A New 30-Day Challenge!

Well, it’s back to the grind, but just for two days.  We returned this morning from our long-weekend trip to Bethany Beach, Delaware to celebrate the Fourth with my family. On Wednesday we head down to Hilton Head with Erin’s family.  But don’t worry, I’ll keep on bloggin’!

[curry and salad photo]Erin, my cousin Henry, and I made dinner last night for the whole family at the beach.  I suppose that’s one way to get people to try vegetarian food–just make it for them!  We quadrupled the recipe for sweet potato and chickpea curry with green peas, and added some corn to make it a little more summer-y.  Henry made some coconut rice to serve it over, and we started the meal with arugula salad with broiled mushrooms with a lime-dijon dressing.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the meal, and to my knowledge there were no emergency trips to McDonald’s afterwards.  Here’s a shot of the whole family eating dinner… hmm, they don’t look quite as happy as I thought they were.  And whose is that abandoned plate?  Maybe there was a covert McDonald’s run!

[everyone eating photo]

And here are the three chefs enjoying the fruits of our labor:

[three chefs eating]

And of course, a shot of my cousin Kelley (one of the 5K runners), never one to turn down a little face time on this new interweb thing:

[kelly photo]

After such a healthy dinner, we all got to talking about fitness, diet, and making changes.  I suppose it might have been the veggies talking, but lots of people seemed pretty excited about…

The Next 30-Day Challenge

Yes, you read that correctly.  Not two weeks after the first 30-Day Challenge ended, I’ve decided it’s time for another, if only because I can’t pass up an opportunity to get so many members of my family involved.  But it’s not just for us!  Just like last time, I’d love to have anyone who likes making big changes as much as I do get involved.

So here’s how it will work.  Leave a comment on this post or another this week with your personal 30-Day Challenge and whatever else might help others readers get to know you (bio, blog address, Facebook page, Twitter name, whatever).  I figure if we start next Monday, everyone will have plenty of time to get ready and enjoy their proverbial Fat Tuesday.  So next Monday I’ll write a post listing everyone’s challenge, info, and/or links, and we’ll be off and running!  Then we’ll check in each Monday after that to find out how everyone is doing.  Dig it?

I know when I commit to a change, I like to start right away, so if you can’t wait until Monday, then by all means start now!  But I’m going to wait until then, since I’ll be on vacation and I still need to think of mine!  I’m really getting into the Brendan Brazier Thrive diet raw food vegan stuff, but that’s not something I’m ready to dive headlong into yet.  I would like to eat less bread products (especially white, but even whole wheat to some extent), choosing less processed grains instead.  And I’m also thinking I need to do more stretching and foam rolling than I sporadically do now, so a weekly bikram yoga session might be in the cards for me (thanks to my cousin’s friend Katherine for this idea).  But I’ll have plenty of clear-headed time at the beach to figure it all out this week.  I definitely want to add something, rather than take away, this time.

I can’t wait to hear what your challenges are; I love this stuff!  I say, if you’re deciding between a big change and a small change, pick the big one!  The big one is so much more motivating (like for me, trying to qualify for Boston vs. just trying to beat my previous best).  Your day-to-day routine, varied only slightly with a small change, is so similar to your old way that it’s easy to fall back into it.  The big change is the one that interrupts your old pattern drastically so that you follow through.

Let the changes begin!



Dig this post?
Spread the word!

Keep in touch:

The 7 Foods Worth Eating Every Single Day

wooden signpost near a pathOur 7-Day Kickstart Plan is unique in that it focuses on the highest quality whole foods (including the 7 foods worth eating every day), to make sure you get everything you need on a plant-based diet.

The Kickstart Plan includes:
  • A 7-day meal plan, built around the foods worth eating every single day
  • 14 of our favorite recipes that pack in the nutrition, taste great, and are easy to make
  • Focused on simplicity and speed, to minimize stress and time commitment
It's the best way we know of to get started with a whole-food, plant-based diet, for just 7 bucks. Learn more here!


  1. Hey! I’m the first one to post my challenge! I’m the Mom (as in the “Help Me Save My Mom” blog). I enjoyed the last 30 day challenge, even though Matt didn’t quite approve of the 1200 calories/day plan. BUT… I DID eat 1200 cal or less each day AND focused on eating as healthily as I could since I didn’t have many calories in that 1200 to waste with sugar and pastries. I ended up losing 5 lbs which I liked and I never once felt hungry. So, for me it was a huge success!

    My NEW 30 day challenge, which I was planning last night after dinner, for the excitement of it all, is to not consume the white powder. No white refined sugar, no artificial sweeteners, and no white flour. Quite a lofty goal, but today I realized that it is very necessary. I just got some blood tests back, and my triglycerides were off the chart. So high, that the LDL couldn’t even be calculated because the high number invalidates the result. Hmmm… not so good. I know that a high triglycerides number has something to do with consuming a lot of sugar, so I’m hoping that this 30 day challenge will result in better numbers at the end of this month.

    So… I’m beginning today!

    • Go Vickie
      I am interested to read how your day goes
      no sugar and white flour is hard…
      lots of fresh fruit, whole wheat, and veggies I guess
      but no Grotto’s or tasty pastries or fudge…mmm
      this will be exciting to track your progress..
      good luck

  2. You’re on! These are things that are not in my usual diet, but I have them from time to time when out and about. But I want to commit to 30 days without them as they wreak havoc in my body…

    – bread
    – coffee
    – sugar
    – alcohol

    Love the 30-day challenges!
    .-= Hanlie´s last blog ..Weighing in on the week that was… =-.

  3. My friend Austin and I have commited to running a mile a day. Not terribly drastic, but a good way to make sure fitness is a part of our everday lives.

    • Way to go Henry and Austin!!! Can’t wait to see if you stick with it for 30 days. I KNOW you can!

    • Go Henry and Austin
      keep us updated,,
      had fun with you at beach…
      let me know how the mile goes

      • Henry, I think that’s a great challenge. You say it’s not drastic, but I think going from not running consistently to running every day is definitely drastic. Good for you guys.

        Make sure you don’t get hurt, if the sudden mileage increase feels like too much, don’t be afraid to listen to your body and back off a bit. It’s easy to get hurt when you go from no running to daily running.

  4. Colleen says:

    It’s time for an exercise-related 30 day challenge. I am going to walk at least 10 miles per week…it’s not a huge number but, given my work schedule, etc. I need to set some sort of number to meet and/or exceed…no more excuses.

  5. Yesterday was Day 1 of my No Meat, No Sugar, 30 Day Challenge! The sugar part includes any sweetener, I depend on artificial sweeteners too much to fulfill my sugar cravings. I chose a hard day to begin my 30 day challenge, as we were travelling for 8 hours along with a 3 hour car ride and a long layover in Chicago. My whole family was saying you can never do this and don’t get too obsessed, but I love what Matt says that you have to interrupt your pattern in a big way to look at how and why you eat certain things. I didn’t realize until I spent the day travelling how hard it is to find nutritional foods that don’t contain artificial sweeteners. The positive thing was that I made it through the whole day eating a lot of fresh fruits, but at 11:30pm standing in the MN airport, i was so hungry because I was used to meat filling me up that I had a bite of a Zone bar. At which time, both of my boys said “Mom, do you know how much sugar that has!” I looked at the package and it had 16 gms of sugar. The point is not how many carbs I had but how hard it is to get through the whole day without any sweeteners. So its interesting and I’m looking forward to the challenge.

  6. oooohhhh let me think – i think diet pop should be eliminated from my diet (no pun intended there :)). the next 30 days will be devoted to going soda-free!

    thanks for the kick in the butt i needed to do this!
    .-= Holly (The Healthy Everythingtarian)´s last blog ..Handy Dandy =-.

    • Colleen says:

      Holly, good luck on the no-soda challenge! My husband and I did that for our first 30 day challenge…after a few weeks I introduced selzer and I now seem to prefer that to the diet soda. I did enjoy a gingerale the other night at dinner but I have not resumed my daily soda intake!

  7. Oh my GOSH- If you end up taking Bikram yoga classes, I’d love to hear about it. I’ve been toying with the idea for ages but I’m intimated because I haven’t practiced any form of yoga in at least 2 years and of course there’s the infamous heat to contend with! Definitely keep us posted!
    .-= VeggieRunnr´s last blog ..Berry Cobbler =-.

  8. Matt-
    ugh I left my computer in BWI airport-carazy day…
    home past midnight and this morning no web access at home..
    almost harder than no splenda!! Connor’s computer was at his Dad’s house so I had your Mom write my blog…

    Thank you for sharing at the beach-
    I am interested in making postive changes-no not in an obsessive way but more looking at what I CHOOSE to put in my body..
    I overall am fairly healthy with exercise and eating fresh fruits and vegetables but I LOVE meat,,I am a carnivore and I also truly love sweet foods..the sweeter the better..my birthday dessert of homemade cheesecake with fresh caramel sauce, whipped cream and a scoop of peanut butter ice cream on the side was perfect,(thanks Mom and Henry-I loved it),not a drop too sweet as I kept eating more of the homemade caramel sauce..mmmmm ..also I depend on artificial sweeteners to give me a sugar hit…I have been reading a lot recently about how artificial sweeteners up your cravings for sugar since they are much sweeter than table sugar,,,So in an effort to go big,, Matthew’s words,,I am choosing to eliminate suagar- fake and real from my diet, and meat-I think if I truly interupt my patterns I will find a healthier balance- I am very interested in a more natural plant and fruit based diet,,and looking at the chemicals/processed food I consume..but I am a little nervous..it’s not that I think a turkey sandwich is unhealthy but by making a big change I hope to discover a more
    natural less processed diet,,now the question is what do I eat for lunch :)))

    • Lunch is hard if you don’t have leftovers! We almost always make 4 servings for dinner so that we do have them the next day. If you don’t have leftovers, veggie wraps or bean burritos are good but make sure the wraps aren’t made with lard. Or whole wheat pita pizzas with some vegetables on them.

      I love how ambitious your challenge is!

      • Ok
        Hi to all:
        I m sticking to No meat,,,have made it 9 days
        I like exploring other options-more fruits/more veggies
        salmon etc,,,,
        but i miss steak,,chicken not so much

        also i feel good about the no sugar-
        esp the white stuff in ice cream-candy-just junk food
        but i am missing a splenda in my coffee

        Also no diet cokes and no diet iced tea feel great
        i think that artificial crap makes me crave sugar more
        it sort of heightens my sweet tooth..
        it is unnaturally sweet

        any suggestions though
        maybe stevia in morning coffee ???

        • Hey Kelley, I actually like coffee better now without any sugar. I’d say try stevia. Are you allowed to try agave nectar on your challenge? But I don’t think you should modify the challenge. After all, it’s called a “challenge” for a reason! The point is that you stick with something long enough and get past the point where you crave whatever it is you gave up. If after 30 days you still want it, then add it back in then, once you’re not doing it impulsively.

          But I think it’s so great that you’ve given up meat for this long. It’s a great example for others, and the one thing I change I hope to bring about for people, more than any other. It’s funny that you crave steak; somehow that seems much grosser to me now than chicken does. But I didn’t eat red meat for a year before I went vegetarian, maybe that’s why I didn’t crave it.

  9. I am a HUGE HUGE fan of challenges! Fun!

    Right now I’m doing the Burpee challenge and the Run A Race challenge, so I’m not sure if I want to add another one to my plate right now… but I’m going to spend the next 30 days focusing especially on eating intuitively to prevent overeating, as well as eating less grains in general (it’s always whole grains, but I eat too much of them as is. Especially when popcorn is involved :D).
    .-= Sagan´s last blog ..How does music affect your health? =-.

    • Sagan
      keep us updated
      i have read eating the moment a book on intuitive eating
      which i think is the whole idea,,having respect and grace around
      food and eating,,do the 30 day with us..
      i would love to read it

  10. I finished reading the Thrive Diet in all of two days, ha. It got me really excited about that style of eating. It’s not totally realistic for my lifestyle (let alone my calorie intake, his is insane!) but I plan to incorporate as much of it into my daily life as I can cram! I’ve already made the curry lentil crackers, the ginger pear smoothie, the sundried tomato marinara, the sweet pepper hemp pesto, and the spicy black-eyed pea quinoa pizza. Whew! I’ll have posts on all of those up in the next few weeks. Yum!

    + Belated congrats on your 5k placing!
    .-= Amber Shea´s last blog ..German chocolate cupcakes =-.

  11. thanks for stopping by my blog 🙂 i look forward to ‘getting to know you’ and your training as well.

    hilton head is sorta, kinda (not really) in my neck of the woods! have a wonderful trip down there.

    i think i’m a little late on the challenge, but i know i need to get back to watching what i eat after a week of vacation so i’ll just unofficially get back on watching my calorie-intake this month. 🙂
    .-= lindsay´s last blog ..toes in the water =-.

  12. Austin Ratner says:

    Hey everyone, just wanted to say I did my second day of running and it was great. Kelley I heard about all your troubles and I hope you can keep with the diet. Say hi to keegan and the family for me and keep us posted.

    • Hey Austin, I’m glad you started! Lots of times getting started is the hardest part; after that it’s easy.

      • go austin
        i am impressed..and enjoyed hanging with you at the beach…

        travel day with no sugar or meat was tough
        yesterday much easier..:)

        Thanks and keep on posting

        • Hey Kelley, good to hear the second day was easier than that hellish first. Traveling is so hard on that kind of diet unless you are very well prepared. Keep it up, on Monday I’ll write the post that lists all the challenges, even if you’ve started. Seems like there will be a lot!

    • how is the running austin
      i hope you are doing well

  13. My 30 day challenge is actually a 3 part challenge! 1). My first goal is to stick to my gym schedule. I work out at least 5 days a week, but I need to stick to my running schedule (3 days each week). I had knee surgery a few years ago, but I need to start running again before my 5K this fall! 2). I’m actually going to try my best to avoid sweets for the next 30 days! I ate 2 ice cream sundaes in the past week – bad decisions! 3). And I’m going to try to stop eating Double Dark Chocolate Zone bars before I go to the gym – they are way too high in saturated fat. I’m been recently replacing them with Luna bars, hopefully I can stick to that! It’s ambitious for me, but I know I can do it 🙂

    Thanks for the challenge! Love your blog – it’s inspirational!
    .-= Megan´s last blog ..Monday Randomness =-.

    • Wow that’s a lot of stuff! But that’s why we call it a challenge. I totally agree about the Zone bars; I think almost any bar you can buy is not worth eating.

  14. Megan
    not to be a taskmaster but when i say i’ll try i never
    do it and then i get mad at myself for my inability to commit
    so it might be easier to actually commit or make it measurable so you don’t feel bad,,just a thought..
    as my goal is sugar free it scares me- i love zone bars
    too but when i look at contents aren’t they really just a glorified snickers…which doesn’t make them bad..
    i don’t think sugar is all bad i just eat way way too much of it

  15. late post!!!
    first things firt, i got a new bike which is amazing!!!
    and im challenging myself to be 100% whole grain for thirty days and run a 2 hour half marathon labor day weekend! good luck everybody!

    • Hey Britt, great challenge! A two hour half would be a huge accomplishment. Let me know which one you are doing; I could really use a half around then in my training for the full in October.

  16. Austin Ratner says:

    I ran soccer conditioning this morning. Five miles is a lot for me, but I went over four miles today!

  17. I am giving up all dairy products for the next 30 days. I haven’t drank cow’s milk in a long time, so that won’t be hard. But I do love ice cream and cheese. That will definitely be a challenge… my family usually has a weekly pizza night. Has anyone ever tried to order a cheese-less pizza? I’m just wondering how difficult it is, and what kind of reaction you get from the order taker? Maybe it’s more common that I suspect. I’m training for 2 summer triathlons and the Chicago marathon, so I’m really curious to see how going dairy-less will help my training! Thanks for giving us this challenge Matt!

    • I’m going to be reducing dairy as well; I beginning to understand that it’s not nearly the nutritional food that their ad campaigns have made it out to be. I bet the pizza guys hear lots of cheeseless orders. I’m shy about making what I think are crazy orders, but you just have to get over it I guess. By the way, I’ve tried some of the vegan “cheeses,” I think one was called Veggie Shreds or something. It was really almost indistinguishable from the real thing. Not quite as flavorful, but there was nothing gross about it. You can get it in health food stores and even some good grocery stores.

      I bet you’ll feel a lot better in your training without it, I’m really looking forward to seeing how I do with less. 2 triathlons in the summer is awesome!

  18. I’m going to give up caffeine (which means no diet coke and no chai tea for me — oh no!) for the next 30-day challenge. I am also planning to walk/run 30 miles over the next 30 days… I am turning 30 on Sunday, so the whole thing just makes sense!


  19. go everyone! happy friday!!!

  20. Catherine says:

    Hi All! So I started my 30 Day challenge that fateful day at the beach… i vowed to give up white flour and put my gym shoes on 5 days a week. so far its going alright i think my biggest difficulty is just not knowing if there’s white flour in something (i.e. if its not obvious that there is white flour in it i still eat it hahah). Anddd the other day at work they ordered pizza for everyone and since it was my only lunch option (i swear wasn’t given time to get something else) i ate it but only one slice 🙂 it was a greattt slice haha. Also I tried out a new yoga studio yesterday in Annapolis for some extra physical activity. anywho good luck everyone!

    • Hey Catherine! White flour is hard, but you’ll probably learn quickly what contains it. Pizza is such an easy fallback for me too, since a lot of times it’s the only meatless food of any substance that I can find if I’m not cooking at home. I’m still thinking of some way to incorporate Bikram into my exercise schedule, probably as part of my challenge.

    • Hi Kat
      How goes life
      this no meat sugar is way way hard
      i am most struggling with sugar
      esp i want one splenda in my coffee
      thinking of a modification
      i worry though about the fake sugar
      no meat
      and no diet sodass or sweets-cookie ice cream etc

      hope yoga is good
      see you in minnesota when ??

  21. Chrissy says:

    Hello! I’ve decided to join you all in embracing the 30-day challenge. For the next 30 days, I’m going to focus on minimizing the amount of pasta and cheese I consume. Being an 8-year vegetarian, I’ve always loooved pasta (and cheese) and eaten more of it than I probably should! (My conversion to vegetarianism was borne out of a disgust for meat rather than a passion for veggies).

    Within the past year I’ve broadened my horizons and allowed more veggies to enter my life. I have a long way to come though, so that’s why I’ve decided to take on this challenge. I’m also going to run more regularly (training for an 8K!) and do pilates. Godspeed to all! 🙂

  22. I’m not going to make the no-sugar, no white flour my 30-day challenge as originally planned. I wrote in another day’s post that I did it for 4 days, and then said ENOUGH mid-way through the 5th day. I really enjoy sugar and it just felt like it wasn’t worth it to me… I guess I’m not sold on how terrible the sugar is for the body. (These are really just excuses, you know, and my trying to convince myself otherwise.) Anyway, until I get more control over myself regarding the sugar I’m going to sidestep it for now.

    I’ve put a lot of thought into my 30-day challenge and decided I want to DO something good for myself rather than just give up something. I have a pretty big month planned, and I really want to give my body and mind the best I can. I’ve decided to eat a healthy diet like I did during the previous 30-day challenge and to stay (I know that this is not a popular NMA goal) under 1200 calories per day. When I did this previously, I felt SO good and SO healthy. And I easily dropped 5 lbs. Specifically, for the next 30 days I am determined to eat a healthy breakfast every morning- not the McDonalds 3-pack chocolate chip cookies with coffee. Starting the day right keeps me on track. AND I’m going to have no more than 3 alcoholic drinks per week. I want to keep my head clear- as I mentioned above I am working on some major things this month and want to make the best decisions I can. The other thing is that when I limit my daily caloric intake to 1200 calories I automatically eat less junk since I need those numbers for good food. And last, the reduced sugar and alcohol along with a reduced weight will hopefully help that 500+ triglyceride number I just got back in my test report. So… those are my goals and the reasons and motivation behind them! I’m excited about these!

    • Go Vicke
      wow the triglceride number seems crazy high’
      i wonder why

      good luck,,
      it does feel good to eat cleaner whatever that means to each of us

  23. I must admit this is much harder than I anticipated. Also, living at college all summer is not the most condusive environment to a health challenge. I have no problem with the running and training, but when it comes to being out and not being able to say go to taco tuesday with friends the challenge seems kind of silly. I am trying though- had many slip ups but not giving up- maybe it is just a slow process to learn…

    • Yeah that sucks about Taco Tuesday. I think time with friends is more important than your diet, unless for some reason the diet is really important to you. But it’s great that you’re doing well with training!

Leave a Comment