Health

A 7-Day Guide to Creating Healthy Habits That Stick

Use this guide to plan for success this year.

By: Dominique Michelle Astorino

At the beginning of the year, some of us tend to bite off more than we can chew out of sheer excitement. We get so revved up about starting a healthier lifestyle that we try to cram all these new healthy habits in at the same time — and while habit stacking is a good thing, taking on too much (and subsequently crashing and burning) can leave you miserable. 

So let’s break it down and plan for success, shall we? We’re going to take a simple, segmented, sequential approach that will piece out small changes that add up over time (and feel more manageable) so you can be confident in your abilities, feel accomplished, and start to reap the benefits of these good-for-you to-dos.

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A One Week Guide to Making Those New Healthy Habits Stick

The Plan

We’re going to add one small habit at a time, focusing on nailing the basics — things like drinking water, getting enough sleep — to build the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Practically any health goal you can think of (whether that’s run a marathon, lose five pounds, or reduce stress) is made possible with these habits. It might seem simple, but that’s the beauty of it: it is simple. But reminder — simple doesn’t mean easy! This is why we’re taking on this plan. 

Start with day one, just taking notes of what your current status is. Record what you’re eating, if you’re doing any workouts or moving, how you’re feeling, and any other habits you’d like to log. Continue this the whole week.

On day two, you’ll add a new small habit — and continue that through the coming days as well. Same for day three, and so on and so forth. All without taking anything away from your current lifestyle — you’re just adding in good habits. At the end of the week, you’ll start to plan how to move forward with what you’ve begun. Let’s do it!

Day One: Take Note

This is a day of observation — assessing the situation. Keep a food log (this one is arguably most important), record movement, water intake, steps, mood, wake-up and bedtime, etc. — continue this for the week. You’ll be able to look back, reflect, and decide which areas of your wellness routine may need to be tweaked. This is also a great way to keep yourself accountable! 

Day Two: Up Your H2O

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Without making any changes to your diet (but continuing to log it!), start to add more water. We say this a lot, but most of us are chronically dehydrated. Upping your water game will help with overall performance, energy levels, digestion, mood, and more — so get to sipping. Add an extra glass or two (or more, if you’re feeling ambitious) to your day, and continue for the next six days (and beyond). 

Day Three: Add a Green To Every Meal

Again — adding something healthy but not taking anything away. This can be greens or another brightly colored vegetable. Consider a spinach smoothie or omelet, a veggie sandwich at lunch, or a rainbow-colored plate at dinnertime (you can even throw spinach and kale into your pasta — it’s really delicious). Try to add some produce to at least one meal per day, more if you’re feeling ambitious, and continue this through day seven. 

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Day Four: Walk It Out

Get outside for some fresh air — preferably first thing in the morning or midday — and walk for 15 to 30 minutes. Getting your blood flowing with a little extra vitamin D can do wonders for so many aspects of your health and really rounds out the rest of your habits with some healthy, low-impact movement. It’ll not only help your body, but it can clear your head, too. 

Day Five: Catch More Zzzs

More sleep, better habits. Better habits, better sleep. It’s a — what’s the opposite of vicious? — cycle that you’ll appreciate more and more as time goes on. Scale back your bedtime by 30 to 60 minutes (you can start small and scale-up). In-bed time does not equate to sleep time, so giving yourself more time, in general, can help improve the duration and quality of your sleep. 

And — as you may already know — sleep is the absolute foundation for all things health and recovery. At this point, you’ll be drinking your water, eating your greens, walking, journaling… and now recovering and cementing your habits while you sleep.

Want to give your evening routine a boost? Sign up for free and try a FitOn before bed meditation:

Day Six: Morning Zen

Now that you’re rested, hydrated, nourished, and tracking habits, it’s time to add in some mindfulness. Begin your day before you do anything else with a few minutes of meditation. Try habit stacking — like meditating before you brush your teeth or pour your coffee — to ensure this sticks. This is a daily practice that’ll amplify the results of all your other good habits.

To get centered before your day gets going, try one of these morning mindset FitOn meditations: 

Day Seven: Plan Your Week

You’ve got great habits that are ready to roll! Now that you’ve planted the seeds for these healthy behaviors, it’s time to keep it going and grow stronger and healthier. Use a few minutes before bedtime (your new and improved earlier bedtime) to plan your next seven days. 

How do you want to feel? What good habits will help you feel that way? This is also a time to review your seven days of tracking — how did you do? What would make next week even better? What were some highlights of trying these new habits? Take inventory, and use this information to propel you forward. You can also use this time to plan your workouts (try adding some yoga or HIIT next week!) and add it into your calendar and set workout reminders right in your FitOn app. 

Keep It Going

As alluded to on day seven, the goal is to get these habits to stick well beyond one week. See if you can keep them going little by little, or choose one to really focus on for a week or so before adding another. 

Again, this may seem ‘too easy’ or like they’re baby steps for beginners — but try it for a week or so, and then get back to us. Most people aren’t nailing the basics (even the pros — wellness professionals neglect these areas of their health ALL the time), so take some time to check in with yourself and build that foundation!