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6 weeks to strong: Join Joy Bauer's wellness challenge

With this easy-to-follow plan, Joy Bauer hopes to help you look incredible and feel extraordinary.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Joy Bauer

Welcome to Joy’s L.I.F.E. Challenge: Six Weeks to Strong. We’re here to help you accomplish your personal wellness goals, enabling you to Look Incredible and Feel Extraordinary (L.I.F.E.). For the next six weeks, be sure to follow the six rules below, plus use the delicious and satisfying meal plan full of nutrient-packed recipes.

Each meal contains the right balance of lean proteins, high-quality carbs and healthy fats to keep you feeling full, energized ... And strong! If losing weight is a personal goal and you’re keeping track of calories, the meal plan is portioned to provide roughly 1,400-1,600 calories per day (this is an appropriate range for weight loss).

Note: If you are a male or very active female, you can increase your portions at meals and snacks. If weight loss is not your goal, certainly feel free to be more liberal with portion sizes whenever you’d like. Like any other plan, always check with your doctor before starting something new.

Six rules, six days a week

1. Catch some Zzz's: Sleep for seven to eight hours.

2. Hydrate: Drink half your weight in ounces of water.

3. Get moving: Walk 20 minutes a day, work your way up to 30 minutes.

4. Follow the “LIFE" Meal Plan: Choose one breakfast, one lunch, one dinner and one to two snacks from the plan below. Enjoy non-starchy vegetables in unlimited amounts.

5. De-stress: Devote six minutes to meditate, stretch, reflect and feel gratitude. Plan to pause for a manageable six minutes each day (we can all do that!) to practice controlled breathing, stretch out your body and remind yourself about things you are feeling grateful for. This practice will heighten your overall well-being

6. Do good: Do at least one act of kindness.

TODAY

LIFE Meal Plan

Feel free to mix and match and repeat meals as often as you'd like. Enjoy coffee and tea with low-fat milk and skip sugar.

Noteworthy extras: You can have up to five cocktails a week. Choose from 5-ounce wine, shot of liquor with club soda or a 12-ounce light beer.

Two-bite rule: Each day, enjoy two bites of anything off the plan.

Day seven break: Feel free to build in flexibility, but for the best results don't stray too far off of the plan.

Breakfast options:

Jumbo oatmeal pancake

Greek yogurt parfait

Coffee smoothie

Egg-vegetable scramble: One whole egg + three egg whites scrambled with any veggie combination (chopped tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, spinach, peppers, green beans, etc.) with one slice of whole-grain toast, or one orange or half of a grapefruit.

Apple with nut butter (2 tablespoons)

Avocado and egg toast: One slice of whole-grain toast topped with 1/4 smashed avocado and one poached, hard-boiled or scrambled egg and a sprinkling of preferred herbs and ground black pepper. Enjoy with half of a grapefruit or one orange on the side.

Lunch and dinner options:

LIFE Salad: Mixed leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables topped with 5 ounces of protein (chicken, turkey, salmon, shrimp or tofu) and 1/2 cup beans. Dress with 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil and unlimited vinegar or fresh lemon juice (alternatively, you can use 2 tablespoons of light vinaigrette).

Open-faced turkey and Swiss sandwich and bell pepper sticks: One slice of whole-grain bread layered with 4 ounces of turkey, one slice of Swiss cheese, 1 tablespoon mustard or hummus and preferred vegetables (lettuce, tomatoes, onions, roasted peppers, etc.). Enjoy with bell pepper sticks on the side. *If preferred, nix the cheese and enjoy your sandwich on two slices of bread.

Grilled chicken Parmesan (1 serving) + roasted broccoli

Lemon-herb roasted salmon (1 serving) and baked sweet potato + steamed green beans

One skillet lime-cilantro shrimp (1 serving) + grilled asparagus + 1/2 cup cooked quinoa

Burger and veggies: Lean burger (turkey, salmon, sirloin, bison, or veggie) on 1/2 bun with lettuce, tomato, onion and squirt of ketchup + steamed or roasted vegetables or a salad dressed with 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil and unlimited vinegar or fresh lemon juice (alternatively, you can use 2 tablespoons of light vinaigrette).

Soup and salad: 2 cups of lentil, black bean or hearty-vegetable soup and salad layered with non-starchy veggies and dressed with 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil and unlimited vinegar or fresh lemon juice (alternatively, you can use 2 tablespoons of light vinaigrette).

Snack options:

Choose one to two per day:

  • String cheese + orange
  • 1 cup steamed edamame (in pod)
  • 1/4 cup (1 handful) nuts or seeds
  • 1/4 cup hummus + veggies
  • 4 cups light popcorn
  • Turkey-bell pepper roll-ups: 3 ounces turkey rolled with bell pepper sticks dipped in mustard or hot sauce

Non-starchy vegetables:

TODAY

For more delicious recipes, follow Joy on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.