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Last week I introduced the Blue Zones Challenge, a four week guide to creating a longer, better life. See Week One HERE. I’ve just completed the second week and I’m loving the positive effect this shift in lifestyle is having.
Read about the new activities in the Blue Zones Challenge Week Two and the changes I’m making.
The Blue Zones Lifestyle
The Blue Zones lifestyle is based on the information gathered by Dan Buettner while studying regions in the world with the highest proportion of people who live to 100 years old. They are:
- Sardinia, Italy – an island in the Mediterranean Sea
- Ikaria, Greece – an Aegean island with the lowest rates of dementia
- Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
- Okinawa, Japan
- Loma Linda, California – a community of Seventh Day Adventists who on average live ten years longer than other Americans
The challenge presents a shift in health practices that changes life for the better. It’s not just a diet or a fitness plan. Rather, it focuses on behavior, habits and environment.
The long term benefits of living a Blue Zones lifestyle include:
- a longer, healthier life
- more energy and increased strength
- better sleep
- weight loss and then weight maintenance
- nurturing, supportive relationships
- a better local community
The Next Seven Days
Week One focused on setting up my environment for success. The next three weeks include activities that build on each preceding week and expand the challenge. As with the first week, I recorded my weight, blood pressure and heart rate. All were lower than Week One.
Week Two Activities
Put walking shoes in an easily accessible place
There’s a continued emphasis on walking at least 30 minutes a day. When shoes are out in an easily seen place, I’m more likely to put them on and get my walk in.
Stop eating when 80% full
I continued to wear the blue bracelet this week. I’m getting a better feel for what 80% full feels like, plus my appetite has decreased. Truthfully, I never feel deprived.
Eat at least three Blue Zones meals, using included recipes
I chose three recipes out of the book: Dan’s Dal Palak, Breakfast Cookies and Gallo Pinto. All were easy to prepare, healthy and delicious. The cookies contained only four ingredients: bananas, oats, dark chocolate chips and applesauce.
Walk with my buddy at least once
Greg happily walked with me a couple of times this week.
Fill fruit bowl and leave on counter
This activity is a continuation from last week. I strive to eat at least a banana and an apple a day, along with a couple of mandarin oranges. The fruit smoothies every morning contain an assortment of frozen fruits. And I add fresh strawberries and blueberries to oatmeal bowls.
Limit work to 40 hours
This activity made me very aware of the time I spend working, especially on a computer or my phone.
Drink herbal tea
I do this one already. Herbal teas are rich in nutrients and antioxidants and I drink at least two cups a day. I alternate between green tea and peppermint.
Tape a reminder to car dashboard to park farther away from store
I love this idea. Having the reminder in my car works well as I’m pulling into a store parking lot. I have indeed parked as far from the door as I can, which contributes to my walking time.
Set a reminder to get up and move every hour
I love this activity too! The free StretchMinder app on my phone alerts me every hour, from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm, with the reminder to get up and move. Additionally, the app has three to five minute routines to ease tension in my upper body and breathe deeply. I’m so happy with tool!
This week included new activities and reminders to continue what I learned last week. I checked off these activities except for three. I did not have time to take public transportation to run an errand or participate in a walking meet up. Hopefully I can work these in during the next two weeks. And although I have recipes picked for the hosted meal, I’ve not done it yet.
These activities award extra points for doing them.
- walk with buddy or a group (3 points each time)
- volunteer for at least 30 minutes (3 points each time)
- try Blue Zones recipes (1 point for each recipe)
- complete other Blue Zones activities (2 points for each)
- spend 30 minutes engaged in a hobby or passion ( 1 point each time)
Daily Check In
This week included a list of daily check in items and the requirement to record all food eaten. Research shows that keeping track of what you are doing…and eating…helps with short and long term goals. It’s encouraging to see the progress and it helps with time and meal planning.
Daily check ins included eating a 100% whole foods plant based diet, consuming a cup of beans a day, walking and limiting screen time except when working. Points are awarded for these items or subtracted for eating meat, dairy, processed foods and sweeten beverages. The target is 12 points a day, with the bonus points from the activities above added in. My daily totals exceeded that.
Additionally, I recorded all food eaten daily. It wasn’t hard to keep track of these activities, in my blue notebook. I keep it handy so I can jot down meals and tick off activities throughout the day.
How I Did for Week Two
I continue to greatly appreciate this challenge. During the second week I learned to eat legumes and grains for breakfast and lunch and eat very lightly for supper. Typically that last meal of the day consists of veggies only.
Greg and I both like eating the Blue Zones way. And the lifestyle shifts are so beneficial. Health wise, I feel incredible. I’m leaner, more energetic and my joints are pain free and limber. I climbed stairs this week, with ease. That’s something I haven’t done without pain or stiffness in my legs, in 27 years.
And I love the simplicity of the nutritious, filling meals. I’m excited to try more Blue Zones recipes during Week Three.
I discovered this week that the Blue Zones Challenge book actually provides a year long challenge, if one desires to continue. Yes, I do want to continue. After the initial four week challenge, I’ll post occasional updates and insights, so you know how it’s going.
For now, watch for the Week Three update!
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I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.