You've probably heard common phrases about hard work and dedication—"Nothing happens overnight," "Things worth having don't come easy"—and thought they only applied to financial or material gains. Truth be told, though, these are two of the most spot-on phrases that describe fitness as well.|
If you are currently unhappy with your physique, bodyweight, strength or general levels of wellness, you did not get to this point overnight. In many cases, it's a long-term compounding of poor training, nutrition and lifestyle habits that finally catch up to you and punch you in the face like Mike Tyson one day out of nowhere.
But it doesn't happen out of nowhere. Every day, there are things you can do to either move toward your goals or move away from them. Just like the downward slope, the climb to triumph and physical fitness is also an accumulation effect—the bad happens slowly over time and the good comes even slower. But progress is progress.
If you're ready for a change, start with the next 30 days. With this day-by-day guide, you can adopt just one daily habit to make this the healthiest month of your life, both mentally and physically.
These are not chores; these are habits. Don't just do them once and then quit, do them every day (or as often as it makes sense) but add them one at a time so you know you can handle it. Add these to your lifestyle and make them fit because the return on investment here is 10-fold.
30 Days to Healthier Habits
Day 1: Drink enough water today.
There are several theories on how much water an individual should drink in a day. Truth be told, there is no one right answer. Everyone lives a different lifestyle with unique demands and should fuel their body based on those demands.
Hydrating yourself is immensely important for general health as well as performance towards your fitness goals. Proper hydration can help your body function optimally from the inside-out—from your organs, to your joints, to your muscles and even to your skin.
Day 2: Get enough sleep today.
Sleep is the greatest performance enhancer available. Quality sleep trumps every supplement or quick-fitness-fix ever, and it's 100 percent free!
Today is the day you optimize not only your sleep habits, but your life. Establish a bedtime for yourself and commit to getting eight hours of quality sleep tonight and every night. Make this non-negotiable if you're serious about creating a healthier life for yourself.
Look, I get it, there are some certain instances that may prevent you from getting high-quality sleep every single night. You may be a new parent, a third shift worker or have an actual medical condition that prevents you from doing so. Whatever the case may be, it is in your best interest to consciously dedicate some time to finding ways to get proper rest.
Day 3: Eat something from the Earth today.
One of the most simple and impactful nutrition tips for losing weight and getting healthier is to simply eat more natural foods. Look at your meals. Are you eating plants, nuts, seeds and some source of protein? Or are you eating lab-manufactured foods that have ingredients in them that you can't even pronounce?
Make a conscious effort to put something unaltered from the Earth on your plate, such as spinach, kale, almonds, berries or peppers. The whole goal here is to simplify your eating. Avoid over-processed items and just eat what the natural food sources as they grow.
Day 4: Create a goal today.
If you don't have any goals in life, create at least one a day. It doesn't even have to be about fitness, but a person with no goals is a person who will never truly grow in any way. The goal you create on this day can be short-term ("I want to start reading a new book by the end of this week") or long-term ("I want to exceed my work goals for the next three months to earn a bonus and take my family on vacation"), but the most important thing is that you recognize it as a serious goal and work every day toward achieving it. Finding your purpose and dedicating yourself to chasing new goals will bring happiness and confidence to your life.
Day 5: Create a workout plan for yourself today.
Today is the day you commit to daily activity. Through exercise you can reduce stress, improve body composition, fight off illness and disease, optimize sleep, reduce pain and discomfort and so much more.
Whether you're just getting started or are already a gym rat, create a new workout plan or hire someone to create one for you today. Making physical fitness a non-negotiable part of your life is going to be a game changer. Schedule your workouts like a meeting with your company's CEO—don't miss it if it's on the calendar.
Day 6: Have a kitchen audit today.
Normally the term "audit" is a stressful one used by the IRS, but in this case it's actually awesome. A kitchen audit is where you go through your entire refrigerator and pantry and ask yourself this question about every item you see: "Is this going to help me be the best version of myself?" If the answer is no, throw it away and don't look back. Don't keep anything around that is going to deter you from your goals.
Day 7: Spend at least 30 minutes outdoors today.
America is vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D helps maintain healthy bones and teeth, regulate hormones and insulin levels, and plays a huge role in supporting brain function, and yet, many people are not getting enough of this essential vitamin.
There's this humongous star-thing up in the sky called the sun, and it is to thank for giving you the vitamin D you need. Make it a point to go soak up some rays for a least 30 minutes a day.
Day 8: Say no to the snooze button today.
This is never a popular thing to say, but you need to make today the last day you hit the snooze button. Here's my reason: If you "snooze" you are just prolonging yourself from waking up, which you must eventually do anyway. Do you really want the first thing you do today to be procrastinate? Will that set a tone that allows you to procrastinate on other things throughout your day?
Now, here's science's reason: In most cases, the extra sleep you get by snoozing actually doesn't benefit your body as "rest." In fact, it could actually complicate your sleep cycles and cause more harm than good.
Bottom line, don't snooze. Discipline yourself to set a time to go to bed that allows you to set an appropriate wake up time, then get up and crush your day.
Day 9: Meditate today.
I used to think meditation was weird and kind of a hoax. I was stupid. Meditation doesn't have to involve you in a dark room full of candles, humming with your eyes closed. Meditation is simply the act of being mindful and self-aware, in deep relaxation with no interruptions.
Adding as few as 10 minutes of meditation a day can help you become stress-free and laser-focused on your goals. Just taking some time away from chatter, screens and life in general can help you clarify and organize your thoughts.
Day 10: Perform a random act of kindness today.
The absolute best way to lift yourself up is to go lift up someone else. Perform a random act of kindness today (holding the door open, sending a handwritten letter of appreciation to a friend) and notice the rush of joy and satisfaction that flows through your body.
Day 11: Say "yes" to something out of the ordinary today.
Sometimes opportunities don't come your way because you don't let allow them in. If you're often quick to opt-out of anything outside your comfort zone, you could be missing out on special moments of life. Today, say "yes" today to something that you normally wouldn't—you never know what could be waiting for you.
Day 12: Try a new kind of exercise today.
If you love to lift weights, go try a boot camp class. If you're a dedicated yogi, go for a swim. If you're not currently a fan of exercise, go try something that sounds like it may be fun. There are so many ways to incorporate exercise into your life, so keep trying new things and getting better at as many as you can.
Day 13: Reward yourself with an experience today.
When it comes to rewarding yourself for hard work and accomplishment, many people will turn to food, clothes or other material items. While there's nothing wrong with those option, today, switch it up and see how it makes you feel to reward yourself with an experience. Anything from skydiving or a road trip to a local national park will do, but focus first on valuing the experience.
Day 14: Invite a friend to the gym with your today.
Whether you're crushing your weight-room goals or looking to try out that new Pilates studio, today is a great day to bring someone else in on the action! Working out with a partner can definitely help drive more intensity, purpose and consistency within any exercise program. Having someone to keep you on point and accountable is a huge benefit for long-term success.
Day 15: Listen to a podcast on your way to work today.
Mark Twain once said, "The man who can't read has no advantage over the man who doesn't read." I respect Mr. Twain and all, but I personally have some issues sitting down and reading an actual book. That doesn't stop me from consuming info, though, and it shouldn't stop you either. The commute to work is a great opportunity to listen to podcasts to further your education or inspire you to dream bigger.
Day 16: Remove one hour of sitting from your day today.
Some say that sitting is the new smoking. And we, as a country, do way too much of it. If you want to make an impact on your health and wellness, simply removing one hour of sitting from your day can make a huge difference.
The act of sitting itself has some drawbacks, biomechanically, that can lead to low-back pain, neck pain, upper-extremity dysfunction and other postural issues. That being said, the issue with sitting is really more related to the lack of activity and foreshadowing of a sedentary lifestyle. Aim to get up and walk for seven to 10 minutes if you work at a desk or walk around the block at lunch to give your booty a break.
Day 17: Take an ice cold shower today.
If you take showers in the morning, this little tip can be the jolt you need to kick start your day. While more studies are needed, the low temperature has been shown to increase productivity, alleviate depression, send an "uplifting effect" through the body and relieve pain. The shower doesn't have to be ice cold for the entire time. You can do a cold-to-hot shower or vice versa. I recommend getting in the shower without the water running, turning on the cold water once you're in and toughing it out for about 30 to 90 seconds.
Day 18: Get your portions under control today.
This is the simplest way to control your food portions: Your protein source should be about the size of your palm; your carb source should be about the size of your cupped hand; and your fat source should be about the size of your thumb. No fancy food scales or apps required.
Day 19: Unfollow all negativity in your social media feed today.
We all have those people we follow on social media just because we either:
Day 20: Prep your meals for the week today.
This one is a little more involved, but proper planning prevents poor performance. Apply that to any aspect of your life and it's going to go a long way, but in the realm of nutrition this is especially true.
Meal planning and prepping gives you the ability to save time, money and stress by knowing exactly what and how much you're eating for each meal. By simply allocating an hour or two once a week to planning and preparing meals in advance, you can put yourself in full control of your dietary actions. You won't need willpower to avoid fast food or unhealthy snacks throughout the week because you already know when, what and how much you're eating.
Day 21: Try to remove one hour of screen time from your day today.
A few days ago, you removed one hour of sitting from your day. Today, remove one hour of screen time. Together, the two new habits can radically optimize your posture, vision, activity levels and stress levels. No matter if you're giving up time with your laptop, phone or television, the real benefit here lies in what you do with your extra hour. Maximize this hour without screens with family time, goal strategizing, exercise or anything else that gives you joy.
Day 22: Try a fruit or vegetable you've never tried before today.
The first time I ever tried yucca, it changed my life. The food I used to ignore is now one of my favorites. Food and people often have very harsh relationships. While everyone focuses on what they should avoid—gluten, dairy, meat—most people miss out on the joy food can bring because they're too busy looking for problems. Instead, focus on what you can eat and try to make that menu grow daily by experimenting with new veggies and fruits. Who knows? You could find a new diet staple along the way.
Day 23: Find a healthy recipe site you love today.
Boredom is the destroyer of good intentions, especially when it comes to eating healthy meals. While some people thrive eating the same thing every single day, counting on the routine to keep them accountable, others see a grapefruit sitting on the breakfast table every morning and start to regret their decision to get healthy in the first place. If you fall in the latter group, it's important to find sources of constant inspiration for creating healthy meals. Subscribe to the SparkRecipes email list, find a healthy blogger on Instagram or bookmark several recipe websites—whatever it takes to keep you feeling excited about fueling your body with nutritious and delicious foods.
Day 24: Hide your bathroom scale today.
The typical bathroom scale is honestly near the point of being useless. Sure, it tells you how much you weigh but how important is that in the grand scheme of things? Body composition trumps weight in every scenario, so I would ditch the bathroom scale and use the mirror as your primary source of progress.
Checking your weight every now and again works for some people, but keep in mind that it can also be deceiving. If you lose 10 pounds of fat, for example, the scale will only show that you lost eight pounds, yet your body will look dramatically different. Use the mirror, body measurements or how your clothes fit as your primary means of checking progress and save the scale for only sometimes.
Day 25: Do this simple breathing drill today.
Breathing is something we often take for granted. For example, take a deep breath in right now. Now, exhale. You probably sucked in as much air as you could using your mouth and chest, then exhaled using your chest and shoulders.
Now, try this. Sit up nice and tall. Inhale using your nose only, try to fill up your body, sides and back with air without your chest moving. Now, exhale through your mouth like you're blowing out a birthday cake with one hundred candles on it. You just breathed correctly, using your diaphragm. Try to do that for five breaths, 10 times a day. This exercise is two-fold because it teaches you how to breathe efficiently while also triggering a nervous system response that is conducive to calming you down when things get hectic.
Day 26: Track your nutrition today.
For some, tracking their food for the first time can be a wake-up call. Portion sizes, small snacks that add up and fast food options can all add up in ways some people don't expect. Head over to the Nutrition Tracker to see if you're in the right ballpark with your food before you get frustrated that you're not losing any weight.
Day 27: Donate time or money to a great cause today.
Give more. It's something we can all do, plus it's great for our might and body. Today is all about giving, so go out and donate your time or money to a great cause that makes your heart happy! Choose something you believe in, do some research to find a great organization and go make a difference.
Day 28: Express gratitude today.
Have you ever just thanked someone for being a great friend? Told someone how much you appreciate their effort at work? Wrote a handwritten note to your spouse for no reason at all? Expressing genuine gratitude not only makes others feel great, but it also reminds you of how truly blessed you are. Even if things aren't going your way, showing some gratitude puts things into perspective, leaving you focused and more motivated to go out and chase your dreams.
Day 29: Take a risk today.
The person who doesn't jump will never fly. Take a leap of faith today. I know you have some things you may have been holding back on doing for quite some time, well, today is the day you act. Erase any fear and doubt from your thoughts and take that risk. It will pay off.
Day 30: Share this article with someone today.
The last day of your healthiest month ever is here. But it doesn't just end cold turkey. Hopefully your mind and body feel the changes taking place. If you've truly made any of these tips into habits, you now understand that health and fitness is far more than squats, running and eating healthy. These things collectively make up our health and wellness.
Today, share this article with someone if it helped you at all. These are all things I've learned in my life through experiences and mentors, so passing them on is part of the responsibility. Now it's your turn.