Making healthy lifestyle changes is easy; it’s sticking to them that’s the tricky part. After the initial week or two, the novelty wears off, and slowly your old, maybe not-so-healthy ways start to trickle back in. Before you know it, your life is no better off than you originally intended.
There are a lot of excuses as to why healthier habits don’t take up permanent residence in people’s lives: lack of time, boredom, other priorities, or life simply gets in the way. But excuses be damned! You can be healthier for the rest of your years. All you really need is a weekly plan.
Why a Plan?
Even if you know everything there is about how to be healthy, you have to make time for it. Leaving it up to chance, such as randomly stating that you’re going to fit in three days of exercise–but not knowing which specific three days–opens up too many opportunities for the unknowns to get in your way. Think about it like a dentist appointment. It’s more convenient for your daily schedule to go and get your teeth cleaned when you have an exact date, time, duration, and location of when it’s going to happen. If appointments were more drop-in style, it’s easier to push it off to another day when things come up–even unimportant things.
What Kind of Plan?
Nothing against you or the primate world, but your plan should be something so easy a monkey could follow it. That means you need to map out every single healthy thing you want in your life. Here are some examples:
Healthy Habit Goal: Eat more vegetables.
Plan: Create a weekly meal plan, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, with veggies built in. Add chopped bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms to a morning scrambler. Skip the chips for a side salad with your noon sandwich. Roast eggplant to serve with salmon for dinner. Munch on homemade salsa and kale chips when you need a snack. In one day, you’ve added a lot of veggies in tasty ways.
Healthy Habit Goal: Exercise three times a week.
Plan: Book your calendar with the days, times, and locations of when you’ll be working out. If you plan to go to a gym, instead of a class, write out the exact workout you plan to do. On Monday morning, focus on strength training your upper body, with dumbbell chest presses, lateral shoulder extensions, push ups, barbell rows, and overhead tricep extensions. On Wednesday evening, go to a power flow yoga class. On Friday afternoon, make it a leg day with air squats, calf raises, and deadlifts. Knowing your workout in advance can help to motivate you, as well as be more efficient with your time.
Why a Weekly Plan?
Each day you need a plan, but to set time aside each day to do so is another easy way to fall off the habit-forming wagon. By dedicating a couple hours once a week–say, Sunday–you can set up seven daily plans that will keep you on track for an entire week.
Use your planning day to also prep food and other things you need to make it a successful week. Chop and bag veggies so that you can grab and use them without any real effort. Pack food for when you won’t be eating at home. Do laundry and pack gym bags for the week so that if you get stuck in a meeting, you know everything is ready to go. If offered, register for fitness class times online. Doing so will make you feel more committed to going, knowing that your name is already on the class roster and fees have been paid.
Making these plans may feel like a lot of extra work, and in the beginning that will be true. However, the more often you develop these plans, the easier they will become and the faster they will be to put together. Before you know it you won’t need a plan at all…and that’s when you know you’re living a healthier life.
How do you like to plan out your week to make the days go by more smoothly? Share with us in the comments!