Are you the type of person to drag yourself into the office 15 minutes late every Monday morning, hair still wet, eyes blurry and bloodshot from weekend shenanigans, your sleep shirt, mug, and facial expression all exclaiming the same sentiment: “No talky till I’ve had my coffee”?
If this sounds familiar to you, you should know that there is another species walking among us, possibly human, likely a superhero, that attacks Monday with motivation and vigor. A being that uses Mondays as a springboard to launch into a healthy and productive week. And some of these people are scientists who think we should all view Mondays with the same sense of purpose.
We chatted with Jessie Popelka, MS, RD from healthy meal delivery service Eat Fit Go, to discuss healthy habit formation. Here are her thoughts on why she thinks Monday is the most productive day of the week.
Most people are familiar with the concept of New Year’s resolutions; a new year is a fresh start and a chance to make a positive change. This same mentality can be applied to Mondays. According to research, New Year and Mondays fall into the category of the “fresh start effect” where people are more likely to adopt healthy behavior. These fresh start days are basically mental reminders that keep us accountable.
Additionally, creating a few healthy intentions and sticking to them at the beginning of the week does help individuals to continue with their desired behaviors all week long. We see this pattern play out in a variety of ways. Even if you don’t stick 100% to your healthy changes for the entire seven days, studies have shown that starting off the week with healthy behaviors at the forefront of your mind and having a plan to achieve them does help you make better decisions for your health during the week, and helps you maintain a positive attitude about your goals.
Many groups have harnessed the power of Mondays as the day to implement changes; Monday is the most common day of the week to try and quit smoking or begin a diet or exercise program. One of my favorite ways to implement the Monday Effect is with the Meatless Monday pledge.
Meatless Monday was started in 2003 by public health advocate Sid Lerner in association with the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. The premise is simple: skip eating meat on Mondays for your health and the health of the planet. Now, you might be sitting behind your screen thinking: But Jessie, isn’t lean protein healthy for me? It is! But protein doesn’t have to come exclusively from meat. Excessive consumption of animal protein has been linked to all kinds of negative health outcomes, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. It’s not that animal protein is bad for us, it’s just that we don’t necessarily need it for every meal, every day. Substituting plant-based protein for meat has been shown to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases AND improve the quality and longevity of life.
Beyond the fact that “Meatless Monday” does have a nice ring to it, by encouraging people to make this change on a Monday specifically, you are not only increasing the likelihood that they will achieve it due to increased motivation felt on Mondays, but they may also be more likely to incorporate meatless meals in the rest of the week as well.
So you’re convinced that Monday is the right time to make healthy choices, but what does that look like in practice? It is easy to be overwhelmed when we try to do too much at one time. To combat this, try subscribing to a meal-prep subscription service like Eat Fit Go, to help take the pressure off planning.
One final piece of advice: the nice thing about the Monday Effect versus a New Year’s resolution is that it gives you the opportunity to reexamine and refresh your goals each week. It’s okay for your goals to evolve as your lifestyle and personal goals change throughout the year. What works in January may not work in July and revisiting your goals frequently is all part of a healthy lifestyle. And if changes are needed, Monday is always a great time to start.
Jessie Popelka received a Master's degree in Dietetics along with a Registered Dietician certification from West Virginia University. Since then she has gained experience and expertise in geriatrics, disease prevention and management, weight loss, and general wellness. As a health-minded individual, she believes in the positive impact a healthy lifestyle can have on one's quality of life and is driven to continue educating and coaching others on how to feel their best. Jessie currently serves as the Corporate Dietician for Eat Fit Go.
You can jumpstart each week by receiving a text with motivational quotes from your favorite Echelon instructors. Text “MONDAY” to 818181 to receive inspirational quotes from Echelon every Monday to get you out of bed and on the Leaderboard!