Anyone up for a challenge?

Full disclosure: I'm typing this while licking peanut butter off the back of a spoon.

I hope my post on the artificial sweeteners didn't make anyone feel judged. That certainly wasn't my intention. It was more of a "first we couldn't drink regular soda because of the HFCS; now we can't drink diet; soon they won't even let us drink water" grouse.

Did any of you guys see this article in The Onion this week (for those of you not in the US, The Onion is a fake weekly newspaper): Study: Use of Phrase 'Don't Skimp On The' Linked to Heart Disease Read it first, then read the rest of this post.

If you read the whole Times article, the author of one of the studies did bring up the idea that the study showed correlation, not causation. (Which is why I didn't specifically mention it--it was in the article).

But for me, at least, correlation or causation doesn't make a difference in what I'm going to do with the information that there's some kind of link, in terms of my own behavior.

I thought Catherine's comment was brilliant. If artificial sweeteners cause metabolic changes, then obviously we should stop using them. But Catherine's comment points out that it could just be a correlation, but that that still points to a problem, just a different one.

From a public health standpoint, I hope that it turns out that there isn't a causal link, because it would mean that we've been effectively poisoning ourselves willingly for 20 years. But I actually think that a behavioral link (as Catherine put it) is more interesting to me, and I'm guessing to you.

Have you ever gone on a low-sugar or low-carb diet? You feel like you are literally going to die of the cravings for the first week. And sweet is such a cultural force. Witness the comments to my Valentine's Day rant, when people were outraged that I didn't want my son to have candy. (Which, again, I'm fine with candy, just not every week in school. I'm all for Halloween and Easter as candy ground zeros, but I resist candy just for the sake of candy, or as a boredom reliever.) It's almost as if we're supposed to have something sweet and comforting in our mouths to help us manage the stresses of daily life. And artificial sweet is so meaningless and disposable, so it doesn't matter. Which is cool on one hand, but alienating on the other.

Did you guys read the Little House books? I'm thinking about the scene in one of the middle books--Plum Creek, maybe--in which Ma gets hold of some white sugar and makes some white cakes for Laura's birthday. And how special they were. I wonder what it would be like to live without having sweet tastes at our disposal so easily.

So I was thinking about how useless all these musings were, and how they aren't helping anyone, and then realized that we could actually all be helping each other. I believe, without a doubt, that the reason so many of us are so stressed and tired and stretched out and unhappy with ourselves is that we're eating the typical Western diets and living the post-post-modern lifestyle.

So I'm going to propose a challenge. 60 days, starting next Wednesday, Feb 27 (so we have time to figure out what we're going to do and to have a last hurrah) and running until April 26. Do three things to improve your health, whether that means giving something up (ahem, diet soda) or doing something new (ahem, T-Tapp Basic Workout Plus) and stick with it as well as you can during those 60 days.

Everyone who "finishes" will get some sort of prize, which I haven't determined yet, and which will undoubtedly have no actual value. "Finishing" will mean that you're still doing it on April 26 and haven't given up, even if you slip up a bunch of times during those 60 days. Consistency, not perfection.

Here are some suggestions of things you could do to improve your health:

Switch out your coffee for green tea.
Stop drinking diet soda (or Crystal Light) and drink water instead.
Actually start drinking 64+ ounces of water a day.
Take Omega 3s every day.
Cut out refined sugar.
Switch from refined carbs to whole grains.
Start reading all labels and not using anything with high-fructose corn syrup.
Exercise for 15-25 minutes a day.
Start running (the 60-day Challenge will end just about the time all the summer 5Ks start). (Read's DoctorMama's post on how to start here.)
Take up T-Tapp (read Summer's post on how to start here.)
Eat 5+ servings of vegetables every day.
Take the stairs every time.
Walk/bike to work.
Go to bed at a decent time.

Please suggest more in the comments. Next Wednesday on the official start, we can all post what our three things are going to be. (I know what mine will be already: Switch out my delicious, delicious coffee for green tea, eat 5+ servings of vegetables a day, and go to bed at 10 pm every night.)

Is anyone else interested in the challenge? Or is it going to be me doing it alone?