I’ve been wanting to tell you about 6FIT. It’s an awesome 6-week health & fitness challenge at DanceFIT studio, and it means a lot to me. We kicked off a new 6FIT Challenge last week, and the energy has been amazing! I have to admit, I feel like I’ve been feeding off of that energy so much more than I’ve been contributing to it over the past week. I had planned on heading into this 6FIT with tons of time to focus on food and exercise, and writing – then life intervened. Last week, what had been a casual home-buying search turned serious overnight, and I was suddenly knee-deep in real estate details. I’m certainly not counting any chickens before they hatch, but so far the madness of the past week has been well worth it (fingers crossed for continued smooth sailing).

6FIT Spokespeople

Left to right: Nicole, my fellow 2013 DanceFIT Spokesperson, Gina, owner of DanceFIT Studio & creator of 6FIT, and me!

Even though I’ve been a little distracted, I’ve actually been very grateful for the structure that 6FIT provides. Logging all of my food, exercise, sleep, water, etc, may take a few extra minutes throughout the day, but it has been hugely helpful in making me take a breath every now and then to check in and make sure that I’m still taking care of myself amidst the temporary insanity.

So, what is the 6FIT Challenge? In a nut shell, teams of at least 6 people compete for the best prize ever, improved health and fitness (so, we all win!). Participants strive to eat whole foods (least 6 servings of veggies and fruit a day), exercise 6 times per week (with 1 mandatory rest day), and log it all in a shared Google spreadsheet. Each team is made up of a mix of people who take classes in studio and virtually (via Skype), so some of my teammates are spread out around the country. It’s powerful! There’s TONS of motivation from teammates and DanceFIT staff. And the 80/20 Rule is a big part of the philosophy of the program.

These are the official 6FIT Rules:

1) Commit to exercising 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week

2) Hold yourself accountable for your food and drink intake by logging daily

3) You are required to attend 4 DanceFIT classes a week (6FIT includes unlimited classes during the program)

4) Sleep 7+ hours a night

5) Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day

6) Participate in the challenges each week (for example: vegetarian week, Hunt, Gather, Grow week, cardio challenge week)

7) Attend Monday Zumba or Pilates, and the 6FIT team meeting. (There’s a different version of this requirement for the Virtual teammates)

It’s called a “challenge” because, well, it’s challenging. But in the end, if we can take away a few strategies for healthier living, we’ve lived up to the challenge. How do we measure our success? 6FIT participants get points for servings of fruits and veggies, exercise completed, hours of sleep, ounces of water consumed…and we lose points for things like servings of sweets consumed. But it’s all about the balance. There should be + and – in the logs. Food and fitness points are averaged, so you can’t be successful if you go overboard on one and ignore the other. Just like in real life. 6FIT is a great way to try on different ways of eating and exercising to see what works in the long run. It’s all about finding sustainable strategies for improving or maintaining health and fitness. Plus, it’s fun! The competition aspect can be very motivating, and the team dynamic is encouraging. If you ever get the chance to participate in something like this, or actually join me for a 6FIT challenge at DanceFIT, I highly recommend it.

We’re about a week and a half into the current 6FIT Challenge, and it’s so much fun to see what everyone is eating, and what types of exercise people are doing. There is always such a huge variety, and everyone gets lots of inspiration from the food and fitness others are logging. Teammates are motivating each other through email and our 6FIT Facebook page. Recipes are being shared. Quinoa is the food of the week, so people are sharing lots of fun, creative quinoa recipes. Here’s one I came up with recently, and it’s very flexible for whatever you like in your quinoa.

Dried cranberries would also be very good in this recipe. You can change out the pine nuts for whatever kind of nuts you like or happen to have on hand. Just make sure they’re toasted so they add a nice crunchy element to the filling. Don’t skip the cheese because it helps bind the filling a little bit. You can use a variety of different cheeses according to your taste.

Quinoa and Spinach-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serves 2

2 acorn squash (1 1/2 pounds each), halved lengthwise and seeded

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped fine

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed

3 cups baby spinach (3 ounces)

1 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1. Roast Squash: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Brush cut sides of squash with 4 teaspoons oil, season with salt and pepper, and lay cut-side down on baking sheet. Roast until squash is tender and edges of flesh are lightly browned, about 45 minutes.

2. Make Filling: Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in quinoa and cook, stirring often, until quinoa is lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and continue simmering until quinoa is transparent and tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook until just wilted, 1 minute. Off heat, stir in 3/4 cup cheese, and pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Put it together: Flip roasted squash over on baking sheet and mound quinoa mixture into squash, pressing lightly to pack it in. Sprinkle filling with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Return to oven and bake until cheese begins to brown and filling is hot, 5 to 10 minutes.

Cheers!

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2 thoughts on “Challenge Accepted & Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash

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