The Small Changes Challenge #7…It’s time to do some number crunches

small changes coverWeek 7 is here!!  Today we have 2 things for you to think about and work on…

  1. Numbers.  the first will give you an actual number to see…look at…and a visual of where you are at in your journey, how far you have come and maybe what to work towards.
  2. The Comfy Cozy Factor.  Some of you just went to go put on your favorite comfy pants and sweatshirt…but that isn’t what we are talking about…but you can hold on to those for the moment.

What is the Small Changes Challenge?  The Small Changes Challenge is FREE for anyone to do…at any point in their journey.  You will make changes that will stick if you go slow and keep working…and if you stop or miss a day…just get back on the challenge and start up again!  Stats show that if you make small changes towards a healthier lifestyle you will actually have better results.  Fad diets with quick fixes sound like the perfect solution but usually end up with your metabolism getting messed up in some way and as a result you gain more weight after the diet fad is over and your lifestyle goes back to the way it was in the past.

Several people that follow The Journey are going right along with this free challenge…and some are even in the running for a prize at the end!  We don’t have just 1 group of people…but 2 that are working on this challenge!  Yep…it’s pretty cool.  😉  Free stuff AND a healthier lifestyle.  Win! Win!

Did you miss a week?  You can find the links to what we have covered so far in this challenge right here:  Week 1   Week 2   Week 3  Week 4  Week 5  Week 6

Small Changes Challenge Week 7:  It’s time to do some number crunches.

This week we are working on two things that will help us put things in perspective…numbers and that comfy zone.

small changes challenge 7Let’s chat about numbers first, shall we?  Some of us are real number nerds (that’s not me, fyi) but when it comes to health there seems to be a huge trend of people drawn to one specific number.  All importance to the rest of the number factors out in the health world are often ignored or not even considered, and in some cases they aren’t even known.  Ya’ll know which one number is picked as that main fixation…right?  My guess is that 90% of the people reading this used it today.  If you still need a clue it is…The scale.

I don’t have much love for the scale and if you have been part of The Journey for a bit you have learned that about me.  (Truth About the Scale)  To be real with you…I don’t even go on the scale because really…it doesn’t ever give me happy, fuzzy feelings.  I could work my butt off in the gym 5 days a week with workouts that leave me gross and disgusting and eat the best food known to man…and gain weight.  It’s almost like I can see cake and somehow I can’t button my jeans.  You know how frustrating that is?  To work so hard and only to have all feelings of accomplishment be crushed in seconds.  It happened ALL THE TIME to me and it really made me feel like all this healthy stuff was just made up at times to make me feel sore.  My pants might even fit better but that number on the scale was telling me “nope, you did not lose weight…you are still fat and actually…you are fatter than you were the week before.”

FRUS.TRAT.ING!  To the core.  I think that was my life for…umm…almost forever.

I had a breakthrough one day though when I read something out there in this world of info and it has stuck ever since.  I realized that the scale wasn’t my friend and to add to the list of things I was defriending…the BMI (body mass index).  Never has been my friend.  My body would cringe at the sound of those three letters as my weight and height would be compared to this colorful measurement.  It started in high school when I realized what this chart was all about…but being crazy tall compared to my friends my age was not helpful.  Yes, I can see over people but that chart makes me shudder inside.

Right now…think about how you felt the last 5 times you were on the scale.  For some of you…that was everyday this past week (I know I’m right).  For some people two of those happened at the gym the other day…once before your workout…and once when you were done.  (I know I’m not wrong about that either…I SEE YOU stepping on and off before…or at least know your scale sisters that are doing it.)  The scale can be just as much an obsession as being pulled into the fast food drive-thru.  I know.  I’ve done both.

We will get to the homework part of this in just a bit…first we have to chat about being comfy cozy.  K?

comfort zoneThe Comfy Cozy Bit

I took a bit of slack the other day when I posted something on Facebook about someone I saw at the gym talking on their phone for about an hour (and could hear the loud conversation through my headphones as she was walking at a speed of 2.0 *I looked since she was right next to me*) …and I heard your responses and I get what you are saying.  You thought I was mean because I don’t know her or her story and I should be glad she is making small changes.

I didn’t post it to be mean.  I posted it to be REAL…so all of the people at The Journey can make sure that they aren’t following in this type of exercise pattern that seems to be catching on.  I was just pinpointing that the method of exercise and intensity needed some improvement based on what I saw.  2.0 speed, no incline, talking without any problem at all, holding on the handrail, moving some weight machines while on the phone and switching hands and ears so she gets both sidesand not being winded at all…that is what I’m talking about.  

Plus…phones and treadmills…HELLO!  I fell off a treadmill without being on a phone and talking.  The risk of injury is there already.  I know.  Why would you put yourself at risk for an injury by putting a phone to your ear while walking on something that is moving?

I’m glad that the person I stood next to was in the gym and moving but I sure hope that in a month she isn’t one of those people that is frustrated and quits exercising because she hasn’t had pounds lost from her hour long “workouts”.  I also hope she doesn’t get hurt if she continues this pattern of exercise.

Make sense?  If you are still wondering what I’m trying to get at…let’s dig a bit deeper.

Comfy cozy.  Let’s ponder that for a sec…shall we?  Think of yourself in these situations and write down where you are right now with these scenarios:

  • Walking.  1) Don’t walk.  2) walk at a pace where I could chat with a friend.  3)  Walking at a pace where I really should just hop a bit more and I would be jogging.
  • Workout at home or at the gym.  1) Don’t workout.  2) Moving my body and I can have a conversation with someone at the same time.  3)  Moving my body and I can’t say more than, “Hi, my name is ______.”
  • Strength training.  1) Don’t strength train.  2) Did some reps but don’t feel the muscles getting tired but I did move the weights up and down.  3)  I feel my muscles burning a bit and I go for one more rep or 5 more seconds.

Why is it important to know about this comfy cozy zone?  If you are looking for fat loss, you need to be out of a comfy cozy zone for about 20 minutes.  During those 20ish minutes you will be burning the food that you have recently consumed that is waiting to be used for energy.  After those 20ish minutes, your body then goes on a search for stored fat and will use that as energy.  That is when the magic happens and the stored fat leaves your body.

20ish minutes.  (it fluctuates and changes for each person…but 20 minutes is an very good estimate for a good majority of people)

rpe-rate-of-perceived-exertion-chartAt what point in the above situations are you no longer feeling comfy cozy?  That is what you need to ask yourself when you are moving and working out.  As you start out…it won’t take much to get your heartrate up and make your body work hard.  As your body gets used to what you are doing you will need to keep an eye on that comfy cozy zone and make sure that when you exercise you work on being outside of that zone.  You can use the picture to the right that lists the Rate of Perceived Exertion to help you figure out where you are at while working out.  Your goal is to be in the zone of level 5 to 8.

How do you help your body get outside of that comfy cozy zone?  You might have to go faster or for longer segments of time.  The incline might need to be increased.  Resistance on a bike would need to be turned up.  You might have to grab some heavier weights.

If you really want to ramp things up…do some intervals for 3 to 5 minutes on a bike, with weights or on an elliptical after you have been out of the comfy cozy zone for 20 minutes.  You will zap those fat cells even faster.  Week 1 you can do 15 seconds fast on a bike and do a nice slow pedal for 45 seconds and then repeat this 2 more times.  Week 2 you can increase either the time of the length of work to 20 seconds or do 4 cycles of intervals.

Know your intensity and what your goal is:  If you are just out for a walk and you are comfy cozy and that is your goal, that is fine.  Walking is good and will make your body move and you will burn some calories as well.  For some though…a 10 minute walk will take them out of the comfy cozy zone and their heart will be beating fast and they need to stop after that.  I was at that point in the beginning…and know how tough it can be just to walk.  I had pain with each step and usually had my hips pop out of joint while walking on the treadmill that first month.  Keep working at it and as you start to get comfy cozy…cause you will…you will have to push yourself a little bit harder so you stay out of that zone if you are wanting to continue results of burning that stored fat.

Let’s look at a different perspective of effort we should have while working out.  Do you watch The Biggest Loser or Extreme Weightloss Makeover?  None of those people who have had success are shown doing a workout while on their phone and if they did…their trainer would yell at them because that isn’t moving past that comfort zone.  (those are not small changes going on in those situations…I know…but the contestants aren’t on the phone either)

Can results happen in the comfy cozy zone?  Yes…but it will take you a longer time to get the same results.  Your body isn’t getting to the point of burning fat as quickly and many times while we stay comfy cozy…we never even get to that point of burning stored fat and we think our workout is done because we were just moving.  

Homework:  Two things this week that are on your to-do list (time it will take is 30 minutes or less spread out over 2 days):

  1. Go do some number crunching.  One of our posts that is getting a lot of attention lately talks about measurements.  This week you need to find one day where you spend a little time looking at your numbers and focus specifically on the body fat calculator.  We have a post that talks about a few ways to crunch numbers and also has a link to a body fat calculator that you can find here:  What Measurements Should I Do?
  2. Find two days where you take a few minutes and do the following activities.  The point isn’t really about the activity…but about your comfy cozy zone during those activities.  *if there is something on here you can’t do because of an injury…send us a message and we will give you a different activity to try.

Day 1…

Activity 1:  Jumping Jacks – do as many as you can until you are out of your comfy cozy zone.  Write that number down.

Activity 2:  Situps or Crunches  – do as many as you can until your stomach lets you know that you are at your limit.  Write that number down.

Activity 3:  Wall Sit – put your back against the wall and slowly slide down as low as you can go.  Hold that position with our hands off of your legs…and go until your legs are shaking…and then go 5 more seconds.  Write that number down.

Activity 4: Plank – you have already been doing these…and should still be working on these…so you know the basics.  Now it is time to see how far you can go…and then go 5 more seconds.  😉  Write that number down.

On day 1 we are seeing what our base number is.  Wait at least 1 day, if not a few more, before you do day 2.

Day 2…your goal is to do the same activities in the same order as day 1 and try to beat your number.  This is you vs. you!  Make it a challenge against yourself.  Remind yourself of all those phrases and quotes in week 1

E-mail to  by January 22nd the following:

  • Your body fat percentage (these won’t be shared by anyone!)
  • How the activities went for you on Day 1 and Day 2.  Were you able to beat your numbers at all?  What was your favorite activity (if any).  What was the hardest?

Other Resources:  Lots of great resources out there about Interval Training, measuring your intensity level…and more.  Here are a few you might enjoy:

Keep working on getting that water in each day, watching those amounts of sugar and lifting that body up off the floor with planks at least 3 times a week!  You keep working on these small changes and stay focused on these little things…you will see results.

Thanks for being part of The Journey!  I’m excited to be part of this challenge with you!


Jessica is a mom of three kids, wife to one and has an energetic puppy.  Jessica has had her own journey of getting healthy using small changes…and you can read about her own journey here.


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