28 Day New Year Diet and Exercise Jump Start Plan

A 28 Day Diet and Exercise Plan designed to Jump Start your New Year's resolution using SMART Goal Setting - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevent, Time Bound for lasting results.Happy New Year!  Today is the day to start anew for many people when it comes to food and fitness.  Are you one of them?  Do you have a plan or know where to start?  You know you need to start eating better and moving more. But how?  The same old same old?

Let’s try something different this year, Treadmill McDiet.  Let’s not burn out or fade away by mid February.  Let’s make some permanent changes that will last this time.  Let’s create some habits that will sustain  healthy body goals.  Let’s spend the next 28 days becoming more conscious about what you eat and making time to exercise regularly while cementing healthy habits.  The following simple diet and exercise plan will give you the jump start you need by using “SMART” goal setting…Specific goals that are Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound.  What better way to set up your new year up for success?   Your body and mind will thank you for the structure, consistency and rest (the digestive and sleep kind) you give it.

Ready for the Game Plan?  You are going to make ONE new change each week for a month.  It sounds simple but the best way to get started is to create some healthy habits.  The goal is to allow these changes to become a habit.  Each week they will build upon the other to set you up with a stronger and healthier foundation for how you will eat and move in the future.


Week 1:  Drink more water and eat only when you are hungry.

It’s that simple. Dehydrated and overfed doesn’t feel good. (There is a good chance you spent the last several weeks really feeling this way.)  Be mindful and pay attention to when you are hungry and thirsty.  We have trained ourselves to clean our plates and eat at certain times without any regard to whether we are actually hungry or not.  We mindlessly snack while watching TV and we eat what our kids don’t finish.  We drink caffeine on the go to forge on.  SLOW DOWN.  THINK. CARRY WATER.  Drink half of your body weight in ounces each day.  EAT SLOWER.  Chew your food well and stop when you are satisfied but not stuffed.  Remember your brain needs time to catch up with your belly. You will be surprised how much of a difference being mindful can make.

Week 2:  Eat a serving of protein with every meal and snack. 

PROTEIN MAKES YOU FEEL FULL. You will be surprised.  Protein feeds your cells and stops the cravings plus it requires more energy to actually digest.  It is the building block for lean muscle.  Protein also prevents carb crash and it doesn’t mess with your energy levels. Think chicken, beef, pork, turkey, eggs, fish, yogurt, cheese, tempeh, whatever you want!

Week 3: Eat a serving of fresh vegetables with every meal and snack. 

Veggies contain so much good stuff and your body can turn it into energy easier than processed foods.  They might not taste as good to you at first if you have been eating processed food but don’t give up.  Your taste buds renew every 10-14 days so stick with it.  You will be amazed by all of the different tastes that veggies bring. Choose many colors to get all of the crunch, salt, sweet, and bright flavors. Eat them raw, roasted, steamed, sautéed – it doesn’t matter.  Go beyond broccoli, carrots and celery. Check out jicama, cherry tomatoes, baby peppers, small cucumbers, or edamame.

Week 4: Eat a serving of good fats with every meal. 

Don’t be scared of fats. When you don’t eat enough good fat you will feel unsatisfied and crave sugar.  This could be why you start to graze in the kitchen after 3pm.  Fat is so important in our bodies.  It helps keep our skin soft and it’s imperative in the absorption of many vitamins.  Plus it tastes good and it’s filling. So make sure you have a thumb tip size serving with every meal even if you use it to cook.  Think coconut oil and olive oils, the good fat from your beef or salmon, grass finished butter or ghee, almonds, cashews, walnuts, and avocado.



Over the next month your simple goal is to build endurance and find a kind of movement that you like. This could be as simple and effective as walking.  I would absolutely recommend walking as a starting point for the sedentary beginner (after having been first cleared for take off by your physician). There are so many choices for moving: jump rope, running, interval sprints, chasing your kids or dogs in a park, yoga, swimming, dancing, whatever works for you. Again, this is about making ONE change a week and allowing that change to become a habit.

Week 1:  Schedule.

Put YOURSELF on the calendar. Sit down every weekend and schedule yourself workout time.  Try some different activities to see what you like.  Pre planning will give you the time to make adjustments and get it done. Don’t have time?  Try replacing 10 minutes of TV or another habit with walking.  Ideally you should be moving about 60 minutes each day. Break it into segments if you would like but make sure you have between 10-15 minutes of uninterrupted time in each segment. Consider all the extras like taking the stairs and parking further away from an entrance as bonus burners.  If you are just getting started plan at least one uninterrupted 10 minute walk each day for the first week.  Record your time each day.

Week 2:  Increase.

Increasing your heart rate will help build endurance.  Try moving longer or faster than you did last week. Just a little bit.  Could you increase your segments by just one more minute?  Move more quickly?  Don’t be afraid to push yourself but set a realistic goal.  Use the 10% rule – increase your time or mileage by only 10% this each week.  It will help prevent injury and burnout. Make sure to continue to record your time each day.  Having trouble doing it alone?  Buddy up!  Even if it’s just once or twice a week working out together can help you stay on track.

Week 3: Terrain.

This will further increase your heart rate, challenge your muscles in a new way and burn more energy.  Check out a new neighborhood on foot. If you have hills nearby try walking up or down them. Take a walk in the sand. Go swimming. Have you chased your kid or dog lately at the park or thrown a Frisbee? Pick something new this weekend and give it a try. Schedule a bike ride, take a paddleboard class, or get together for a pick up game.  Record your time and terrain this week.

Week 4:  Sustain.

Now it’s time to fly. YOU ARE IN CONTROL. Take what you have learned the last three weeks and figure out what worked for you.  Sit down and schedule.  Where are you time wise?  Can you increase a little more? Did you find something last week that you liked? Schedule it for this week?  Want to try something new? Find a day and put it in. Keep going with no excuses this week and finish strong.


Be accountable to someone

This could be your mom, significant other, friends or Facebook.  Tweet or Instagram your progress and tag me so I can cheer you on!  If rewards motivate you try finding a non food reward for yourself at the end of the month. This could be time off from the kids, a movie, manicure, massage, facial, or a new outfit or shoes.  Don’t have the extra money?  Make a motivation jar and set it somewhere that inspires you like the kitchen or beside your bed.  Set an amount ($1-$10) and put it in the jar every time you make a good choice.  You could even bonus yourself for a great week or staying on track when you didn’t really feel like it.  By then end of the challenge you will have some extra cash for your reward.

For instant access of a printable version of this plan join the OFM community by signing up at the top of this page. It will be sent to your inbox along a calendar of food and fitness tips for daily inspiration during your 28 day journey.  If I can do it, so can you! A 28 Day Diet and Exercise Plan designed to Jump Start your New Year's resolution using SMART Goal Setting - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevent, Time Bound for lasting results.

If you have any questions or comments inbox me or leave your thoughts below.  Now go get it!

About Heather Valentine

Heather Valentine is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist who believes in building your best body from the inside out.


  1. I love your course of action for healthy eating and incorporating exercise. Nice post. Shared it on Healthy Altoona Facebook, a community health improvement group I facilitate in my home town!
    Terri Henkels

  2. Thanks for posting this. I am working to lose 15 lbs, I work out 3 days per week. Eating is my challenge, sitting here today mapping out my eating plan!

Leave a Reply