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Sometime last week, my brother-in-law sent an e-mail around to our extended family (my parents, my siblings and their families) with some articles about health.  In the course of some e-mail conversation, the suggestion came up that we as a family do some type of “Biggest Loser” health challenge.

We all loved the idea and spent some time together on the 4th of July talking about it.  We came up with a basic plan and the competition began yesterday.

The challenge:

“To Increase health, fitness, stamina and happiness in each family member.” 

We’ve divided the 6 families into 2 teams, 3 families on each team, trying to make both teams equal with abilities.  (We decided to keep whole families together because we want to promote family unity, not pit husbands and wives and siblings against each other.)  Each family tallies their points and reports to a team captain their family’s daily total.

The competing teams keep their points secret from each other…so Team 1 doesn’t know the total points of Team 2, and vice versa.  This will be revealed in September.

The time frame:

Ongoing—but the first “checkpoint” will be in September at a Labor Day gathering.

The plan:

We’ve decided on a list of “tasks” we can do each day to eat better, exercise more, and improve our general health and fitness.  Each task is worth a certain amount of points.  I created a simple chart (example here) that each family member can fill out each day.  We tailored it to the needs of the youngest and oldest and to our personal values (including “outside time” for older people that don’t get out much, and “spiritual tasks” for those who are already pretty fit and want more of a spiritual challenge). 

chart image

Even those of us who don’t need to lose any weight can work harder on healthy eating, drinking more water, and getting to bed earlier. 

The Basic Tasks:

* Exercise 30 minutes (worth 5 points)
* Drink water (1 point per 8 ounces)
* Eat fruit/vegetables (1 point per serving or 5 points for 3 servings)
* Use portion control during meals (1 point per meal or 5 points for a whole day of good portion control each meal and healthy snacks)
* For adults, be in bed with lights off at 10pm (5 points).  Kids in bed by 8pm (5 points)
* 1 whole day with no sugar or junk food (5 points)

The Rewards:

Since money is tight for everyone, we decided that the losing team will give the winning team services: knitted items, photo shoots, baked goods, housecleaning, babysitting, and so on.

We haven’t decided yet what exactly will happen at the September checkpoint…we’re still figuring this out as we go. 

The Results:

Of course we don’t know yet what the results will be, but we hope they will be great: increased family unity and love; better health and fitness.  I’ll report on our ongoing progress.  One thing’s for sure—we are already seeing a lot of motivation to “beat the other team” and work hard to get healthy (it’s a lot easier to make a salad, have some fruit as a snack, or make yourself exercise even if you really don’t want to when you know your whole team is counting on you).  And it’s already a lot of fun!

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I just read on Twitter tonight that there’s a *yearly contest for the worst first sentence in a fake novel.  W-O-W, there are some howlers!  I gasped and choked and snorted until, breathless with laughter, I couldn’t stand it anymore and had to read one to my husband—it was the Spiderman entry that put me over the edge.  Here are my favorites:

 

Detective Pierson mentally reviewed the group of suspects milling around the recent crime scene-two young siblings eating gingerbread, a young girl in a red hoodie, a beautiful girl with narcolepsy, and seven little people with the profession of miners-then gave his statement of "It’s a grim tale" to the press.

Shannon Gray
Wichita, KS

 

No man is an island, so they say, although the small crustaceans and the bird which sat impassively on Dirk Manhope’s chest as he floated lazily in the pool would probably disagree.

Glen Robins
Brighton, East Sussex, U.K.

 

Towards the dragon’s lair the fellowship marched — a noble human prince, a fair elf, a surly dwarf, and a disheveled copyright attorney who was frantically trying to find a way to differentiate this story from "Lord of the Rings."

Andrew Manoske
Foster City, CA

 

On a fine summer morning during the days of the Puritans, the prison door in the small New England town of B—-n opened to release a convicted adulteress, the Scarlet Letter A embroidered on her dress, along with the Scarlet Letters B through J, a veritable McGuffey’s Reader of Scarlet Letters, one for each little tyke waiting for her at the gate.

Joseph Aspler
Kirkland, QC, Canada

 

Mortimer froze in his tracks; the rhythmic clicking on the stones of the path (well . . . not really a clicking sound so much as a kind of clinking sound, more like the noise made by shaking a charm bracelet filled with Disney characters to a salsa beat) made him suddenly realize he had forgotten to buckle one of his galoshes.

Rick Cheeseman
Waconia, MN

 

He slowly ran his fingers through her long black hair, which wasn’t really black because she used Preference by L’Oreal to color it (because "she was worth it"); her carrot-colored roots were starting to show, and it reminded him of the time he’d covered his car’s check engine light with black electrical tape, but a faint orange glow still shone around the edges.

Lisa Mileusnich
Willoughby, OH

 

Their relationship hit a bump in the road, not the low, graceful kind of bump, reminiscent of a child’s choo choo train-themed roller coaster, rather the kind of tall, narrow speed-bump that, if a school bus ran over it, would cause even a fat kid to fly up and bang his head on the ceiling.

Michael Reade
Durham, NC

 

It was a dark and stormy night, well, not pitch dark so much a plumby, you know, that time of night where it turns into that kind of eggplant color, which I hate– eggplant not the time of night–and it wasn’t stormy so much as drizzly, like a cold that’s not so bad but really annoying, where you sound a little plugged up and all your mucus just sort of hovers at the edge of your nostrils or drips down the back of your throat, it was like that.

Maisey Yates
Jacksonville, OR

 

As she slowly drove up the long, winding driveway, Lady Alicia peeked out the window of her shiny blue Mercedes and spied Rodrigo the new gardener standing on a grassy mound with his long black hair flowing in the wind, his brown eyes piercing into her very soul, and his white shirt open to the waist, revealing his beautifully rippling muscular chest, and she thought to herself, "I must tell that lazy idiot to trim the hedges by the gate."

Kathryn Minicozzi
Bronx, NY

 

George scratched his head in abject puzzlement as he tried to figure out where he’d parked the rocket this time in the 100-acre parking lot of Nallmart 75B, but then he remembered that a ship-boy had taken his DNA key-but which one, the kelly toned humanoid or the atmosphere-of-Rylak-hued android; scanning the horizon, he at last turned to Babs and asked "how green was my valet"?

Leigh A. Smith
New Douglas, IL

 

Using her flint knife to gut the two amphibians, Kreega the Neanderthal woman created the first pair of open-toad sandals.

Greg Homer
Placerville, CA

 

There were earthquakes in this land, terrible tsunamis that swirled flooding torrents of water throughout, and constant near-blizzard conditions, and not for the first time, Horatio Jones wished he did not live inside a snow globe.

Rich Buley-Neumar
Amityville, NY

 

The skydiver jumped out of the plane and felt his skin being pulled back like that of a dog sticking its head out of a car going 110 on the highway, owned by a driver rushing to be on time for work or else he would get fired by his boss with the curly mustache who owned a large speedboat.

John Faherty
Queensbury, NY

 

Grimly aware of the rapidly approaching disaster, Spiderman leaped from rooftop to flagpole, from flagpole to fire escape, hurling himself recklessly from building to building, darting glances through every window in his desperate search for one vital room, while silently cursing the fact that the last thing he had done before donning a one-piece skintight costume, was to eat a large bowl of hot chili.

David J Button
South Australia, Australia

 

How best to pluck the exquisite Toothpick of Ramses from between a pair of acrimonious vipers before the demonic Guards of Nicobar returned should have held Indy’s full attention, but in the back of his mind he still wondered why all the others who had agreed to take part in his wife’s holiday scavenger hunt had been assigned to find stuff like a Phillips screwdriver or blue masking tape.

Joe Wyatt
Amarillo, Texas

 

A dark and stormy night it was; in torrents fell the rain –except at occasional intervals, when, by a violent gust of wind was it checked, as up the streets it swept, (for in London it is that lies our scene), along the housetops rattling, and the scanty flame of the lamps fiercely agitating, that against the darkness, struggled.

(The story of Paul Clifford, is Yoda, to a padawan telling)

Jay Clifton
Berkeley, CA

 

*Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

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