Tag Archives: Challenge

Challenge (One small act of kindness for 3 days)

About 7 years ago I took a trip to Spain with my little sister and my Aunt. The three of us were shopping in a tiny hole-in-the-wall jewelry shop when my Aunt stopped and randomly complimented a woman on her outfit. This woman was visiting Spain from Germany and her and my Aunt exchanged numbers and E-mails. A few years later my Aunty told me she had a friend coming to stay with her in Portland (where she lived at the time). It ended up being the same woman that she met in that shop, who she had kept in touch with all that time. Moral of the story is that one small act of kindness could lead you to an endless amount of possibilities.

I took this challenge because I am the type of person who really keeps to myself a lot, yet I know how good it makes me feel when somebody I know or a stranger randomly compliments me. I thought it would be a good way to sort of break out of my own shell and make somebody feel good at the same time. It ended up being a rewarding experience and I’ve actually made it my goal to continue this. I don’t exactly have a set amount of compliments I want to give out each week, but naturally whenever I admire something about someone I will make it my goal to speak up and let them know.

Day 1

When I remembered about this challenge the first day, I wanted to make sure that I got it out of the way while I was at school on Monday, because I knew I wouldn’t be going back outside of my house for the rest of the day after I got home from school. Because of this, it was on my mind constantly. I didn’t want to compliment somebody just for the sake of the challenge either, I wanted it to be genuine at the same time. I ended up going to get coffee after class, a normal routine of mine, and working at the coffee shop was a girl and her make-up was SO pretty. Almost as if I just blurted it out, I told her I loved her make-up and asked her what kind of highlighter she wears. Almost any girl out there will agree with me when I say that when girls compliment each other’s make-up, it’s an instantaneous friendship! The girl smiled and we got into a short conversation about products and how expensive some make-up can be. I could tell she appreciated the compliment when I initially said it, and because it wasn’t a forced compliment, I didn’t even think about it before going into it.

Day 2

The second day I almost forgot about the challenge until I was at work for the night. My co-worker and I got into a conversation about what we want to do after school and the kind of places we would want to live in. She mentioned wanting to live in a big city one day, since she grew up in a small town, but she didn’t think that she ever would. In the end I ended up telling her that I admired her perseverance in school and how hardworking she has to be to continue on and get her master’s degree (something she is working on now). If she continued to strive and work hard she could live anywhere she wanted. I could tell that it really raised her spirits and boosted her confidence knowing that somebody with an outside perspective genuinely thought that of her. This made me feel pretty good inside knowing I sparked some sort of flame in her.

Day 3

The third day I was at work (I work in a restaurant) when when a lady walked up with her two daughters who were roughly around 2 and 5 years old. She mentioned that her husband was in a conference and she and her daughters wanted to grab lunch in the meantime. I told the woman how adorable her daughters were and how cute of a family they looked like. She said thank you and it seemed like she appreciated the compliment. I’m sure as a mother of two young children times can be tough but a small compliment like that can flip somebody’s day around.

Food Label (challenge)

So for this challenge, I asked my friend about food labels and what she would like to see on packaged food and beverage products. My friend said that she would like to know a lot of stuff that could possibly harm her health and more.When I asked her about what she would like to know about food packaging information, she said that she would like to know more about the preservatives, fats, and in general the (real) calories.

My friend and I talked about that we want to know if the product we buy is from free range animals or factories. It is good to know all the information that we can. I have seen some products with the “free range eggs” label sometimes. It would be more informative if the sellers were more honest about the products they sell because some customers do not want to buy factories products because some factories make the animals suffer; it is unethical the way they can treat the animals.

Another thing my friend talked about was that she wants to know if the chemicals or something in the ingredients can harm her health. She said they should put how safe the product is so that she can make her own choice to buy it or not to buy it. She emphasized that she wants to know what the preservatives can do to her like the result of eating it. I know some preservatives aren’t good.  For instance, butylated hydroxyanisole. According to David Zinczenko, butylated hydroxyanisole has shown to be carcinogen. Carcinogen is something can cause cancer and it is important to know this information on the food label.




Morning Challenge

Wednesday: I have a routine of washing my face with cold water every morning to get rid of any oil or germs that might be on my sheets and to help wake myself up in the morning. Brushing my teeth and hair is also part of this morning routine I have. I usually don’t drink water until half an hour or an hour after getting out of bed, so this felt a little weird on my stomach on this day.

Thursday: The night before, I set a glass of water on my night stand so that I remembered to drink water right when I woke up. I continued with my routine of washing my face, and brushing my teeth and hair after waking up. I did spoil myself with coffee because my roommate brewed some that morning.

Friday: I had a glass of water on my night stand again and it’s getting a little easier to drink it in the morning. I don’t have class on Friday’s, so after doing the usual morning routine I went to the gym and kept myself hydrated with lots of water.

Saturday: Weekends are when I sleep in, so I didn’t get to drink my water or do anything until before noon. I still stayed away from coffee or sugary drinks and stuck with my water while I went to the gym that day.

Sunday: I didn’t sleep in as much on this day because I had assignments and online quizzes to do, but drinking water is easier in the mornings. I did get a coffee on this day to keep myself a little more awake while doing school work.

Challange: “Green” Clean

My challenge is to clean one or more rooms in your house. Cleaning has shown to improve both mental and physical health. But instead of using potentially harmful chemicals, I want you to use healthier alternatives (I’ll provide a recipe below)! Write about your experience using natural cleaners. Some questions to think about: Do you think we should be concerned with the ingredients in household cleaning solutions? Which cleaners (natural vs. chemical) do you feel safer using? What chemicals are in your products?

Cleaning is good for you!

One study (Keith, 2013) found that there was a correlation between clean houses and healthy people [though, I do feel the need to point out that that healthy people, will have an easier time maintaining their home than a sick individual.] Decluttering your space can have a positive impact on your ability to focus and increases productivity. Cleaning has been shown to decrease stress levels and promotes physical activity. Frequent cleaning will also help allergy issues; I need to change my sheets often due to my cats. This is an interesting article regarding the psychology of cleanliness.

Cleaning products are a consumer health concern, and many contain detrimental toxic chemicals.  I will provide a list below of 5 common cleaning ingredients and their health impacts. You might also want to check out this cleaner “hall of shame” too.

So, what can you use to clean that is not a determinate to your health or the environment?

Alternatives to Store-bought Chemical Cleaners

White vinegar is one of my favorite cleaning products. It has a multitude of uses and gets rid of most household germs, including the flu virus. To create the disinfectant, you mix a solution of 50-50 water-vinegar in an empty spray bottle. You can also add lemon or tea tree oil for extra cleaning power and scent (just make sure the oils are pure and don’t have added chemicals). You should use dish soap to clean areas contaminated with raw meat, as it does a better job against salmonella than white vinegar.

If you are interested, I encourage you to look up natural DIY cleaning products. I like DIY over store-bought “natural” or “green”, as their labels often misleading. Making the solutions at home is also cheaper. This article is a good place to start!

5 Common Chemicals in Cleaning Products


Found in: Air fresheners, dish soap, toilet paper, shampoo, hair spray, “fragrance” labeled items. Companies do not have to disclose the presence of phthalates due to proprietary laws. If it is labeled “fragranced” there is a good chance they will be in the product.

Health Concerns: The long-term effects of phthalates are currently unknown. Phthalates can cause endocannabinoid system (Albert, Guy & Marzo, 2014). One study found phthalates may be endocrine disruptors (Albert & Jegou, 2013. High phthalate metabolites have been correlated with obesity and insulin resistance (Desvergne & Casals-Casas, 2009). High amounts of phthalates have been shown to damage the liver and testes of rodents in lab studies (CDC, 2007).

Perchloroethylene (PERC)

Found in: dry cleaning solutions, stain remover, carpet cleaner

Health risk: Can affect the neurological and raspatory system. NTP, EPA and IARC have found it is likely to be carcinogenic to humans (CDC, 2011).


Found in: liquid dishwashing detergent, antibacterial hand soaps, toothpaste, toys

Health Risk: Triclosan has been classified as a contaminant of emerging concern (CEC); this means it is currently being investigated for risks to public health (USGS, 2016). Some studies found that high doses lead to levels of decreased thyroid hormones. Triclosan also may be contributing to the antimicrobial resistance issue (FDA, 2016).

Quaternary Ammonium Compounds

Found in: disinfectants, fabric softener

Health Risks: Contact dermatitis, asthma trigger. Possibly contributes to cancers, reproductive problems and endocrine but not enough research has been conducted to be sure (SCOH, 2015).


Found in: dishwasher detergent, toilet bowl cleaner, disinfectants, pools

Health Concerns: Body reacts to chlorine (inhalation/digestion/topical) exposure by producing acid. These acids destroy and damage cells in the body. Symptoms include blurred vision, skin irritation, coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, breathing difficulties, nausea, vomiting, fluid in the lungs. High concentrations of chlorine may cause chronic respiratory complications (CDC, 2013).  Long-term health effects have not been properly researched at this time. Some sites mentioned that chlorine may contribute to thyroid disorders, but I want unable to find any peer-reviewed studies on the subject.


Works Cited

Albert, O., Jegou, B. (2013). A critical assessment of the endocrine susceptibility of the human testis to phthalates from fetal life to adulthood. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/humupd/article/20/2/231/664157/A-critical-assessment-of-the-endocrine

Centers for Disease Control. (2007). Third National Report of Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20070401141153/http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/pdf/thirdreport.pdf

Centers for Disease Control. (2011). Tetrachloroethylene (PERC). Retrieved from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxsubstance.asp?toxid=48

Centers for Disease Control. (2013). Facts about Chlorine. Retrieved from https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/chlorine/basics/facts.asp

Desvergne, B., Casals-Casas, C. (2009). PPAR-mediated activity of phthalates: A link to the obesity epidemic? Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030372070900149X?via%3Dihub

The Food and Drug Administration. (2016). 5 Things to Know About Triclosan. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm205999.htm

McPartland, J., Guy, G., Marzo, V. (2014). Care and Feeding of the Endocannabinoid System: A Systematic Review of Potential Clinical Interventions that Upregulate the Endocannabinoid System. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3951193/

Keith, N. (2013). Tidier homes, fitter bodies? Retrieved from http://newsinfo.iu.edu/web/page/normal/14627.html

United States Geological Survey. (2016). Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Environment. Retrieved from https://toxics.usgs.gov/investigations/cec/index.php

Selifkoff Centers for Occupational Health. (2015). Quaternary Ammonium Compounds in Cleaning Products: Health & Safety Information for Public Health Professionals. Retrieved from https://med.nyu.edu/pophealth/sites/default/files/pophealth/QACs%20Info%20for%20Physicians_18.pdf

Food Labels Challenge 1

The person I talked about had only a basic knowledge and understanding about packaged food and beverage labels. He noticed some of the differences in the old and new label. For example, the serving size in the new label is in bold with medium size letters and the calories is the most prominent information on the new label while the old label had bold letters for the calories and size serving however, the letters were much smaller. Also, he observed that the new label presents the information in a more clear way and highlights what he believes to be the most important information. Since all he wants to know about the packaging information is the calories because he wants to keep track of the calories and make sure he doesn’t exceed 2000 calories. Moreover, he believes ingredients are very important because he wants to know what he is consuming whether the product has natural or artificial ingredients.  The conversation was very interesting and we both talked about what both of us considers to be the most important information in food labels and how this information can help us choose the healthies food and beverage products available.

Food Labels Challenge Prompt 1

For this challenge I decided to talk to my friend who is majoring in Computer Science and knows next to nothing about food labels and nutrition. First, I had her look at the nutrition label on a box of organic cereal I own. She noted that she knows most of what the words in bold are excluding how potassium is impactful, however, she was mostly unable to tell me how the values of the word not bolded could impact her. She was aware that different kinds of fat are “varying degrees of bad” to quote her, but she was not sure which ones or why. However, she was confused as to how the total fat was 1.5g and yet all the different types of fat were listed at 0g. As for the vitamin and minerals section, she expressed great disinterest and no knowledge.

When I showed her the picture of the new label, she seemed more comfortable. The fact that there were less words on the label made it less intimidating for her. She also said that having the calories and the serving sizes enlarged made it feel like she was not being duped out of a product. She feels as though if she were to buy this she would know exactly what she was getting. She seemed much more relaxed given less information, as before she was unable to interpret all of it, but given the basics she felt much more comfortable. However, her one concern was that the ingredients list was interesting as it was more vertical than horizontal, which made it more difficult to read.

This was an interesting challenge to me because it is easy to forget that not everyone looks at package labels or knows how to read them. Since going into the field of nutrition, it has become second nature for me to read food labels because I have a genuine interest in it, however, that is not the case with everyone. I do agree with my friend in the case that the newer label is easier to read, however, I will miss the vitamin and mineral section, and I do not see a list of the different kinds of fats, but they may be a production choice rather than a requirement. All in all, I do believe that this label switch will benefit the general consumer, however, as someone studying food science and nutrition, I will miss the added information.

A Morning Routine Challenge

Wednesday: Good morning! I woke up bright and early for my 6 am class. Gave myself some extra time to make a coffee at home, black and not how I like it at all. Yuck! I drank water and washed my face like normal. My breakfast was some warm oatmeal and now I can go brush my teeth before I head out for school.

Thursday: It’s almost Friday, woohoo! I continued the routine this morning as well. I feel great and the water is really helping me stay alert. I even packed a water bottled for my early morning shift today.

Friday: TGIF! Clean teeth and a washed face really set my day off to a good start. I am currently sitting at the table with my glass of water right now. Today I feel good so there is no need for coffee and no need to drink anything sugary, thank goodness for that.

Saturday: I woke up a little earlier than I would have liked to today. Oh my! I slept great. I almost forgot that I was partaking in a challenge this week. A lightbulb went on in my head and I quickly remembered to continue my routine. The day started off swell thanks to a nice glass of water, a fresh face, clean teeth and nicely combed hair. Now, off to work and persistent to stay away from sugary drinks.

Sunday: I am so tired and my house is cold. This morning I switched it up and drank hot water with some lemon instead. My face feels fresh and my pearly whites feel sparkling. Hey, coffee isn’t so bad with just a dash of almond milk. Now I must go brush this nest I call hair.

Well, that was fun. I hope I continue this tomorrow morning before school. I feel great starting my morning off this way so I don’t think there will be a problem. Cheers to a lovely week.

Challenge – Two options. Learn about an FDA decision that could hugely impact consumers!

Ok, so you’ve read about consumer protection and regulation. What? You HAVEN’T? Why don’t you visit the CP&R Matters page right now?!

Ok, so NOW you know a little bit about how regulation of industries can help protect people as consumers, AND can even help industries be safer and more viable.

Take a look at this piece by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) about what’s happening right now in the world of food labels – spoiler alert: It’s not good. The American public was supposed to have access starting in 2018 to better information about serving sizes, sugar, and other aspects of packaged products that are tasty, cheap, and fun but not all that great for our health. In fact, some food product manufacturers had already changed their labels to meet the new regulation’s requirements earlier. Now the Food and Drug Administration (the agency whose job it is to protect people by providing information about ingredients, allergens, and other things you want to know about packaged food choices) is planning to delay the new rules until at least 2020.

Here’s an example of a product with the new food label. Note the differences between it and an old/current label (meaning MOST package labels right now). Get a sense of WHY it’s more helpful for you as a consumer.


Food labels CHALLENGE One: Try talking with someone you care about about what they know and understand about packaged food and beverage products. Ask them to look at an “old” label and this new one, for example, and have them tell you what they really want when it comes to food packaging info. Write a post discussing how the conversation went and what you learned by exploring food labels and information both on your own and with someone else. As always, use your username and Challenge as tags, and choose the Challenge category. (Oh, and UNchoose the uncategorized category!)

Food labels CHALLENGE Two: If you’re interested ENOUGH, and want to take action as a consumer to raise your voice, take a look at this “model letter” to the FDA Commissioner, provided by CSPI. Then visit the Federal Register Comment space for the labeling regulation delay, and add a comment of your own. Write a post that shares your comment, and discuss how it felt to be an active, informed, and aware citizen around this consumer health issue. As always, use your username and Challenge as tags, and choose the Challenge category. (Oh, and UNchoose the uncategorized category!)


Morning Challenge, ACCEPTED!

Day One: Wednesday

Easy peezy. Being pregnant I wake up very often in the night to drink water. I keep a water bottle next to my bed because I get so thirsty while I sleep! I blame it on the pregnancy. So, I finished that water bottle (which about 1/4th of the way full) when I got out of bed. Washing my face this morning was great because I took a shower. The exact place I wash my face. And because I showered I did the teeth/tongue brushing after washing my face and hair brushing after I dried my hair. Sugary drinks? Not a thing for this almost mama. (as bad as I crave them) I find myself more dehydrated than anything at the end of my pregnancy, so doc’s orders, WATER WATER WATER!  This morning was a perfect day to start this challenge.

Day Two: Thursday 

Not as easy as yesterday. The hardest part is washing my face. I don’t like to do that in the morning because it messes with my hair, and makes my hairline wet… but I did it. Which was followed with the teeth and hair brushing. I don’t usually brush my hair everyday, cause most days I wake up to good enough hair.  Water was drank all night, and finished as I got out of bed, as per my pregnancy usual.

Day Three: Friday

Happy Friday! I woke up a little early on accident this morning, and just felt ready for my day. So today’s routine went over better than yesterday. Still not too fond of the face washing in the morning, but it does definitely make me feel better and leave my skin extra soft all day. My hair went up today, so it got brushed with my fingers. That counts as a brushing, right? No sugary drinks (this is becoming a record!) This challenge is helping with that.

Day Four: Saturday

Weekends are tricky. I’m really lazy in the mornings.. but I washed my face in the shower, teeth/tongue. Brushed my hair.. actually my fiancé did, but it was still brushed. He brought me a tall glass of water as I got out of the shower since I finished my water bottle last night. I sound spoiled.. But overall I’m really surprised at how much I’ve been able to keep up with this challenge. Especially the washing of my face. Again, water all day. My dr will be proud.

Day Five: Sunday

I woke up at a friends house this morning. I heavily debated skipping over my morning rituals, but it’s the last day, so I might as well follow through, right? My friend and I put on masks today. Not in the morning, but in the early afternoon. It was nice. I also (finally) caved and got a chai tea. It was so good. Teeth and tongue are always brushed before I come down to greet anyone for the morning, so that a norm. But my hair? Unless running my fingers through it a couple times counts, today I forgot about that. Real easy for my to do on my days off.

This challenge was a good one. I’m actually surprised at how well I stuck by it. I really wanted to stick by it and do it since this used to be similar to my morning routine (minus the morning face wash) before, well life. We’ll see if I can keep it up now just to keep it up.

Morning Challenge

Wednesday: First day of the morning challenge, I was very motivated to start with this challenge even though it was not very new to me as I tend to do most of the activities listed in the challenge. However, the hardest part of it was to drink water since I have the bad habit of not drinking enough water throughout the day. So, today I only took a few sips of water as I wasn’t able to drink very much because it felt really heavy on my empty stomach. I have to admit that I did not like this feeling. On the other hand washing my face and brushing my teeth and tongue  has always had a positive effect on the way I feel, it makes me feel more alert and gives me a sense of freshness that helps me to stay motivated to start my daily activities. Combing my hair was perhaps the least fun activity as I was feeling a little bit blue. Now when it comes to holding off any sugar drinks with the exception of the orange juice which I drink with my Iron supplement  because I am low on Iron. I was able to avoid drinking any sugar beverages.  Moreover, I ate an apple and it was delicious I felt really good about myself for adding a fruit to my diet.

Thursday: Second day of the morning challenge, I almost forgot to drink water first thing in the morning I think this is because I rarely drink any water in the mornings. However, I managed to drink a little bit more water than yesterday but not quite half a glass. It still felt a heavy or fullness sensation in my stomach. Again my experience with the challenge seems to be fairly positive I felt good about myself making healthy choices such as adding fruits to my diet!

Friday: third day of the morning challenge, I woke up really early brushed my teeth and tongue took a few sips of water. However, I did not wash my face as I had to jump in the shower right away and get ready for my appointment. Showering in the morning gets me more alert and improves my mood so I felt more motivated to start the day. When in my Dr.’s office I grabbed and ate a tangerine which are delicious, I feel like this challenge is helping me to be more aware of how good fruits are but yet how I don’t eat them very regularly. However, I have set myself the goal to eat at least one or two fruits per day. I feel like this challenge is helping me to want to make healthier choices and adopt healthier habits.

Saturday: Fourth day of the morning challenge. I felt as if the combing my hair activity was easier to get done as these past few days I have been doing It so it’s helping me to get used to do this activity. I believe I did not drink enough water yesterday or perhaps my body is starting to show the effects of  staying a little bit more hydrated as I was feeling thirsty today in the morning which I also feel like it wasn’t something that I  was conscious about I just knew I had to drink water.  However, I did feel tempted to drink more Juice than just the one glass I have to drink with my iron supplement but instead I ate an apple.

Sunday: Fifth day of the morning challenge, today I woke up I was a bit concerned about the four assignments that are due today which needed a few more details and editing before turning them in. I felt I little bit frustrated however I managed to get up. I drank water I was able to drink half a glass of water which made me feel very happy I believe that drinking water first thing in the morning helps me to be more thirsty throughout the day. After that, I washed my face and brushed my teeth  and combed my hair which definitely helped me to feel ready to start editing my assignments with more motivation. Overall this morning challenged has helped me to feel good about myself especially because I am aware that it has certainly helped me to create the habit of drinking more water and eating fruits and vegetables more often, I have realized that by completing these small activities it has been easier for me to tackle those that are more difficult, I think that perhaps by completing small task I was able to adopt a healthy habit and it helped me to want to start adopting new ones.