Are you feeling blah about yourself right now? If so, a glow up challenge might be the remedy you need to get yourself back together.
A few months ago, I found myself in a funk. I’d gained 10 unwanted pounds. My hair was looking worse for wear.
Getting out bed in the morning was a struggle and when I finally did, I barely had the energy to get through the entire day.
My skin was breaking out and my fitness levels were rapidly declining.
I knew that something had to change.
Life is a gift, our bodies are a temple and I was neither embracing the gift of life, nor treating my body even close to how I should have been. Basically, I was practicing zero self care.
Enough was enough. Enter the Glow Up Challenge.
I created a Glow Up Challenge List for myself with the intent of following it for a month, transforming myself, and then re-evaluating how I felt.
I thought I’d probably choose a few things on the list to continue with but I’d let the rest go.
But at the end of 30 days, I was feeling so good about myself that I decided to keep going and see if I could form a habit out of, well, everything on the list.
The research seems to be inconclusive about how long it takes to form a habit, but on average, it’s about 66 days.
I figured that two months, give or take, was enough to form some healthy self-care habits from this glow-up challenge so I kept going. And I’m glad I did.
Table of Contents
How Long Does a Glow Up Take?
A glow-up takes as little as 30 days, depending on your goals. If you want to enhance your physical appearance, improve your health and feel happier, you can do that in one month. It’ll take perseverance and consistency, but it absolutely possible to glow up and transform in 30 days.
Can You Glow Up in a Month?
Yes, you can glow up in one month. Your body is in a constant state of regeneration – your hair, nails, and skin cells all grow and regenerate significantly in one month.
In addition, it’s possible to form a new habit in as little as 18 days. With commitment and dedication, glowing up in a month is definitely possible.
Benefits of a Glow Up Challenge
These are some of the benefits I gained from completing this self care challenge:
- Increased energy
- Improved health
- Better mood
- Better sleep
- Weight loss
- Increased general knowledge
- Smoother skin
- Increase in fitness levels
- Feel prettier in general
And who doesn’t want most of those things? Obviously I did, so I kept going (and I’m still going!)
Ok, so now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you to join me in a Glow Up Challenge, let’s get started.
You may find affiliate links in this article.
30 Day Glow Up Challenge List
Because I believe in taking a wholistic approach to self-care that goes beyond just “looking pretty”, I divided my glow up challenge into 5 categories:
- Physical Health
- Physical Fitness
- Mental Health
- Personal Environment
- Physical Appearance
I believe these 5 areas are all equally important if you truly want to “glo up” and feel and look your best. So let’s get started!
#1 – Drink Half a Gallon of Water Everyday
The human body is about 70% water – it’s literally the source of all life. We need water to survive and we need an adequate water intake if we want to thrive. But nearly half of all Americans don’t drink enough water.
Water helps circulation, reduces constipation, helps rid our body of toxins and can assist with weight loss. Water is pretty damn important, which is why it’s numero uno on this glow up challenge.
Don’t like the taste of water? Then try these fruit-infused water recipes.
If you find yourself struggling to drink enough water, I recommend getting a half gallon motivational water bottle with daily time markers.
The 4AMinLA water bottle has hourly markers that allow you to track exactly how much water you’re drinking – if you finish the entire bottle in one day you’ve met your water intake goal.
#2 – Cut Out Processed Food
Chemically processed foods (foods made from artificial and/or refined ingredients) may seem convenient and might even taste good while you’re eating them, but they’re a major contributor to many serious health conditions.
We’re talking cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes, to name a few.
Those pop tarts or bowl of cinnamon toast crunch you had for breakfast? Loaded with sugar and almost zero nutritional value.
Instead of highly processed foods, opt for unrefined, whole foods that are close as possible to what you’d find in nature.
A great breakfast option is a healthy smoothie, like the one below.
#3 – Reduce Sugar Intake
I’m sure it isn’t news to you that sugar is bad. But you might be shocked to learn just how bad sugar really is:
- Contains no essential nutrients
- Full of empty calories
- Increases harmful cholesterol levels
- Can lead to insulin resistance
- Increases fat accumulation in the liver and abdominal cavity
- Serious adverse effects on the metabolism
- Linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity
It probably goes without saying that sugar has no place in a glow up challenge.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t satisfy your sweet tooth anymore. Instead, opt for the naturally occurring sugars found in fresh fruits. A vibrant, fresh fruit salad made with ingredients like strawberries, pineapple, mango, dragonfruit and kiwi is a healthy way to curb your sugar cravings (and you’ll feel much better inside after eating it, too!)
#4 – Eat Your 5 & 2
You’ve probably heard it a thousand times – “make sure you eat 5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit everyday.”
But can you honestly say that you always eat your 5 & 2?
Besides the fact that fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, they’re also generally low in calories and don’t contain artificial additives.
There’s also strong evidence to suggest that fruits and vegetables help reduce the risk of certain cancers, heart disease and diabetes. In addition, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps to reduce weight gain, blood pressure and constipation.
If you find yourself struggling to eat veggies, then a great way to “sneak” them into your diet is to make vegetable fritters.
#5 – Cut Down Your Coffee Consumption
Coffee isn’t all bad. There are actually some science-backed health benefits associated with coffee, including a small amount of important nutrients and a reduced risk of type-2 diabetes. In addition, coffee may possibly reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
However, you can definitely have too much of a good thing. A study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that people who drink 6 or more 8 ounce cups of coffee per day have a 22% increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
In addition, most people don’t drink their coffee black. Additives like sugar, syrup and creamer reduce any health benefits associated with drinking coffee, while drastically increasing the calorie count.
If you’re a regular coffee drinker, try to reduce your coffee consumption by one cup per day.
Instead, sip on water (naturally flavored if you can’t stomach it.) Substituting one cup of coffee for a glass water per day is a win-win – you’re gradually reducing your caffeine intake while increasing your water intake.
#6 – Download the 7 Minute Workout App
The 7-Minute Workout app is one of my favorite free workout apps and I’m not alone – it’s been downloaded over 60,000 times in the app store.
The concept is simple:
- Set aside 7 minutes
- Choose your workout
- Workout for 7 minutes
- Feel awesome about yourself
There are 20 different 7 minute workouts to choose from.
You can choose to target a certain body part, such as legs, core, butt, arms or abs. Alternatively, you can choose a style of exercise such as HIIT or Tabata.
None of the exercises require any equipment and can be done virtually anywhere, which makes them perfect for traveling or if you’re confined to a small space.
As part of this Glow Up Challenge, download the 7-minute workout app and commit to doing a minimum of one workout per day.
#7 – Meditate Daily
The benefits of meditation are vast, and scientifically proven. A regular meditation practice can help to reduce stress levels, achieve a calm mental state, improve sleep, reduce pain and decrease blood pressure. So it’s a no-brainer that meditation would be on this glow up challenge list.
And the great thing is, you don’t have to turn in a Buddhist monk who meditates 12 hours a day to reap the benefits of meditation.
A short daily meditation is a simple, effective way to start meditating. Once you’ve gotten into the habit of daily meditation (and realized how great it makes you feel) then you can start trying some longer meditation sessions.
#8 – Stretch It Out
How good does a big stretch in the morning feel? Did you know there’s a scientific reason stretching feels so good?
Stretching increases blood flow to the muscles, releases endorphins and increases activity in the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes relaxation.
In other words, stretching doesn’t just feel good – it’s also good for you.
Regular stretching is even more important if you have a desk-based job or spend a lot of time sitting.
Try this quick spine stretch session a few times a day to help keep your body moving.
#9 – Take a Daily, Brisk 30-Minute Walk
Walking is perhaps the easiest way to reap the benefits of regular exercise – all you need to do is lace up a pair of sneakers and put one foot in front of the other.
According to Mayo Clinic, regular brisk walking can improve your mood, balance, and coordination, help you maintain a healthy weight, strengthen your bones and muscles and prevent or manage conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and type-2 diabetes.
And don’t discount walking as a weight tool – just 30 minutes of brisk walking per day burns an average of 150 calories.
What are you waiting for? Let’s lace up our sneakers and get walking.
#10 – Start Kettlebell Training
Cardio and meditation are awesome, but weight training is just as important for peak physical health. And kettlebells are my secret weapon when it comes to strength training, which is why they’re on this glow up challenge list.
When you combine regular cardio, weight training and meditation you’ll start to look and feel incredible (and wonder why you didn’t start sooner.)
There are enough benefits to weight training to fill an entire book, but here are some of the most impressive:
- Burns body fat (even after you’ve finished lifting)
- Increases lean body mass
- Torches calories
- Strengthens bones
- Increases flexibility
- Improves heart health
- Boosts metabolism
- Improves sleep
- Improves mood
And the list goes on… If you’re aiming to transform your body, then lifting weights is an absolute must.
So why kettlebells? The awesome thing about kettlebells is they combine strength, cardio, core and mobility training in one movement. You’ll also work multiple muscle groups at the same time – in short, kettlebells are a great way to get an intense, full body workout in a short period of time, using one simple piece of equipment.
If you’re new to kettlebells (and even if you’re not) having a trainer can be a great way to stay motivated, teach you the proper movements and provide you with a routine to follow, which is much better than just “winging it.”
Aaptiv is a great, budget-friendly way to reap the benefits of a highly experienced trainer to motivate you, without having to shell out hundreds of dollars a month. There are tons of workouts included with your Aaptiv membership, including the Kettlebell Conditioning Program, led by 3 highly experienced Aaptiv trainers.
The program goes for 4 weeks and has 16 classes, and you can try it out for free for the first 30 days right here.
#11 – Hug Some Trees
Nope, I’m not joking. Number 11 on the glow up challenge list is to become a tree hugger.
Spending time in nature has numerous benefits for both your mind and your body. A study done by the University of East Anglia found that spending time outdoors in the greenery reduces the risk of:
- Type II diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease
- Premature death
- Preterm birth
- High Blood Pressure
In Japan, there’s something called “Shinrin-yoku” or “forest bathing,” which is the practice of immersing yourself nature and reaping the therapeutic benefits.
In Iceland, the Icelandic Forestry Service recommends hugging trees if you’re unable to hug people, but personally, I think we should still be hugging trees even if we CAN hug other people.
So next time you’re out enjoying nature, find a tree, put your arms around it, close your eyes, breathe deeply and enjoy embracing nature, both physically and mentally.
#12 – Unfollow Anyone Who Makes You Feel Less Than
Social media can be a blessing and a curse. While it’s a convenient way to stay connected with friends and loved ones all over the world, social media can also have some pretty negative effects on your mental health.
According to an article in Forbes magazine, social media can:
- Trigger sadness
- Cause us to fall into the comparison trap
- Lead to jealousy
In addition, social media can also have a negative effect on your finances, especially if you follow “influencers.” How many times have you dropped money on an expensive pair of leggings or some other “must-have” item just because you saw an influencer wearing them?
As part of this 30 day glow up challenge, go through all of your social media platforms and unfollow anyone who:
- Makes you feel inferior
- Makes you feel jealous/envious
- Causes you to constantly compare yourself
- Doesn’t provide any benefit to your life
If you want to take it a step further, think about whether the benefits of being on a particular social media platform outweigh the negatives. For example, do you truly find enjoyment out of scrolling through your instagram feed or does it make you feel unworthy?
If “because everyone else has an instagram account” is the only reason you have one, then it might be worth considering deleting your account, or at least deleting the app from your phone.
#13 – Commit to Reading One Book Every Month
When is the last time you read a book? If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know how great it feels to cozy up with a good book. If you’re not, then now is the time to find out.
Beyond being a better way to pass time than scrolling mindlessly through social media, according to Healthline, benefits of reading books include:
- Increases empathy
- Builds your vocabulary
- Helps prevent age-related cognitive decline
- Reduces stress
- Helps alleviates depression symptoms
- Can help you to live longer
Some of the worlds’ top business people and entrepreneurs make reading a part of their daily routine – Warren Buffet reportedly dedicates 80% of his time to reading. (Of course, most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to do that.)
Start by committing to reading one book per month, then go from there.
Need some recommendations? Check out the “Bestseller” and “New & Trending” section of ThriftBooks.
ThriftBooks is the biggest online retailer of used books in the United States and offers free shipping on all orders of $10 or more. And the best thing – buying used books lowers your carbon footprint.
#14 – Take a Warm Bath Once Per Week
Taking a long, warm bath might seem like a frivolous luxury, but you’ll be happy to know that there are actually several health benefits associated with a hot bath.
A study conducted at Loughborough University found that an hour-long soak burned as many calories as a half-hour walk, along with stimulating an anti-inflammatory response which helps protect us against illness and infection.
How to Have the Ultimate Healing Bath
- Fill your tub with warm water, at around 92 degrees Fahrenheit
- Add some epsom salts to help soften the skin and reduce soreness and stress
- Add a Joy Organics CBD bath bomb. Each bath bomb is infused with aromatic lavender oil and 25mg of CBD, designed to help you unwind and relax.
- Lay back and relax for 30 minutes
- After your bath, soften and moisturize your skin with THC-free CBD cream, containing organic aloe leaf juice, olive oil and safflower oleosomes.
#15 – Track Gratitude
Practicing gratitude is one of the simplest, most effective ways to increase your well-being and life satisfaction.
UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons is one of the world’s leading experts on gratitude – he’s been studying the effects of gratitude for over two decades.
His research has discovered a multitude of benefits of keeping a gratitude journal, including:
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated
(You can read the full list here)
Dr Emmons recommends keeping a gratitude journal in which you list 5 things you are grateful for every week. According Dr Emmons, this simple practice “allows you to see your gifts in life as new and exciting, and helps you stop taking things for granted.”
You can use a simple notebook as your gratitude journal. Alternatively, the Panda Planner (more info below) includes a “morning review” and “weekly review” section, in which you can enter the things you are grateful for, helping you to cultivate happiness and focus on the good in life.
#16 – Take the Panda Path
The Panda Planner is a scientifically-designed planner (yep, there’s such a thing) that helps you to take control of your life, with a heavy focus on increasing happiness and improving productivity.
Michael Leip, the founder of Panda Planner, created the planner after suffering from Lyme Disease, Traumatic Brain Injury and Cancer. Overwhelmed by the struggles life had thrown at him, he created a system based on neuroscience and positive psychology which allowed him to regain control of his life. Thus, the Panda Planner was born.
The Panda Planner is a must-have tool in your 30 day glow up challenge arsenal because it helps you:
- Gain confidence and control over your life
- Stay focused, organized and productive
- Achieve a better work-life balance
- Develop deeper connections with the people who truly matter
- Regain the spark in your life and be excited about every day
I think we can all agree that those pretty awesome benefits, right? To save 15% on your Panda Planner, click the button below and use the code: GIMME15
#17 – Declutter
Clutter is bad for your physical and mental health, so it’s time to say au revoir to the clutter you’ve accumulated.
Of course, what constitutes “clutter” can differ from person to person. A friend of mine absolutely loves trinkets and is constantly buying and display new pieces of home decor. It makes her happy and that’s great.
Personally, I prefer a slightly more minimalist environment. Being surrounded by all manner of trinkets makes me feel overwhelmed and claustrophobic.
Having said that, I think we can all agree that trash, unsorted mail and overflowing closets don’t make anyone feel calm so that’s where we’ll start.
#1 – Start by grabbing two garbage bags and going through every room of your house. Place anything that can be recycled into one bag (empty water bottles, newspapers, magazines, etc.) Place anything else that can’t be donated or sold (i.e. trash) into the other bag.
#2 – Next, if you have a big pile of unsorted mail that’s accumulated, go through it. Throw out any junk mail, set aside bills and any urgent matters. If you find yourself having a hard time staying on top of incoming mail, it might be worth investing in a cute mail organizer.
#3 – Finally, it’s time to go through your closet and drawers. Aside from formal wear or funeral attire, if there is anything you haven’t worn for at least one year, it’s time to consider whether it’s an item you truly need or if you’re just holding onto it, well… “because.”
Anything that is torn, stained or faded beyond repair can be tossed or used as wash rags. Items that are good condition but you no longer wear can either be donated or sold.
#18 – Buy a Satin Pillowcase
We all know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep, and the perfect satin pillowcase can help that happen.
Not only does a satin pillowcase feel smooth, soft and luxurious – sleeping on a satin pillowcase can improve your appearance, too.
- Reduce hair friction, causing less breakage
- Doesn’t absorb moisture, thus reducing hair frizz and helping
- Can help to prevent wrinkles
#19 – Grow Your Own Herbs
If you’ve always fancied the idea of growing your own herbs, now’s the perfect time to start. Growing herbs at home has multiple benefits, including:
- Fresh herbs available at any time
- Healthy way to add flavor to a meal
- Saves money
- Looks beautiful on your windowsill
- A fun, new hobby
Worried You’re a Black Thumb?
If you struggle to keep plants alive, then I recommend the Aerogarden. The Aerogarden is a sleek, stylish indoor hydroponic herb growing system.
The Aerogarden includes LED growing lights and a control panel that reminds you when to add water and plant food, and automatically switches the LED lights on and off. It can’t get easier than that!
#20 – Diffuse Essential Oils
Have you ever wondered why certain smells evoke such strong memories? Perhaps the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven takes you back to when you were a child, eagerly anticipating that first bite. Or maybe a certain cologne reminds you of a warm hug from your grandfather.
The reason for this is because our olfactory response (aka our sense of smell) is linked to the limbic system – the part of our brain that controls emotions and memories.
Research has shown that the smell of various essential oils can improve our well-being.
According to Healthline, lavender, jasmine and bergamot essential oils can all help with anxiety, while lavender and cedarwood can help you sleep better.
One of the best ways to benefit from essential oils is to diffuse them throughout your living space. This beautiful wood grain diffuser comes with 10 essential oils and features 7 ambient light modes with 2 intensity settings. It includes a convenient auto-shutoff feature and is BPA-free.
#21 – Trim Your Split Ends
Trimming your split ends is an easy way to improve the overall appearance of your hair so let’s make it a part of this glow up challenge! Leaving too long between trims can allow split ends to travel up the shaft of the hair, leaving your hair with a dull, dry, frizzy appearance.
Don’t have time to go the salon? Here’s a tutorial on how to trim your split ends at home.
#22 – Moisturize Your Skin (With SPF 15)
Our skin is our largest organ, but it’s one that we often forget to take care of. Maintaining a regular skin care routine is important for healthy, blemish-free skin and goes a long way towards slowing the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
According the University of Tennessee Medical Center, the most important time to moisturize your skin is after you’ve showered, because hot water strips your skin of it’s natural oils which can leave it parched and dry.
For the face:
Andalou Naturals has a lovely budget-friendly sheer-tinted SPF 30 moisturizer and beauty balm that features vitamin C and fruit stem cell complex. All of the ingredients are organic, non-GMO, sustainable, fair-trade, cruelty-free and nature-derived.
For the body:
Hempz Yuzu & Starfruit daily herbal moisturizer is my favorite organic, cruelty-free SPF 30 body moisturizer.
It features 100% Pure Hemp Seed Oil, Shea Butter, Coffee Cherry Extract, Vitamins A, B, C and E, Citrus Fruit Complex and a light, natural fragrance that doesn’t dry out your skin.
#23 – Whiten Your Teeth
Clean, healthy, white teeth can have a drastic effect on your overall appearance (which is probably why American’s spend $1.4 billion a year on over-the-counter teeth whitening products.)
Having a healthy, white smile can also improve your self-confidence and encourage you to smile more, which makes you more attractive and makes other people smile, too (smiling is contagious, after all!)
The Best At-Home Whitening Kit
Getting your teeth whitened at the dentist can be costly, painful and time consuming, which is why I recommend checking out my favorite at-home whitening kit.
Go Smile is a hands-free device that uses a powerful sonic vibration to thoroughly clean and whiten your teeth in just 7 days. There’s also a whitening mode that uses blue light to whiten your teeth without the sonic vibration.
The BLU Hands-Free Toothbrush & Whitening Device comes with the following:
- 1 x BLU Whitening Device
- 2 x Silicon Mouth Trays (Whitening & Brushing)
- 1 x 2.03 oz Foaming Whitening Toothpaste
- 1 x USB Charger & Wall Adapter
Below are my personal results which I was very pleased with!
If you’d like to try the BLU Hands-Free Toothbrush & Whitening Device, I have an exclusive discount code that allows you to save 15%. Simply click on the button below and use the code SMILE15.
#24 – Straighten Your Posture
You probably grew up hearing your parents tell you a million times to “stand up straight.” As it turns out, they had a good reason – good posture is a very important for your health.
“Posture” refers to the alignment and positioning in your body in response to gravity. Gravity is always exerting force on our joints, ligaments and muscles – by maintaining good posture, we help to ensure that the forces of gravity are evenly distributed across our body and aren’t putting too much stress on any one area.
Beyond the health benefits, maintaining good posture also improves your appearance. According to Healthline, good posture makes you appear taller and your stomach flatter. That makes standing up straight probably the easiest way to achieve flatter abs!
Improving your posture isn’t always easy, but you can start by doing these 3 things:
- Stand up straight and tall, with your chin level to the ground, pulling your shoulders back, and holding your stomach firm.
- Keep your weight on the balls of your feet, as opposed to your heels, which encourages slouching.
- When you’re walking, pretend you have a book on your head.
#25 – Be Kind
It might sound like a cliche, but kind people really are more attractive.
In this study, a sample of 2157 male university students were asked to rate the attractiveness of a diverse group of women, based solely on their appearance with no personality information given. All of the men agreed on the same type of woman they considered to be attractive.
In the second experiment, they were given pictures of a variety of women PLUS information on their personality. When personality was taken into account, the men found a far greater variety of women attractive.
In a nutshell, having a great personality makes you more attractive.
Being kind also makes you feel better about yourself and gives you the opportunity to brighten someone else’s day. And the best part – it costs you absolutely nothing.
And That’s Your Entire Glow Up Challenge List
I hope you enjoy this Glow Up Challenge as much as I did. As you can see, I really tried to take a wholistic approach to creating this list.
Instead of focusing solely on your external appearance, you’ll transform yourself, mind, body and soul.
The three are all interlinked, so it’s important to take care of each equally.
Try not to feel overwhelmed by this glow up challenge list! The point is to take small steps and gradually turn these actions into habits. I promise you – it’s worth it.