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Fitness and Weight Loss Do these five things outside the gym to take your workouts to the next level

The scent of lavender can help calm your nervous system, but researchers now say it can also improve your working memory.

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Fat blasting workout for flatter abs. play

Fat blasting workout for flatter abs.

(Photograph by Getty Images)

HIIT routines are short because they're tough. But you can quickly undo all your (very) hard work if you don't hyper-prioritize other healthy daily habits. Make sure to stick to these top four:

DIET

Time your protein. You know protein is the building block of muscle, but there's a right way to consume it. A new review found that six protein-rich small meals per day (about 20 grams per meal) led to the greatest boosts in women's muscular endurance and power, core strength, heart health, and fat loss.

SLEEP

Trick yourself into Zs. We've all been there: The harder you try to fall asleep, the harder it becomes to actually fall asleep. Researchers studied this.

They found that intentionally trying to stay awake can help you pass out more quickly. So when insomnia strikes, force your eyes to stay open instead of gluing them shut.

HYDRATION

Count beyond water. Sure, eight glasses of H2O per day is the typical guideline, but a recent review found that other drinks—milk, OJ, iced tea—are similarly hydrating because they stay in your system longer (i.e., you don't pee them out as quickly).

So when you need a break from water, sip on something low-cal—ideally, first thing in the a.m. if you know you're going to be out and about without agua.

This easy water bottle hack will help you stay properly hydrated every single day:

STRESS

Embrace essential oils. The scent of lavender can help calm your nervous system, but researchers now say it can also improve your working memory (or ability to perform a task) after a hair-pulling event—which means less-frazzled days. Since acute stress can lead to chronic stress, keep lavender oil at your desk or in your bag, and spray as needed.

CHECK YOURSELF

You should feel sufficiently taxed—not dead—after a HIIT workout. If you resemble roadkill, scale it back a bit next time. Have a ton more energy to spare? Put in a little more effort the next go-around.

This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Women's Health. For more great advice, pick up a copy of the issue on newsstands now!

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