- Training plan
About this challenge
Are you ready to make lasting changes to your health, fitness and wellbeing? Improving your wellbeing and lifestyle may seem like an overwhelming task, but broken down into small steps it is an easily achievable and enjoyable goal.
This 30 day challenge gives you easily attainable goals for each day; helping you to focus on improving all aspects of your health and lifestyle. We hope that you enjoy following the challenge and that it motivates you to make lasting changes, so that you can start becoming the person you want to be.
beginner Training Plan
Entry requirements: beginner
Day 1: Declutter your schedule
Like most things worth having, your new lifestyle sadly won’t fall into your lap without any effort. To start becoming the new you and making healthy, better choices a regular part of your life, it is important to make a plan and schedule them in, at least until they become second nature. Ask yourself two important questions right now: How are you spending your time? Is it on things worth spending it on? The truth is that many of us go through our lives wasting precious hours on things that don’t matter and then complaining that we can’t fit in things that do.
Rather than letting your time slip away unnoticed, mentally go through your week and work out how you spend your time, writing down everything you do and how long you spend on it. Once you have your week written out in front of you, you can identify how to maximise your hours, what to cut back on and how to make room for more valuable activities. It can also be helpful to divide each day in the beginning into hourly slots and note down where you can schedule in exercise, a new activity or a meeting with friends. Whatever your ‘new you’ intentions, set your purpose for the day ahead and then factor in some time to make it happen.
Day 2: Challenge yourself
Now that you have some room in your schedule, it’s time to set yourself some goals and objectives to fill your time effectively and revitalise your routine. Often we drift through our days without ever really challenging ourselves or doing anything that makes us feel truly alive. To make this year one to remember, why not make it the year that you step out of your comfort zone, break a record or achieve a life-long dream?
There is nothing guaranteed to energise you so much as stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a few risks, so make a commitment to doing one thing a week (or day) that makes you feel scared or challenged. Whether it is something small (like starting a conversation with a stranger) or big (like emigrating to another country), conquering your fears is guaranteed to put you in a positive mood. Also, try to set yourself a long-term goal to work towards throughout the year. Pinpoint what it is you most want and set yourself a specific, measurable goal and plan for how you are going to get there. Make this the year that you take action and achieve your dreams!
Day 3: Break a bad habit
If you’ve been promising yourself that you’re going to ditch a bad habit for a while but have never quite got around to doing so, it may be time to take the plunge and start your new year feeling healthier than ever. To help ensure your success, it is important that your goal is precise and achievable. For instance, rather than a vague “I’m going to stop being so unhealthy’, identify what exactly it is that you need to do (or stop doing) and make that your focus.
Once you have identified the habit that you want to break, try to concentrate on kicking your vice one day at a time, which makes it seem a lot more achievable. Also, each day that you beat your habit will inspire you to try again tomorrow. For added motivation, try charting your success on a calendar, marking each day that you have resisted your habit. It can also be helpful to tell someone about your goal – or better still get someone else on board to break the habit with you – so that you have somebody to be accountable to.
Also, make sure you regularly remind yourself why you are doing this. In order to successfully break a bad habit, you have to be sure of your reason for doing it. There’s no point in giving something up just because you think should, as you will have no motivation to keep going next time weakness strikes. Find a solid reason for breaking your habit that really means something to you – such as improving your health, appearance or relationship – and keep your goal in sight.
Day 4: Start a journal
Now that you have hopefully identified some of the changes you want to make to your lifestyle, it is important to start tracking your goals and the effects of these changes by keeping a daily journal. There are several types of diary you may like to start to help you on your way to the new you.
Firstly, if you have been experiencing any niggling health problems – including digestive problems, a poor complexion, lack of energy, a low mood or bloating – it may be worthwhile keeping a food diary to identify possible nutritional causes. Jot down everything you eat and also keep a note of your mood and symptoms each day to try to identify a link. This can also help you to see how much you are eating if you need to cut down.
Regularly reflecting on your day is also a good way to record your journey to the new you and stay motivated, as well as bringing with it a whole host of health benefits. Research has shown that regularly writing in a diary can boost the immune system, ease stress and depression and help you recover more successfully from traumatic events. Furthermore, reflecting on the good things in your life can help you to think more positively. Try to take a few minutes at the end of each evening to reflect on your day, taking time to count your blessings as well as reflecting on the things from which you can learn.
Day 5: Makeover your home
If you want to successfully make changes in your life, it is important that you are surrounded by the right environment which inspires you to make these adjustments. It can be helpful and liberating to clear out any household clutter. Throw away or give to charity anything you don’t use anymore (including clothes you’ve been waiting for years for the “right occasion” to wear!) and rearrange the furniture to freshen up your home. Not only will this give you space for more useful things, decluttering your home can also boost your mental health by giving you a sense of starting afresh.
While you are making these changes to your home, it may be helpful to pay attention to one very important room: the kitchen. Whether you want to lose weight or just give your health a boost, by making some changes to your kitchen you can help to make it more diet-friendly to inspire your healthy living efforts. Firstly, try to keep healthy foods visible, as researchers at Cornell University found that we are three times more likely to eat the first item we see in the kitchen than the fifth. Also, try swapping your plates, bowls, glasses and cutlery for smaller ones, which will help control your serving sizes, and try scattering blue items (such as place mats and hand towels) throughout your kitchen, as the colour is thought to act as an appetite suppressant.
Day 6: Supercharge your mornings
If you want to become a more productive, healthy and happy you, why not start from the moment you open your eyes in the morning? By getting your mornings off to a good start, you will help to boost your motivation, energy levels and mood for the entire day.
To start feeling fabulous first thing, you could start by swapping your alarm clock for a wake-up light. Ideally, our bodies our wired to wake up to natural light, so by purchasing a wake-up light that will wake you up gently as it gradually brightens, you can help to regulate sleeping patterns and boost your mood and energy levels for the rest of the day. It is also worthwhile starting the day with a good mood-boosting breakfast such as oats or a fruit smoothie which will help to fuel your busy morning.
To really revamp your mornings, try getting up a bit earlier and making the most of this precious free time. Our morning routines are often a lot more functional than those of our evenings; often used simply as a time to get clean, get fuelled and get to work. However, your mornings provide a valuable opportunity for a bit of ‘me time’. Use your mornings to do something you enjoy, such as watching your favourite TV show, making an indulgent breakfast, or swapping your shower for a luxurious bubble bath. By spending your early hours doing something you love, you can rise and shine feeling great about your day.
Day 7: Make smart food swaps
Your efforts so far to become the new you shouldn’t have been too tiring; however, in order to stay energised and motivated to pursue your future goals, it is important to supply your body with the nutrients and sustenance it needs. Some key nutrients to include in your diet are omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12 and iodine, as these are all essential nutrients which many of us are deficient in.
While you don’t need to go cold turkey on your favourite foods in order to start eating more healthily, try following the 80/20 rule, whereby you eat healthily 80 per cent of the time and treat yourself for the other 20 per cent. You can also try choosing healthy substitutes for your favourite snacks and treats throughout the day to help you cut out the bad stuff without compromising on taste. Some good healthy food swaps include antioxidant-rich seasoned popcorn instead of crisps, mineral-rich maple syrup instead of refined sugars, sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes, and homemade fruit sorbet instead of ice cream. These healthy and nutritious snacks should keep you energised for your busy schedule while still allowing you to indulge every now and again.
Day 8: Start cooking in bulk
If you want to cut costs while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, one of the best things you can do is to start cooking your own nutritious meals. By making homemade meals, you will have more control over what goes into your food and can cut out nutritional nasties such as salt, refined sugar and vegetable oils and replace these with healthier alternatives.
While cooking your own meals may seem expensive and time-consuming, in actual fact by cooking in bulk you can save yourself both time and money. Rather than paying out for expensive and unhealthy frozen meals and takeaways, prepare your own ready meals by cooking large portions of healthy meals and then freezing the leftovers for another day. Just think how efficient you will feel to come home at the end of a busy day at work and pop your own homemade meal in the oven, safe in the knowledge you are also feeding your body with the nutrients it needs.
Day 9: Make a ‘new you’ playlist
Whether you are starting a new exercise routine or just want to boost your general health and happiness, listening to music can help you to achieve your ‘new you’ objectives. Listening to a motivating soundtrack can help you to feel inspired to achieve your goals, and research by Brunel University has found that listening to music while working out can boost your exercise endurance by 15 per cent. Listening to music also has an abundance of health benefits. A study by Sussex University and the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, found that listening to uplifting music for just 50 minutes increased levels of disease-fighting antibodies and lowered stress, while researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore found that listening to music that makes you feel good is beneficial to cardiovascular health.
Try compiling a playlist for every mood and objective – such as a motivating playlist for your way into work, an energising soundtrack for your workouts and a relaxing playlist to help you unwind of an evening – to help you feel inspired and refreshed throughout the day and help you on the way to becoming the new you.
Day 10: Get moving
Now that you have worked on freeing up some time, boosting your energy levels and creating a motivating playlist, it is time to make use of these resources by incorporating a bit of activity into your routine. Starting a fitness routine can be daunting, but if you are new to exercise it is OK to start small. Many of us think we need to spend hours working up a sweat at the gym to stay fit; however, while intense workouts are beneficial they can also be quite off-putting, and research shows that regular daily activity could be more effective than sporadic workouts. Try peppering your day with activity such as taking the stairs instead of the lift, doing the housework, or walking as much as you can. Make a commitment to get moving more often as part of your daily routine, whether you are also participating in more intense workout sessions or not.
Increasing your general activity levels will not only increase your daily calorie burn, it will also boost your health. According to a number of research studies, sitting for long periods of time puts you at risk of dangerous illnesses such as heart disease – regardless of whether you are otherwise physically active. If you spend a lot of time sitting still at work, try to make an effort to move more often throughout the day in any way you can. Set up an alert or write a post-it note reminding you to get up and stretch, take more trips to the water cooler, or organise your workspace so that things are out of reach. Even the smallest activities done regularly can make a difference to your health.
Day 11: Start making the most of your lunch breaks
Now that you are hopefully improving your health and energy levels at work by staying more active in the office, it is important to look at another aspect of your working day: your lunch break. Due to busy workloads and the pressures to impress at work, many of us feel tempted to skip our lunch breaks from time to time and eat at our desks. However, refusing to take a break is not only bad for your mental health, eating while distracted may also mean you are more likely to overeat, while spending your lunch hour at your desk will lengthen the time you are physically inactive. Furthermore, according to a study by the University of Arizona, your work station contains nearly 400 times more germs than the average toilet seat, making it a less than ideal place for dining!
Free up more time in your schedule and give your health and happiness a boost by starting to use your lunch hours more productively. You could use your lunch break to go for a run, which will leave you feeling refreshed and energised all afternoon, or go for a swim to help relieve stress and improve your all-over body shape. If you’re not feeling in the mood for exercise, you could give your mental health a boost instead by calling a friend or catching up on some reading, or spend this time working towards some of your goals.
Day 12: Break a snacking habit
Many of us snack throughout the workday or evening, but what is it that has you reaching for the biscuits or heading to the vending machine? Research suggests it may simply be habit. According to research results published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, your environment can be a powerful trigger for food cravings. Maybe you associate going to the cinema with eating popcorn, for example, or watching your favourite TV show makes you reach for a snack. To help you on the way to a slim new you, try to banish one habit-formed craving this week by being aware of – or avoiding – the environment that triggers it. Take up a hobby that reduces your TV time, for example, or walk a different route to work so as not to pass by your favourite coffee shop.
It is also important to pay attention to whether or not you actually feel hungry before indulging and to whether you are actually looking forward to your snack. According to researchers from the University of Southern California, once people have established an eating habit they will continue eating that food whether or not it tastes good and regardless of whether they are hungry. If you’re not hungry or you’re not enjoying your snack, stop eating or replace your snack for something healthier that will fill you up while also improving your health.
Day 13: Find a motivational quote
Now that you have put together an inspiring new you playlist, you should hopefully be feeling more motivated to tackle your job, exercise routine and whatever else life throws your way. However, we all have times when motivation fails, and for these moments it can be helpful to have a motivational quote to hand to help you feel inspired and stimulated to achieve your goals.
Perhaps you already know of a quote that inspires you. If not, try browsing the internet for some – perhaps searching for a specific theme (i.e. motivational diet or fitness quotes) or for somebody in particular that inspires you. Try to find a motivational quote for each of your goals – such as to help you stick to your diet, overcome shyness or improve your fitness – then put them in your purse or pocket or stick them to your bedroom wall for next time motivation fails. If you are trying to lose weight, you could also use your quotes to transform your fridge from a source of temptation into an inspirational reminder of your goals and progress so far. Simply stick your motivational quote on the fridge door to remind yourself not to give into temptation.
Day 14: Make every day unusual
It’s easy to get into a rut where we do the same things day in, day out, with our days passing us by as a routine-filled blur. However, this can easily mean that we don’t fully appreciate most of our days, instead simply living for weekends, holidays and special occasions that break the monotony. Starting from now, why not spice up your routine by vowing to do one small thing differently each day or week and starting to make the usual unusual?
Wear something you wouldn’t normally wear, try a different workout, or order a different coffee perhaps. You could even do something as simple as getting up at a different time or listening to a different radio station – anything that breaks up your routine. Also, don’t fall into the trap of postponing your happiness by saving everything special “for best”. Instead, brighten up a routine day every so often by donning your favourite but rarely worn outfit, or eating those fancy chocolates washed down with a glass of champagne! Don’t wait for special occasions to live your life to the full – start making every day count.
Day 15: Learn to relax
With the improvements you have made so far to your diet and routine, we hope that you have noticed a positive difference in your mood. However, sadly stress can affect us all from time to time, which is bad news for both your physical and mental health. Stress affects just about every aspect of our health; it raises blood pressure, can lead to weight gain and can trigger premature skin ageing and skin conditions such as acne and eczema (to name just a few of its negative effects).
To look after your health and give your happiness a boost, work on finding ways to handle stress and unwind at the end of each day. To help beat stress, try eating foods rich in tryptophan, which helps to raise serotonin levels which can elevate your mood. Good tryptophan-rich foods include nuts, cheese, turkey, chicken and soybeans. Exercise is also great for releasing mood-boosting chemicals such as endorphins, while essential oils such as camomile, lavender, neroli, bergamot and ylang ylang can aid relaxation.
If you are short on time and resources, two of the quickest and easiest ways to relax are to take a few deep breaths (anxiety can cause people to breathe more rapidly than normal) or to have a hug. Research findings published in Psychosomatic Medicine have found that physical contact raises levels of oxytocin - the “love hormone” - and lowers levels of stress hormone cortisol, putting you in a more relaxed frame of mind.
Day 16: Make time for laughter
Scheduling in laughter may seem like an odd concept. However, it is a sad fact that many of us don’t laugh nearly as much as we should on a day to day basis. Laughter will not only help with your attempts to combat stress, it could also be as good for your health as exercise! Research studies led by Dr Lee Berk of Loma University have found that repetitive sessions of “mirthful laughter” have similar effects on the body as moderate exercise; improving your mood, lowering blood pressure, reducing bad cholesterol and enhancing the immune system. Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have also found that regular laughter may be as good for your heart as a workout; helping blood vessels to function better.
Try to set aside 15 minutes of your day to watch a funny YouTube clip, read a humorous book or phone a friend who always makes you laugh. Alternatively, plan an outing this weekend to a comedy club or to the cinema to watch a comedy movie. Making time for laughter is guaranteed to help you feel healthier, happier and more motivated.
Day 17: Get snap happy
We hope that your journey towards the new you will throw lots of exciting experiences into your path, so why not take the opportunity to motivate and document your journey by creating a ‘new you’ photo album? Research suggests that recalling good memories and having a positive view of the past can help boost happiness levels and health, yet according to separate research we find it more difficult to recall good memories than bad ones. Starting to compile some photograph albums of your favourite moments can help you to focus on happy memories and give you an instant health and happiness boost.
Try taking your camera out with you more often and look out for photo-worthy moments to capture as you go about life. If you really want to spice up your new routine, you could also make a commitment to visiting five interesting places you have always wanted to see in the following month and getting your photo taken in each place.
Day 18: Make over your skincare routine
So far you have focused on what you are putting into your body, by making healthy food swaps and switching to homemade meals; however, what we put onto our bodies can be just as important. Good skin is something worth investing in as it will be with you for the rest of your life. However, aside from reasons of appearance, it is worth taking care with what you put on your skin as many skincare products are loaded with chemicals which can be transmitted through the skin and into the bloodstream with potentially harmful effects.
For glowing skin and a healthier body, try switching to natural, organic products free from harmful ingredients such as parabens and phthalates. For a truly skin- and budget-friendly approach to skincare, try making your own beauty products. Many common kitchen staples can double up as beauty products, including olive oil – which makes a great natural body moisturiser; brown sugar –which can be mixed with olive oil to make an exfoliator; and honey – which has antibacterial, soothing and moisturising properties.
Oatmeal can also be used as an effective, natural and simple facial cleanser to clean away impurities and scrub off dead skin cells.
Day 19: Start breathing properly
Breathing is something that most of us do without much thought. However, did you know that there is a ‘correct’ way to breathe? And, more importantly, that you are probably not doing it? The truth is, many of us go through life breathing incorrectly, yet experts believe that learning to breathe properly could help prevent many conditions including asthma, high blood pressure and anxiety. This is why breathing is an integral part of many holistic exercises such as yoga, Pilates, meditation and Tai Chi.
To help boost your physical and mental health and aid relaxation, spend some time concentrating on your breathing technique, trying to focus on abdominal breathing. Most of us take shallow breaths and breathe from our chests; however, breathing from the abdomen is considered to be a healthier way to breathe as it provides us with more oxygen with each breath. To work on your breathing, try lying back with your hand resting lightly on your abdomen. Slowly inhale through your nose, then exhale slowly and completely through your mouth through pursed lips, focusing on breathing from your abdomen so that your hand should gently rise then fall. Incorporating regular breathing exercises into your routine (particularly when feeling anxious) or taking up an activity such as yoga or meditation is a good way to stay energised, healthy and stress-free.
Day 20: Focus on hydration
By following the nutrition, exercise and breathing tips so far, you should hopefully be feeling more energised and able to tackle any goals and objectives you have set for yourself. However, as well as paying attention to the foods you are eating, it is also important to make sure that you are getting enough water.
Many of us underestimate the importance of drinking enough fluids. However, getting enough fluids is essential for keeping your organs healthy, increasing energy levels, helping to detoxify your body, curbing hunger, improving digestion and reducing fluid retention. Not only is it great for your health, drinking water is also one of the cheapest beauty treatments around, helping to promote a clearer, more radiant complexion. While there is no definitive guideline for how much you should drink, it is important not to wait until you are thirsty as by this time you are already dehydrated. Keep some water to hand to stay energised and hydrated throughout the day.
Day 21: Pay attention to your chewing
Just as with breathing, chewing is another natural process that we do every day with little thought but which can have massive repercussions on your health. Many of us are accustomed to eating on the go or while chatting with family and friends; however, taking more time over your meals and focusing on what you are eating could make a big difference to your weight and digestion.
Your body generally takes a minimum of 20 minutes to register feelings of fullness, so by eating more slowly, chewing your food and paying attention to signs of fullness, you will most likely feel compelled to eat less. According to research findings published in the British Journal of Nutrition, eating while distracted can cause you to ignore signals from your body that you’ve had enough, leading you to eat more than you normally would. Research results published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also found that those who chewed each mouthful 40 times ate nearly 12 per cent fewer calories than those who chewed just 15 times.
Eating more slowly and chewing your food more is also beneficial for your digestion. Eating too quickly and talking while eating can cause you to swallow air, leading to excess gas. Also, as digestion begins in the mouth, not chewing your food enough times can affect how well it is digested. To prevent post-meal bloating and help with weight loss, try focusing on how you are eating from your very next meal and make an effort to concentrate and take your time over each mouthful.
Day 22: Make time for your friends
OK, we know that improving your health and happiness in 31 days can sometimes seem like hard work (although the benefits will be worth it!) so we thought it was time for a little light relief. Consequently, today’s ‘new you’ tip is all about making time for your friends. While this may not seem overly important for your health, spending time with your friends is actually more beneficial than you think.
While it seems to be relatively rare in life that the things we love are good for us, in the case of our friends this is definitely the case. Research suggests that your friends can help you to live longer by reducing feelings of depression, stress and risky behaviour, and encouraging you to look after your health. In fact, a study by Brigham Young University found that having a good social network boosts your survival chances by 50 per cent, while having few friends affects you longevity as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Sadly, with the hectic schedules many of us have today, it can be difficult to always find time for the special people in your life. However, now that you have cleared some unnecessary and time- consuming tasks from your schedule, it is the perfect time to give your mood and wellbeing a boost by factoring in some time with your pals. Have a flick through your schedule and see where you could make time for some regular get-togethers, then get on the phone and make it happen.
Day 23: Learn something new every day
We have already looked at the importance of making every day unusual and breaking out of your routine, and one way in which you can further add interest to each day is by making a resolution to learn something new every day. Whether it is a bizarre fact, the knowledge of what a new food tastes like, or the ability to master a new skill, learning something new – no matter how pointless – can boost your self-esteem and improve your enjoyment of life.
For a fun twist on this, why not try to redress a gap in your knowledge by learning something new you never learned as a child? Whether it’s the number of days in each month, how to spell ‘necessary’ correctly, how to do a handstand or ride a bike, we all have something we never learned as a child that everyone else seems to know. Set this to rights and have some fun at the same time – your younger self would be proud!
Day 24: Do something selfless every day
When it comes to pursuing the ‘new you’, it makes sense that many of the changes you make will be inwardly focused. However, why not spend a little time focusing outwards and helping to make the world a better place too? Plan to do one nice thing a day for someone else; whether it’s something small like giving a compliment, or something potentially life-saving like donating blood or sponsoring a child in need.
Not only will you be helping to make a positive difference to those around you and to the world that you live in, but by knowing you are making a difference, you will also indirectly boost your own happiness and sense of achievement. According to research results published in the journal Health Psychology, being selfless also has plenty of healthy benefits. The study showed that people who volunteered in order to help others – rather than for their own personal satisfaction – lived longer than those who didn’t.
Day 25: Enrol in a new fitness class
Whether you are just getting started in exercise or are a fitness pro, enrolling in a new fitness class or trying a different type of exercise is a great way to add some interest to your workout routine and stay motivated. Many of us find an exercise we moderately get on with and then stick with it for as long as we can, until our enthusiasm gradually starts to wane. However, getting stuck in a fitness rut is probably the most common training error of all. Not only will your motivation start to fade, but if you fail to increase either the length, intensity or number of repetitions of your chosen exercise, the improvements will plateau out.
To give your fitness and motivation a boost, add some variety and fun to your routine by trying something new at least once a month (as well as trying to adapt your regular form of exercise to enhance its benefits). If you need extra motivation, you could even try varying your workouts to suit your mood. For instance, try taking part in a high-impact class such as spinning for an endorphin boost and a bit of distraction when you are feeling low; try a social sport such as football or netball when you’re feeling lonely; try yoga to help ease anxiety; or try a boxercise class to work off some frustration. By fitting your workout to your mood, you will help to keep your workout routine fresh and will never be able to use the excuse again that you “just didn’t feel up to exercising”!
Day 26: Embrace technology
The apps on mobile phone and tablet devices are yet another craze to sweep through the world of technology, and if you haven’t already jumped on the bandwagon, now is the time to do it. With the help of a handy app on your mobile, you can now track everything from your exercise to your eating habits and get tonnes of advice at the same time.
Some good health apps to try include a calorie calculator, to help you keep track of how much you are consuming, and a goal-tracking tool, to help you manage and achieve your goals. You can even download your own virtual personal trainer app complete with images or videos explaining how to carry out certain exercises or stretches, which will enable you to get the most out of your gym or home workout safely and with confidence.
Day 27: Pay attention to posture
Shoulder, back and neck problems account for a large percentage of work absence rates, yet much of this is related to poor posture. Many of the physical problems related to poor posture – including headaches and digestive problems as well as back and neck pain – are completely avoidable and can be alleviated by paying attention to your body’s position.
To prevent back pain and other associated health problems, try to work on improving your posture through exercise. Improving your core stability and the flexibility of your spine through exercises such as yoga and Pilates can also improve posture. Also, try to pay attention to the general position of your body as you sit or move around, trying to pull your shoulders back and avoid slouching as much as possible. Slouching at, or hunching over, your desk are reasons why office workers in particular suffer so much with back pain. To avoid this, try to make sure that your monitor is high (level with your eyeline) so that you are forced to sit upright and with a straight back. Although this will be tiring at first, your body will soon adapt to the position as your core strength improves.
Day 28: Ditch one financial drain
Now that you have hopefully made some significant improvements to your health and fitness it is important to take care of another important area of your life – your finances. Money can be a big source of stress for many of us, which can have major implications on our mental and physical health.
To help ease financial anxiety this year, try getting your finances in order by making a resolution to sort out one area of financial worry. Perhaps you spend a fortune on petrol or maybe it is your food bills that are blowing your budget? Write down what you spend money on each month and try to identify some alternatives to the main causes of financial stress, such as cycling to work instead of driving, growing your own vegetables or making your own beauty products. Not only will coming up with alternative solutions help you save some money, you may find that you enjoy these alternative options and that they boost your health too.
Day 29: Improve your sleeping habits
The powers of a good night’s sleep are often underestimated; however, sleep is essential for our health and appearance, and is one of the cheapest health and beauty treatments around. Researchers have found that the hormonal changes resulting from a lack of sleep trigger changes in the body similar to ageing, meaning that ongoing sleep deprivation could exacerbate conditions such as memory loss, obesity and diabetes. During sleep our skin cells also renew themselves and collagen production increases, helping to keep your skin looking beautiful, healthy and youthful.
To boost your health and appearance, try to make sleep a priority and adopt good sleeping habits; going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. If you find it difficult to sleep, try clearing your mind before bed by writing down any worries to be dealt with the next day. You could also try making your room more sleep-friendly by investing in thick curtains to keep out the light, making sure your bedroom is not too hot or too cluttered, and using a room spray containing soothing essential oils such as jasmine, lavender or ylang ylang. Many foods also contain sleep-inducing properties, so try snacking on these before bed to aid sleep. Dairy products are a good choice as they contain the relaxing amino acid tryptophan, while oats and cherries are good sources of melatonin, which is often taken as a sleep aid due to its ability to help regulate the body’s internal clock.
Day 30: Become a positive thinker
We often think that happiness should be something that comes to us naturally, without any effort on our part. However, very often happiness is a choice, not something that just falls upon us of its own accord. In fact, according to Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, only 10 per cent of our happiness depends on our life circumstances. While 50 percent of our happiness is believed to be influenced by genetics, Lyubomirsky maintains that 40 percent of our happiness is absolutely under our control. To make sure you are making the most of this 40 per cent, it is important to change your outlook and start to think more positively. Not only will this boost your happiness, research has also found that having a positive outlook can help you to live longer.
While positive thinking may seem easier said than done, anyone can improve their outlook with a little bit of practise. It is important to remember that while you can’t always change what happens to you, you can change how you react to it. Rather than going with your instinctive reaction, try to look for the silver lining in every situation (even if this just means focusing on the inner strength and resilience you have gained from dealing with a difficult situation) and not focusing on the negatives. Try changing your thoughts and reactions for one day – starting today – to see what a difference it can make.
Congratulations on completing this challenge! By now you should be feeling energised, revitalised and motivated for healthy living. Some of the health benefits you may experience will include an improved appearance, a better sense of wellbeing and a more relaxed and positive state of mind.
We hope that you enjoyed following the challenge, and the steps can be repeated as many times as you like. If ever you feel like giving your health a boost, this challenge will put you back on track.
Ready to take on your next challenge? Now that you have kickstarted a healthier approach to life you are more than ready to take on one of the other realbuzz.com challenges.