Planning is key. How many times have we heard this in different areas of our lives throughout our lives? When someone walks into a gym seeking the knowledge and guidance of a trainer on how to use machines and other gym equipment, little do they know everything that encompasses adopting a healthy lifestyle – starting with the most fundamental concept: How To Plan.
Learning how to exercise and eat better, well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. At the root of all successful goals – short-term, long-term, in-between and upside down – is planning (and then, of course, executing that plan but that’s a whole different topic). As a trainer I often wonder if some of my clients have a hard time managing their fitness program because they don’t know how to effectively plan. You can have access to an amazing gym with a wide variety of equipment, workout 2-3 times per week with a great, knowledgeable trainer, be handed samples of meal plans and even have meals laid out for you in MyFitnessPal. But even if you have all of these things in place, if you don’t know how to effectively plan, you will have a very hard time executing your fitness program. Now that I am writing this, I wonder if that is where I should start with all of my newbies – teaching them first and foremost how to plan so that they can effectively execute their workouts and nutrition.
LITTLE STEPS = BIG RESULTS
To break this whole planning thing down, the first thing you need to do is know what your goal is. Your goal is your starting point. You will typically have one big “umbrella goal” and a number of smaller “sub-goals” underneath that umbrella goal. All of your sub-goals – when put into practice consistently over time – will lead you closer to achieving your big umbrella goal.
Here is an example. Say you want to lose 10 pounds. First of all, do you really want to lose 10 pounds? Or do you want to change the fat-to-muscle ratio on your body in a particular area? If so, this may not have anything to do with losing 10 pounds at all.
So the first thing to do when setting a goal is to ask yourself very specific questions until you get to the heart of what your actual goal is. If you truly just want to lose 10 pounds, that doesn’t really mean anything other than dropping your weight from say 150 to 140 – and that’s perfectly fine!
Let’s say you have the umbrella goal of dropping 10 pounds. You would then need to ask yourself “What steps do I need to take in order to lose 10 pounds?” These are your sub-goals.
Here here is what it would look like:
• Lose 10lbs
• 10-12 week timeframe
• Manage weight-loss beyond the 10-12 week timeframe
Caloric deficit of 200-500 calories per day by decreasing caloric intake and increasing caloric expenditure (exercise)
• Food journal every day for the next 10-12 weeks to manage caloric intake
• Strength-training circuit or boot-camp style workout 3x’s per week
• 45 minutes steady state cardio 3x’s per week
• 20 min HIIT cardio sessions 2x’s per week
WRITE IT DOWN
So now you have your plan in place ready to conquer those 10 pounds! You walk out of the gym with great intentions on a motivational high. You are unstoppable. But on your drive home, your mind starts to wander. You think about work, your kids’ activities, your aging parents, etc. By the time you get home, you’ve left your goals at the gym door. You walk into your house greeted by a pile of laundry and resume your normal routine. The motivation is gone and any thoughts of planning workouts or making a healthy grocery shopping list are long gone.
One way to prevent your goals from being buried in your thoughts, or fleeing from your mind all together, is by writing them down. Keeping a journal of some kind, or putting sticky notes on your fridge, your bathroom mirror, or in your phone either on some kind of app such as EverNote, or in your weekly calendar schedule. Don’t let your goals quietly slip by the way side. Find a way to put your goals in front of you every day so that you are constantly “slapped in the face” with them!
I can’t stress how important it is to start small. If you try to change anything in your life too drastically – too much too soon – you are setting yourself up for failure. The same is true for planning. Try to focus on planning one thing at a time, such as your workouts for the week. Do this every week for a month or so, then when you feel you have this down, add something else to your list of things to plan.
Here are things that I plan every single week, what I use to plan them and how I plan them:
Every Sunday, I sit down with my fitbookPREP and my Google calendar and plan/schedule my workouts for the next seven days. I plan what workouts I will do – strength-training and cardio – each day of the week in my fitbookPREP, as well as my rest days. Then I look at my work schedule in my Google calendar and schedule my workouts each day in my calendar as an appointment.
The first thing I do is look at my macronutrient goals in MyFitnessPal, where I set my calories, fats, proteins, carbs and other nutritional goals based on my current fitness program. My typical week looks like this:
Thursday/Friday Write out my grocery list based on the foods I need to help me hit my daily macronutrients.
Friday/Saturday Go grocery shopping armed with my grocery list.
Sunday Prep all of my food and meals for the week ahead.
Every Day Food journal in MyFitnessPal every day to help me plan my meals and stay on track with my goals.
If you don’t plan, execute and track, you are throwing caution to the wind and mindlessly, haphazardly making sort of an effort to do something. Mindlessly, haphazardly sort of making an effort will not get you to your goals. It will most likely give you the sense of frustration, inconvenience and ultimately you will abandon even these small efforts. Make sure you 1. know what your umbrella goal is 2. know what sub-goals you need to achiever to help you reach your umbrella goal 3. have a realistic plan in place to execute your goals.
Tip Me Tuesday: Muscles Matter Most
Tip Me Tuesday: Gaining vs Losing
Tip Me Tuesday: How To Work Out Better
Tip Me Tuesday: Become A Dieting Expert
Tip Me Tuesday: Trust The Process – And Your Trainer!
ABOUT NAOMI RABON
One of the trainers on Nicole’s elite NW Fitness Training Team, Naomi is a certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is a NPC Figure competitor who has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 12 years.