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    blog — growwithjo

    30 Day HAPPINESS Challenge

    30 Day HAPPINESS Challenge

    Ive seen a lot of these types of posts on Pinterest and thought i would try my own, as i find that health and fitness is about so much more than working out and eating right. Living a fit and healthy life means that you are taking care of your inner self, your true feelings about yourself and your position in this world. If you are actively working on your self-care and creating a happy space in your mind, it will become a norm.
    If you go through this challenge (or any other for that matter), make sure not to get down on yourself if you miss a day, its counterintuitive to go through it and feel horrible if you missed one or two. Take it how you like it and these are just suggestions to make your days happier and more enjoyable!
    1. go for a walk outside- and take your time with it. Enjoy what the fresh air has for you, and try a new route than you have ever taken! (Remember also to walk safely, if not on the sidewalk, on the correct side of the road)
    2. tell someone a joke - if you cant think of one, look one up! Making someone else laugh always make me happy
    3. learn how to cook a new dish - perhaps browse through my Pinterest page for suggestions!
    4. perform a selfless act - i feel that when i do something for someone else, and see their smile, it usually makes my day too!
    5. bake a yummy cake - or cookies, or whatever you prefer. Share it with someone, while you chill and vibe
    6. watch a favourite movie - mines UP or A Walk to Remember or The Great Gatsby or Wolf of Wall Street (LAWD i have so many favs)
    7. Journal your thoughts - its a super therapeutic activity; I hope you give this one a try at least once.
    8. Wear your favourite colours - i find that when i do this, either to the gym or while i work, it gives me a little more excitement to be doing whatever activity Im doing.
    9. Have a dance party - and dance as obnoxiously as possible. This helps me let out stress and just be silly in the comfort of my own space. My boyfriend usually either watches and laughs with me, or joins in with his own silly dance.
    10. Listen to a podcast - learn something new, your brain will be happy :)
    11. Get yourself some flowers - you can even pick a few outside and put them in a cup. That nice reminder of nature's intricacies will be sure to put a smile on your face.
    12. Practice yoga - or stretches at home or in a class!
    13. FaceTime a friend - i find that reconnecting with someone i haven't talked to in a while really gives me a new perspective on life and allows me to appreciate life for the way that it is. 
    14. Get a massage - relieve that stress girl, you deserve it
    15. Meditate for 10 mins - if you have trouble with this, try a meditation app- i like Calm or Headspace 
    16. Take a day trip - if time allows you. If not, just try going to a new place in town, taking a little detour as an adventure, you may be surprised with what you find!
    17. Take a long bath (or shower)
    18. Smile at as many people as possible - seeing that smile back will definitely make you smile even bigger
    19. Colour or paint - create your own picture or use a picture book. I like doing this while listening to lofi playlist on youtube.
    20. Treat yourself- food treat, online purchase, something you've been wanting for a while. 
    21. Try a new food cuisine - venture outside of your comfort zone and try a new dish from a cultures food you've never tried
    22. Get a manicure (or give yourself one)
    23. No social media day- i find this helps me stop thinking about other peoples lives and really live in the moment.
    24. Follow along yoga (youtube or online) - do it at home- maybe this will be a new routine for you?!
    25. Have a sleepover - either host one or get a few girlfriends together at a friends house. Bring out the snacks and therapeutic girly talk
    26. Share a quote- find an uplifting quote to share with your close circle or friend(s).
    27. 15 mins of cardio - this always helps me clear my mind and re-set
    28. Compliment someone -find something you genuinely love about someone and let them know. They will be surprised and you'll feel great for making someone else feel great about themselves
    29. Go to bed 30 mins early- you'd be surprised what that extra 30 mins can do
    30. Start a daily planner - keep yourself more organized, and perhaps add some of these activities into your daily routine to keep yourself actively happy and enjoying life!
    I really hope that you like this challenge, as it has been one that has helped me really keep a positive attitude! Make sure to pin this on Pinterest and share with a friend on Instagram or Facebook! Tag me so i can add you to my circle of friends and fam <3

    Training According to Your Cycle: How to Make the Best of Hormonal Shifts

    Training According to Your Cycle: How to Make the Best of Hormonal Shifts


    The MOST common questions i get via DM on instagram revolve around motivation; ‘how can i get motivated’, ‘how can i stay motivated?’, ‘what happened to my motivation? I had it a few days ago and now i just ate an entire box of donuts and fell asleep missing my workout for today’. Motivation really seems to be an issue as it is merely an emotion that comes and goes.

    I decided to do some digging on the topic and found a bunch of reasons why motivation fails and is renewed week-to-week. What i found is that our motivation levels closely correlates to hormone shifts in your menstrual cycle.

    Your 28-day (on average) menstrual cycle is basically a series of hormonal shifts. These shifts have the potential to hinder you from reaching your goals, but when recognized and planned for' they can also be used to your advantage.

    When you learn what your body is asking for during these hormonal shifts, training throughout the entire cycle can make it much easier to stick to fitness goals you’ve committed to and can decrease your recovery time from workout to workout, making each workout increasingly efficient.

    In addition to optimizing motivation as your body shifts through its hormonal phases, when you train according to your cycle, you are showing the body that you aren’t trying to fight against it, rather to build it up; which makes a HUGE difference internally.


    Your body goes through 2 phases (each lasting around 14 days). The first phase is the “follicular phase” which starts the first day you get your period and lasts until the day you ovulate. During this phase, your estrogen will increase to stimulate follicle growth.

    The second phase is called the Luteal phase, which again lasts 14 days, starting after you ovulate and goes until you start your next period. During this phase, a hormone called progesterone increases. Estrogen also increases during this phase but they both come back down to regular levels if the egg isn’t fertilized, to re-start the cycle.

    How do these phases influence our motivation and training?

    The shifts that happen in our hormones throughout these phases affects our temperature and insulin sensitivity levels. Our temperature, when it rises, slightly increases our fatigue response when we are working out or doing any kind of strenuous activity. This slight change of temperature can even deter you from going to the gym after a long day of work.

    Insulin is yet another hormone that is produced by the pancreas to move glucose (sugar) out of the blood stream, into our muscles, liver, and fat cells. This hormone works to regulate blood sugar levels.

    The fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone influence insulin sensitivity and changes the way your body readily uses and stores the food that you are eating. Your body becomes more insulin sensitive at the beginning of your cycle when estrogen is higher. During this time, carbs are used more efficiently, which means that strength training and high intensity training should be prioritized as these types of exercises will allow you to use more carbs as energy, and build muscle!

    In the second half of your cycle, progesterone takes the lead and you will become more insulin resistant. This means that your body has a hard time properly storing glucose and will resort to sending it to your fat cells. This is the time that steady state (ones that are not high intensity, or high power) workouts are best performed. Steady state workouts (cardio or lifting weights) allow you to reach into fat stores to use energy, rather than using carbohydrates. In addition to this, in the second phase you will feel a shift in energy, which will also prompt you to back off the crazy workouts.

    Knowing and understanding these shifts can make a huge impact on the way you structure your workouts and can really make a difference long term.

    Let’s take a look at how we should be training week to week.


    Week-by-week plan

    Week 1 (Days 3 – 9): The Ramp Up (Increased Load or Intensity)

    Week 1 happens in the first half of your follicular phase. During this time, you can increase the intensity of your training and start lifting heavy. Think of this time a week to get your body and mind ready for maximum load and intensity. This is a great time to do interval workouts. Make sure that you are warming up properly. This is especially important this week as you are coming off of a week of less activity. 

    Week 2 (Days 10 – 16): High Load or Intensity

    This week is the second half of the follicular phase and ovulation. During this time, you may find that you are the most energetic! To take advantage of this, make siure that you do  a few workouts that use maximal efforts. Now’s the time to attempt a personal best in your weight lifting efforts. This is the best time for you also to be doing your HIIT workouts.

    Week 3 (Days 17 – 23): Aerobic Efforts

    This week is the first half of luteal phase. During this time, you may find you do better with aerobic training. Moderate loads and longer, less intense workouts are ideal. Try an outdoor workout that takes you out of your element or work indoors on training for that jog personal best. As you start to move towards the end of this week, taper your training off according to how your body is feeling as you experience PMS symptoms. Be sure to remain hydrated and be mindful of the fact that your core temperature has increased.

    Week 4 (Days 24 – 2): The Down Week

    This phase starts when your PMS symptoms start to become more prominent. During this time, you can do light activities like yoga, light home workouts (perhaps a growwithjo follow along at home) or just relaxing and working on some self care.

    A Final Note

    The training guideline for weeks that i have provided are meant to be a general guideline. We all have slightly different cycles (some ranging from 23-32 days instead of the average of 28), and have different types of daily influences on our routines, so it may not be spot on for you. The key is to recognize what is going on in your body so that you don't feel helpless when you feel sluggish and un-motivated.

    Another important thing to mention is to not feel guilty when you take that little break from the gym. If you are coming to the end of your cycle and are just really not feeling it, take a couple days just to relax and do something else for yourself in the time that you would usually go to the gym. I like to do face masks or have a little movie marathon with my boyfriend and pup. Perhaps go shopping or go for a long walk with a friend? Ultimately it is the inner you that needs all the love for the outer you to shine!

    For more information and/or blog posts on hormonal shifts and changes in your training, comment below! I’d love to hear if you train according to your cycle or if you have any additional tips that you would like to share with this community!

    Keep shining,