You know you should be eating right and exercising all week to reach your weight-loss goals, but when you're so rushed between work and family responsibilities, it's tough to have time to make it happen. A little planning goes a long way, so here are some things you can do on Sunday to ensure you stay on a healthy path all week long.
Plan Your Workouts
Don't just think to yourself that you'll squeeze in a run here and a trip to the gym there — plan it out. Sit down with your weekly calendar and jot down every workout just as you would doctor's appointments and meetings. Use this time to call your fitness buddy or trainer to make dates, check out studio schedules to find classes you want to take, and check the week's weather to figure out which days will be best for outdoor workouts.
Hit the Hamper
Nothing puts a damper on a workout more than not being able to find a clean sports bra, so do a couple loads before Monday, making sure you have everything you need, from your running tights to yoga tops to the towel you use to wipe sweat from your brow. Lay out your outfits for each day's workout so you're not running around the house Tuesday morning trying to find your missing sock.
Gather Your Gear
Collect whatever you need to work out — a yoga mat, sneakers, or earbuds — and make sure everything is set so you can easily grab the items throughout the week. Pack your gym bag, and put it by the door or in your car so you won't forget it when you leave for the day. If you exercise at home, put your favorite fitness video in the DVD player and lay out your dumbbells and resistance band. Sunday is also a great time to make a couple new playlists to inspire your kick-ass workouts (if you don't have time, subscribe to our workout playlists on Spotify).
Plan Your Meals and Snacks
Sit down and write out a weekly eating plan including all meals and snacks for the week. If you need a little inspiration, check out these healthy recipes. After making out a grocery list to include everything you'll need to whip them up, hit the health food store and stock up for the week. Since produce is best enjoyed within a few days of purchasing, note what fruits and veggies you'll want to pick up halfway through the week.
Make things even easier by prepping in advance: wash, cut, and store veggies to be used in dinner recipes, cut up fruit for smoothies or snacks, and cook up some whole grains and store them in the fridge. Cook some of these make-ahead breakfasts in advance, like a week of overnight oats, or turn on the crockpot to make something you can eat a few nights that week, like these under-400-calorie meals.
Pack It Up
If you'll be away from home during the day, cut down on the temptation to go out to lunch or grab a cookie by packing lunches and snacks from home. Making five salads for the week is easy and healthy, or you can whip up a big pot of soup and freeze small portions in glass containers to grab for lunch. Also set aside 10 snacks for the week (two per day) such as Greek yogurt, cheese sticks, and containers of carrots and hummus, or measure out 100-calorie portions of trail mix, whole-grain crackers, or cereal. It'll probably take about an hour to get it all ready, but it'll end up saving you time during the rest of the week.
Hit the Hay
Once everything is all set, take a nice hot bath, slip on your PJs, and hop into bed early. Unwind with an evening yoga sequence or a calming book, and you're more likely to have a good night's sleep and wake up refreshed for the week ahead.
RELATED: 9 foods that can keep your brain sharp
9 foods that can keep your brain sharp - US News
Do these 6 things on Sunday to lose weight all week long
A superfood rich in antioxidants, blueberries reduce oxidative stress on the brain and have been shown to improve learning capacity and motor skills. “Phytochemicals give fruits and vegetables their color,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, an Eat + Run blogger and manager of wellness nutrition services at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute. “Foods high in these chemicals have the most effective means of improving your health, and blueberries have one of the strongest concentrations available.”
Pucker up! Lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits can all help your brain stay healthy, Kirkpatrick says. Whether you're including it in a salad dressing, sipping on lemonade or squirting it on tacos, get some citrus in your daily diet. “Studies show that people who have citrus fruits every day are able to prevent cognitive decline by more than two years,” she says.
Almonds are high in vitamin E, monounsaturated fats and other vitamins and minerals, making them a snacking no-brainer – particularly when it comes to preventing cognitive decline and preserving memory. Walnuts are a powerful brain food, too, thanks to their high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Including them in your diet can improve brain cell communication and growth, according to a 2014 study in The Journal of Nutrition. May encourages students to enjoy nuts in homemade trail mix by combining 1/4 cup of nuts, 1/4 cup of whole-grain cereal and 2 tablespoons of dried fruit. Snacking on pistachios is a good choice, too.
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which helps prevent cognitive decline, but it’s far from the only fish high in these beneficial fats. Sardines, anchovies and lake trout are all great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, meaning you can hit your quota of eating fish twice per week without getting bored of eating the same thing. “Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, so they reduce inflammation in the body,” says Marilyn Gordon, a registered dietitian with Nova Southeastern University in Florida. “They are good for cardiovascular health and have been shown to preserve brain function.”
Yes, avocados are high in fat – but it’s a good fat that helps our brains function, Gordon says. The monounsaturated fat in avocados helps prevent high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. They're also a good source of lutein, a carotenoid related to better cognition. One 2015 study even found that people who ate one avocado every day for six months improved in several cognitive functions compared to people who ate a daily serving of chickpeas or a potato. Avocados are high in calories, however, so watch how much you eat.
Your morning cup might do more than just help get your day started, Kirkpatrick says. “Coffee is high in antioxidants, which surprises people,” she says. “Studies have shown that regular coffee drinkers have a decreased risk of dementia.” Just don't pile on the calories by adding loads of cream and sugar.
Instead of reaching for that pint of ice cream when stress strikes, try Greek yogurt topped with fresh fruit and a handful of granola or another cereal made with whole grains, May suggests. The vitamins and minerals in Greek yogurt can help relieve stress and give your body and brain energy. What's more, research suggests probiotics (like those found in many yogurts) can help prevent cognitive decline and age-related memory loss, Kirkpatrick points out.
Stop ordering egg whites and embrace the bright, round yolks, May says. "When you eat eggs, your brain uses these vitamins to support memory and increase communication among brain cells," she says. Try them hard-boiled as a portable snack along with sliced veggies and hummus, or in an omelet made with spinach, tomatoes and onion, May recommends.
Say hello to oatmeal, barley and quinoa – all great complex carbohydrates that help fuel the brain, May says. "Oats contain soluble fiber, which removes cholesterol from the body and prevents plaque from forming in the arteries," she says. "Clear arteries help ensure blood flows well and may help reduce the risk of developing stroke and dementia." Whole grains are also a staple in the Mediterranean diet – an eating style shown to improve cognition when compared with a low-fat diet.