How to Change Up a Step Challenge

Step challenges appeal to kids and adults, making them a popular way to encourage people to be more active. Spring is a great time to start a 10,000 Steps a Day Challenge – everyone’s ready to get outside!

Our 10K Steps theme has everything you need to run a step challenge in a school, workplace, or with clients. Make your step challenge unique, fun, effective, and educational for everyone with these five ways to change up your step challenge:

  1. Credit for every step: Some people don’t have a pedometer or fitness tracker, forget to wear it or carry it, or get frustrated because their favorite activity (maybe cycling or yoga) doesn’t show up in their step count.
    • A solution? Use an activity conversion chart (like this one) to convert minutes of activity into steps.
  2. Learn what more steps can (and cannot) do: Throughout the step challenge, focus on the many health benefits of moving more. Be up-front about the fact that taking 10K steps/day is not going to burn off indulgences like sugary beverages and junk food.
    • Our How Much to Work it Off? poster shows that exercise (or taking more steps) alone won’t help you reach weight loss goals. What you eat counts!
  3. Customize the challenge: 10K steps/day may not be realistic for many folks and it may be too easy for others. Let them know that taking more steps this week than they did last week is what counts.
  4. Create accountability: Set up a Facebook group or group text chat so participants can share their goals, motivate each other, and stay accountable.
  5. Generate excitement: Promote your step challenge everywhere with posters, banners, social media posts, and fun incentives (like wristbands and stickers).

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

Fruits & Veggies: Let the Games Begin

With spring just around the corner, more fruits and vegetables will soon be in season. Plan now to get your clients or students engaged and excited about eating more fresh produce with our Fruit and Vegetable Challenge Kit.

The Fruit and Vegetable Challenge Kit includes everything you need to run a friendly competition. There are five weekly themes, buying and preparation tips, recipes, health benefits, and beautiful color photos of fresh fruits and veggies.

Here are some ideas for using the Challenge Kit with different audiences:

  • In the classroom, students can:
    1. Complete the weekly fruit and vegetable theme challenges.
    2. Check and compare fresh produce prices online.
    3. Research what fruits and veggies are in season where they live.
    4. Create social media posts that promote a fruit or vegetable.
  • In the workplace, employees can:
    1. Sign up for the fruit and vegetable challenge.
    2. Compete within or between departments.
    3. Learn about local community-supported agriculture (CSAs) and farmers’ markets.
    4. Vote for the fruit or vegetable of the week.
  • In individual nutrition counseling, clients can:
    1. Choose a fruit and vegetable challenge to complete.
    2. Chart their own progress at home.
    3. Try new recipes featuring seasonal fruits and veggies.
    4. Choose a fruit or vegetable color photo to use as a screensaver.
  • In virtual group classes, participants can:
    1. Meet online weekly for a 5-week fruit and vegetable challenge series.
    2. Compete in groups or individually.
    3. Cook/prepare along with the instructor in virtual food prep demos.
    4. Share progress and questions in a group text chat or Facebook group.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

5-Step Breakfast Challenge

Breakfast made a resurgence last year, when working and learning from home gave us more time to prepare and eat this morning meal. This trend is expected to continue. declares that “breakfast at home is back” in 2021, going on to give examples of new food products like Cinnabon’s CinnaBiscuit Chicken Sandwich and Jimmy Dean Casserole Bites. High fat, low fiber, processed frozen foods – for the most important meal of the day? Yikes!

Get your clients or students on course to a healthy breakfast habit with the Start Your Day with Breakfast PowerPoint. You could break the show up into five mini-sessions so that participants can practice adding one component of a healthy breakfast at a time:

  1. First add fruit: So many traditional breakfast foods go well with fruit, making it easy to add some to what you’re already eating. Top oatmeal, cereal, or toast with your favorite fruit.
  2. Don’t forget about veggies: Work them into breakfast at least a few times a week. Try a little salsa with your eggs or add some greens to a smoothie. You get the idea!
  3. Go all out with whole grains: Look for whole grain options of foods you already eat, like whole wheat English muffins, bread, mini-bagels, cold cereal, and old-fashioned or steel-cut oats.
  4. Mix up the dairy: Milk isn’t the only way to get a good dose of protein and calcium in the morning. Mix your cereal or fruit with some yogurt or sprinkle low-fat cheese on a veggie omelet.
  5. Make the protein healthy: Eggs get a bad rap, but they can definitely be part of a healthy breakfast. Find ways to add in nuts and seeds, nut butters, and lean meats.

Once they complete all five sessions, participants will have mastered the art of making and eating a healthy, delicious breakfast every day — for 2021 and beyond!

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

Holiday Health Challenge Preview

Have you had a moment to check out the Holiday Wellness Challenge?

The Holiday Wellness Challenge offers a fun way keep your clients on track during the holiday season. After all, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Americans gain an average of .4 to 1.8 pounds each year during the holidays. With a little know-how and some fun strategies, this weight gain can be avoided.

To get the details about the Holiday Wellness Challenge, check out the post Holiday Wellness Challenge over in the Food and Health blog.

And for an even closer look, I want to offer a preview of one of the chapters today!

Here’s the first handout from Chapter Five: Jump Start Your Breakfast. Feel free to download it and distribute as you see fit!

Jump Start Breakfast

Why Care About Breakfast?

Life is busy, and busy often ups its game during the holidays. Between parties, family projects, decorations, and shopping, something has to give. Breakfast should not be it.

Why? Here are some top reasons to care about breakfast…

  • Breakfast offers key nutrients that will give you energy. Plus, with the right foods, you won’t get hungry on your way to holiday activities and errands.
  • Furthermore, when you make healthful choices at breakfast, you start the day on the right foot. It’s easier to stick to good habits that way.

Breakfast Facts:

Having breakfast every morning kick-starts your metabolism.

Studies indicate that people who eat breakfast in the morning are less likely to get diabetes.

78% of the people in the National Weight Control Registry make a healthful breakfast part of their daily routine.

Breakfast is associated with a lower BMI, fewer calories consumed during the day, and a better diet.

Breakfast is a great opportunity to increase your consumption of fiber, whole grains, fruit, and low-fat dairy.

A healthful breakfast not only gives you energy, but also increases cognitive function.

A New Path to More Fruits and Vegetables

Star fruitHave you ever seen the book 1001 Foods to Die For (2007 Madison Press Books)? A friend gave me this book, which features a collection of unique foods, rare ingredients, and exquisite recipes. We’ve had a lot of fun looking at the pictures and counting how many of these foods we’ve eaten. I’m only on 276 of the 1,001, so I’d better get busy.

Fruits and vegetables make up most of the items in this book. Some are exotic and others are more common, but all are considered special by the authors. I consider myself a “foodie” and even I have barely heard of many of these!

This got me thinking about what fruits and vegetables we do eat regularly.

Like most Americans, my grocery cart usually has bananas, apples, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, and the occasional bundle of asparagus, avocados, or peppers. Over time, I’ve found myself in a bit of a shopping and cooking rut. No wonder people have trouble filling half their plates with fruits and vegetables at each meal! As much as I like these foods, eating them over and over again can get boring.

So how can we encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables?

How about with a new checklist or quiz? The book 1001 Foods to Die For has over 75 entries in the Fruits, Nuts and Vegetables chapter, and I’ve narrowed the list down to 30. How many of these foods have you tried? How many have your clients tried?

New Food Checklist

You can also use this list to inspire your clients. Have your students make their own lists of 12 foods they’d like to try this year. That could be just one new food each month!

The “I want to try list” doesn’t have to be from this list, feel free to let them add some of their own foods and leave space for “surprises” or yet-unknown foods.

Who knows, they might just add a new favorite to their you see something you haven’t tried before, buy it and try. Who knows, you might just add a new favorite to your fruits and vegetable repertoire of foods they like.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

We’re here to help you look your very best, right now. Here are some other fun resources to help your clients try new fruits and vegetables…

Fruit and vegetable posters

New products:

Fruit and Vegetable Challenge