Challenge Yourself: 5 Steps to a 30 Day Lifestyle Makeover

by Suzanne Hiscock
When it comes to weight loss and getting fit, making several changes at once can be not only intimidating but confusing too. Add in wacky, fad diet rules -- it's Tuesday, can I eat fruit and yogurt together? -- and it's no wonder people give up and revert back to bad habits.

When you make small changes that feel right for you, these changes become sustainable. They become changes that you can live with for the rest of your life. They become a habit.

A while ago, I came across a TED Talks video by Matt Cutts, head of the webspam team over at Google. He proposes trying something new for 30 days. 30 days is enough for you to create a habit -- and enough time for you to discover that a particular habit isn't right for you. It's also enough time to help you break a habit.

Watch the video and then read on as I show you how to create your own 30 day lifestyle makeover to either make or break your weight loss and fitness habits. As Matt mentions, what’s great about taking a 30 day challenge is that it helps you gain confidence in your ability. Lack of confidence is one reason some people have trouble losing weight and getting fit.

What a motivating video, right? Here are my five steps to help you succeed in a 30 day challenge:

1) Pick Something You Can Do for 30 Days An easy enough first step, you would think. But you don’t want to go overboard on this. Choose something that’s challenging enough so you feel you’re accomplishing something. But don’t set yourself up for failure with an extremely difficult challenge.

There are two different types of changes you can make.

You can add something to your daily life for 30 days, such as:
  • Walk 10,000 steps each day (or a smaller number if you’re not used to walking regularly).
  • Do your physio/rehab exercises.
  • Do 15 minutes of yoga each day.
  • Drink x ounces/litres of water each day.
  • Count my calories for 30 days.
Or you can take away something from your daily life for 30 days to break any bad habits, such as:
  • Watch no more than X hours of TV.
  • Reduce sugar (or salt).
  • No alcohol for 30 days.
  • No pasta for 30 days.
See: An Easy Way To Figure Out What Changes to Make

2) Plan for the Obstacles You’ll Face
Visualize when, where and how you’re going to do your 30 day challenge. Take out a calendar and see if you have any upcoming events that could tempt you away from your challenge. If your challenge is no alcohol for 30 days, what will you do when you go out to an upcoming party?

If you’re taking away something from your daily life, what good habit will you replace it with?

If you’re adding a habit to your daily life, do you have the tools and equipment that you need? When will be the best time for you to do it?

3) Pick a Way to Track it
The FitWatch Fitness Tracker can track a lot of your food and exercise-related challenges. And if you want to count your calories for 30 days, be sure to sign up for my 28 Day Calorie Counting Boot Camp. Just add on an extra two days! :-) is a great way to track non-weight loss goals. (This is my husband’s site! Check it out!) You can set up several daily habits to track – and give yourself a green mark for each daily goal. It really gives you a sense of accomplishment to mark off each day with a “Yes, I did it!”. You can create an account for free. There's a paid version as well, which will even send you daily goal reminders via email.

You can also use your favorite calendar app to track your 30 day challenge.

4) Set a Start Date and Pick A Reward
Once you have a good idea of how your 30 day challenge will pan out, set a start date and stick to it. No excuses. You would have though about all the excuses in Step #2, right?

Pick a non-food reward for Day 31; something you’ll really look forward to. Maybe a 90 minute massage? A new exercise outfit?

See: Weight Loss Excuse Buster

5) Spread the Word
While there may be some challenges you want to keep private, one way to motivate yourself to stick to the 30 day challenge is to tell other people what you’re doing. Sometimes the thought of “Uh oh, I’m going to have to tell Paige I didn't make it to 10,000 steps today” is enough to give you that little push to get the job done.

So. what happens if you don't make it a full 30 days? Depending on the challenge and what you're trying to accomplish, you may want to forgive -- and learn from -- certain slip-ups. But if you find yourself struggling with a 30 day challenge, you'll need to re-evaluate the change you're trying to make. You may also need to ask yourself if you're ready to make a change.

Don’t be intimidated about making changes to your lifestyle to make it healthier. 30 days is not “the rest of your life.” If you find this new habit you're trying to create isn't right for you, you can challenge yourself with a different habit for the next 30 days.

The beauty of the 30 day challenge is that it makes it easy to make changes over time. Once you get one new habit under your belt, you can add another. Before you know it, you'll be living a healthier life!

Must Read
7 Simple Diet Changes to Lose Weight
Healthy Eating Advantages -- Why You Should Eat Healthy
3 Steps to Get Well and Stay Well -- And Have a Healthy Life
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About the Author

Suzanne Hiscock is a PN L2 Certified Master Coach, ACE-certified Health Coach, as well as an ACE-certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist. For over 20 years, she's been helping people lose weight and get fit through her website,

And she’s really TRULY SORRY ABOUT THAT. You see, she didn’t realize she was contributing to diet culture; she just wanted to help people feel better. But losing weight isn’t the way to do it. She’s on a mission to change all that with an anti-diet approach. So, pardon the dust on the floor as the website gets revamped.