Challenges, Fitness

The 4×4 Strength Training, Cardio and Vegetable Eating Fitness Challenge

January 3, 2018

It’s the top of the year meaning the perfect time for us to tackle a new fitness challenge or, as we like to call it here at Jackie Unfiltered, host a #SweatyParty. In the past, we have done the 2015 #Sweatyin30 (30 workouts in 30 days), the 2016 #5in5 (5 workouts per week for 5 weeks) and the 2017 #NoFallFat (20 workouts in August).  Starting Monday January 8, 2018, we are diving into the #4x4FitnessChallenge where we will commit to completing at least 4 workouts per week (2 strength & 2 cardio workouts) for the next 4 weeks and eating at least 4 servings of vegetables per day (a serving is 1 cup).

Studies show that the combination of strength training and cardio helps people shed pounds faster, build lean muscle mass and increases cardiovascular endurance. For the first time ever, we are adding a dietary component to our fitness challenge by committing to eating more vegetables per day. Everybody knows that “abs are made in the kitchen.” You can work out till the cows come home but if you continue to eat high fat, high sodium and empty calorie processed foods then you won’t see results.


  • Yoga
  • Barre/Ballet Workouts
  • Weight Lifting
  • High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
  • Boxing
  • Martial Arts
  • Body Weight Exercises (push-ups, squats, Wall-sits, lunges, planks)


  • Elliptical machine
  • Biking
  • Rowing Machine
  • Running/Jogging
  • Jumping Rope
  • Speed Walking
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Swimming
  • Zumba or other aerobic type class

Now, let’s tackle the FOOD you are eating.  Managing a healthy diet is often the hardest part of health & wellness.  However, what you put in your body is arguably more important than fitness.  If you follow our tips below, you will find that eating at least four servings of vegetables a day (1 cup equals 1 serving) is quite manageable.  You just need to plan correctly (buy or order the correct foods) and get in the right mindset:

  1. BREAKFAST: Try adding spinach, kale or other vegetables in a breakfast smoothie, throwing vegetables in your eggs or layering kale leaves on your avocado toast
  2. LUNCH: Include a salad with every lunch or just eat a big colorful salad for lunch
  3. DINNER: ALWAYS start dinner with a salad and ALWAYS include at least one vegetable side dish with your dinner meal (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, eggplant, sautéed mushrooms, peppers, sweet potato, carrots, celery or squash to name a few)

Pack your refrigerator with prepped fruits and vegetables in clear plastic containers. You want the vegetables to jump out at you when you open the door. You will “eat” what you see.


Below are a few easy smoothie and vegetable recipes on Jackie Unfiltered for your veggie eating pleasure.  We are kind of “famous” for our delicious smoothies. Non-Dairy Mean Green Fighting Machine Smoothie has a whopping 2 cups of spinach.  After I originally posted this image on Instagram, my girl Desiree said that my insides must be “clean and as a whistle drinking this on the daily.”  My response, “Why yes they are!”

Martha’s Vineyard Green Machine ReBooster Smoothie Recipe - Martha’s Vineyard Green Machine ReBooster Smoothie is so refreshing that it instantly transports me back to our annual summer family vacation on the Cap Cod island of Martha’s Vineyard.  The spinach combined with the sweet peaches (buy frozen peaches during the winter), creamy avocado and tart Greek yoghurt remind me of lazy summer days spent on breezy beaches.

Avocado Spinach Vanilla Milkshake | Avocado Strawberry Vanilla Milkshake Smoothie is so frothy and yummy that your brain and tastebuds might actually think that you are indulging in a high fat and calorie laden drink served up at your favorite diner, fast food joint or ice cream parlor.  Your waistline will know better.


You would have to be living under a rock to not know that kale is a superfood.  At Jackie Unfiltered, we L.O.V.E kale.  Like really love it.  It’s delicious in smoothies like our Kale, Lemon Energizer Smoothie Recipe, thrown in stiry frys or soups like our Lentil Soup Recipe and simply sauteed with red onions, garlic, a little salt & pepper and then finished with a touch of balsamic vinegar.

Consider how you can “sneak” vegetables into ordinary dishes such as tacos, soups or even breakfast egg sandwiches.  In the fish tacos above, the greenery you see is actually chopped spinach.  The tacos are bursting with flavor from the fresh salsa, spicy guacamole, fragrant herbs and sliced red onions.  Trust me, nobody is thinking about that spinach but you and me! great way to introduce vegetables into dinner is to swap starchy ingredients like pasta or rice for “noodle like” vegetables such as the roasted spaghetti squash above or vegetable noodles made from zucchini or sweet potatoes.   Toss these “zoodles” with the same sauces as you would regular noodles: marinara, lemon garlic and red pepper sauce or simple olive oil, salt and pepper.

Let’s get #sweaty and start chomping on our veggies!!!

Okaaaayy, you should now have everything you need for the #4x4FitnessChallenge – strength training ideas, cardio workouts and tips on how to incorporate more vegetables into your daily diet. We want you to opt into this challenge by leaving a comment below saying “I’m In!” The accountability is key.  Make the commitment to us and yourself.

As always, thank you for stopping by Jackie Unfiltered. We wish you a very Happy New Year filled with healthy choices, lots of sweat and tons of joy. Leggggoooo!


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  • Reply Make Healthy & Beautiful Homemade Salads for 5 Bucks a Serving (includes grocery list & recipes) – Jackie UnFiltered January 11, 2018 at 1:04 am

    […] I tell folks they need to eat more vegetables like we are doing this month in the #4x4FitnessChallenge, they often respond with some version of the following: veggies are time consuming to prepare, […]

  • Reply Meghan January 8, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    I’m in! I will be starting next week as I have a crazy work trip this week and don’t want to set myself up for failure.

    • Reply JackieUnfiltered January 8, 2018 at 10:24 pm

      Awesome! Welcome to the sweaty party! I love that you are setting yourself up for success. Even though you are “officially” starting next week, think about eating the 4 vegetables per day starting today. Salads for lunch and with dinner. Once you are back at home next week, you only need to incorporate the workouts into your routine. Travel safe and thank you for stopping by Jackie Unfiltered!

      • Reply Gail M Barker January 9, 2018 at 8:46 pm

        Hello Jackie,
        I wanted to let you know that our mutual friend Trakia Walker sent me the details of your 4×4 challenge and I’m in!! It’s the motivation that I need to keep me consistent . Thanks for being you!

        • Reply JackieUnfiltered January 12, 2018 at 6:10 am

          Welcome to the #sweatyparty Gail! Please let us know if we can help you conquer this challenge. You can do this! Trakia is a rockstar!

  • Reply Easy Avocado & Greens Open Faced Sandwich Recipe (make it your way) – Jackie UnFiltered January 6, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    […] a serving of vegetables into the meal while still serving a classic comfort food (remember that the 4×4 January 2018 Strength Training, Cardio and Veggie Eating Challenge has us eating at least 4 vegetables a […]

  • Reply Apryl January 6, 2018 at 4:34 am

    Stumbled across this website and I love everything about it!! Count me in for the 4X4 fitness challenge! Thanks so much for the motivation ?

    • Reply JackieUnfiltered January 6, 2018 at 2:05 pm

      Welcome to the challenge! Please check in with us and post your progress. You can also follow along with the group on instagram @jackieunfiltered_

  • Reply ERICA DIXON January 5, 2018 at 5:43 am

    I’m ready

  • Reply Keke Cifferello January 5, 2018 at 4:46 am

    Love this post my love!

    • Reply JackieUnfiltered January 5, 2018 at 2:30 pm

      Thank you and happy New Year!! Let’s get this #SweatyParty Going!!

  • Reply Carlene Martin January 4, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Jackie, yoy are so inspiring, I would like to accept the 4 x4 Fitness challenge. What do I need I do to get started with your group?

    Thanks a bunch!
    Carlene Martin

    • Reply JackieUnfiltered January 5, 2018 at 2:30 pm

      Thank you Carlene. You have done everything you need to do by saying YES. We start Monday January 8. This is an honor system between you and your body. My suggestion is that you take a look at your calendar and plan your workouts by scheduling them in the same way you would an important meeting.

      For the food, think about what vegetables you and your family really like and then head to the store to stock up. I always try to keep Spinach, Kale, Brocolli, Cauliflower and Romaine Lettuce for quick meals and smoothies. Best of luck and keep checking back for updates! Also follow the group progress at @JackieUnfiltered_

  • Reply Tiffany Powell January 4, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    This post is EXCELLENT!!!! I’m excited to kickoff 2018 with this challenge and the JU community!!

    • Reply JackieUnfiltered January 5, 2018 at 2:26 pm

      Thank you Tiffany! We are excited to have you as we push health & wellness to the top of the 2018 priority list. Leggo!

  • Reply Garnell Shumate January 4, 2018 at 11:59 am

    Thanks for all these great ideas! I love a juice vs a smoothie because of yogurt – yuck lol! Any ideas? Also, pasta and rice are my weaknesses! Do you shred the squash yourself? I would like to try that – but the thought of me preparing that is a deterrent. I want to do better for 2018 and this is inspiring!

    • Reply JackieUnfiltered January 4, 2018 at 2:02 pm

      Hey Girl Hey.

      So if you don’t like yoghurt then try these substitutes to add thickness to your smoothies:
      -raw almonds, cashews, walnuts or pecans
      -frozen bananas

      I am not a fan of the taste of protein powders but if you can’t take the yoghurt then try few plant or egg white based protein powder. You need to add protein and healthy fats to your smoothie for them to act as a meal replacement and keep you satiated.

      As for the squash, grocery stores now sell pre-spiralized vegetables (zucchini, sweet potato and squash) in the cold vegetable aisle. Another time saver is to buy frozen cauliflower rice and use this as a replacement in dishes for regular rice.

      The Spaghetti Squash is time consuming and probably not for a busy night. However, you can do a cook-up on Sundays or another day and store the spaghetti squash in the fridge all week to toss into dishes as needed. (Its delicious cold out the fridge too!).

      It’s super easy to make. You just slice, season and put it in the oven. My recipe is here:

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