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12 Months to a Healthier You: April’s Challenge


One of my goals for 2014 is to focus on my health. It’s easy to let our health take a back burner to everything else on our to-do list. But as I share in my new book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, I’ve experienced what happens when you put your health last… and it’s not pretty!

With this in mind, I’m committed to making my health even more of a priority this year. And I’d love to have you join me for the 12 Months to a Healthier You Challenge.

We’re be focusing on one challenge area each month — all with the goal of being in a healthier place as a person by the end of next year. My hope is that as we work on instilling one new healthy habit each month, they won’t just be month-long challenges, but lifelong changes.

12 Months to a Healthier You Focus Areas for 2014

Here are the focus areas I’ve planned out for 2014:

January: Exercise Regularly
February: Eat More Fresh Fruits & Veggies
March: Drink More Water
April: Cut Back on Sugar
May: Get More Rest
June: Create a Morning Routine
July: Read More
August: Go to Bed Earlier
September: Declutter Your Home
October: Cut Back on Caffeine
November: Keep a Gratitude Journal
December: Simplify & Say No

How This Challenge Works:

At the beginning of the month, I’ll introduce the focus area and encourage you to set a small goal for that specific area and I’ll share my goals.

Then, every Friday, I’ll have a check-in post where I’ll encourage you to share your progress & struggles and I’ll share mine, as well. If you want to blog about your progress, I’ll include a link-up at the end of the post so you can share your blog posts on this challenge.

In addition to the Friday check-ins, I’ll also probably share a few posts and guest posts on the monthly topics each month, along with sharing about related books, resources, or websites that I’ve found helpful.

Are you on social media? You can also share your progress on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter by using hashtag #12MonthstoaHealthierYou.

My Goals for Cutting Back on Sugar During April

My goal for April is to cut back on sugar — which is hard for a girl like me who has a strong sweet tooth! 🙂 I’m going to make it my goal to only eat dessert once a week and to cut back on the sugar I use in my coffee on a daily basis, too.

I’m also hoping to keep up with January’s habit of exercising at least 4-5 times every week, February’s goal of eating a big salad at least six times a week, and March’s goal of drinking 8 glasses of water a day.

Will you be joining me for this April Challenge? If so, leave a comment letting us know you’re planning to join and what your goals are for cutting back on sugar in April. Remember to keep them simple and doable!

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  • Julie Carns says:

    Great plan! Have you considered getting a stevia plant? Stevia is so sweet and yummy along with a purely natural food. 🙂

    • Want to know the honest truth? I can’t stand the taste of Stevia! I’ve tried different kinds and they are all ick to me… I’d rather not have any sweetener at all than have Stevia. I so wish I could learn to like it, but that hasn’t been the case so far. 🙁

  • Kim says:

    I’m in. I’m sugar crazed for sure. I just set a goal to work out at least 5 times a week so cutting back on sugar would be a great addition.

  • Allison says:

    I want to join in on this challenge…just wish I had known about it in January. I’ve already started drinking unsweet tea and using stevia in coffee.

  • Lana says:

    You can reduce sugar cravings by making the body alkaline. The easiest way to do it is to take alfalfa capsules daily. We use Nature’s Way Alpha Max and get the best price from Vitacost. Take 5-10 capsules daily and the sugar cravings will just go away.

  • Julie Carns says:

    It took me a while to enjoy stevia but now that I enjoy it – I prefer it in many foods; I might have tried every.single.brand on the market! 😉 Sugar gives me carb cravings; a little sugar gets the ball rolling too fast for me.

    • What brand do you recommend? I’d love to hear! And any really amazing stevia recipe recommendations for newbies who don’t like it? I’m still hopeful I can grow to love it! 😉

      • Elisabeth Gordon says:

        Excuse me for interrupting – but I too had a hard time getting used to Stevia. I found Kal Stevia drops to be free of the bitter aftertaste I dislike in other brands. In fact, I’m preparing to go have some in a cup of home brewed Starbucks Dark Roast coffee that I purchased thanks to a great deal posted on this site!

        I eat extremely little sugar already; but I’ll be following this challenge closely to see what creative ideas are borne out of it. Love the way you meet a challenge head-on, Crystal. You’re one of my favorite idea people!

  • I think I’ll join you in the “one dessert a week” goal. I am much more likely to grab a single piece of candy or a couple marshmallows than a whole dessert, but I think I’ll try to cut them out this month. Thanks for challenging yourself as well with your 12-month challenge. 🙂

    I’m newly joining in this challenge, but have added in a big salad for lunch at least 5 days a week and have been drinking more water for the last couple months. I still need to work at more exercise, but I’ll still just join in now.

  • Rebekah Williams says:

    Piece of cake! (HA!) I’m already doing a Whole30 this month and sugar of all kinds (even stevia/honey/maple syrup) is off limits. 🙂 Good luck!

  • Maria says:

    I am SO glad others have been dreading this habit too! It’ll be hard to adjust to this one during the same month as my birthday and Easter! Lots of temptations! I think my goal this month will be to a) quit throwing ketchup on my scrambled eggs; b) stop sneaking a piece or two of candy when no one is looking, and c) go through the bags of candy in my bedroom from parades, trick-or-treating, and misc. holiday parties to keep the absolutely best of it all.

    I also want to get back into the exercise habit again, though that will be a huge challenge since it’s starting to look like my part-time job is going to be fulltime.

  • melanie micheels says:

    well I think I am kinda on board already. I switched out sugar for a sugar free syrup and sugar free coffee creamer. I switched to diet soda and have even cut back to about 3 a week. I did start going to the gym with my whole family 2 twice a week. I would like to go 4-5 times a week so working on that. Also working on eating a salad every day. I love cutting the tops of Broc off and mixing that in with my salad. Oh anyone try Bolthouse yogurt ranch it’s great low sugar and carbs and even my husband likes it. I switched to that as well. Need to work on more water.

  • Katie L says:

    Oh, this is exactly what I need. I’m planning to eat a low-sugar breakfast of yogurt & granola, since I find that the way I start the day really sets the course of the rest of my day.

  • Stevi says:

    This is going to be a hard challenge for me!!! I LOVE sugar very very much lol but I do know that I need to cut back on it. If you can post some recipes for things that taste sweet but don’t have much sugar in them that would be wicked cool =)

    • I have a few recipes here that are only sweetened with honey:

      That’s not the greatest answer, since honey is still “sugar”, just a more natural form. But it’s at least a start in the right direction!

      I’m hoping to come up with some more ideas in the next few weeks… especially because my goal is to make this a habit, not just a one-month challenge. I’m guessing I’ll likely be eating more fruit. And I’d love any ideas from the rest of you all if you have them. 🙂

  • Ashley Atkinson says:

    I am in. I have been lessening the sweeteners in my coffee and other things to get used to less sweet taste . Also working on the other months challenges to catch up.

  • Lisa Michele says:

    I am in on reducing my sugar intake for April.
    I like to have two cookies with my tea in the morning..some dunk cookies in milk I am British and dunk cookies in my tea..:) I am going to reduce to one cookie or no cookies…..:) I am also going to only consume organic dark chocolate 70% + if I have a craving…:)

    I have read that drinking green tea helps to curve any food cravings..:) I have tried this and it does seem to work..:)

    I also started consuming more water and have walked three days this week..about 2 miles each day…now want to add in yoga and weights! 🙂

    Thanks for giving us the motivation to care for ourselves……:)

  • Jenny says:

    I like this idea and I’m going to prepare myself by not having dessert this month. I’m going to allow natural sugars (like honey and fruit) and I’m going to make an effort to walk 6-8 miles/week and continue eating lots of fresh vegetables.

  • So I decided last week that I was going to join the rest of your challenges this year. I had already been doing the first three on my own before I knew about this series… but this one?!?! This is going to be so hard. So hard for me. I mean, it will be good, but oh so hard. I don’t drink sweetened drinks, so that part will not challenge me, but just dessert once a week will. Well, I’m looking to challenge myself this year, so here we go!

  • Lynne says:

    A group of ladies at my church are going through your “Survival Mode” book and I can’t wait to share this with them. I am in and I will be encouraging all of them to join in as well. I just wish I had seen this sooner. But better late than never. Thanks for all you do.

  • Krista says:

    Uh oh! This is going to be a hard one for me…total sugar-aholic! I managed to cut sugar out of my coffee about a year ago…but the rest, um, wow. It is a good challenge though because the more you read, the more you hear about how bad sugar is for you! Let’s do this!

  • Christina Morris says:

    I am in for this challenge. I have a sweet tooth as well! I’m cutting down by not buying a candy bar at work everyday!!

  • k says:

    Some time ago, I recall you (MSM) featuring another blogger via guest post , a featured recipe, or some other avenue.? Her blog is dedicated to being sugar free. It’s actually a lifestyle for her. It’s called or or maybe even She features lots and lots of sugar free recipes.

  • Shelly says:

    This is going to be the hardest part of this challenge yet. I too have a very strong sweet tooth. I’m committing to cutting back on sugar 2 times a week. I know it’s not much but this is what feels doable to me right now. 🙂

  • Ginger says:

    Yay! What a great goal! I’ve found that cutting back/cutting sugars out is so much easier when I don’t have any sweets in the house. If I’m not keeping sweets around, it’s nearly impossible for me to cheat. 🙂 I have to gulp down my coffee/tea when I first stop sugar and honey, but I get used to it after a while. I tend to get withdrawal headaches when I stop sugar, but it’s better after a few days. It sounds like you’re just cutting back, so hopefully you won’t experience those! Good luck!

  • Linda says:

    This is probably the hardest challenge for me. The previous ones I was able to easily accomplish because I’d already been doing two of them for a couple of years. However, sugar & simple carbs (same thing) are my biggest challenges.

    I am in! I will have to cut out all sugar and simple carbs cold turkey starting tomorrow, because I already had 3 mini cupcakes today! 🙁

    And, unfortunately, I cannot eat anything sugar-free or diet because it makes me crave sugar even more, and then I gain lots of weight. Ugh.

  • Brenda says:

    I think this is a great idea and such a great way to focus on our health as women. Mine has taken a back seat for sure! How do I sign up??

  • Cassie says:

    I will join in on this also. It will be a bit of a challenge for me as I work a desk job, and while sitting at the desk all day I keep lots of sweets in my drawer for snacks. I will clean my drawer out and find healthier snacks! Thanks for the motivation!!

  • Mandi says:

    I have been dreading this one! I eat relatively well- but definitely have a sweet tooth. My goal will be to limit myself to 1 dessert/sweet a day. I know that seems lame but that will be a major step in the right direction.

    I am still doing pretty well on my water and fruit/veggie goals. Although, I injured my hip 4 1/2 weeks ago which has totally derailed my fitness goals- and my half marathon in 4 weeks. Grrr. I am doing what I am allowed to do and going to p/t. I think it might be getting a little better.

  • Tracy says:

    I am going to join in this challenge and continue from this point forward while working on the challenges from January-March. It will be a struggle for me because I live off of sugar and carbs for energy to make it through my days of being in nursing school. I have already committed to cutting out all fried foods as my waistline has been expanding quite rapidly since I started school. Looking into affordable workout options in my area because I have to join a group or I won’t follow through.

  • Laurie says:

    Just read the sugar smart diet and I am planning on trying to have no more than 24 grams of added sugar a day. I’ll be reading labels.

  • Allison says:

    This is great Crystal! I have been cutting back on sugar, too. The best part is, this less you use, the less you want! I used to need sugar or Splenda in my coffee, but I started leaving it out and now the idea of drinking sweet coffee makes me sick!

  • Leslie says:

    I’m totally in. I’ve recently started drinking more water throughout the day and I can tell a huge difference. Most weeks I exercise at least 4 times but some weeks not so great!

  • Laura says:

    I just found out about this challenge so Im a little bit behind. im going to try to exercise 3 times or more a week and start eating more fruits and veggies. I already drink a lot of water so that’s going to be easy for me to keep. im starting today! thanks for the posts!

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