Q: I am not a routine/schedule-oriented person. I wake up at a different time every day, I eat meals at random, I work out sporadically, etc. How do I get myself on a routine and stick to it?
A: The bottom line is that if your health and fitness goals are truly important to you, then you need to commit to some sort of schedule, as consistency over time is the only way to reach your goals. Here are 3 tips to get you there.
1. Plan and prepare meals ahead of time. Take some time on Sunday to plan out your meals and exercise schedule for the week. Prepare foods, portion meals into containers, and pack some of your meals ahead of time. It might sound like a lot of work, but you'll end up saving a lot time (and calories) in the end. Having healthy meals and snacks ready for you to eat will make you much more likely to stick to your schedule (no one wants to waste food, right?).
2. Commit to a few small changes. If you're bad at sticking to a schedule, don't force yourself into a rigid routine that has every minute of your day planned—that won’t last. Instead, pick two things to focus on such as waking up at a set time everyday and eating a particular breakfast each day. Once you spend 1-2 weeks consistently adhering to these scheduled rituals, add in one or two more. Adding small scheduled events or time blocks over the course of several weeks will allow you to seamlessly get yourself on a schedule. You'll move towards reaching your fitness goals without feeling like your life is completely run by a scheduling drill sergeant.
3.Start your morning off right. Best case scneario: Your work/life set up allows you to work out first thing in the morning and follow up your workout with a healthy breakfast. I have found that starting off your day like this sets a positive tone that might make you more likely to stick to your scheduled healthy behaviors. Plus, if the rest of your scheduled day falls apart, you’ve already fit in a workout.
The bottom line: Consistency is key and having a routine is essential for success when life gets crazy (because it will). Pick one or all three of these tips and get started!
Dr. Mike Roussell, PhD, is a nutritional consultant known for his ability to transform complex nutritional concepts into practical habits and strategies for his clientele, which includes professional athletes, executives, food companies, and top fitness facilities. Dr. Mike is the author of Dr. Mike's 7 Step Weight Loss Plan and the upcoming 6 Pillars of Nutrition.