If you fail to plan, you plan to fail ~benjamin franklin
Imagine you are on vacation in New York City. You have been dropped off in Time Square, the only landmark you know. You plan to see the sights and take in all the city has to offer, but you haven’t so much as a city map or a playbill. How successful might this vacation be? How free might you feel to enjoy yourself? A wise traveler starts with a plan, even if it is only a list of things to see.
Most of us live our nutritional and exercise lives like the unprepared traveler – we go through the day in a reactionary way, allowing others to dictate what we eat (pizza day at the cafeteria!) or circumstances to keep us from exercise (left my shoes at home!).
If you have a fitness goal, it’s helpful to have a map to your success. On this map are landmarks – the habits that create checkpoints to your ultimate destination. These habits are your personal behavioral goals – the small actions that bring you closer to your larger overall goal, and they could be any of a multitude of healthy practices. Here are some examples:
- I will exercise three times per week
- I will eat vegetables with every meal or snack
- I will bring my lunch to work
- I will be in bed by 11 o’clock every night
- I will eat out only one meal per week
- When I choose to drink alcohol, I will not consume more than two alcoholic drinks
These habits are personal, but they are your road signs- rules that cannot be broken. Imagine you are at a party, and there is tremendous social pressure to drink. The host has even taken care to pop the top off of your favorite beer. Now imagine you are seven months pregnant. Your rules are unbreakable. You have a goal, and you are planning to succeed.
Planning for your success by preparing meals in advance, keeping to habits, scheduling time for exercise, keeping healthy snack options in the fridge and gym clothes in the car can help you when detours arise. And trust us, they will. No road is without them. The reactionary person will become lost. Those who have identified their commitments and have prepared well find success with much more ease.
The cool thing is, when we do these healthy practices long enough, they become our default pattern. We can rewire our reactions, rewire our emotions, rewire our responses. So, what is your own personal destination? What are the steps – the behavior habits you’re committed to – that will help you shift from reactionary to prepared and purposeful to get there? Choose ONE this week and put it to work!
See you in the gym!