How do you lose weight that stays off and build muscle that stays on? Many people try crash diets or low carb diets that are hard to sustain, but for consistent results, the best strategy is to make changes in your daily routine to reap long-term benefits.
A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology by Phillippa Lally found that it takes at least 66 days for a new habit to become automatic.
Below are thirty habits you can change this month. By improving one habit a day, you can ease into a healthy lifestyle without feeling overwhelmed.
Tips To Creating New Habits
Day 1 – Set a realistic bedtime for yourself. By going to bed at the same time each night, you are less likely to waste time in the evening playing on your phone or sitting in front of your television.
Day 2 – Eat breakfast. It doesn't matter what you eat yet, as long as you get into the habit of eating something within an hour of waking.
Day 3 – Develop a daily bedtime routine. By going through the same routine each night, you'll condition your body to get ready for sleep. Avoid caffeine in the evenings and avoid looking at bright screens within 30 minutes of bed.
Day 4 – Restock your Tupperware. Make sure you have enough Tupperware to prep a full day of meals. Depending on your daily schedule, you will likely eat at least breakfast and dinner at home but prepare yourself for those busy days when you may be away from morning to night.
Day 5 – Eat three high-protein foods a day. Good options are fish, chicken, Greek yogurt, eggs, protein powder, and lean meats.
Day 6 – Get out of your seat once per hour. Frequently moving is especially crucial if you work a job where you are seated all day. Walking around increases blood flow and changes the way your body processes carbohydrates.
Day 7 – Replace your unhealthy cooking oils with healthier options. Avoid sunflower, soybean, and sesame oil and replace them with extra virgin olive, avocado, or coconut oil.
Day 8 – Buy a gym membership and go three times a week. For now, it doesn't matter what you do at the gym as long as you get into the habit of going.
Day 9 – Eat a high protein food for breakfast. Eggs are an excellent choice because of their high vitamin and mineral content, but if you rush out of your house in the morning and don't have time to cook, try a protein shake.
Day 10 – Spend five minutes each night stretching or foam rolling to prevent injuries.
Day 11 – Add a fish oil supplement to your diet. Fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids that help lower your risk of heart disease, promote brain health, and decrease inflammation in the body.
Day 12 – Add a cardio exercise to your weekly workout routine twice a week. Cardio exercise helps your body process sugars more efficiently and lowers your risk of heart disease.
Day 13 – Eat a complex carbohydrate with your lunch. Good options are oats, sweet potato, quinoa, chickpeas, whole wheat pitas, brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta.
Day 14 – Buy something healthy to snack on that's filling. Good options are baby carrots, sunflower seeds, or berries.
Day 15 – Do at least four different resistance training exercises during each of your gym sessions. Change the focus each day. Make one day for legs, one day for arms, and one day for back and core.
Day 16 – Add a handful of nuts to your diet each day. Nuts contain healthy fats that are filling and provide your body with essential nutrients.
Day 17 – Stop sleeping in on weekends. When you sleep in, it changes your body's circadian rhythm so try to resist the temptation to cut your sleep short during the week and catching up on it on Saturday and Sunday.
Day 18 – Increase your intake of high protein foods to four a day. Try having one with each major meal and one post workout.
Day 19 – Add a five-minute core routine to the end of your workouts. Core exercises can be repetitive and boring so break them into with smaller sessions.
Day 20 – Eat a complex carbohydrate source for dinner. The same options listed for lunch make good dinner options. Complex carbohydrates are more filling than sugary foods and keep your blood sugar stable.
Day 21 –Try to move around for at least ten minutes each morning after breakfast to increase blood flow and to stimulate your metabolism.
Day 22 – Add at least one meal per day that's high in dark, leafy greens. Good choices are spinach, bok choy, romaine lettuce, and kale.
Day 23 – Schedule at least one social event to your weekly calendar that involves physical activity. It could be hiking, going for a walk with your spouse, playing tennis, rock-climbing, or anything else you enjoy.
Day 24 – Add a complex carbohydrate source to your breakfast. Avoid sugary cereals. Oats or whole grain cereals stabilize your blood sugar and get you ready to face the day.
Day 25 – Fill your weekly grocery cart with at least four different colored vegetables. Brightly colored vegetables are high in antioxidants that reduce metabolic stress in your body.
Day 26 – Add one new exercise to your weightlifting routine each week. By trying new exercises, you find which ones work and which ones don't work for you.
Day 27 – Follow fitness accounts on YouTube or Instagram. By being exposed to information about fitness and weight loss you will become more knowledgeable.
Day 28 – Talk to at least one person at the gym each time you go. By getting to know the regulars and the staff, you can make working out a social activity that is more enjoyable.
Day 29 – Consume a protein shake within an hour of your workout. Consuming protein after working out is essential for repairing muscle damage. Get used to packing a shaker bottle in your gym bag.
Day 30 – Reward yourself. You have come a long way since day one. To solidify your new habits, keep it up for another month.
The goal isn't to be perfect, and maybe some of these specific habits don't fit your lifestyle. The key is to improve what you do on a daily basis. Let this serve as a guide more than a set of rules. In the same study where researchers found that it takes 66 days for a new habit to become automatic, they also found that a few missed days isn't going to set you back to the beginning again.