You can positively change your health in seven days flat. “Just one week of eating cleanly and moving your body can definitely make you feel better. Besides losing a few pounds, it can improve your insulin and glucose levels, boost energy, and promote better sleep,” says Tina Marinaccio, RD, CPT, a health expert based in Morristown, New Jersey. Taking our challenge can help you target trouble zones, get quick results, and commit to continuing healthy lifestyle changes.
Are you ready to begin? Let’s get started!
Day 1: Declutter
Clean out your kitchen to get rid of guilty pleasure-type foods, like chips and candy bars. Even if you think you're strong enough to resist it, get it out of sight.
Food: Make a meal plan for the week. Think about healthy swaps for your favorite recipes, and don’t forget healthy snacks so you’re never caught scrambling.
Fitness: Go for a 10-minute jog or power walk to get your heart pumping. At a brisk jogging pace, you’ll go about 2,000 steps in 10 minutes.
Mind: Why do you want to be healthier? Write down your top three health goals, and be specific. “I want to be able to join my friends for softball” is more helpful than “I want more energy,” for example.
Day 2: Go Green
For a healthier plate, make fruits and vegetables the centerpiece. Aim for a 2:1 produce to meat and grains ratio on all of your plates.
Food: Swap out your breakfast or lunch for a green smoothie.
Fitness: Get outdoors for exercise today. Go for a block walk, or turn your local park into an outdoor gym.
Mind: Vitamin D absorbed from sunshine can help your mood. Dine al fresco for some mood-boosting rays.
Day 3: Know Your Numbers
Most of us can’t rattle off our BMI (body mass index) or blood pressure, but it’s good to get both checked. Make a doctor’s appointment to get both numbers and other preventive screenings you may be overdue on.
Food: Meal size matters. If you “eyeball” ingredients, you may be using more than you need. Bust out your measuring cups and spoons today to get a feel for portion sizes.
Fitness: Jump rope during your favorite TV show, either on commercial breaks or during the whole show to make it harder.
Mind: You’re three days in! Try this mental exercise to keep your eyes on the prize: Find a calm, quiet space and close your eyes. Picture yourself achieving your goals, whether it’s wearing that dress you love or finishing a 5K. Visualizing your finish line will help you stay in the race.
Day 4: Try Something New
You’re halfway through the challenge! Structure can be good, but so can change.
Food: Eat one healthy thing today you’ve never eaten before. It can be a new vegetable, a new recipe, or an entirely new meal.
Fitness: Be brave with your workout today, too! That spin class you’ve been putting off? Now’s a great time to give it a shot (and cut yourself some beginners’ slack if you have no idea what's going on).
Mind: Show yourself some compassion for making it halfway through. Research has shown that placing your hand on your heart and thinking encouraging thoughts can actually help you conquer and reduce stress.
Day 5: Walk the Walk
Challenge yourself to take a walk after each meal today, aiming for 10 minutes or longer. At a leisurely pace, you’ll burn around 60 calories in 10 minutes.
Food: Swap out meat for a vegetarian protein source in one or more meals today. For bonus points: Head to the grocery store or farmers’ market to shop and walk.
Fitness: Add strength training to one of your walks today. Try high knees, lunges, or squats.
Mind: Pay attention to your breathing as you walk and climb stairs. Becoming more physically active can work wonders on your lung capacity!
Day 6: Keep It Going
Life is busy, and hours of exercise or picture-perfect meals aren’t always viable. “If you don't have a block of time, break up workouts into smaller bouts,” Marinaccio says.
Food: Make an easy rice bowl with brown rice, vegetables, and your favorite low-calorie sauce. Healthy meets easy.
Fitness: “Push-ups, pull-ups, plyometrics, rope jumping, and sprinting can be done just about anywhere,” she says. Pick any three for your workout today. Try 10 push-ups, 5-10 minutes on the jump rope, and a 100-meter sprint.
Mind: Browse motivational quotes on Pinterest for cheer.
Day 7: Celebrate!
Think of eating healthily as a way of rewarding yourself and re-fueling your body. Studies show that taking time to celebrate food can even make carrots taste better.
Food: Even health nuts eat dessert. If you’re craving a treat, eat a nutritious version. Add extra veggies to pasta dishes or try vegan-izing your cheesecake.
Fitness: Take it easy today with a gentle restorative yoga class.
Mind: Smile, you did it! Think of how this journey made you feel and what’s next for your newfound healthy lifestyle.