Really? A Healthy Lifestyle Hack? What a Drag.
Look. I am not going to stand on a soapbox and tell you that you can actually change the major course of your life by doing “these specific things”, but I do find a lot of power in committing to 30 days of healthy choices, especially those that really challenge you. This could mean a lot of things. Could be a diet challenge, picking a healthy habit to do every day for an entire month, or it could just mean getting a set number of hours of sleep. It really is just an exercise in discipline, and at the end of the time period, should hopefully create some habits that stick after the self-challenge is over.
Here are a few examples, and the kinds of benefits that come from them:
Healthy Eating Challenge
KETO / Paleo Challenge: This could be a Keto or Paleo diet challenge. Cut out all sugars, grains, alcohol for 30-days.
Count Macros: Could be a Macro challenge, where you set a goal of a specific # of protein/carbs/fat you consume each day, and track it in an app that tells you if you undershot or overshot your goals.
Remove Something: Maybe you just want to remove all grains, alcohol (not naturally occurring) sugar from your diet.
The idea is to pick something that is going to be uncomfortable and challenging for you, but having the fortitude to stick it out, knowing that it’s only a month of your much longer life.
BUT WHY: These can be VERY tough to stick to, especially for the first few weeks as your body adjust to changes you are making, but the last few weeks start to really feel good, and you start to see and feel the renewed energy, and your body starts working more efficiently. At the end of the 30 days, even though you will likely not stick to the 100% commitment you tried to follow during this time period, you will more often make smart choices as you reintroduce the cheat day type foods. And, if you prove that feel a little better when you kept clean, you have more motivation to try to do it more often.
The Mile: Run or walk a mile every day
Get Outside: Commit to walking or hiking outside every day. If you have a dog, this might be too easy (“I walked my dog every day!!” … Way to go you Martyr, you.)
Steps: Commit to logging X # of steps.
Pick a Movement and a Number: This has so many combinations. It could be doing 20 pushups or situps every day. Maybe just making sure you stretch every morning before you get ready for work. Make it something you can commit to and do it every day.
BUT WHY: Even just doing 1 little thing more each day that you didn’t already plan to do makes a difference. Maybe you already workout a few days a week - this just adds one little thing to do every day that gets the heart rate up a few more times in this month.
TRACK AND MOTIVATE:
For any of these, do make sure to track progress. Take day 1 and day 30 photos. Take body measurements (waist, thighs, arms, etc.). Weigh yourself (if weight loss is a goal). But also don’t track too often. Weigh in only at the end of each week, and know that it takes a few weeks to see major changes, so don’t get unmotivated by checking in every day. Just look at the start and finish, and a few weekly check-ins. Write it down to look back at.
And of course, sometimes a little motivation helps - put some skin in the game. Also, 30-days is an arbitrary number. Play with the format.
I did a challenge with a group of friends where we started on a day, and everyone tried to keep a streak going of running a single mile every day. Everyone also contributed $10 to the pot. Miles are logged via watch / Strava app so everyone is accountable. When you miss a day, you’re out of the money, and the last one standing takes the pot. Really makes it hard to skip a run even if you feel terrible at the end of the day and just want a glass of whiskey. When you’ve got a $300 prize pot waiting at the end, and you’ve seen half of the crowd drop already, you get your shoes on and get outside, even in the snow.
Sometimes it just helps to have some level of prize - make a bet with a significant other or friend where the winner gets a reward. The other person has to take you out for a fancy dinner or take you to a concert. If you live together, loser buys something you both want (new Chef knife paid for by the loser). Everybody wins, but there’s something driving you to stick to it.
And don’t wait to get started. Start on the 20th of each month if you want. Just set something up and do it.