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Take the Birchbox and Women’s Health #PowerUp Challenge!

This month, we've teamed up with Women’s Health to amp up your summer. To kick things off, we've included 12 Power-Up Challenges in all your July Birchboxes. They'll motivate you to break energy-sapping habits—like slumping in your seat—and take up healthier ones—like eating your veggies for breakfast. Starting July 3, try our tricks and share your pics with #PowerUpChallenge @Birchbox and #Giveaway for a chance to win a collection of July 2014 Birchbox products, plus a trip to NYC for a beauty and fitness upgrade that will be featured in an upcoming issue of Women’s Health. What are you waiting for? Get started!


Challenge #1: Write It Down

Keeping a workout log is like a written pat on the back: See how far you’ve come, recommit to your routine, and motivate yourself to keep pushing.
● Choose a format you can stick with, whether that’s a journal or an app like Evernote.
● Scribble down one positive takeaway from each workout, such as feeling happier or more energetic.
● Review your workout and find one small way to improve it next time. Add an extra rep, go for heavier dumbbells, or run a few minutes longer.


Challenge #2: Part Your Hair Differently

As much as we like the idea of summer makeovers, major change can be intimidating. Take the less committal route by switching your part. You’ll be surprised at the difference a new direction can make—and it might even convince you to go for a big chop or color job.
● If you routinely part your hair to the left, switch to the right side or vice versa. This will also give your hair more body—score!
● A part doesn’t need to be straight. Throw your hair a curveball and opt for a rounded part, which will create interesting asymmetry and add volume.
● Conquer cowlicks with the help of your blow-dryer. While hair is still wet, use a round brush and dry in the opposite direction of your hair growth, concentrating the heat at the roots.


Challenge #3: Eat Veggies for Breakfast

We all know the health benefits of vegetables (for starters, they lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers), but it can be tough to get in the daily recommended 2.5 cups. Solution: Work produce into breakfast to ensure you start things off on the right (green) foot.
● Add kale or spinach to your breakfast smoothie. You won’t even taste it. Try this Chocolate Love Smoothie, which tastes decadent but is packed with antioxidants. ● Whip up a farmer’s market omelette with asparagus, zucchini, or other greens.
● Two words: avocado toast. Pile some arugula on top and you’re off to a superfood start. Want more superfood ideas? Find out the ingredients wellness guru Kim Snyder is crushing on.


Challenge #4: Get Out of Your Color Comfort Zone

Take inspiration from Pantone’s shade of the year, and slick on an orchid-toned lip or nail color. Not only is this shade of purple wearable, but it’s a fresh update on your usual red or pink.
● Keep things summery by choosing a purple that is cheery and bright (save the deep plums for fall).
● We recommend shades that have pink undertones to keep your nail and lip color looking feminine, fresh, and sophisticated. We like high-shine polishes and semi-sheer glosses in shades of lavender and lilac. Try Ruffian Nail Lacquer in Delirium and LAQA &Co Sheer Lip Lube in Menatour.


Challenge #5: Sit Smarter

Slouching can zap your energy and your mood—and over time may lead to muscle fatigue, pain, and even injury. Straighten up by practicing smart sitting techniques.
● Sit towards the front of your chair (rather than leaning against the back), with your hips tilted slightly forward.
● Plant both feet on the ground, hip-width apart, toes pointed straight ahead.
● Keep your chin parallel to the floor, with your ears aligned over your shoulders, and shoulders stacked over your hips.


Challenge #6: Skip the Mirror

We know...they’re everywhere! But try dodging mirrors for days (yes, your camera phone counts). One study found that gazing at your reflection for up to 10 minutes increases anxiety. Focus on how you feel—not how you look.
● Can’t hack it for 24 hours? Log the number of times you look in the mirror over the course of one day - then aim to cut that number in half.
● Once you begin weaning yourself off, try a “mirror fast” for a day, weekend, even a week. Women who have done it for months at a time report feeling more confident in their looks.


Challenge #7: Up Your Sleep Quality

For total-body well-being, nothing beats more (and better) sleep. Focus on maximizing your shut-eye with a few simple tricks.
● Starting on a Monday, go to bed five minutes earlier than the night before. It won’t feel like a huge change day-to-day, but by Friday you could be getting 30 more minutes of sleep per night!
● Caffeine can stay in your system for more than 12 hours. Sip accordingly: Skip coffee or caffeinated drinks in the afternoons and evenings.
● Brush up on your “sleep hygiene.” No tech gadgets an hour before bed, keep your bedroom as dark as possible, and set the thermostat to 65-70°F.


Challenge #8: Log 10 Minutes of Outdoor Time Daily

Research indicates that spending time in nature—even something as small as a patch of grass, if you live in a city—could help protect your heart, brain, and overall well-being.
● Eat lunch outside. Find a bench under a tree or near some shrubs in your office parking lot - anything counts.
● Reroute your commute to drive, bike, or walk by some greenery. Think you’re stuck in a concrete jungle? Surveys show well over 50 percent of urban dwellers live within a half-mile of a park.
● Take your socializing outdoors—book clubs, workouts, even happy hours are healthier when they’re in the sun (with proper SPF, of course).


Challenge #9: Go on a Blue Streak

In addition to being a nice alternative to your basic black, blue eyeliner has the added benefit of disguising tired eyes. Cool hues work to tone down any redness and also make the whites of your eyes look brighter.
● Choose a blue that’s on the darker end of the spectrum. It will look just as sophisticated as your black, but without any of the harshness. Two excellent options: Vasanti Kajal Extreme in Electric Navy and Mally Beauty Evercolor Starlight Waterproof Eyeliner in Sailor.
● Concentrating on your upper lash line will do the eye-opening trick, but for an extra pop, line your lower lashes too.
● Feeling daring? Experiment with teal, aqua, or cobalt. A thin line across your lid is all you need to make a big statement. For your consideration: Cynthia Rowley Beauty in Sky Blue and Make Gel Eyeliner Pencil in Cool Aqua.


Challenge #10: Sneak Cardio Into Your Day

We know you’re (crazy) busy. But you can still work exercise into your schedule. Research has found that even small, simple changes make a difference in overall fitness.
● Bypass the elevator. In one study, when subjects used the stairs exclusively for 12 weeks, those steps contributed to decreases in body fat, waist circumference, cholesterol, and an increase in lung capacity. Not too shabby!
● Take walk breaks—or even walking meetings—throughout your day. You can burn 60 more calories an hour simply by standing rather than sitting.
● Use TV commercial breaks as an excuse to get in a few sets of squats or crunches. Couch potato, wha? Got 10 minutes? Then you've got a killer workout—try this high-intensity, full-body routine.


Challenge #11: Take a Cold Shower

Research suggests that taking cold showers may improve circulation, boost your immune system, and increase your metabolism. Chilly showers can even improve your outlook (counterintuitive, we know) by stimulating parts of the brain associated with mood!
● Gradually build up your temperature tolerance, first showering in cold water a couple minutes and then adding more and more time. As with anything else, if you make it a habit, it will get easier.
● Don’t go from hot to cold in the same shower - it’s much easier to take the plunge than to switch back and forth.
● Try building up a sweat first. Chilly H2O is a great way to regulate body temperature and can also help prevent muscle soreness and fatigue.


Challenge #12: Perfect Your Push-Up

This old-school move is one of the most effective ways to tone your whole body. It’s also one of the easiest exercises to do improperly—or to psych yourself out about. But with a little practice, you can master the full-form push-up.
● Focus on your form first, then work on building your repetitions.
● Start in plank position, with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
● As you lower your body, keep your gaze about three feet in front of you. Your elbows should form a 45-degree angle when your torso is at the bottom of the move. Push back to the starting position as quickly as possible. Keep your core braced the entire time - think of your push-up as a moving plank.
● Once you start to break form, it’s time to rest. Bonus: Find out the five most common workout mistakes, and how to correct them.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY; Must be 18 or over and a legal US resident. Only 1 entry per person. Sweepstakes begins on 7/3/14 and must be posted by 11:59 p.m. ET on 7/31/14. For full rules and entry details visit Void where prohibited.

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