When the calendar changes, it’s only natural to use it as extra motivation to get healthy, fit and back in shape. They say it takes two weeks for a habit to form, so we’ve developed a plan to incrementally add a new healthy habit for the year’s first five days, then aim to incorporate three out of five, or all five, each day for two weeks.
This plan is intended to help you gradually and systematically build healthy habits and make progress by conquering the first 19 days of 2019 while building new habits to last you 365 days and beyond.
The challenge: Layer on one healthy habit, one day at a time until you’re doing all five habits each day. Now it’s up to you to juggle all five (or three out of five) each day for 14 days and see what sticks. Print out our calendar below and let us know in the comments that you’re in!
Nailing this habit could change your entire life. The unfortunate truth is the average person sleeps less than the recommended 7–9 hours per night, and poor sleep is correlated with many health problems as well as weight gain.
For the next 19 days (at least), commit to getting 8 hours of sleep every night — you’ll feel more energized, improve your mental and physical health and boost your recovery.
Regardless of your fitness goals, nutrition will make or break your results. The recommendation from the World Health Organization is to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, however studies are showing greater benefit and disease-risk reduction at eating as many as 10 servings per day. Plus, protein is important for weight loss, building muscle and recovery. (Fish, chicken, beef, turkey, tofu, etc. are all good options.)
For the next 18 days, commit to eating vegetables or fruit at every meal. Also aim to hit your protein requirements.
Hydration is important to overall health and for reaching your fitness and weight-loss goals. The Institute of Medicine recommends 3.7 liters of water daily for adult men and 2.7 liters/day for adult women. Remember: With more physical activity, you have to drink more water than the average person — always hydrate before, during and after you exercise.
Calculate your hydration needs, then for the next 16 days, carry that water bottle with you wherever you go and fill it up to ensure you’re hydrated throughout the day.
Now that we’ve addressed your nutrition and sleep, it’s time to layer on your training. The key to achieving any fitness goal is to be consistent — fitness is a “marathon, not a sprint.” That’s why, instead of forcing yourself to try an overwhelming approach, stick with attainable goals and knock them out. Adults should get roughly 150 minutes (that’s 2 1/2 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity, like brisk walking every week, according to the official Physical Activity Guidelines.
For the first 15 days of 2019, aim to walk or work out for a total of 20–30 minutes a day. You can space sessions out however your schedule allows, but make sure you hit your number.
To kick off 2019 on the right foot, set aside a few minutes each day to relax and unwind. You can do a few minutes of meditation or yoga each morning or evening to help you feel more calm throughout the day and handle the ups and downs of life. If that’s too woo-woo, spend a few minutes every day foam rolling your body — it removes trigger points and knots, improves your muscle tissue quality, promotes blood flow and recovery within your muscles and helps relax those chronically tight muscles.
Each day for the next 14 days, try closing your eyes for a few minutes, doing breathing exercises or foam rolling — it will all help. Bonus points if you go to a yoga class.