Body + Soul Challenge

by | Jan 4, 2009 | Julie | 25 comments

Yeah, so I’ve been feeling a little leaden lately. And kind of annoyed by the over-the-jeans bloopage. I know I only had a baby six months ago, but right about now I get frustrated by my regular clothes not quite fitting right, and feel like it’s time for Action to be Taken.

So I am all about the Body + Soul magazine challenge. (Body + Soul is this Martha Stewart magazine that’s about food and living and balance and hippy crunchiness, and I have to say I really like it. I’ve almost let my subscription run out a few times, mostly because I subscribe to too many magazines and feel like all I do is read magazines and never books anymore, but then I decide that I really like what this magazine has to say, and the photos are lovely and always give me a chance to explain some new fun food to the kids, like turmeric or rutabaga.) I’ve done the Self magazine Challenge in the past, and that has definitely been helpful, but I am appreciating the whole mellow tone of the Body + Soul one right now. It seems to be more about holistic balance and mindfulness (not only eating whole grains and exercising, for instance, but also writing), which is totally what I feel like I need right now. I feel like the holidays made me into a bit of a shrieking exhausted chocolate eater (ha ha! you tell yourself that, Julie! Sure! It was the “holidays” if by “holidays” you mean “children” and by “shrieking exhausted chocolate eater” you mean “the usual loonbucket that you normally are”).

This challenge thing officially starts tomorrow, so I’m letting you all know that I’m doing it, in case you wanted to do it too. Not that I’m actually asking for buddies in this, but I didn’t want to mention it two weeks from now and have you all wishing you’d started it too. Of course, this is very presumptuous of me and assumes you care about my every in-breath and out-breath, but there you are. Perhaps you do. So: tomorrow we start by cutting back on caffeine and sugar, preparing for the dietary cleanse (which is basically eating whole grains with vegetables and beans), drinking a lot of water, and writing for 20 minutes about diet. The whole challenge lasts only 35 days, which I totally think I can handle, and which should also be a nice way to start the year.

I will also say that I do so much better with a magazine telling me what to do than having to actually be self directed, or (heaven forbid!) having an actual person in my life telling me what to do. I don’t know what it is in my makeup that is more likely to follow the advice of magazine editors than of the people who actually know me and care about me, but luckily for me, magazine editors seem to be a limitless font of directive advice.


  1. Clog

    I had given a magazine subscription as a gift for Christmas and yesterday I get a postcard saying the magazine will no longer be published and “Southern Living” will be substituted. Almost as bad as the man who invested 10 million with Madoff a week before his Ponzi scheme was exposed. Grrrrr.
    Good luck Lu – I could do all but cut out coffee.

  2. sutswana

    This looks good, and my commitment so far is to have bookmarked it. Thank you. I went running this morning for the first time in weeks and actually didn’t suffer too much; maybe there is hope. And I agree about the need to detox the system–I’ve had nothing but butter and sugar for the past month and could probably stand to step back from it. Have also done the Self challenge in the past but felt let down that they didn’t send me a postcard of congratulations when it was all said and done. I did the whole thing imagining that the editors at Self were sitting around (or step-aerobic-ing around) the meeting table, rooting for me. And in the end, no one cared! Boo hoo.

  3. Emily

    ok, ok, I’m on it! Yes. although how I’m going to detox from websurfing and follow the plan at the same time when I don’t have hardcopy of mag, I don’t know. do you think you can get this issue with the plan in it, at, like, wholefoods or some such place? this is one of those times when I live in nyc which has everything but nothing seems more insurmountably challenging than finding this one magazine. clearly I need to reboot if this is my attitude. maybe we can all send postcards of congratulations for getting through it??

  4. Julie

    Mom, what magazine was replaced with “Southern Living”? That is quite a substitute. I had a magazine (“Budget Living” I think, which I still miss) replaced with Marie Claire, which wasn’t the same at all.

    Sutswana, there have been a few times I have gotten serious swag for completing the Self Challenge. Shampoo, a few t-shirts, and, most incredibly, a free pair of Dansko clogs.

    And Em, you should be able to find the magazine somewhere, I would think. Newstand/bookstore/Whole Foods, somewhere. If not, let me know, and I’ll copy the pages and send them to you. I do better having them in hand than reading on screen, also.

  5. Anne

    >I did the whole thing imagining that the editors at Self were sitting around (or step-aerobic-ing around) the meeting table, rooting for me.

    In fact, they were! I participated in a Self Challenge Focus Group at their offices, around that meeting table, and it was cool to see how devoted to the whole program the Self staff were.

    The Body + Soul challenge lost me at “cut back on caffeine” (I work full time, I commute a ridiculous distance, I have a toddler: LEAVE ME MY CAFFEINE), but otherwise it sounds good.

    I’d love to lose that 2-year-old baby weight once and for all, though — my goal is to do so by the time I turn 40 (gulp) later this year (gulp again).

  6. LoriO

    I’ll be with you in spirit! I don’t think I’m up to the challenge of making it to work tomorrow, much less having to change anything about my body and soul.

    Dang! Dansko clogs! What a win!

  7. sarah

    You lost me at cutting back caffeine.

  8. Clog

    Cottage Living – which I beleive was based somewhere in Maine or at least they had many Maine articles.
    Don’t you get that too? Such a bummer as I really liked it.

  9. sutswana

    Three things:
    1. I must have missed a vital piece of communication with Self. Dansko clogs?! I truly would have been happy with a postcard. Probably I forgot to send something in.

    2. A good friend in CO is still mourning the loss of Cottage Living. You are not alone.

    3. I hit a new low tonight and discovered a new snack as a result of trying to stuff it all in while my kids weren’t looking. Are you ready? Cheez-Its and Nutella. At the same time. It was actually pretty good. New leaf turns tomorrow! (i.e. I’ll eat them separately.)

  10. Christina

    That Cottage Living gift was to be mine. And i had just discovered it too…sigh. Oprah at Home is gone for good this month too- and there are rumors that Domino magazine is going too which is my favorite (I like house porn if you can’t tell). Seems that Budget Living should have stuck around- that’s what people need now.
    Good luck on your cleanse. I am hopelessly addicted to Peppermint Jo-jos from Trader Joes at the moment as well as gallons black tea every morning and a glass of wine in the evening. And the way it’s been lately with Nora I desperately need eery one of these little treats/vices so I wont even attempt to join you on this one. But I will check out that magazine. I have become an even greater magazine junkie since I had a child- maybe just because there is a good chance i might be able to finish an occasional article versus trying to get through a book.

  11. Julie

    I had no idea about Cottage Living! Maybe they replaced it with Southern Living because they both have “Living” in the title. It seems odd for it to fold, since it seemed like a pretty together magazine. Ah, well. I’ve never actually seen Southern Living, so maybe it’s not that bad. But instinct tells me it doesn’t apply to my life here in Maine, like it might have articles on serving Christmas dinner outside. I subscribe(d) to Cottage Living, when were they planning on telling me that they’re no longer being published?

  12. Christina

    I think Southern Living and Cottage Living were by the same publisher, that’s why Southern Living was substituted. It’s weird to me that Cottage Living folded over Southern Living- wouldn’t Cottage Living have a much greater subscriber base? I too was wondering how Southern Living would apply to my life- I don’t think they include Southern California in their coverage.

  13. Julie

    Sigh. I really wish they would just bring back Budget Living. I’m with you Christina — at least with magazines there’s a chance I can finish the article. I have such a sad big pile of books that I never get to.

  14. Emily

    so, even as I write, I have the split-peas that have been in my cupboard for 1+ year cooking, plus another pot going along with brown rice. I know I have 2 days to get ready to cleanse, but i sense already that i am going to need soup recipes. because I don’t really like split peas (hence 1+ year in cupboard) unless as vehicle for ham in soup, and the bean I really like is the chickpea, but a body can get tired of chickpea after 7 days.

  15. Julie

    My big success of the day was that I have had a mere one square of chocolate, which is roughly 1/100th my normal intake. I have been all about the brown rice lately also, and am planning on doing things with quinoa as well. I also just got a slow cooker off of Freecycle (from Stacey of the calendar) and just today got a vegetarian slow cooker cookbook from the library, so I’m hoping I can do something with that (though how this will translate into dinner for Henry and his desire that no foods touch, I don’t know).

  16. Emily

    Well done you! I made split pea soup from the cooked split peas yesterday: they were just staring, greenly, from the pot, and I had to so something. I put them in cuisinart along with leftover roasted onions and fennel, and veg. broth. served it over brown rice. I made it through half a bowl before succumbing to exhaustion: that was HEARTY eatin;! Scott ate two bowls. i did not keep the last scoop of leftover. tonight, chick pea stew with carrots and potatoes. I know potatoes might not be kosher here, but it’s a known qantity and i won’t have time to buy ingredients for new purchase after work.

    I ate a chocolate candy here at school. maybe you can serve things like at those fancy restaurants, where they make little columns of food using cookie cutters? I feel like last night’s soup would have had the strength to stay in its shape after unmolding…

  17. Julie

    Hey, potatoes are kosher in my book, as long as they’re not deep fried or anything. I’m honestly just really using this mostly as an excuse to eat the way I know I should, at least for a little while. I’m very impressed by your split pea concoction. And yes, for next time, you should get some kind of fancy mold to press it into shapes.

    I’m thinking maybe the caffeine in the chocolate was more significant than I realized: I’ve had a low grade headache since yesterday.

  18. Kate

    I realize I’ve been hiding a terrible secret and living an “I’m eating healthy” fantasy for some time now. I never had a serious sweet tooth or chocolate problem until I became pregnant with Ian (now aged 2). I found some dark chocolate Klondike bars on sale sometime during his pregnancy and have been hooked on CRAPPY chocolate products ever since. My current obsession is the Tin Roof Sundae flavor of Turkey Hill ice cream. They actually do have an all natural line of ice creams made with real cream, milk, etc. but of course this particular flavor doesn’t fall into that category. It’s those darned “choco peanuts” they put in that Tin Roof Sundae that make me eat a bowl almost every night. Shameful!

    Now that my secret is exposed I think I really need to take the challenge or at least cut out the ice cream. Now, please excuse me while I finish my glass of wine, mix up the coffee for tomorrow morning and enjoy a bowl of ice cream!

  19. Julie

    There was a time when I found myself getting a little too obsessed with Gifford’s “Moose Tracks” ice cream (Maine ice cream, described thusly: Vanilla Ice Cream with Peanut Butter Cups and Famous Moose Tracks Fudge) and had to pull back before it got out of control. Now it’s just the fancypants 88% cacao chocolate bars that I can pretend I eat for the antioxidant value, but it’s really to get me through the day.

    You should realize that you are being a good American by like the salty/sweet combo, at least according to this NYT article on salted caramels:

  20. Kate

    I suppose that helps although once something hits Walmart it’s all over, isn’t it? I’ve been enchanted by Take Five bars for a couple of years and Miles brought home some fancy salted caramels from Seattle that were divine. Salt + sweet = food obsession.

    Now that I’m back home from our Christmas away and I’m taking yoga again I think I’ll turn over a new leaf and do the challenge too!

  21. Julie

    As we all know from my cookie experiment ( I am all about the salty and sweet also. I bet those fancy salted caramels from Seattle are the same ones the Obamas are into! You’re so hip!

    I am obsessed with salted caramels even though I’ve never eaten one. It just sounds like the best thing ever.

  22. Julie

    Ok Kate you are totally not helping! Yum.

  23. Beth

    I’m with you guys. My very small step is to take a break each day at noon and go for a walk, rain or shine. So far, it’s working, maybe just a little bit and not really reducing my calories, probably (I usually celebrate with chocolate when I get home. That might be why.) But this one small step is making a huge difference in my life. Whodathought?


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