Do you ever feel like you’re in survival mode, just trying to get through whatever the day brings you? Do you lack structure to your day? This can add stress to your life, and chronic stress can make it much harder to lose weight and get healthier.
If things feel out of balance in your life, and you’re finding it hard to lose weight or meet your health goals, there is good news: creating a simple daily routine can help you change all this. And it’s something you can begin today.
The concept of a routine is nothing new. Perhaps you’ve even tried it before and didn’t feel it made much difference. But a regular daily routine can be life-changing if you know how to create the right one.
Why routine works
We all know how difficult it is to shake bad habits. That’s because they’ve been a part of our lives for so long that we do them without thinking, or we have a powerful urge to keep doing them. This is, after all, the nature of a habit.
Bad habits are usually things that are convenient and quick. Think of grabbing fast food for lunch or watching TV instead of exercising. Good habits often take more time, and therefore, involve more planning. This is why a routine and a structured schedule naturally lend themselves to healthy habits and weight loss.
When you create a healthy routine, you can use the power of human nature to your advantage. You can kick bad habits out of your life while implementing healthy habits without the pain of having to “quit cold turkey” the things that get in the way of becoming your best self.
Indeed, replacing bad habits with good ones is far easier than just “quitting” a habit. But this doesn’t happen by accident. It only happens when you set your mind to adopting healthy habits, and arranging your days — and your life — around getting these things done.
While it may seem like a set routine leaves you without control, it’s actually just the opposite. A routine will help you stick to what you want to do and accomplish your goals without allowing unexpected things to sidetrack you.
A regular routine will put you back into the driver’s seat of your life. It allows you to say “no” to things that won’t help you be the healthiest version of yourself. You won’t have to make decisions on the fly, and you will have a picture of exactly what you want to accomplish each day without wondering whether you’ll get it all done.
A routine will relieve stress
Experts have known for years that chronic stress can cause health problems, including an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. We also know that stress changes the body’s hormonal balance and can contribute to weight gain and other related issues, including increased hunger and lack of quality sleep.
But what is stress, except things that happen in our lives that we don’t want or don’t plan? So one way to naturally get rid of at least some of your stress is to have a daily routine. This will eliminate unexpected roadblocks that get in the way of your healthy habits.
A routine cannot guarantee but stress won’t happen to you. But what it can do is give you ways to deal with it when it does. For instance, if you’re already in a regular exercise routine, you’ll likely find that stress does not affect you in ways it once did. Exercise is probably the best natural stress reliever we have at our disposal. In addition, if you’re eating healthy, you are fueling your body with vitamins and nutrients it needs to cope with stress.
If you’re getting enough rest and relaxation time with your well-planned routine, you’ll also find that it’s much easier to deal with unplanned and unwanted daily stressors.
A routine will help you get more sleep
If you spend your day simply reacting to all the things that spring up on you, chances are, you’ll have little to no time to yourself. This means you also won’t have time at night to unwind and go to sleep at a decent hour.
Quality sleep is absolutely essential for good health and for successful weight loss. And one of the major benefits of having a routine is that you can empower yourself to get more sleep. This may mean saying “no” to things that you would normally say “yes” to — like watching just one more episode of your favorite TV show, or giving in to someone else’s demands on your time That may be challenging at first, especially if you’re a people pleaser, but with practice, it will become easier. Remember, taking care of your own needs isn’t selfish — it’s essential to your health and well-being.
Don’t try to change your sleep schedule too drastically all at once. It will take time to reset your body’s internal clock to an earlier bedtime an early earlier wake-up time, for example. Trying to move your clock too much at a time will likely set you up for frustration and failure.
If your goal is to go to bed earlier and get up earlier, move your usual time back 15 to 30 minutes and stick to that schedule for at least a week. Then, you can move it back another 15 to 30 minutes until you are at your goal bedtime and wake-up time. If you have trouble falling asleep, make sure you’re avoiding caffeine in the evening, and set a time for turning off devices, as the blue light from your phone and the TV can be stimulating.
You’ll slay your to-do list
Most of us have things that we’ve been wanting to do for months or even years. Maybe you dream of planting a flower garden or painting your bedroom. Even major projects like these are possible if you develop a routine, because you’ll be much more efficient with your own time.
Smaller daily goals like walking for 30 minutes or cooking dinner instead of eating out will also be much more manageable and within your reach, because you’ll deliberately schedule your day around the things that matter to you.
Creating your routine
Now that you know what a routine can do for you, it’s time to make one. Here’s how.
1. Set your goals
Write down what you want to accomplish in small, manageable steps that can be part of a routine. Do you want to have time for the gym or a walk each day? Do you want to eat 5 servings of vegetables each day? Make your goals specific and realistic. “Eat more veggies” is vague, but “eat at least one vegetable with every meal, and two with dinner” is specific and measurable.
Once you set your goals, you can identify ways to make them happen. For instance, going to bed earlier may mean something else has to go — like time spent on TV or the Internet.
For now, don’t be specific about pounds you want to lose. Instead, base your goals on healthy habits that will help you get there. Your routine should be based on things you can do every day to get healthier and feel your best. Then, those habits can naturally guide you toward a healthy lifestyle and ideal weight.
2. Replace bad habits with good ones
Don’t focus on quitting a bad habit in your new routine. It’s much easier to quit a habit if you can replace it with something else. Identify a habit you don’t like and a healthy habit you can do instead. This will become part of your schedule.
For instance, if you’re trying to quit eating junk food, identify something else you can do when you feel the urge to hit the vending machine. If you drink a glass of water and go for a walk, the urge to eat junk food may pass, and you’ve done something good for yourself in the meantime!
You can also put up your own barriers that make it more difficult to access your bad habit triggers. Don’t buy unhealthy food items that are a temptation for you, so they’re not in the house. Another idea: don’t bring cash or change to work if vending machines are too difficult to pass up. Instead, bring your own healthy lunches and snacks.
Of course, you’ll need to schedule some time in the morning or the night before when you can prepare or shop for the healthy items you need. Make sure meal prep time is part of your routine. Consider setting aside some time over the weekend to go shopping, chop veggies, and prepare snacks for the week ahead.
3. Use time to keep yourself on track
How often have you sat down to watch a show or surf the Internet only to get sucked in for hours? There goes that time we could have spent doing something like exercising, cooking a healthy meal, or going to bed early.
Sometimes we don’t have a clear idea of how much time we spend doing things we didn’t intend to do. For many people, this means they don’t accomplish their goals for the day. Over the long term, it means they have a harder time achieving their major life goals, too. All of this happens because we simply lose track of time and our lives if we aren’t being intentional with our time.
A timer or alarm may take some getting used to, but it will work to your advantage. Quite simply, you can use it to be your own personal time manager that will get you back on track with your health goals. For instance, allow yourself 30 minutes on social media a day. Or 30 minutes of TV. Set a timer on your phone to alert you when time is up. You can even use apps that will block certain websites after a set amount of time.
You don’t have to use the timer for only bad habits, however. You can set alarms for yourself throughout the day to remind yourself to drink water, take a walk, do some meditation, or get ready for bed. There are many different health apps that can send you reminders.
4. Sketch it out
Now it’s time to really put that routine into action. Decide upon a start date, whether it’s tomorrow or next week. Don’t make it too far off, as you’ll want to get started soon while you feel the momentum and excitement.
Be sure to include plenty of details in your routine. This may include:
- Wake up time
- How much time you need to accomplish necessary tasks like showering, getting ready, and your commute
- Your daily work time
- How you will spend your lunch break
- All the things you hope to accomplish after work, such as cooking dinner, exercise, or managing your home and family tasks
- The time you need to get ready for bed and unwind — make this a screen-free time to avoid blue light, which disrupts your sleep
- Your goal bedtime — this should be a time when you are in bed, ready to fall asleep
Your routine can be a work in progress. Don’t worry about getting it perfect right away, as you can always change it later. Instead, do your best to sketch out what you want your day to look like and allow yourself to modify it if something isn’t working for you.
Remember that your routine has to be realistic, which means you may need to gradually work toward your goals, rather than accomplishing them all at once. Choose a method of recording your routine that you like and will use daily. Some people prefer to use an app on a smartphone, while others like to write things down in a journal or a paper calendar. This is entirely up to your personal preference.
5. Be patient with yourself
Don’t give up if you have setbacks, as it can take several weeks or even months before your routine becomes automatic. If you fail at your routine for a few days, this is not a reason to give up on it. Forgive yourself and try again.
The beauty of a routine is that you’ll start to see its benefits naturally take shape the longer you stick with it. Then, it will be hard to quit those good habits, just as it once was hard to quit the bad ones.
Are you ready to step into a healthier version of yourself? At Garcia Weight Loss and Wellness Centers, we will support you with a customized weight-loss plan and our expertise to help you every step of the way. Contact us today for your no-cost consultation!