Endurance and Lifestyle Coaching for Women Uncategorized Fabulous in February Challenge 2023

Fabulous in February Challenge 2023


The Healthy Heart Challenge

Did you do a dry January? Veganuary?  Couldn’t be bothered to do either but might be interested in starting something now?

We are going to do a Fabulous in February Challenge, because taking care of your health and wellbeing will not only help you to feel better in yourself, but you will perform better at work, in your relationships, and also manage that ticker which is, in case you didn’t know… the Number One Killer of Women.  Yes, that’s right.

Cardiovascular disease is so overlooked. Most women who are training are generally focused on weight loss and leaning up.  When was the last time you had your heart checked? Sometimes it’s hard for women to relate to heart disease unless they are already suffering from it. It’s a silent, and initially painless killer, doing its dirty work in secret and over time. It can start early in life , even before the age of twenty. In its earliest stages, you can’t see it or feel it – it has no symptoms.  Young women are partying, smoking, immortal, but little do they realise what foundation they are laying for their future.

When I was in my 20s and 30s, I partied hard.  I didn’t smoke, but I partied. I was always relatively fit, except for a 3 year period in my late 20s where thought I was invincible, stayed out all night, went to bed at dawn (and sometimes straight to the office!) Fortunately, I turned that life around and my ticker is still good. I changed my lifestyle aged 31 and never looked back.

Doctors now know that heart disease is so deadly for women that their chances of dying from it are one in two[i].  That means basically that either you or your bestie are likely to die of a heart attack, stroke, or heart related problem.

I could go on…  but let’s be PROACTIVE in preventing heart disease. Improving the health of your heart, will improve the health of your ENTIRE BODY.


So take stock of your life and where you are, as there are Five Stages of Change[ii].

Stage 1:


Are you really committed to change? Are you committed to this programme at this time?

Stage 2:

Contemplation (considering make a change).

Envision the stages of change as a staircase. A staircase can travel both ways.. this could happen! You might relapse – but that’s ok we can work on this and keep moving up the staircase.  We are all in this together.

Stage 3:


Preparation is key and planning is an important part. What can I give you to help you to prepare? What can you read and research on to help yourself (take responsibility for your own health). Please ask for recommendations and also check out my website “Order Books

Stage 4:


You will get results through taking action. Get specific with your daily routine, focus on the 5 elements (below) and trying to eat healthily every day.

Stage 5:


Ultimately, this phase is the goal.  The design of my Race To Weight programme will teach you how to get to this stage and become a proficient healthy eater. (It’s 20 weeks long, self-coached, and available separately).

You are not likely to go through all of these stages in February. However, you can absolutely move from Stage 1 to 3 just by a day of POSITIVE SELF-TALK and having a good word with yourself.

You could be in different stages of readiness for the different stages of the Healthy Heart Challenge so do small steps which are more manageable for YOU, not your Coach, partner, kids, peers, or training buddies. Going forwards is the name of the game.

So how do we start?

Exercise Prescription

I am going to “prescribe” an array of exercises for you to complete, on a weekly basis. There will be a minimum of movement of 3 times a week, with a maximum of 6 days a week, depending on your current fitness level.  Aerobic exercise is the foundation of any heart disease prevention programme.  Doctors are often quick to treat women’s heart disease by the prescription of Menopause Hormone Therapy. MHT is not the cure, it’s a prevention, provided you already meet the criteria of taking it (this is a long subject, and will be discussed in a forum coming soon).

Regular aerobic exercise benefits your heart in many ways. With consistency and regular commitment to your exercise programme, the amount of adrenaline circulating in your body will reduce, relaxing the blood vessels resulting in a slower pulse rate and lower bloody pressure.

It also helps to raise your (good) cholesterol HDL and lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.

Just 3 hours of walking each week (30 minutes a day) can reduce a woman’s risk of heart attack by 35%.  Imagine how much better you could do for your body if you increased your intensity a bit?

Heart-Boosting Benefits of ExerciseBenefits of Resistance Training
Improves insulin sensitivityIncreased muscle tone and definition
Improves HDLIncreased muscle size
Improves enduranceIncreased strength
Improves resting systolic blood pressure and metabolic rateDecreased percentage of body fat
Reduces percentage of body fatImproved endurance during aerobic activity

Let’s Get Physical!!  (RIP Olivia.x)


Common Barriers as to why Women won’t Exercise

The Word Exercise

Exercise doesn’t just mean doing long hours on the bike or 10km runs…  if you are not already training and the thought of starting “exercise” is a horrific word, think of it this way.  Walking the dog for 30 minutes, mowing the lawn or doing some proper gardening, vacuuming, carrying groceries or taking a brisk walk during your lunch hour, is all a very good start.  Get yourself a schedule going and I can provide you a template if you need it.

I Am Too Busy

Do this calculation.

How many hours are in a week? 168

How many hours a week do I sleep? Approximately, 50. Evening TV: 15. Work: 42 (roughly and depends)

Table it… and my “no time” looks a bit embarrassing.  Add in your school drop offs, travelling to meetings etc. you can still squeeze in at least ONE HOUR per day of exercise.

Daily2473635 !!!!

This is one of the poorest excuses.  You can (and must) make time. After dinner, leave the house and walk for 20/30 minutes.  Get up 15 minutes earlier and do 20 sit-ups, 10 press- ups, and 20 squats every morning. Increase these every week. On weekends, go swim, walk, play tennis with a friend, run the dog.  Physical activity does not have to be Ironman training, you just need to move and do primal movements, regularly.

I Can’t Do Aerobics

You don’t have to be Jane Fonda to do aerobics, not even close. Even with ankle injuries, hip injuries, there’s always a part of your body that you can move to raise your heart rate. If you are in a wheelchair recovering from a broken leg, get a set of dumb bells and raise those arms.  If you’re recovering from a shoulder injury, get some resistance bands and tie them to a chair and do leg raises. There so many options, and many more excuses.

Or simply pick up your walking pace. Grab others from the neighbourhood and start a movement… you’ll soon be getting faster….

I Will Join Classes When I’ve Lost Some Weight

“I will come cycling when I have lost some weight”.  “I will lose some weight before I go to any gym”.  You can’t get into shape before you get into shape, if that makes sense. The weight you will lose by fasting and “dieting” will usually creep on again and often more so.  Comprehensive studies[iii] who that you will lose more weight and keep it off if you combine and exercise and proper nutrition.

In The Complete Book of Running for Women written by Claire Kowalchik, she says I have heard the same words from so many women.  “I need to lose weight before I come to training”. Triathlons/endurance sports used to be the domain of elite athletes, but not anymore. More than 1 million people stepped up to a triathlon starting line in 2019 (?) and over 38 percent of them women, according to USA Triathlon.

Do not be fooled by the female physiques that you will see on the covers of sports magazines or splashed across social media.  There is no one size for a triathlete, and many of those figures are filtered and adjusted.

Please spare your body image from self-destruction. It’s important to realise just how influential and potentially damaging these idealized images can be.

How To

Some women have difficulty in getting started because they don’t know how to.  Instructions are a common barrier to starting any exercise programme. I have a Strength Training Manual to help you get started, available for only USD 25 and it contains loads of exercises, using body weight, bands, exercises balls and kettlebells to help you get started, with instructions.

Day One

Sign up and Clean Up

  1. Email your intent to participate to slh@saraharriscoaching.com.  It is free to join this programme!
  2. Clean all of your junk out of the fridge. All of it. Bottled sauces, (except Dijon mustard if it’s sugar free), all old jars of sugary jam, marmalade, sauces. Get rid of it all. Expired food…
  3. Clean the fridge
  4. Make yourself a list of food shopping for the next 3-4 days. Buy said food and pack it in the fridge in order of what will go off first.
  5. Clean eating means make everything yourself, as much as possible. Don’t buy prebaked goods that are not wholegrain and contain sugar.  Some specific foods that fall under this rule include: pancakes, waffles, bread, tortillas, biscuits, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, pizza crust, alternative flour pasta, cereal unless oats or cereal without added sugar.
  6. No commercially prepared chips (potato, tortilla, plantain, etc.) or French fries either. However, this list is not limited strictly to these items—there may be other foods that you find are not psychologically healthy for your clean eating lifestyle.
  7. Use your best judgment with food,, but leave those out that you suspect are not helping you change your habits or break those cravings. Try to believe that ALL FOODS WILL FIT into your life and work those in sensibly.  Remember, the calories/energy of a slice of cheesecake and the calories of a big plate of steak and vegetables could be the same, but the nutritional value will be very different.
  8. EAT QUALITY FOOD. Higher-calorie foods such as nuts, avocado, olive oil, etc. are exactly what you need to be healthy and lean, especially if you are training. Plus, research shows that the mental effort of counting calories can cause stress, fatigue and burnout and often leads to bingeing.  (I yearn for cake when I do this)
  9. Here’s what Dr Stacy Sims recommends[iv] when it comes to nutrition:
    1. Eat low on the food chain (aka eat food that you recognize as food from the good earth!)
    2. Time your intake – don’t go into a workout totally fasted (especially in the morning), and make sure to refuel with protein in the 30-45 minutes after exercise.
    3. Maintain a base – Aim for about 3-5g/kg of good-quality carb intake each day (grains, fruits, veggies, low sugar bread); with around 1.8-2.0 g/kg of protein; increasing these with workout demands
    4. Focus on body composition, not weight on the scale
  10. DRINK WATER – sip water all day, have a bottle on your desk, and make sure you get at least 250ml per hour during the day. If you are training hard, an electrolyte at night wouldn’t go amiss and can help you to sleep.

Please also take your measurements on Day 1 and weigh yourself as soon as you get out of bed:

Measure Your Body

  1. Waist – Find your natural waist or the narrowest part of the torso.
  2. Hips – This is the widest part of your glutes. Try looking in a mirror while standing sideways. Make sure the tape is parallel to the floor.
  3. Chest – Stand with feet together and the torso straight and find the widest part around your bust.
  4. Abs – Stand with feet together and torso straight but relaxed and find the widest part of your torso, often around your bellybutton.
  5. Arms – Stand up straight with the arm relaxed and find the midpoint between the shoulder bone and the elbow of one arm.
  6. Thighs – The midpoint between the lower part of the glutes and the back of the knee, or the widest part of the thigh.
  7. Calves – Halfway between the knee and the ankle.

Take photos of yourself, front, back and side. You do not have to publish these or any of your details, but do keep a record.


Below is what you have to do, during the month of February (or the next 28 days, depending on your starting day).  If you are returning to exercise after a hiatus, I recommend you start with 3 times a week and work yourself towards exercising 5x a week by the end of the challenge.

If you have just completed the January challenge with my coaching group, then please do 5x a week minimum.

If you are already exercising regular, 5-6 times a week, you are on a beautiful track to a healthy heart and please continue.  If you are signing up to this programme I am guessing it’s because you like the accountability and perhaps need some more ideas or improve your nutrition.  Either way, you are welcome.

For the exercise sheet, click here please.

How Do I Hold Myself Accountable to Others?

Fill your table daily, and submit to the Facebook group every Monday morning, a completed table with all the ticks in the box and one photo of yourself doing one of the activities you mentioned.  You don’t have to show your entire self, it could be your bike, your trainers, your workout equipment or a workout with your friends.  Here’s an example:

You will see how your hours add up each day, and how much you progress each week.

Tag #saraharriscoaching #heed #healthyeatingeveryday #iampossible and post on social media.

Best Foot Forward to a Healthy Heart.. good luck!

[i] Women Are Not Small Men: Life-Saving Strategies for Preventing and Healing Heart Disease in Women Hardcover – 1 Feb. 2002

[ii] The transtheoretical model of health behaviour change J O Prochaska 1, W F Velicer

[iii] Exercise and weight control M L Stefanick

[iv] https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=756078772544401&set=a.207296417422642