Blue Zone Challenge – Week 1

October 18 – October 24
Week 1

Set Yourself Up for Success

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Welcome to the first day of your happier, healthier, longer life.

Hands cleaning garden vegetables after harvesting

If you haven’t done so yet, download the Blue Zones Challenge Workbook and keep it handy: There’s a printable version and also an interactive PDF in which you can track progress right in the file.

And if you haven’t had a chance yet, take some time to learn more about the evidence-based, science-backed approach that is the foundation of the proven Blue Zones roadmap for living a longer and happier life. There’s great information in this ground-breaking TED Talk from Dan Buettner, Blue Zones founder, National Geographic Fellow, and best-selling author of the Blue Zones books.

Week 1 is all about setting yourself up for success for the rest of the Challenge. Take your time, as these simple steps will make the rest of the month easier.

As you’ll see in the workbook, you’ll start by recording a few physical details—weight, BMI, blood pressure, and the like. You don’t have to share it with anyone if you don’t want to. We also ask that you take this brief survey to establish how you’re feeling at the start. We’ll then check back at the end of the Challenge to see what’s changed.

Next, you’ll take a few baseline tests and cover off on some basic logistics.

Here’s your four-step Week 1 plan:

Step
1

Test Yourself

  • The Blue Zones True Vitality Test
    Created in collaboration with the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, it calculates your healthy life expectancy. The test, found here, takes 3-4 minutes.
    (Note: You will need to create a unique account to access both the True Vitality and True Happiness tests. It will be separate from your Blue Zones Challenge login.) 
  • The Blue Zones True Happiness Test
    Based on the latest well-being research, this test assesses your happiness and guides you toward ways to maximize it. The test, found here, takes roughly 5 minutes.
    (Note: You will need to create a unique account to access both the True Vitality and True Happiness tests. It will be separate from your Blue Zones Challenge login.) 
  • The Purpose Checkup
    In the world’s blue zones regions, a sense of purpose has always played a major role in well-being. It’s believed to act as a buffer against stress and help reduce overall inflammation, lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and stroke. This is among the most important and thoughtful steps in Week 1—your workbook will walk you through it.
Step
2

Find a Blue Zones buddy or create a moai

Behavior is contagious, so we ask you to take the Blue Zones Challenge with a coworker or group of coworkers who enjoy similar healthy habits as you do. It’s an essential social connection that’s reflected in what the Okinawans call a moai—which roughly translates to “a group meeting for a common purpose.” A wide body of research demonstrates that strong social connections reduce stress and increase happiness and longevity. And that includes having friends at work, which makes you happier and more productive, according to researchers.

Step
3

Set up your home for better health by design

Trying to change your behavior without changing your environment isn’t a way to create success. The workbook will show you how to optimize your kitchen for healthy eating, and the rest of your home for more movement, less stress, and better sleep.As a starting point, be sure to print out these two helpful charts (they’re also included in your workbook) and post them in your kitchen:

Step
4

Wear blue as a reminder of hara hachi bu

Commit to wearing something blue every day—perhaps a bracelet, ring, or watch—as a reminder of hara hachi bu. This is an Okinawan blessing before meals that also serves as a regular reminder to try to stop eating when you feel about 80 percent full. To help make this a regular practice, try some simple changes like eating more slowly, focus on the food (and turn off the TV!), and even just try smaller plates and glasses. It’s one of the reasons that Okinawans eat at least 80 percent (there’s that number again) fewer calories than Americans and have the highest life expectancy in the world after reaching age 65.

All done? Well done! Now you’re ready for the fun to truly begin in Week 2 and beyond.

Bonus! If you have some extra time in Week 1 before the daily scoring begins in Week 2, try these optional tasks:

  • Buy an electric pressure cooker (either generic or name brand like Instant Pot).
  • Buy microwave-safe food storage containers (like Pyrex) or recycle glass pasta sauce jars, pickle jars, and other glass bottles for leftovers and meal prep.
  • Do a mapping exercise to identify walking and biking routes in your neighborhood: Draw a map of your neighborhood with the streets, parks, cafes, homes of people you know, landmark buildings, places to go, and anything else important that you might walk or bike to. You can use Google Maps to help you identify places you might not have explored in your town or city.

Scott and Dan Talk Challenge

Adventist Health CEO Scott Reiner and Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner connected recently to talk all things Blue Zones Challenge.

Follow the Challenge on Facebook!

Join the Blue Zones Facebook group to share with other participants.

Join Now!

Not on Facebook? Share your Challenge updates here with the Blue Zones community.

Questions? Problems? Email us at [email protected]
Looking for a Challenge resource? Find it quickly on this 1-page resource guide
Note: If you are not receiving the Challenge emails, please check your spam filter.

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