Have you been waiting for the "perfect time" to kickstart your fitness journey, only to find it never quite arrives?
Well, the wait is over! Whether it's the fresh optimism of January or a mid-year push in July, every moment is an opportunity to redefine your health and fitness goals.
Three months is long enough to see significant changes, yet short enough to stay motivated and see the light at the end of the tunnel!
So, let's set aside the 'perfect time' myth and start implementing a plan that’s all about making the next three months your time to shine!
Month One - Lay the Foundation
In the first month of your fitness journey, your primary goal is to lay a solid foundation – think of it as the first step in building a house. Just as a house needs a strong, reliable base to stand the test of time, your fitness journey requires a firm groundwork to support the changes and challenges ahead.
So, while the changes in the first month might seem small or simple, remember that they are the bedrock upon which lasting transformation is built. Like constructing a house, we start with the basics and then build up, ensuring that every addition rests on a stable, well-crafted base.
This way, you are building sustainable habits that will not only carry you through the next few months to reach your goals but will become a part of your lifestyle, ensuring your results are built to last.
So, where do we start?
Focus on Protein and Calories
You might want to start tracking all your food - but start by focusing on hitting a daily protein target and staying within your calorie goals.
The general recommendation for protein is around 0.8 grams/kg/day. Still, when we look at research for body composition, this can go up as high as around 1.8-2.7 g/kg/day, depending on goals, activity level, lean mass, and caloric deficit(1). This amount of protein in your diet can be great for muscle repair, growth, and keeping you full (check out our protein calculator).
Aren’t sure where to start? Aim for around 1.8-2.0 grams/kg/day - make gradual increases towards that goal!
Eliminate Ultra-Processed Foods
This may be hard, but it’s time to take a look inside your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Make a conscious effort to eliminate ultra-processed foods. You might be wondering what foods are considered ultra-processed foods.
Think about those quick microwaveable meals or frozen pizzas that are ready in minutes. They're designed for convenience, but they come at a cost to your health, often loaded with preservatives and artificial ingredients.
Another typical culprit is sugary breakfast cereals, which, despite their deceptively healthy appearance, are usually loaded with added sugars and lack essential nutrients.
Then there are some of our snack foods - chips, cookies, and candy bars - which are high in calories and unhealthy fats and sugars.
Swap them out for nutrient-rich whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and nuts. This switch will take some time if you find the cabinets and freezer filled with them but it will be worth it in the long run!
Follow a Resistance Training plan
This month is also about introducing structured resistance training into your routine, at least 3-4 times a week, to build muscle and enhance your body composition. You can join a gym where they have structured classes, download a 12-week strength training program, or even hire a trainer at your local gym.
Research shows that when you combine a caloric deficit with resistance training, you can decrease your fat mass while maintaining or even increasing muscle mass! That’s exactly what you want when your goal is to be lean and toned(2).
When starting all these new things, what matters most is that you are being consistent and show up for yourself. Remember, setting realistic expectations from the get-go is key. Progress takes time, and this month is all about laying the groundwork.
Month Two: Dial In and Optimize
The next 30 days are all about taking things up a notch. Think of it as building on the solid base you've already set.
This month, we're not only continuing the solid habits we've started but also introducing new things into the mix. It's a step forward, and you might find it challenging at times, do remember that the rewards of pushing past comfort zones are always worth it!
Increase Your Daily Steps
It’s time to step up your game, literally! Steps are very underrated and not used as a strategy as often as they should be. Setting a goal of 10,000 steps daily is a fantastic way to boost your activity level in a totally manageable way.
Whether it’s a morning walk with the dog, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or a post-dinner walk with the family, every step counts.
It’s a simple strategy to burn calories, improve your heart health, and energize your day.
Implement a Sleep Routine
Quality sleep is just as important as a solid workout.You’ll want to target 7-9 hours of restful sleep each night.
Start building a sleep routine by unwinding with a cup of hot tea or setting a 'no screens' rule an hour before bed.
This routine can help signal your body that it’s time to relax and recharge.
Hit Your Macronutrient Goals
Continuing with your protein goal is vital, but now we take the next step by balancing the other macros.
For those of you who want the lean and toned look, dietary fat intake should typically be around 15-20%, and up to 30% for athletes(1). The remainder of your calories will come from carbohydrates which are a must for optimal recovery and energy levels.
Carbs are not just a fuel source; they're your best friend for consistently nailing your training sessions.
Remember, it's about finding the right balance that works for your body and goals.
Month Three: Refining and Habit Stacking
By the time you hit the third month of your plan, you're not just following a routine - you'll feel like you're living a new life. This is the month when you'll truly feel the momentum you’ve been building!
Your dedication, resilience, and ability to show up for yourself, no matter what life throws your way. This period is all about celebrating consistency and the personal strength you've built over the last two months.
Start Habit Stacking
Now that you’ve laid the foundation and dialed things in over the last 60 days, it's time for habit stacking.
This means adding new, healthy routines to those you've already mastered. By now, you understand your body and lifestyle better, so you can introduce additional goals like consistent water intake, meeting your daily fiber goals, and incorporating stretching into your routine.
These might seem like small additions, but they play a significant role in becoming the best version of yourself!
Plan a Proper Diet Break
This is also the perfect time to plan out a diet break. After three months of disciplined eating and training, a temporary shift to maintenance calories can be exactly what you need for both your body and mind.
It can be challenging to do this but it prevents you from hitting a plateau and losing all the results you gained from your hard work and dedication!
As you continue to grow, ask yourself: What are the other things I can focus on to become an even better version of myself?
It might be prioritizing your mental health, or improving your workout techniques. Remember, optimizing your health and wellness is a holistic journey – every aspect of your life contributes to a healthier, stronger, and happier you.
Keep challenging yourself, keep evolving, and watch as you transform into the best version of yourself!