How to Keep Your 30-Day Challenge on Track
by Steven Auger
When it comes to making life changes, getting motivated is the easy part, right? Staying motivated — and continuing to fuel that motivation with action — tends to be the real challenge.
First, you're all fired up to shed a few pounds. So you commit to exercising. The gym becomes part of your regular routine. Eventually, though, motivation can tend to wane. Implementing some simple, healthy habits for 30 days can recharge your batteries and get you back on track. Not only does it make for an exciting change of pace, but it can help you develop some habits of happiness that just might become a way of life.
Organizing these habits into different categories can help you make sure you're successfully putting yourself in a position to spur that motivation into action. Here are some different areas you can focus on in a 30-day challenge, and a whole lot of small tips to work into your daily routines. Focus on the habits that are right for you (or create some of your own!), and you'll end up with a plan to stay motivated for a long time to come.
Diet and Nutrition
As the saying goes, abs are made in the kitchen. Make healthy food choices by shopping the perimeter of the grocery store. Fill your cart with fruits and veggies, meat and fish, and dairy. Meals are meant to be enjoyed, so put down the fork between bites and savor your food. Stay hydrated with plenty of water. Have a refillable bottle with you throughout the day and keep one on your nightstand. And don't forget to start your day with a healthy breakfast.
Schedule some early morning workouts before heading to work. You'll feel invigorated and ready to tackle the day. Use your lunch break for a brisk walk instead of surfing the web. Skip elevators and take the stairs instead. When you're at the gym, challenge yourself by adding five minutes to your cardio routine and increasing the resistance a level or two. If you're having trouble staying motivated or fitting in your workouts, find an exercise buddy who can provide encouragement and help you stay accountable.
A body in motion stays in motion, right? So fitness and healthy eating are easier to maintain when that's part of your lifestyle. Plan your workouts at the start of each week and log your results to chart your progress over time. Cooking in bulk on the weekend allows for minimal meal prep time during your busy week. While a healthy body is one reward for working out, why not actually profit? Keep a Health and Wellness Jar on your dresser. Deposit a dollar after each workout and treat yourself to something nice every once in a while.
A nourished mind is as important as a nourished body. Try setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier than normal to focus on the upcoming day. Drive in silence on the way to the gym and enjoy the peace and quiet. Listen to music when you're doing cardio to keep you upbeat and energized as you push through those extra five minutes you added to your cardio cycle!
Rest and Recovery
Taking care of your body away from the gym is just as important as working hard in the gym. On the days you can't fit in a full workout, try going for a short walk or an easy ride on a bicycle. Also, soak in a warm bath to soothe those muscles you've been asking a lot of. Before you turn in at night, try reading instead of staring at a screen. Or, meditate for a few minutes to help calm your mind before settling down.
While a lot of these habits require little energy, they could provide big benefits. Developing habits of happiness that become a part of your daily life is a cornerstone to living a healthy lifestyle.
As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.