The New American Plate Challenge

doll Couch with Potato sitting on itWeekly Challenges:

  1. 2/3rd - 1/3rd Rule
  2. Add UP or Step UP
  3. More Than Half Equals Whole
  4. 3 x 6 = no more than 18
  5. Increase the Intensity
  6. Bye Soda, Hi Tea
  7. Refresh and Relax with Fizzers and Spritzers
  8. Variety is Key!
  9. Going Cuckoo for Color
  10. Calcium Balance
  11. Every Step Counts
  12. Minding My P's and Q's

NAP Challenge #1: The 2/3rd – 1/3rd Rule to Plate By

I will fill my plate with two-thirds (2/3rds) of a combination of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts and no more than one-third (1/3rd) of lean animal protein such as poultry, seafood, low-fat cheese, low-fat yogurt, or lean red meat. Of my 21 meals per week, 5 or more meals will meet the 2/3rd–1/3rd rule.

Leaf detail

The traditional American plate


A transitional plate

Leaf detail

The New American Plate


Of all the exciting New American Plate Challenges planned for you, this first challenge to eat more plant foods is the most important and life changing to reduce your cancer risk as you lose weight!

Tackling this, the hardest challenge first, at the beginning of the 12-week challenge period, gives you plenty of time to eat and enjoy a greater proportion of plant foods and ultimately triumph at the end of the challenge period by eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and nuts.

The good news is that at the center of the New American Plate is a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. These plant foods are rich in substances that help keep you in good health and protect against many types of cancer. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in US. So consuming more plant foods with fiber will lower your cancer risk.

Plant foods are naturally low in calories and high in water and fiber, which fill you up, shrink your waistline, and help you lose weight! As time goes on, soon you’ll be craving more and more plant foods and your meals will be nutritionally packed and far more satisfying with more vegetables, whole grains, fruits, beans, and nuts.

alt plate

An alternate New American Plate


  • Cover the top two-thirds or more of your plate (think top part of a "peace sign") with a combination of non-starchy vegetables (e.g. salads, chopped vegetables), starchy vegetables (e.g. potato, sweet potato, corn, peas), fruit (e.g. whole fruit, fruit salad, dried fruit), whole grain bread, oatmeal, high fiber cereal, whole grain pasta, brown rice, beans (e.g. black, pinto, kidney, garbanzo beans), and nuts (e.g. walnuts, pecans, almonds).
  • Use plates 10-inches in diameter or smaller (e.g. a large salad plate)
  • Fill up on unlimited non-starchy vegetables (salads, chopped vegetables); toss salads very lightly with olive oil or canola oil based dressing
  • Eat two vegetables at dinner such as cooked carrots AND mixed greens salad.
  • Get out and use your measuring cups! To master this challenge, you must master knowing the portion or serving sizes for vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts. Go to the Online Serving Size Finder.
  • Eat at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruit daily. It’s easy to do: banana at breakfast counts as 1 serving if a small banana, counts as 2 servings if a large banana, 2-cup size mixed green salad with nuts and dried cranberries at lunch counts as 2-3 servings, afternoon snack of a medium size apple counts as 1 serving, 1/2 cup carrots and 1 cup of salad at dinner counts as 2 servings. So all in all, this easily adds up to 6-7 servings of vegetables and fruit!
  • Picture this -
    • 2/3rds of your breakfast plate may look like this: 1 cup high fiber cereal, 1/2 cup 100% orange juice, 1 small banana;
    • Your lunch may look like this: turkey sandwich on two slices of whole wheat bread with lettuce and tomato slices, 2 cups mixed greens side salad with nuts and dried cranberries and 1/2 cup grapes; and
    • Your dinner plate (plant portion) may look like this: 1 cup or more of vegetable soup, 1/2–1 cup cooked carrots, 1/2–1 cup of brown rice or whole wheat pasta or a medium baked potato, and 1 medium apple. That’s about 10 - 13 servings of vegetables and fruit for the day! And, 2/3rds of your meals were plant food based!
  • What does goes on the remaining 1/3rd of the New American Plate? Lean animal protein food choices such as baked chicken, sautéed fish or shellfish, grilled lean sirloin steak, or roasted pork loin. Limiting these portions to about 3 ounces (the size of a computer mouse, deck of cards or checkbook) at lunch and dinner meals should fit quite nicely on the remaining 1/3rd of your plate. More about the 1/3rd or less part of the New American Plate in an upcoming Challenge. For now, eat 2/3rds of your plate or meals with plant foods!
  • Ready, set, GO & CLICK! Take photos of your plates and see how they become more and more like the New American Plate 2/3rds plant food, 1/3rd animal food.

Further Information:

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NAP Challenge #2: Smart Start! Add UP or Step UP

person checking pedometerIncreasing your activity level either by walking for more minutes or taking more steps will make a huge difference in your health now and in the long run. To do this safely, you need to know where to start. This first activity challenge challenges you to gain an understanding of your current level of physical activity and then add to it, safely.

  • Adding UP Minutes: Beginning with my baseline activity – average number of minutes that I walk each day – I will slowly begin to increase my activity. By the end of the week I will aim to increase my daily time by at least 10%. Or
  • Stepping On UP: Beginning with my baseline activity – average number of steps that I walk each day using my pedometer – I will slowly begin to increase those steps. By the end of the week I will aim to increase my steps by 10%.

No matter which method you choose, be sure to keep track of your progress using the AICR calendar, the food/activity form or your own notebook. Write down the total number of minutes or steps you took at the end of each day. If you did any formal exercise or anything that required a lot more walking than usual (e.g. a garden tour), make note of that, too.


This week’s challenge focuses on getting you started on incorporating walking into your lifestyle safely – by learning where to start and how to increase your activity incrementally.

Weight maintenance is a matter of energy balance. You need to balance the number of calories you consume (i.e. eat) with the number of calories you burn. If you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. Physical activity, such as walking, helps increase the number of calories you burn in a day. When coupled with weight reduction diet efforts, physical activity helps you reduce excess body fat, excess abdominal fat and prevent weight gain. Excess fat, excess abdominal fat and weight gain are all associated with postmenopausal breast cancer, the most commonly occurring type of cancer in women; excess body fat and excess abdominal fat are associated with colorectal cancer, the third leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women in the US today. Most importantly every step you take makes you feel, look and think better.

Physical activity includes both formal exercise (a treadmill workout, a brisk outdoor walk) AND informal exercise (walking through the grocery store, cleaning your home). If you don’t enjoy formal exercise sessions, don’t worry. You can still increase your physical activity through everyday activities. Just put on your comfortable walking shoes, and MOVE!

Knowledge is Power! Did You Know?

That 2000 steps equals about 1 mile for the average weight person.

For those "Adding UP Minutes": Take the average number of minutes you walked daily during the first week (including time spent doing everyday activities) and increase it by at least 10%. Let’s say you now average 20 minutes daily. Your goal, by the end of the week, is to walk at least 22 minutes daily. Continue this pattern of adding 10% more minutes each week until you reach your ultimate "Adding UP Minutes" goal of 60 minutes most days (at least five days a week) to continue losing weight and to maintain your hard earned weight loss. Come on! Every minute adds UP for a big difference! Let’s get MOVING!

For those "Stepping On UP": Take the total number of steps you walked during the first week (including time spent doing everyday activities) and increase it by at least 10%. People who are sedentary walk fewer than 5000 steps per day. Let’s say you are now stepping about 4,000 steps daily. By the end of the week your goal is to be stepping at least 4,400 steps daily. Continue adding 10% or at least 400-500 steps each week until you reach your ultimate "Stepping on UP" goal of 12,000 steps per day to continue to lose weight and 10,000 steps per day to maintain weight. Come on! Small steps add UP for a big difference! Let’s get STEPPING!


  • Buy good-quality walking shoes. Good shoes are important to help prevent injury. Before you start adding minutes/steps to your walking program, get fit for walking shoes that are right for your feet. Look for a store that specializes in walking shoes and work with someone to help you. Remember: good shoes do not have to be expensive.
  • Schedule time for activity into your day. Physical activity is not self indulgent, it’s essential for your optimal physical, mental, and emotional health. Plan it into your day just like you would other important engagements (e.g. doctor’s appointments, work meetings).
  • Meet someone for your walk. Walking with a relative, friend or neighbor makes you “accountable” to each other, so you are more likely to be faithful to your walking plan.
  • Find a furry companion. Walking with a pet can be enjoyable way for both of you to stay in shape. If you don’t have a pet, you can volunteer at the local humane society as a dog-walker (you get the walking without the responsibilities of dog ownership).
  • Turn up the volume. Listening to music, audio books, or pod-casts can help to keep you entertained during your walk. If you walk alone and wear ear buds, be sure to stay in a safe, well-lit public place.
  • Make every minute count. Sneak in a walk anytime you have a moment: before work, at break time, after dinner, etc. Take advantage of every opportunity to include physical activity into your day; every minute/step makes a difference.

If you’re Adding UP Minutes:

  • Wear a watch with a timer all day. Put it on when you wake up. Start the timer every time you walk during the day.
  • Reset your timer each morning.

If you’re Stepping On UP:

  • Wear your pedometer all day. Put it on when you wake up and take it off before you go to bed. Only take it off if you plan to get wet (e.g. in the shower or pool).
  • Reset your pedometer each morning.

Further Information:

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NAP Challenge #3: More Than Half Equals Whole

Tuna PastaThis week more than half of my grain servings will be whole grain such as whole grain cereal, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, brown rice, wild rice, whole wheat pasta, barley, bulgur, and buckwheat (kasha), corn, and quinoa. I'll start out with at least one whole grain serving daily and by the end of the week I will eat a minimum of three (3) whole grain servings each day.


This week's exciting challenge focuses specifically on eating more WHOLE grains.

The first challenge is to fill 2/3rds of your plate with plant foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts. This week's challenge is to eat mostly whole grains - at least half of your grain choices will be whole grain, with a minimum of three (3) whole grain portions or servings.

It's important to eat whole grains because plant foods rich in fiber such as whole grains help protect against cancer, specifically colorectal cancer, the third leading cause of cancer death in the US, as well as other chronic diseases.

Whole grain foods that have not been processed or refined contain more vitamins, minerals, fiber, and naturally occurring plant chemicals called phytonutrients than processed or refined grains. Fiber in whole grains probably decreases risk of cancer because it helps speed elimination of waste. This reduces the time your large intestine may be exposed to cancer-causing substances. Fiber is not digested in your stomach; rather healthful bacteria in your large intestine ferment it. The production of substances from fermentation may further reduce cancer risk.

Whole grain foods are naturally low in fat and high in fiber, making you feel more full and satisfied - with fewer calories, whole grains help you lose weight and reduce cancer risk. Let's see how More Than Half Equals Whole.


Vegetable Rice

  • For breakfast: eat a high fiber, whole grain cold cereal with at least 5 grams of dietary fiber or eat oatmeal sprinkled with toasted wheat germ, nuts and fresh or dried fruit or eat whole-wheat toast with at least 3 grams of fiber per slice with almond, cashew or peanut butter
  • For lunch sandwiches select breads with whole grain listed as the first ingredient and with at least 3 grams of fiber per slice
  • For dinner cook brown rice: try instant brown rice or frozen whole grain rice which takes only about 5-10 minutes to cook. Regular brown rice is less expensive than the instant or frozen, but it takes about 40-45 minutes to cook, so if time allows, that is a more economical option. Either way, it's worth it for the additional hearty and slightly nutty flavor and fiber.
  • For pasta dishes, use 100% whole-wheat pastas or higher fiber pastas made with whole-wheat durum and legume flour blends. You can transition to 100% whole wheat pasta by first cooking with pastas made with both whole wheat durum legume flour blends. Shh, don't tell anyone the pasta is high-fiber!
  • Instead of white rice, go quinoa. Quinoa is a super substitute for rice or pasta in many recipes. The round miniature opaque balls are appealing and delicious.
  • Go for the B's – put barley, bulgur, buckwheat, and brown rice in side dishes, garden salads, soups and stews
  • Select cereals, breads, and crackers with whole grain listed as the first ingredient such as shredded wheat, 100% whole wheat bread, trans fat free whole grain crackers such as rye or Finn krisp.
  • A minimum of three (3) whole grain servings a day is easy to eat: For breakfast have 1/2-1 cup of a high fiber cereal or oatmeal; for lunch have 1-2 slices of whole grain bread; and for dinner have 1/2-1 cup brown rice or whole wheat pasta. Each 1-ounce slice of bread or 1/2 cup portion equals 1 serving. It's easy to eat 3-6 portions or servings of whole grains a day and still lose weight!

Further Information:

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NAP Challenge #4: 3 x 6 = no more than 18

This week I will eat no more than 18 ounces of cooked red meat which includes beef, pork and lamb. Instead, I will eat fresh fish, chicken, turkey, and beans and nut spreads more often. Also, I will eat processed meats which includes bacon, sausage, salami, and ham no more than once a week with the ultimate goal of eventually avoiding all processed meats.


As we are mastering the 2/3rd rule for filling at least 2/3rds of our plate with plant foods and the more than half equals whole rule of eating more whole grains, we now need to tackle the 1/3rd rule for lean protein animal foods. This week's challenge specifically focuses on limiting red meats such as beef, pork and lamb AND limiting and avoiding processed meats. This challenge includes limiting our proportion of all animal foods to no more than 1/3rd of our plate. We can easily do this if portion sizes of lean proteins are about 3 ounces for lunch and again at dinner. Remember the peace sign? Lean protein fits in the 1/3rd proportion! Peace!

Now back to the 3 x 6 = no more than 18 red meat rule. The rule really means no more than 3 ounces of cooked red meats for 6 meals in a week, so not to exceed eating 18 ounces of cooked red meat. It's as simple as that!

Why limit the proportion of lean animal proteins to 1/3rd of our plate? To make room for more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts which are loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that protect the body's cells from damage by cancer-causing agents. These substances can stop cancer before it even starts. Plates with more than 1/3rd of animal proteins tend to be higher in fat and calories and low in protective phytochemicals and fiber. Having more plant-based food on your plate offers fewer calories and more protective nutrients.

Why limit red meat to no more than 18 ounces weekly? The AICR expert report found that risk of colorectal cancer (the third leading cause of cancer death in the US) increases significantly with red meat consumption above 18 ounces per week. Red meat contains heme iron, the compound that gives red meat its color, which may damage the lining of the colon. Studies also show that people who eat a lot of red meat tend to eat less plant-based foods, so they benefit less from their cancer-protective properties.

Why avoid processed meats altogether? The AICR expert panel found evidence that eating processed meat increases the chances of colorectal cancer. Research on processed meat shows cancer risk starts to increase with any portion. When meat is preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or by the addition of preservatives, cancer-causing substances (carcinogens) can be formed. These substances can damage cells in the body, leading to the development of cancer. Now let's translate the 3 x 6 = no more than 18 into your plate.


Deck Of Cards

  • Limit serving sizes of chicken, fish and lean red meat to about 3 ounces cooked. Remember a 4-ounce portion (quarter pound) of uncooked boneless chicken, fish or lean red meat will shrink to about a 3-ounce portion or serving after cooking. So 1 pound of ground turkey meat provides 4 (4-ounce) patties that will be about 3-ounces each after cooking. The patties will be about the size of a deck of cards.
  • Know that red meats include beef, pork and lamb.
  • Go lean with protein. Eat lean cuts of red meats such as sirloin, loin, round and mignon. Select 96/4 (96% lean, 4% fat) ground meats.
  • Enjoy more often non-red meat choices such as fish, seafood, chicken, beans or nuts for lunch and dinner.
  • Eat lean red meat at no more than 6 out of 14 lunch and dinner meals per week: 3-ounces x 6 meals = 18-ounces lean red meat weekly – that's the 3 x 6 = no more than 18 rule
  • Replace processed meats used in sandwiches with 2-tablespoons peanut, almond or cashew butter, 1/2-cup garbanzo bean (hummus), black bean or other bean spread, 3-ounces fresh baked or roasted chicken or turkey (not deli-style processed), 3-ounces roasted beef loin or round of beef, pork or lamb, 1/2-cup chicken, tuna or fish salad, 11/2-ounce lower-fat cheese such as Jarlsburg; good protein substitutes for processed meats also include 1/2-cup tofu, 1/3-cup nuts, 1-cup Greek-style high protein low-fat yogurt and 1/2-cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • Eat at least one meatless lunch or dinner meal weekly such as a Meatless Monday or Tofu Tuesday or Thursday (you could order bean curd with vegetables and brown rice from a local Chinese restaurant or Tofu Pad Thai with extra bean sprouts and side order of vegetables)

Further Information:

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NAP Challenge #5: Increase the Intensity!

Man and woman walking up stairs -- bluryCongratulations! You are now walking more minutes/steps each week. Now it's time to boost the intensity for you to reap greater health benefits, and add some variety (and fun!) to your routine. This week you'll learn what higher intensity activity feels like for you and will creatively incorporate it into your physical activity every day.

Adding UP Minutes: This week I will continue my usual activity and I will track the number of minutes I do moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity each day. Next week I will aim to increase this total by 5-10 minutes.


Stepping On UP: This week I will continue my usual activity and I will track the number steps I take doing moderate-to-vigorous intensitay activity each day using my pedometer. Next week I will aim to increase this total amount by 500 steps.


This week's challenge focuses on gauging the intensity level of your workout and challenges you to push yourself beyond the light-intensity physical activities of daily life for several minutes each day.

Every step you take is beneficial; however, research suggests that boosting the intensity of some of those steps every day will help you to get the most out of them and gain the most health-enhancing benefits, including cancer prevention. With higher intensity activities you burn more calories per minute and can make a significant contribution toward attaining (or maintaining) a healthy weight. The AICR's ultimate goal is to include 60 minutes of moderate-intensity or 30 minutes of vigorous-intensity activities every day.

The first step in this challenge is to understand the intensity level of your current physical activity routine.

Rule #1: Don't compare yourself to other people.

While there are general guides to help you determine the intensity level of a given activity, the exact level will be different for everyone and will vary depending on your current level of fitness. If you are new to physical activity, the pace of your moderate-intensity workout may be slower than that of someone who has been working out for several months. Work to understand your own intensity goals and challenge yourself within your own limits.

Start by taking the Talk Test while you are doing your usual physical activity to understand how much time you currently spend doing either moderate or vigorous intensity activity; you will build from this point. The Talk Test is a simple and reliable way to gauge your intensity level and it doesn't require any special equipment:

  • If you are able to sing while doing activities = LIGHT intensity
  • If you are able to carry on a conversation easily while doing activities = MODERATE intensity
  • If you have a difficult time talking during activities or if you become winded or out of breath = VIGOROUS intensity

Rule #2: Keep track of your intensity levels in your challenge log.

In addition to the time or number of steps, record the type of activity, the intensity level, and any other notes that might be helpful (e.g. I was late and walking to catch the bus, I was walking up stairs, etc.). This will help to remind you how to reproduce this level of intensity in the future.

Knowledge is Power! Did You Know?

That sitting burns 1 calorie per minute, standing burns 1.5 calories per minute and brisk walking burns 7 calories per minute? Thirty minutes of walking burns about 210 calories and 60 minutes burns 420 calories wow!

Rule #3: Increase the intensity level of your physical activity slowly and safely.

Start with moderate activities before you progress to vigorous ones. And be sure to warm-up for a few minutes at a light intensity before engaging in higher intensity activities.

For those "Adding UP Minutes": Take the total number of minutes you spent doing moderate intensity activity last week and increase it by 5-10 minutes. Let's say you now spend 15 minutes daily or 105 minutes weekly doing moderate-intensity activities. Add 5-10 minutes to your total moderate-intensity activity time next week. You can split up the higher intensity minutes any way you want: add 5 minutes on two days, add 2 minutes on five days, etc. The key is to boost your intensity level for a few more minutes each week. Come on! Make every minute count! Let's get MOVING!

For those "Stepping On UP": Take the total number of steps you took doing moderate-to-vigorous intensity activities and increase it by 500-1,000 steps. Let's say you are now stepping about 5000 steps daily at a moderate pace. Add a total of 500 steps at a moderate-to-vigorous pace by the end of next week. You can split up the higher intensity steps any way you want: add 100 steps on five days, add 250 steps on two days, etc. The key is to boost your intensity level for a few more minutes each week. Come on! Make every step count! Let's get STEPPING!


  • Break it up. Add short bursts of intensity to your daily activities. It doesn't need to be done all at once. Ditch the leaf blower - take advantage of nice weather and sweep your garage, driveway or sidewalk with vigor!
  • Make it a game. Challenge yourself to pick up the pace between street lights or parking meters during a walk.
  • Set a timer. Program your watch to beep at certain intervals to remind you to boost the intensity during your workout.
  • Hunt for a hill (or the stairs!). Increasing the incline of your walk will also boost the intensity level. Find a walking route with a hill or climb the stairs when indoors. Do you ride the metro? Walk up the escalator you'll get a good workout and save time.
  • Walk to the beat. Make a workout soundtrack that includes songs with a mix of fast and slow beats. Pace yourself to the beat of the music.
  • Add in calisthenics. A few minutes of jumping jacks or running in place will add a boost of intensity to your usual routine.
  • Find a partner. Working out with someone at the same fitness level as you can help keep you motivated to keep up the intensity level.
  • Routinely evaluate your intensity level. As you become more fit you may need to push yourself a little harder to reach a moderate or vigorous pace.
  • Write it down. Keep track of what physical activity you did, its intensity-level, and how you felt doing it. This will help you to evaluate your routine moving forward.
  • Hydrate! As your workouts become more intense, remember to drink water throughout the day.
  • Don't give up if you miss a day or two. Get back on track with what you can do for physical activities; try new activities and strategies until you find activity routines that work for you!

Further Information:

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NAP Challenge #6: Bye Soda, Hi Tea

green tealeavesThis week I will drink water or tea instead of soda and sugar sweetened beverages and limit 100% fruit juices to no more than a 1/2 cup portion daily.


This week's challenge has two parts: one – to say "good bye" to sugar found in soda, juice flavored drinks, and sweetened beverages such as soda and coffee concoctions and two – to say "hello" to tea.

Sweetened beverages are "energy dense" (not good, say "bye"), that is, high in calories with no nutritional benefit, and contribute to weight gain and therefore cancer risk. The "liquid calories" in soda, sweetened beverages, and excess portions of fruit juice are a great source of "hidden concentrated calories" that contribute significantly to excess calories leading to weight gain. Just by cutting back on our "liquid calories"– a small step – we can easily eliminate calories and that will help weight loss efforts.

Instead, embrace tea, unsweetened, either iced or hot. Tea will give you a boost of cancer fighting and potentially weight reducing phytonutrients! Some research suggests switching to tea may help with weight control in several ways such as calorie substitution and possible positive metabolic effects.

You may greet your morning with a 1/2 cup serving of 100% fruit juice as juice counts as part of your recommended five or more daily portions of fruits and vegetables. Though, remember, even 100% fruit juice is packed with natural sugars, so keep your juice portion to 1/2 cup daily. If you rather, "eat the fruit instead of drinking the fruit" for more fiber – eat an orange instead of drinking OJ.

Why say hi to tea? Tea is calorie free and contains a phytochemical, specifically a polyphenol called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), that acts as an antioxidant. In cell and animal studies, EGCG slows cancer growth, inhibits the ability of tumors to spread and leads to cancer cell death without affecting normal cells. But data from population-based studies remains very inconsistent. As far as losing weight, the research is promising yet inconclusive. Drinking two to four cups a day of freshly brewed green teas provides levels of EGCG associated with modest improvements in weight loss when also coupled with reduced calorie consumption and increased activity. Shifting from drinking calorie-containing drinks to non-calorie-containing tea reduces caloric consumption and possibly offers some extra help with weight control. Do drink no more than 2-4 cups of tea daily either with breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as an afternoon "high-tea" (the 3 o'clock slump at home or at your desk) or evening treat. If enjoying a meatless meal with beans, savor your tea at another time so non-heme iron in beans may be more easily absorbed.

A word about "Me Time." The ritual of drinking tea conjures the concept of necessary "Me Time." Eating nutritiously, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight are all vital components for good health, but so is taking time for relaxation. We need time to rejuvenate, restore our mental and physical energy, release mental and physical stress and contemplate our creativity – another vital component for overall health. For optimal mental and physical health, you need legitimate, sanctioned, authorized "me time" to take care of yourself. "Me time" includes scheduling time to purposely be physically active like taking a daily walk or going to the gym; taking the time to plan for, shop for, prepare and sit down and enjoy the beauty of your meals; and taking a quick moment to brew (or microwave) and truly savor a cup of tea. "Me Time Tea" allows you to pause, even if just for a few minutes, to relax, de-stress, rejuvenate, think your creative thoughts at your desk, at home or on the go. Smell your tea. Savor your tea. Incorporate some "Me Time" with a "Me Time Tea" ritual daily for your overall wellbeing.

hot green tea in a clear glass mugAnother benefit to this week's challenge is consuming more water. Drinking water before and during meals also will fill you up and help you eat less. Let's be green, so enjoy tap water more often and bottled water only when more convenient. With more physical activities and warmer weather, make sure you are staying well hydrated. Let thirst be your guide; drinking enough fluids so as not to feel thirsty is a good guide for most people, other than the elderly. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women consume an average of approximately 9 cups from all beverages – including caffeinated beverages – and men average approximately 12 cups daily. Water and tea are refreshing – no calorie – alternative beverage choices! Below are your practical tips for saying "Bye Soda, Hi Tea."


  • Enjoy 1/2 cup 100% fruit juice for breakfast or trade in juice portion for a high fiber whole fruit portion such as small banana, 1/4 cup dried fruit, 1/2 grapefruit, 1/2 cup grapes
  • Purge the pantry of all soda, pop, colas, and sweetened beverages
  • Stock the pantry with loose or bags of green, white, black, oolong tea
  • Sweeten tea with no more than one teaspoon of sugar or honey, optional
  • Share and savor friendships with tea; relish relationships another vital component for overall good health
  • Buy a stainless steel or BPA (bisphenol-A) -free plastic reusable water bottle or two and take water with you to work and play. "Be green" and limit buying bottled water in plastic bottles.
  • Make "refrigerator tea" either at home or work by putting tea bag(s) in glass mug or jar, cover and "seep" in the refrigerator.
  • Try new teas with fruit snacks for "afternoon pick me ups" aka the "3 o'clock slump"
  • Replace sodas and sweetened coffee shop beverages with skim milk, cold or hot skim milk chai lattes or skim milk coffee lattes; if use sugar, only add 1 teaspoon; milk has natural sugar in it
  • Enjoy coffee too, about 2-cups per day, if sweetened, only about 1-teaspoon of sugar
  • Avoid "functional beverages" such as water with vitamins, these often contain sugar, thus calories

Further Information:

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NAP Challenge #7: Refresh and Relax with Fizzers and Spritzers

3 wine spritzersThis week I will enjoy a variety of non-alcohol containing Fizzers and mini-alcohol Spritzers instead of drinking alcohol beverages.


Warm weather is here, and it’s heating up. Refresh after a long day of work or after invigorating exercise with Fizzers – fizzy drinks with no alcohol. Relax with family and friends with Spritzers – bubbly drinks made with a splash of your favorite wine or liquor. Both Fizzers and Spritzers have soda water, effervescent water, flavored carbonated water or sugar free tonic water as their base. Pairing with a splash of juice, such as pomegranate or pineapple and generously garnishing with citrus peels, chopped fruit or whole berries makes for grand looking and glorious tasting treats.

Limiting alcohol curtails calories, which helps whittle away your waistline. Limiting alcohol also lowers your risk for breast cancer, the most common type of cancer and second leading cause of cancer death in women, and colorectal cancer, the third most common cancer in both men and women. In fact, the AICR expert panel report noted that alcohol also increases risk for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and probably the liver.

With AICR’s Fizzers and Spritzers, it’s easy to follow AICR’s recommendation if you do drink alcohol: men drink no more than two drinks daily and women drink no more than one drink daily. Evidence suggests that drinking in moderation may protect against heart disease. Yet, to lose weight and reduce risk of cancer and heart disease by being at a healthier weight, cutting back on energy-dense alcohol calories is a more practical place to trim hidden calories. Shaving high-density calories, like alcohol, is key to losing weight. Mocktails and minitails such as Fizzers and Spritzers will allow you to relax with refreshing drinks!

If you do drink alcohol, remember one serving is:

  • 12 ounces beer,
  • 5 ounces wine or
  • 11/2 ounces 80 proof liquor

(exact calorie content varies with alcohol strength).


Create your favorite Fizzers and Spritzers picking from these ingredients:

  • Base (plain or flavored; sugar free )
    • Club soda
    • Seltzer water
    • Sparkling water
    • Mineral water
    • Tonic water
  • Flavor
    • 100% Fruit juice and nectars (1/2 cup per serving): pomegranate, blueberry, apricot
    • green tea
    • coconut water
    • Wine Spritzer: Splash of wine, not to exceed 5 ounces
    • Mini Spritzer: Splash of liquor, not to exceed 11/2 ounces of 80 proof
  • Healthy Enhancers
    • Fresh or frozen fruits, whole or sliced: blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cherries, grapes, oranges
    • Citrus peels and slices of lemon, lime, orange
    • Chopped fruit: apples, peaches, mangoes, papaya
    • Flavored ice cubes (these can be made in advance and stored in freezer):
      • green tea
      • 100% fruit juice
      • chopped fruit
      • pomegranate seeds

Further Information:

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NAP Challenge #8: Variety is Key!

Vigorous ActivityWow – in just six short weeks you've been able to increase the number of minutes you move each day and the intensity-level of several of those minutes. Way to go! You should be well on your way to reaching AICR's ultimate goal of being moderately active for 60 minutes or vigorously active for 30 minutes each day. Now that your body is used to being active, it's time to add some variety to your routine. This week's challenge challenges you to try at least one new activity and consider adding it to your regular physical activity routine.

Adding UP Minutes: This week I will spend at least 30 minutes trying an activity I haven't done before.


Stepping on UP: This week I will take at least 4,000 steps while trying an activity I haven't done before. Note: Some new activities, such as swimming or yoga, might not increase your step count. If you try one of these activities, record the amount of time you spent engaged in that activity instead.


It is true what they say: variety is the spice of life. It is also a key component of a successful physical activity program. Here are three key reasons to mix up your regular workouts and add variety to your routine:

First, variety helps you to achieve all of the benefits of physical activity. There are three different components of fitness: cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility. Many people make the mistake of challenging themselves in just one or two areas. In order to get the most out of your fitness routine, you should challenge yourself to engage in all three components. If you have spent the last 6 weeks walking, consider adding a strength training or yoga class.

Second, variety helps you to avoid an injury. Overuse injuries are the most common among new exercisers. Overuse injuries are exactly what they sound like – injuries that result from using something (e.g. a muscle or tendon) too much. Adding various activities to your routine will vary the muscles and the way they are used and help you to avoid these types of injuries.

Finally, variety helps to keep things fun. Physical activity needs to be enjoyable for you to continue to be engaged. After several months of doing the same thing, you start to lose the excitement you had when you began the activity; over time you lose your motivation to continue and you revert back to your sedentary habits. Adding new activities to your routine will help you to stay challenged—and engaged—in your routine and it will provide much needed motivation to you to keep it up! After all, what good is an exercise program if you don't do it?

As an added benefit, variety can also help you to break through weight loss plateaus and continue moving toward your healthy weight goal. Maintaining a healthy weight is important to protect yourself from cancer, other diseases and feel good. The AICR expert panel of scientists concluded that excess body fat is a primary cause of cancer, second only to smoking. Striving toward your ultimate activity challenge of being moderately active for 60 minutes or vigorously active for 30 minutes daily will help you continue to lose weight, shrink your waistline and look and feel healthier.

Knowledge is Power! Did You Know?

That too much body fat can trigger inflammation, a risk factor for cancer, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other health problems. Physical activity reduces inflammation and burns extra calories stored as fat.


  • Try a class. There are lots of fun ways to exercise and plenty of motivating instructors to lead you. Check out the group exercise schedule at your health club and give a new class (or two!) a try. If you don't belong to a health club, check your local community center, church, or school—many offer various fitness classes.
  • Be a kid again. Remember what you used to love to do as a kid? Try it out again! Chances are it will be just as much fun as you remember.
  • Ask a friend. Friends are always a great source of information. Find out what your neighbors or colleagues do to keep active and ask if you can join them during their next workout.
  • Check your local listings. You can find several different workouts on TV (either live or on demand) or you can rent or check out from the library workout videos.
  • Look for a group. Communities are filled with activity groups: walking, biking, hiking, rowing groups just to name a few. Check your local community boards, Internet sites, or local paper to find one you might like to try.
  • Start with the basics. Trying a new activity means learning new skills. Be sure to take the time to learn the basics of whatever new activity you choose before you push yourself too hard.
  • Set your timer at work for mini breaks every 50 minutes or so. Stretch using your resistance band (see video link below) and do strength exercises with 2-5 pound hand weights. These also can be done during long phone conversations. Run office errands using the stairs and suggest "walking meetings" for variety.
  • Don't be shy. It can be intimidating to try something new, but don't let that stop you. Ask for help if you have a question.
  • Write it down. Keeping track of what you did and didn't like about the new workout you tried will help you to make good choices in the future. Record your minutes and/or steps!
  • Have fun. Physical activity should be fun. Choose activities you enjoy. The more you like what you are doing, the more you'll keep doing it.

Further Information:

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NAP Challenge #9: Going Cuckoo for Color

Multi Color VeggiesThis week I will eat at EACH MEAL one or two servings of red, yellow, orange, green, blue or purple fruits or vegetables.


Think rainbow or ROY-G-BIV (an acronym for remembering the colors of the rainbow). Yes, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet are colors you want on your New American Plate. This week's challenge complements The American Dietetic Association's National Nutrition Month theme – Eat Right with COLOR!

What's the connection with fruit and vegetable color and weight loss?

Plant foods are "nutrient dense," but not "calorie dense." That is, they are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals such as folate and potassium and healthful "phytonutrients" such as carotenoids, flavonoids and polyphenols, but are not loaded with calories. Fruits and vegetables are also high in water and fiber. The high water content makes many fruits and vegetables low in calories - just what you want to eat more of to lose weight, feel full, and get your boost of "phyto benefit." These powerful phytonutrients impart beautiful color to plants and may help protect you against cancer, inflammation and many chronic diseases. Dietary fiber, severely lacking in the American diet, accents the beauty of plant foods with its ability to help lower cancer risk and make you feel more satiated.

Legumes such as dried beans and split peas are "high protein vegetables." Black beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, navy beans, pinto beans, soy beans (includes edamame), and split peas also are rich in phytonutrients and dietary fiber, potassium, non-heme iron, and zinc. Dried beans and split peas, though vegetables, may be considered "meat protein substitutes" because of their high protein content. These legumes may be eaten as a main dish or added to salads, side dishes, soups and stews.

My Fruit And Veggie Goals:
3-5 servings each daily

What's a Fruit Serving Size?

  • 1 medium fruit
  • 1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit; fruit salad
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup 100% fruit juice (only 1 serving daily)

What's a Vegetable Serving Size? 

  • 1 cup raw leafy vegetable
  • 1/2 cup raw or cooked vegetable
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable juice
  • 1/2 cup cooked dried beans or peas

Weekly Goals:

  • 3-6 cups weekly red and orange vegetables
  • 3-4 cups weekly dark green vegetables
  • At least 2 cups weekly beans and peas
  • 2 1/2-5 cups weekly other vegetables

Your challenge this week is to eat a more colorful diet with fruit and/or vegetables at each meal. The US Dietary Guidelines recommend eating 3-5 servings of fruit daily and 3-5 servings of vegetables daily. It's easy to do. There are lots of ideas below. Look at the servings sizes and add up your intake! This week we are going cuckoo for color!


  • Remember "Me Time"? To succeed in eating a more colorful diet with more fruits and vegetables and losing weight, you need to take TIME to plan, shop, cook and eat. These tips are broken down by categories with easy, fast and budget friendly ideas.
  • Paint your plate with fruit either fresh, frozen, dried, or canned in 100% fruit juice and with vegetables either fresh, frozen or low-sodium canned. Enjoy fruits and vegetables raw or cooked.
  • Brush your beverage glass with only 100% fruit juices and limit to 1/2 cup daily while trying to lose weight since juice is higher in calories relative to whole fruit. It's better to "eat the fruit" than "drink the fruit" when trying to lose weight! No need to limit low-sodium tomato juice since it is so much lower in calories and you are less likely to over drink it.
  • Remember "ROYGBIV" when rounding out your New American Plate color palette:
    • Red: apples, cherries, cranberries, red grapes, red grapefruit, papayas, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, tomatoes (low-sodium canned too), low-sodium tomato juice; beets, red peppers
    • Orange: apricots, cantaloupes, mangos, nectarines, oranges, peaches, pumpkin, tangerines; carrots, peppers, acorn squash, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, winter squash
    • Yellow: banana, figs, grapefruit, honeydew melon, pears, pineapple; butternut squash, cauliflower, corn, garlic, onions, yellow peppers, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, summer squash, yellow or white potatoes
    • Green: green grapes, kiwis, olives*, pears; artichokes, asparagus, avocado*, green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, collards, chicory, cucumbers, green beans, herbs, leafy greens (mustard, Swiss chard and turnip), kale, lettuce, green peas, green peppers, romaine, snow peas, soy beans, spinach, zucchini.
    • Blue: blueberries, concord grapes
    • Purple: blackberries, purple grapes, plums, prunes, raisins; cabbage, eggplant. Also try: purple asparagus, purple carrots, purple cauliflower, purple potatoes – may be found at food specialty stores and farmers markets.

Read more about POWERHOUSE Fruits and Vegetables:

Foods That Fight Cancer?

Planning and Shopping

  • When shopping for produce, select items that will ripen at different times during the week
  • Try a new fruit or veggie each week such as kiwi, papaya, star fruit, ugly fruit, assorted greens
  • Try heirloom and new hybrid produce at farmers markets such as purple potatoes and purple asparagus (see link below)
  • Stock up on pre-cut, frozen or canned fruit for fruit smoothies and pre-cut, frozen or low-sodium vegetables to add to meals
  • Try new herbs; grow them easily in containers at home

4 Colors of Bell PeppersCooking

  • Stuff sandwiches with shredded carrots, sliced peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions, spinach and dark lettuce leaves
  • Add to chicken, tuna or seafood salad grapes, raisins, dried apricots, celery, red onion, grated carrots
  • Add to spaghetti sauce extra veggies, beans and peas and to pasta salads add zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, garlic, onion, beans and peas; add to salads, soups, stews, casseroles and stir-fries colorful veggies – be creative
  • Make more veggie shish kabobs with less meat
  • Use small amounts of sauces, oils, dressings on vegetables; use reduced fat or fat free dressings
  • Cook with assorted fresh or dried herbs, especially oregano, parsley, rosemary, and cilantro, which are high in antioxidants and impart amazing flavor and color


  • Use smaller plates so you eat less overall
  • Start your meal with a salad with assorted veggies, beans and peas or a veggie soup
  • Stop eating when you are comfortably full or satiated, before becoming overly full
  • Try to eat 1/2 cup beans or peas most days; incorporate into salads, soups and side and main dishes
  • Use 1 tablespoon of olive oil or canola oil based vinaigrette dressing per cup of salad
  • Colorful breakfast ideas: 1/2 cup 100% fruit juice, better yet "eat the fruit" (drink tea or water instead) 1/2 grapefruit, 1/4 mixed dried fruit on cereal, 1/2 large banana or small banana sliced on pancakes, veggie oozing omelet
  • Colorful lunch ideas: dark green leafy green salad with assorted vegetables including beans and peas and fresh or dried fruit; minestrone or gazpacho soup, fruit salad, piece of fruit
  • Colorful dinner ideas: try eating two different color vegetables like carrots and broccoli and fruit for dessert such as sliced strawberries, peaches, pears or pineapple or mix together raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries for a "Berries Trio"
  • To avoid overeating at dinner or later in the day, don't skip meals; do eat breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks that include fruit, vegetables, beans and peas

Multi Colored FruitsSnacking

  • Savor a colorful snack if meals are 3 or 4 hours apart. You are less likely to over eat at the next meal.
  • Plan ahead, keep handy cut up fruit and veggies for snacks such as grapes, dried fruit, carrots, sliced peppers, edamame
  • Bring snacks to work or school or enjoy at home:
    • mid-morning – dried fruit such as apricots, cranberries/craisins, plums, raisins; low-sodium vegetable juice
    • afternoon – fresh fruit with low-sugar, low-fat yogurt or plain yogurt with banana slices, strawberries or other fruit.
    • home from work/school – fruit smoothie, watermelon cubes or slices, baby carrots, chopped raw veggies such sliced peppers, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, edamame. Dip in low-fat yogurt dressings or hummus

Eating Out

  • Eat fruit or drink low-sodium veggie juice before going out
  • When eating out make sure to order colorful side vegetables and side salads made with romaine or spinach and with dressing on the side; try new vegetables
  • Start your meal with salad or soup; share a dessert featuring fruit such as berries parfait
  • Accent your thin crust (preferably whole grain crust) pizza with more veggies, olives and pineapple
  • For salad dressings use a vinaigrette served on the side, 1 tablespoon for every one cup of salad
  • Enjoy the beautiful color and wonderful flavors of more fruits and veggies – go cuckoo for color!

Further Information:

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NAP Challenge #10: Take on the Calcium Balance Challenge

Man and Woman Making Fruit Smoothie

Meet the “Calcium Balance” challenge with AICR NAP Smoothies

Combine in blender your favorite yogurt, fruits, veggies, nut and seeds.

AICR NAP Smoothie Recipe

6 ounces or 3/4 cup non-fat or low fat yogurt, plain or vanilla, fruit flavored (low sugar)

1/2 cup frozen fruit (berries, peaches, strawberries, mixed fruit…)

1/2 cup fresh fruit (apple, banana, oranges, pineapple…)

Ice cubes made with green or mint tea, carrot juice, water, 100% fruit juice – use amount for desired thickness

Add Ons: carrots, spinach, greens, parsley, wheat germ, almonds and other nuts, seeds, cinnamon

This week I will eat or drink three servings daily of calcium rich foods.


This week’s challenge features Calcium Balance. Why is calcium balance pertinent to the New American Plate Challenge? For prevention of osteoporosis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes as well as optimal nutrition while losing weight. One important part of your New American Plate… and your New American Plate cereal bowls, glasses, and mugs is calcium-rich foods.

The National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine recently updated recommendations for calcium for bone health. The amount of calcium recommended is 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day for adults ages 19-50 years and increases to 1,200 mg per day for adults over age 51. According the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans, calcium is considered a “nutrient of concern” because most of us do not consume adequate calcium. Most Americans are at risk for osteoporosis because of having low bone mass due to inadequate calcium intake.

Adequate calcium intake from diet and supplements also is associated with lower incidence of colorectal cancer; yet, too much calcium from diet and supplements is associated with increased risk for prostate cancer. Thus, “calcium balance” is necessary for bone health and cancer prevention. AICR advises consuming no more than 1500 mg of calcium from diet and supplements daily. The recommended 1000 – 1200 mg calcium translates to consuming 2 1/2 to 3 servings of dairy foods daily as part of a balanced diet. It’s critical to eat a healthy diet including calcium-rich foods even when trying to lose weight to protect your bones and prevent cancer.

With the mostly plant-based eating style of the New American Plate, you can achieve calcium balance. While two-thirds or more of your plate (… and cereal bowl… and glass… and mug…) is plant based, the remaining one-third or less is animal protein based and that includes dairy products. You get concentrated calcium, in a well-absorbed form, from non-fat and low-fat dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese.

You also can choose some high calcium plant-based foods such as collard greens, tofu, edamame, and calcium and vitamin D fortified soymilk. Sardines are also high in calcium. Calcium fortified cereals, breads and 100% fruit juices are good choices too. Striking your calcium balance with a combination of calcium-rich dairy and plant-based foods is easy. Look at the suggestions below for meal and snack ideas.

If you don’t consume dairy products or enough calcium and vitamin D fortified soymilk or other milk alternative beverages and calcium fortified foods such as cereals, breads and juices, calcium supplementation may be advised. Again, do not exceed 1500 mg daily of dietary and supplemental calcium.

Time to take on the Calcium Balance Challenge!

Amount of Non-Dairy Calcium Sources with Calcium Equivalent to 1 Cup Milk
and Amount of Selected Other Nutrients in that Amount
Calcium Alternative Amount Energy kcal Protein g Calcium mg Magnesium mg Potassium mg


Vitamin A, μg RAE Vitamin D, IU

Milk Group Profile

1 cup eq.








Soymilk, unsweetened, fortified with calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D

1 cup








Soymilk, chocolate, light, fortified with calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D

1 cup








Rice Drink, unsweetened, fortified with calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D

1 cup








Tofu, raw, regular, prepared with calcium sulfate

~1/3 cup








Tofu, soft "silken", prepared with calcium chloride

>2 lbs








Tofu, extra firm, prepared with nigari (MgCl)

~2/3 cup








Tofu, firm, prepared with nigari (MgCl) and calcium sulfate

~5/8 cup








Orange Juice, fortified with calcium and vitamin D

0.6 cup








Collards, frozen

~7/8 cup








Spinach, frozen

1 cup








Kale, frozen

1‐2/3 cup








Broccoli, frozen

5 cup








Soybeans, green

1.1 cup








White beans, canned

1.6 cup








Almonds, dry roasted

4 oz








Sardines, canned, w/bone

2.8 oz








Salmon, canned, w/bone

3.8 oz








Data Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 22.
Table (from Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010,

Steps and Tips:

Achieving calcium balance of
1000-1200 mg daily is easy;
let’s say we eat:
Breakfast: 1 cup skim milk
= 300 mg
Lunch: 1 1/2 oz Swiss cheese
= 336 mg
Afternoon snack: 6 oz low-fat fruit yogurt
= 254 mg
Dinner: 3/4 cup cooked kale
= 150 mg
Miscellaneous: in other foods
= ~200 mg
Total Estimate:
= 1240 mg


  • Estimate your calcium intake one day this week. Go to
  • Read labels to select milk alternative beverages like soy, rice or almond milk that are calcium and vitamins D and A fortified
  • Choose non-fat or low-fat lattes and cappuccinos
  • If lactose intolerant, try drinking no more than 1/2 cup non-fat or low-fat milk at a time. Try low-lactose or lactose-free milk, yogurt and cheeses and calcium and vitamin D and A fortified soymilk or other fortified milk alternative beverages
  • Choose non-fat and low-fat yogurts with minimal added sugar. Look for active cultures for probiotic advantage
  • Get Greek-style yogurts for a heartier snack, these are often lower in sugar and richer in protein, keeping you satiated longer. Calcium content may be less than regular yogurt, yet it still provides calcium
  • Substitute some non-fat or low-fat yogurt for sour cream or mayonnaise in dips, sauces and casseroles
  • Buy hard cheeses made with reduced fat milk more often and cheeses made with whole milk less often. The 1 1/2-ounce portion size fits nicely into the 2/3 – 1/3 rule. Eat in smaller amounts shaved or grated whole milk aged cheeses like Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago
  • Top soups, stews, casseroles, salads, and vegetables with reduced fat cheeses. Use low-fat ricotta, cottage cheese, shredded mozzarella and assorted cheeses in dishes
  • Dress baked sweet potatoes and other potatoes with non-fat or low-fat yogurt and cheeses
  • Make, buy or order pizza with low-fat cheeses preferably on whole-wheat crust with lots of veggies. Let vendors know that’s what you would like them to offer!
  • Buy tofu processed with calcium sulfate for higher calcium content

Ideas for dairy foods and calcium rich foods and portion sizes:

  • Breakfast: 1 cup skim or 1% milk with cereal, 1 cup hot cocoa, 1 cup non-fat or low-fat yogurt with whole grain granola and mixed fruit, 1 1/2 ounce of reduced fat cheese with sliced fruit and whole grain bagel, 1/2 cup fortified orange juice, 1 cup fortified cereal; make oatmeal with skim or 1% milk, not water; make whole wheat pancakes and muffins with fat-free buttermilk; AICR NAP Smoothie.
  • Lunch: 1 1/2 oz reduced fat cheese preferably more often in sandwiches or entrée salad, 1/2 cup tofu in vegetable salad medley, 1/2 cup non-fat or low-fat cottage cheese preferably, 1 cup non-fat or low-fat yogurt, 1 cup skim or non-fat milk, 1 cup nonfat or low-fat pudding, 1/2 - 1 cup cooked kale and white beans in soup.
  • Dinner: 1 1/2 ounce reduced fat cheese in pizza or pasta dishes, 1/2 cup reduced fat ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup tofu vegetable stir fry, 1/2 cup non-fat or reduced fat cottage cheese, 1 cup skim or 1% milk, 1 cup non-fat or low-fat yogurt, 1/2 cup or more calcium rich vegetables.
  • Snacks: 1 cup skim or 1% milk or soy milk latte, cappuccino or chai latte, 1 cup hot cocoa, 1 cup non-fat or low-fat yogurt with whole grain flake or granola cereal and dried or fresh fruit, 1 1/2 ounce reduced fat cheese, 1/2 cup edamame, AICR NAP Smoothie.
  • Desserts: puddings, parfaits made with skim or 1% milk and topped with lots of fruit, ice milk or non-fat or low-fat frozen yogurt.
  • Remember:
    • When eating out, try to include calcium rich foods – cheese and tofu from salad bar, 1 1/2 ounces cheese on sandwich, veggie and/or grain salads with tofu and cheese.
    • Reward yourself with non-food treats when feeling like a "pick-me-up" or when meeting your steps or minutes activity goal or for losing weight. For example, instead of a coffee shop beverage treat, grab your water bottle and take a walk in the park or read a magazine standing up, buy and plant some new annuals or container pot herbs.
    • For osteoporosis prevention, in addition to adequate calcium intake make sure to enjoy weight bearing physical activities such as walking, hiking, running, dancing, and playing sports like tennis. Another reason to stay moderately to vigorously active daily!

Further Information:

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NAP Challenge #11: Be FITT – Every Step Counts

Woman using a Hula HoopAdding UP Minutes: This week I will find at least 10 minutes of "hidden" activity opportunities every day. This will help me to reach and maintain my ultimate goal of doing 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least five days per week.


Stepping on UP: This week everyday I will find at least 1,000 "hidden" step opportunities every day. This will help me reach and maintain my ultimate goal of 10,000 – 12,0000 steps daily.

You are almost there! Over the past 10 weeks you have learned how to make physical activity a regular part of your routine. Way to go! The last step on this journey is to plan for the unexpected – those days when life gets in the way and you can't fit in the physical activity you planned. Don't let those days discourage you. Just because you didn't make it to the gym or outside for your lunchtime walk doesn't mean you can't be physically active. In our world of convenience, it is possible to make it through the day without moving at all. But if you are mindful about your choices you can fit in a significant amount of activity into your regular daily routine. Your challenge this week: find the "hidden" opportunities in your day to be physically active because every step really does count!


Being sedentary increases your cancer risk and may increase your waistline. In our world of convenience and technology, we have engineered away the need to be physically active throughout our day. Think about it: we take the escalator instead of the stairs, we send an email instead of walking to our co-worker's desk, we use a remote to change the television channel, and we drive EVERYWHERE! It may not seem like a lot of activity at the time, but all of those opportunities you have in your day to take a trip up the stairs really can add up to be an appreciable amount of physical activity (you'll burn approximately 10 calories per flight of stairs). And it doesn't take any extra planning on your part – it just requires that you be mindful of your choices. Taking advantage of these "hidden" opportunities to be physically active will help you meet your goal for physical activity every week, even when unexpected challenges disrupt your routine.

F.I.T.T. for
Aerobic Activity

Frequency – Fit aerobic activities into your schedule as often as you can, working toward a goal of 5 of your 7 days of activity each week.

Intensity – Intensity level should be moderate to vigorous.

Time – Tally up 30 to 60 minutes throughout the day for aerobic activities.

Type – Include a variety of activities that raise your heart rate, such as biking, walking and swimming.


  • Get out of your seat. Stand and pace more; sit less at work and home.
  • Take the stairs. Challenge yourself to take the stairs everywhere you go: at work, at the mall, etc. If you have many flights to climb and can't make it all the way to the top, start by climbing as many flights as you can before riding elevators or escalator.
  • Schedule active meetings. Have "walking meetings" with coworkers, clients and fellow volunteers.
  • Hand deliver messages. Take a walk to personally deliver messages instead of emailing, texting or phoning.
  • Park farther away. The best spot isn't necessarily the one closest to the entrance. Park at the back of a parking lot or a few blocks from where you need to go in order to fit in a few extra steps/minutes of walking. Be mindful of safety too.
  • Try a different bus stop. Get off the bus one stop (or two, or three stops…) earlier.
  • Be an active commuter. Walk or bike to work at least once a week.
  • Do active errands. Walk or bike instead of driving, especially if destinations are less than one mile away.
  • Be active around the house. Do house and yard work – dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, scrubbing, raking, weeding are all great ways to be physically active. Ultimate opportunity to multi-task!
  • Take activity breaks. Anytime you are sitting for long periods of time (e.g. watching TV, working, traveling) plan for some short bursts of activity. Stop what you are doing for 5 minutes and move! Run in place; do jumping jacks, push-ups, or sit-ups; dance; or do some chair exercises – it doesn't matter what you do, just get yourself moving for a few minutes. Other ideas: You can stretch and lift hand weights while watching movies and TV especially at commercials, get up to change TV channels, walk or run on a treadmill while watching TV or movies, do chair exercises at work, stop the car and walk around the parking lot at a rest stop, or do leg lifts while on a plane.
  • Write it down! Be sure to keep track of all your short and long bursts of activities – the time and the steps add UP!

Knowledge is Power! Did You Know?

That walking for 30 minutes at the moderate pace of 3.5 miles per hour you burn 200 calories? And, that as you get more active for longer periods of time and more vigorously, you improve your odds of preventing cancer, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, diabetes, arthritis, depressions, and dementia.

Putting it ALL Together – Be FITT

As you reach the end of your 12-week challenge, it is important to review what you've learned and to give you a parting guide to help you maintain the good habits you've developed. These past few months knowingly or unknowingly you have been applying the FITT principle. You have been increasing Frequency by walking more days a week, increasing Intensity by walking faster miles, increasing Time by walking for longer durations, and changing Type of activities by trying new forms of physical activity and varying your routine.

Take the Talk Test
to gauge your intensity level

You are able to sing while doing activities = LIGHT intensity.

You are able to carry on a conversation easily while doing activities = MODERATE intensity.

You have a difficult time talking during activities. You become winded or out of breath = VIGOROUS intensity.

As you maintain your physically active lifestyle you may hit plateaus: you may stop seeing improvements with your weight loss or you may lose your motivation. If this happens, think FITT! Frequency – Intensity – Time – Type. Consider adding another day of walking (Frequency), walk faster (Intensity) or walk longer (Time), or try something new (Type). By applying this principle you will maximize your health benefits! The tips below will help you to do this safely and effectively.

The FITT Principle

The FITT principle applies to all types of physical activity: aerobic, strength and flexibility. Use the FITT Principle to help guide your activity routine.

  • Frequency – Plan to walk or do aerobic activities at least 5 days a week. You may exercise more vigorously 3-4 times a week and simply walk for an hour the other days. Incorporate strength activities 2-3 times per week and incorporate flexibility (stretching) activities 5-7 days per week.
  • Intensity – Aim to do moderate-to-vigorous intensity activities every day. You'll know you are at a higher intensity of activity when your heart beats faster and your breathing rate increases. Remember to use the "Talk Test" to help you gauge your intensity level (see Talk Test).
  • Type – Vary your activities. Don't get stuck in a workout rut. Try out different activities to keep your body and mind challenged. Remember there are three major types of activities: strength activities such as lifting weights at a gym or stretching with resistance bands or doing push ups or pull ups; aerobic or cardiovascular activities such as brisk walking, jogging, running, playing soccer, basketball, volleyball, or dancing, and swimming; and flexibility activities such as bending and touching your toes, reaching for the sky, and stretching from side to side. Yoga is also a flexibility activity. Be sure to include each type of activity into your routine (see Frequency for goal number of days for each type of activity).
  • Time – Shoot for 60! In order to achieve and maintain your weight loss goals you should aim to do 60 minutes of moderate-to-to vigorous intensity activities five or more days each week. Remember, exercise may be divided into shorter periods. Keep moving and increasing the total minutes you are active throughout the day – it all adds UP!
  • Write down your FITT changes. Small Steps add UP toward being FITT!

Further Information:

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NAP Challenge # 12: Minding My P's and Q's (Cues)

Leaf detail

The New American Plate

This week I will eat according to the New American Plate principles of proportion and portion and use cue strategies at least four days this week.


Eleven weeks ago you eagerly stepped up to the plate – the New American Plate Challenge to lose weight, become more active and lower your cancer risk. This week you are about to victoriously cross home plate scoring the winning run for your improved diet, fitness, health, and perhaps weight loss. This last week we combine all the plate and physical activity challenges and incorporate cue strategies to enhance our eating and moving.

Minding My P's Let's briefly recap and expand on the New American Plate Challenges.

  • 2/3 – 1/3 Rule Minding your P's – Proportion and Portions are pivotal. Proportion is two-thirds or more of our plates piled with plant based foods and one-third or less with lean animal protein foods. Knowing and measuring portions for the various food groups helps keep calories on par for weight loss or weight maintenance.
  • More Than Half Equals Whole. For most of your grain choices pick whole grains, not processed or refined grains. Enjoy 1-2 grain portions at each meal meal.
  • 3 x 6 = less than 18. Eat no more than 18 ounces of cooked red meat (beef, pork, lamb) weekly and avoid processed meat as much as possible. Keep portions of animal protein small (~2-3 ounces per meal or 4-5 1/2 ounces daily). Beans and nuts may replace animal protein foods (1/4 cup beans, 1/2 ounce nuts, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 2 tablespoons hummus, 1/4 cup tofu, 1 egg = 1 ounce animal protein).
  • Bye Soda, Hi Tea. Avoid calorie dense and nutrient poor sweetened beverages and limit sweets. For hydration and pleasure drink more water and tea and for desserts and treats eat more nutrient dense fruit.
  • Refresh and Relax with Fizzers and Spritzers. Limit alcohol to no more than one serving daily for women and no more than two servings daily for men, if consumed at all. Refresh and relax with mocktails and minitails that are fizzy water based peppered with fruit and fruit juices.
  • Cuckoo for Color. Paint your plate with the plant food palette. Feature multiple selections of colorful vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds providing carotenoids and other health promoting phytonutrients at each meal. Choose dark green, red and orange fruits and vegetables most often. Enjoy 3-5 portions each of fruit and vegetables daily, 1/2-2 cups or more of beans weekly (may replace animal protein), and 3-4 ounces of nuts and seeds weekly (also may replace animal protein).
  • Calcium Balance. Consume three servings of calcium rich foods to provide 1000-1200 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily. Enjoy non-fat and 1% milk, non-fat or low-fat yogurt with little added sugar, and reduced fat cheese. If you don't eat three servings of traditional calcium sources, pick calcium fortified milk beverages (almond, rice, soy), juices, breads and cereals and pile on your plate calcium rich vegetables and beans.
  • person checking pedometerAdd UP or Step UP. Phase in more daily physical activity until you reach the goal of being moderately active 60 minutes or vigorously active 30 minutes every day. Pass the 10,000-12,000 steps range on your pedometer and you are well on your way to achieving the physical activity goal!
  • Increase the Intensity. Once light intensity activities are mastered, increase your intensity to more moderate activities and then proceed to more vigorous activities.
  • Variety is Key. Try new activities and vary your daily and weekly activities: walk, hike, jog, run, cycle, swim, row, do yoga, play sports, stand while working, use resistance bands, clean, vacuum, garden, dance… keep activities fun!
  • Be FITT – Every Step Counts. Frequency – be moderately to vigorously physically active everyday; Intensity - proceed to higher levels of activity intensity as you become more fit; Time – protect your "Me Time" to be moderately active for 60 minutes or vigorously active 30 minutes most days. Time may be divided during the day; Type – partake in all three major activity types: strength building with hand or gym weights; aerobic exercising such as brisk walking, jogging, biking, dancing and swimming; and flexibility activities like bending, stretching with resistance bands, and gardening.
  • Minding My P's and Q's. Put into practice all the challenge principles of proportion and portion, plate pointers, and pay attention to and use cue strategies.

Plate Pointers

  • Be Sodium Savvy
    Pare your salt and sodium intake. High levels of salt in the diet increase risk of stomach cancer and excess sodium and insufficient potassium are linked with hypertension. Choose foods lower in sodium (read labels), limit processed foods, and prepare and order foods with little or no salt. With 2/3rd plate proportion of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans potassium will prevail! Keep sodium intake below 2300 mg daily, better yet, work your way toward 1500 mg daily. The estimated average sodium intake is about 3400 mg daily. Let's cut sodium in half by eating more unprocessed, nutrient dense foods.
  • Watch Oils, Solid Fats and Trans Fats
    Preferred oils are olive, canola and safflower given their mostly monounsaturated fatty acid composition. Be prudent with amount since oils are calorically dense. A good rule of thumb for portioning oils is 1 tablespoon of vinaigrette per cup of salad, 1 teaspoon of oil per cup of cooked vegetables and 1 teaspoon of oil or 1 tablespoon of reduced fat mayonnaise per cup mixed dishes of vegetables, grains and/or beans and pasta based salads. If cooking animal protein, allow about 1 teaspoon for each 3-4 ounce portion of animal protein. Trim from your diet "solid fats" – choose poultry without skin, lean meats, non-fat or low-fat dairy products, and little butter or spreads. Track trans fat since it may be associated with inflammation, which plays a role in cancer. Best to avoid solid hydrogenated oils found in many processed foods and use small portions of trans fat free spreads. Prefer to brush lightly breads and veggies with EVOO – extra virgin olive oil!
  • 3 generations of Black Women CookingSelect Nutrient Dense Foods – Primary Play of the New American Plate
    Make every calorie count toward your optimal health. Nutrient dense foods provide essential vitamins and minerals and health promoting compounds. Whole foods, unadulterated with added fat and sugar and not refined or stripped of beneficial nutrients are what you want to eat mostly. Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains also are considered low calorie dense or low energy dense because of high water and fiber content and bite for bite they have fewer calories than high calorie dense foods. Other nutrient dense foods include beans, split peas, nuts, seeds, non-fat and low-fat milk and yogurt, reduced fat cheese, eggs, poultry, seafood, and lean red meats (less than 18 ounces weekly). Eating mostly nutrient dense foods is your major play for success – weight loss – in the New American Plate Challenge!
  • Be a SoFAS Snob!
    SoFAS (acronym for Solid Fats and Added Sugar) are calories found in foods such as soda, energy and sports drinks, cakes, cookies, cupcakes, doughnuts, pies, many granola bars, breads, crackers, and pizza. On average, these foods add an extra 100-150 calories daily for most Americans. This amount of excess calories easily contributes to weight gain. Be a SoFAS Snob – carefully choose and enjoy quality treat foods in smaller portions less often. With the New American Plate Challenge, you may include 100-150 discretionary or treat calories daily. So, be a SoFAS Snob and chose those calories well. Remember, the primary play in the Challenge is to choose nutrient dense foods! Be mindful of the ever-present cues to eat and overeat weight-sabotaging foods rich in SoFAS!

These added calories contribute toward eating excess calories.

If we eat more nutrient dense whole foods we satisfy our hunger with fewer calories and are better able to attain and maintain a healthy weight.

Source: Building Healthy Eating Paterns page 47, Figure 5-2.


Minding My Q's - that is Cues

A cue is a stimulus or signal that excites us to action or triggers a response. We see cues, intentional and subtle guiding suggestions, to eat and overeat everywhere. There are good cues and bad cues, those we are aware of and those we are not, and those we choose to follow or choose to ignore. We need to be mindful of the cues that influence our eating and moving and use cue strategies for mindful eating and physical activity.

Internal Cues

  • Hunger. Be in touch with your hunger signals, to feel comfortably hungry before a meal or snack. Don't let more than 3 to 4 hours pass without eating if you become hungry because of the tendency then to overeat at the next meal. Don't let yourself get "starved" before your next meal. Satisfy your hunger with balanced meals or snack so you don't "overload" or overeat at the next meal or snack. Afternoon snacks are essential for most people since there is often a long time between lunch and dinner. Plan ahead for afternoon snacks and stock your New American Plate arsenal at home and work with fresh or dried fruit, nuts and yogurt. Americans do not consume enough fruit or calcium rich food; so guarantee eating these foods as snacks if you are hungry or to stave off overeating later.
  • Satiation. It's also important to stop eating once comfortably satiated, not overly full. Eating at a moderate pace, not too fast, allows time (about 20 minutes) for the filling stomach to signal the brain you are becoming full thus allowing you to eat calories within the range needed for attaining and maintaining healthy weight.
  • Emotions. Sadness, stress, boredom, and tiredness. Be aware of emotions that trigger overeating and disassociate eating for relief or comfort. Find non-food related "treats" to comfort, celebrate, reward and rejuvenate yourself and others – walk, plant flowers, go out, take a bubble bath, watch a movie, read, play cards, stretch or dance, call a friend or relative, engage in hobby or craft… remember relaxation and creativity are also essential to your well-being.
  • Taste. Great tasting food we tend to overeat if possible. Foods that taste just okay we may absentmindedly overeat too. Be a Food Snob. If it tastes really good and is made with quality ingredients, eat it and enjoy in proper proportion and portion. Food is to be enjoyed as well as to nourish the body. Select a smaller portion of more calorically dense food (high in calories and often low in nutrient quality).

External Cues

External cues to eat and overeat are everywhere. We see and smell food everywhere. Food is relatively inexpensive and abundant. Food and beverage advertising is omnipresent. Super Sizes. Value Meals. Bulk Deals. Food is the center of most social events. Take a few seconds to consider food and beverage cues, choices, and portion sizes. Make your calories count toward YOUR good health and wellbeing. Be a food, calorie, snack, SoFAS Snob. Ask, Is it good for me? Are the calories worth it? If considering a treat food, ask is it wise to spend my meal, snack, or discretionary calories on it? For example, let's say you allow yourself 100-150 discretionary calories a day. Is it worth spending those calories on a commercially produced cookie made with hydrogenated oils and artificial flavors or later on a homemade cookie made with quality ingredients that will taste truly authentic? Read Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods to find versions with lower calories, fat, sugar and sodium.

We wrap up the New American Plate Challenge with new and repeated Steps/Tips we'll call 32 Cues. Use these to improve the quality of what you eat, get moving, feel better, and lose weight. Here are your 32 Cue Strategies for Minding your P's and Q's (Cues).

Steps/Tips: 32 Cues

General Cue Strategies

  1. Be a mindful eater, don't be lured or fooled by external cues and be mindful of your subconscious and conscious internal cues.
  2. Listen to your hunger signals, eat when hungry, eat at a moderate pace, not fast, eat mindfully while relaxed enjoying the taste, smell, texture and color, and stop eating when comfortably full or satiated.
  3. Stock kitchen with mostly nutrient dense foods and limit foods that are not nutrient dense. Relegate "treat" foods to when you eat out (ice cream, pizza, hot dog, fries…). And when possible, go for healthier versions and smaller portions (fruit smoothie, thin wheat crust pizza with veggies, falafel sandwich, small fries with no added salt…).
  4. Read labels, low-fat does not necessarily mean lower calorie, often more sugar is added making calories similar and often more sodium too.
  5. Re-portion and repackage bulk foods to single servings or smaller containers.
  6. Put nutrient dense foods front and center in refrigerator, freezer, cabinets and pantry.
  7. Man and Woman BikingOut of sight, out of mind – best not to regularly bring home foods and snacks you're trying to limit; or, buy healthier versions and tuck them in back so you have a few seconds to reconsider.
  8. Eat a nutrient dense breakfast. Not eating breakfast is associated with excess body fat. Eating breakfast is associated with weight loss and weight maintenance. Bring breakfast with you in the car or commute, pack portable foods like banana, small whole grain bagel or English muffin, reduced fat cheese, high fiber, low sugar breakfast bar. At the coffee shop or fast food place choose yogurt parfaits with fruit, healthier versions of breakfast sandwiches, oatmeal with non-fat milk with fruit and nuts.
  9. Serve meals from the kitchen counter. Serve only non-starchy vegetables, salad and cut fruit on the table, leave the animal proteins, grains and starchy vegetables in the kitchen.
  10. Use 10 inch or smaller plates, smaller bowls, juice glasses for juice (only 1/2 cup daily – yet, better to eat fruit than drink fruit), eight-ounce glasses for milk, tall skinny glasses for smoothies, mocktails and minitails (not short fat tumblers, they tend to hold more).
  11. Be a "Snack Snob," select superior snacks and keep in your home and work arsenal, don't eat snack foods out of bags or packages, portion snacks.
  12. Balance treat foods with healthy meals, eat your discretionary calorie foods with lunch or dinner. You'll be less likely to overeat since you are likely already more satiated. Enjoy a small portion or sometimes just a bite will do.
  13. Stay hydrated, if feeling wilty or sluggish drink water or tea, not sugar laden beverages.
  14. Drink a mocktail or glass of water for every glass of wine, beer or cocktail, no more than one serving for women and no more than two servings for men daily, if consumed at all.
  15. Look for ways to accumulate 30 minutes or more (60 minutes is better!) of physical activity throughout each day.
  16. Get up and go even when tired – take a short brisk walk or stretch to feel more relaxed.
  17. Be mindful after exercising not to fall into the trap of rewarding yourself with sweets or by overeating.
  18. Self-monitor – yes, write down what you eat and your activities, weigh daily or weekly as often as is motivating. Periodically measure waist circumference too. Use online or mobile apps for tracking your progress.
  19. Get adequate sleep, 7- 9 hours nightly!

Eating Out Cue Strategies

  1. Don't be tempted by 21. Request a take out container when food is served, then place some of the food in the container at beginning of meal. Or share large meals.
  2. Don't super size unless sharing, in fact try to order half plate, small plate or petite plate – much better portion sizes. Order appetizer and salad or soup and salad as main meal.
  3. Choose meals with more vegetables, whole grains and beans.
  4. Be a food snob when it comes to fast food, look for healthiest choices possible (the more we order, the more choices there will be).
  5. Begin meals with salad, with vinaigrette based dressing on side, or with broth based vegetable or tomato based soup; ask for bread and chips to be removed from table; request pica de gallo sauce (salsa) and cut veggies.
  6. At prepared food counters select more colorful vegetables and whole grain salads and side dishes and order small portions of animal proteins made with little added fat.
  7. Eat healthy snack before going to parties; be a food snob, survey the offerings and select quality foods you normally don't eat; eat mostly nutrient dense foods, if food choices are good quality and calorically dense enjoy smaller portions!

Man and Womanclimbing Stairs, BluryWorkplace Cue Strategies

  1. Ask that vending machines, office candy bowls, and staff meetings with food feature fruit, low-fat, low sugar yogurt, low-fat string cheese, high fiber, low sugar energy bars and mini packs of dried fruits, nuts and seeds, and tea bags.
  2. Put posters at workplace to encourage stair walking and at desk exercising, talk to HR about AICR Health@Work.
  3. Wear your pedometer at work – change the work culture to encourage being more active.
  4. Take individual and workplace wide "mini recess" breaks to stretch, use resistance bands, lift hand weights, walk, brew tea – breaks are good for creativity too!
  5. Sit on an exercise ball office chair and use hand weights and resistance bands while on long calls, do some work standing to burn more calories.

To lose weight successfully make "Me Time" to eat smart and be active!

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