30 Tips to Get Fitter in 30 Days
One month to fit
If you're looking to change up your daily routine to include time for exercise and healthier meals, we have some good news. Implementing even small everyday diet and exercise changes can lead to a long-term difference, says Lee Goldman, MD, executive vice president and dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. When it comes to exercise, "the simple message is to stay active," he says. Focus on building activity into your daily routine, he adds, whether it's going to the gym, walking several extra blocks rather than driving, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Dr. Goldman also cautions against the common mistake of celebrating your new exercise routine with heartier meals. "Don't overestimate how many calories you burn with exercise and reward yourself by eating just as many—or more," he stresses.
A month's worth of easy but effective changes that can be tailored to fit your needs and fitness level lie ahead. Try these moves to enter a new year in great shape.
RELATED: The 5 Best Strength Moves for Weight Loss
Day 1: Have a mission
Day 2: Purge your pantry
Toss out three food products labeled "low-fat," "reduced-fat" or "fat-free." They often pack more salt, sugar or even calories than the full-fat versions.
Day 3: Weigh yourself
Research has linked hopping on the scale regularly to better weight-loss results.
Day 4: "Go" for a mile
Walk, run-walk, bike, swim—your pick. And don't forget to time yourself.
Day 5: Eat off smaller plates
Day 6: Try a bird-dog plank variation
Start in plank position, then extend one arm and the opposite leg without disturbing your form; switch sides. Do 10 reps on each side.
Day 7: Trade butter for avocado
Day 8: Scan your kitchen
Do you have any foods that you just can't stop eating once you start? (We're looking at you, buttered popcorn and M&M's.) Think about what those are for you, and purge three of the ones that tend to knock you offtrack from your diet goals.
Day 9: Get up and move
Day 10: Hop on the scale again
Day 11: Beat your own mile time
Day 12: Build an open-face sandwich
Day 13: Add a hot ingredient to dinner
Foods like chili peppers and hot sauce have a thermogenic effect, meaning you quite literally burn extra calories while you chew. Try throwing a diced hot pepper into a salad.
Day 14: Write out a new goal
Two weeks down! Write out a new goal, or expand upon your Day 1 mission. (Did you manage to eat two clean meals a day? Strive for three clean meals per day for a week.)
Day 15: Crack an egg at breakfast
Day 16: Experiment with a new exercise class
Day 17: Work out first thing this a.m.
Day 18: Do kettlebell swings
Day 19: Stick with veggies
Can you go meat-free for the next three days? Give it a shot. Research shows that vegetarians tend to have lower BMIs than meat eaters.
Day 20: Go for H2O
Make water your primary beverage for the rest of the month. We'll give you a free pass for morning coffee and the occasional glass of wine.
Day 21: Sneak in exercises throughout your day
Day 22: Take a lunch lap
Instead of taking your full lunch break sitting in the kitchenette (or worse, at your desk), grab a co-worker and spend the first half of your break taking a brisk walk.
Day 23: Mix things up
Enjoy one fruit and one vegetable that you rarely eat. Only about 13 percent of adults get the recommended amount of fruit per day (1 1/2 to 2 cups), and fewer than 9 percent get their daily veggie dose (2 to 3 cups).
Day 24: Rock a jump-rope workout
Aim for five one-minute intervals of two-footed, alternating or high-knee skipping. Include a short rest in between each.
Day 25: Try Tabata
Exercise using just your body weight—Tabata-style! Do squat jumps, push-ups, burpees and sit-ups for 20-second intervals, with 10 seconds of rest in between. Repeat twice.
Day 26: Remember to hydrate
Drink a 17-ounce bottle of water before each meal. It'll help you feel fuller, consume fewer calories and stay hydrated.
Day 27: Try a gym gadget you've never used
Day 28: Feeling strong?
Tally 50 burpees by the end of the day. Crank up the traditional move with these three calorie-torching variations.
Day 29: Cook with quinoa
The fiber-filled seed can even be used for pie crust. Try our recipe.