures of you and your family taking part in Jenna’s challenge! #jenna28daychallenge
 

Day 25  — TRY A NEW 30-MINUTE WORKOUT (bonus: with a friend)
“When exercise is fun we are more likely to do it! Lack of motivation is often a barrier to regular physical activity and having a lack of enjoyment is more likely to contribute to that lack of motivation. Trying something new and fun can be a way to add more enjoyment to movement, help you be more likely to get moving, and encourage you to continue moving on a regular basis. Whether it is skiing or snowshoeing outside today or finding a new zumba, pilates, dance, or yoga video online, try something new (or something you haven’t done recently) today!
 
“Bonus- for more fun and accountability try the new activity with a friend/family virtually or with masks outside if not in your pandemic pod.”–Jenna, PA-C
 

Day 26 — PERFORM ONE RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS
“We can all use more kindness in the world, so today I encourage you to perform one act of kindness. Even a small, simple, free action can make you and those who receive or witness kindness happier and healthier. Studies show that kindness increases serotonin levels and releases endorphins that can give you a “helper’s high.” Kindness also increases oxytocin production which can lower blood pressure. Research also shows that kindness can help decrease stress, inflammation, and anxiety. And kindness is contagious! Let’s see how much kindness we can spread starting with one small act today.
 
(Today is good practice because next week is actually Random Acts of Kindness Week! https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/)”–Jenna, PA-C
 

Day 27 –  LIST 3 POSITIVE THINGS THAT HAPPENED THIS MONTH (bonus: say them out loud)

“Day to day life may not always feel positive, especially with the ongoing pandemic and all that in going on in the world. However, if we take a step back we will likely realize there are more positive things happening than we acknowledge. Our brains tend to want to focus on the negative, but we can work to help our brains see and focus on the positives too! Try thinking of 3 positive things that happened (to you, to someone you know, and/or more largely in the world, etc) this month and see how focusing on that may help you feel happier, lighter, more energized. As a bonus say each positive thing out loud to let the power of it truly wash over yourself!”-Jenna, PA-C


Day 28 — REFLECTION & GOAL SETTING
“Here we are at the last day of the wellness challenge! I hope you tried something new and learned something about yourself. I encourage you to reflect on the past month and identify the tasks that you enjoyed, that you felt good after, that challenged you, that you didn’t get anything out of, etc. Use this reflection to then set goals for the future to maybe continue a task you really liked and benefited from each day, or one that you’ll continue once a week, or a new task of your own that you’d like to make into a habit! Thanks for joining me on this wellness journey” =) Jenna, PA-C
 
Did you enjoy our 28-Day Challenge! Let us know so we can add more things like it!!