Being Flexible

Things change, they always do, so you have to be flexible. But you have to have a plan. Some people think there’s no point in planning, since things always change, but I think you have to have a plan so that things run smoothly and then you only have to make decisions and changes when things actually change. Consistency makes life easy and predictable, and then gives you room to make modifications when things become unpredictable.

(Just an aside, I blame mobile phones and instant access for the instability of life… but maybe that’s for another blog.)

One of the first questions I always ask my clients, after asking them their goals, is what their plan is. Most people have a plan: “well, my son is here for hockey on Tuesdays and Saturdays, so I was going to use the gym while he trained, and then I walk on … ” etc etc … I worry about those who say “Oh, I dunno, I was thinking I’d come three times a week” but don’t know when or how they’ll fit it in.

The next question I try to ask them is, “what will you do if you miss a session?” In other words, what are you going to do when things change? Because people stop by for coffee, you might get sick or a child get sick, or work demands you stay late, there was a great birthday party with the best cake you ever tasted, or you slept in. And then what?! Then you have to go to plan B. The back up plan! Some things are unforeseeable, and others you can work around with a little forethought. And I find that people who make these sorts of arrangements have more success. Why?

Because nothing good happens by accident. People win when they practice, people succeed when they work hard, people reach their goals through consistent application of their action plan. Luck won’t help you lose weight or win a competition, the only thing it might do is win you the lottery. I can’t recall who said it, but a famous athlete once said:

“I find the more I practice, the luckier I get.”

I’m sorry if that was Tiger Woods, but it’s still true! 🙂

I also think that people who plan (and plan to be flexible) in this way have more success because they aren’t applying the “all or nothing” principle to their lives. The people who decide that they have failed or fallen off the bandwagon might go and binge eat for a week, all because of one chocolate bar, or those who don’t exercise for three months because they took two weeks off when they were sick and found it just “all too hard” after they got better are struggling with an all-or-nothing mindset.

People with backup plans seem to have a better sense of the Big Picture: If I am MOSTLY healthy MOST of the time and get straight back on the wagon after I fall off, I am not going to be chasing myself in circles, I won’t undo the work I’ve done.

Your body really doesn’t know what time it is, what your plan was, and doesn’t really care if you had cake today. It cares about balance. About energy in and energy out, and if OVERALL you keep that balance steady, if you keep your work and diet and life consistent you should come out on top. Then good behaviours become habitual behaviours… I’m digressing!

Where did this big old lecture come from? From me having to modify my plans this week. I had a plan, but I slept in one morning, had a family dinner one night, and now I am not going to the Brigadiers Challenge due to lack of a ride. Things change. But I still got a makeup workout in, and will still ride and run on Sunday, even if it’s not in the competition. All Plan B stuff.

And for my Plan A, in reviewing my last few weeks I realise that I am going to have to make a change to my schedule to fit my rowing in elsewhere. It is not working on Tuesdays between my split shifts. I simply have too much prep work to do before my Healthy Bodies sessions in the evening. And today I bumped into a horsey friend who is very into endurance and we have arranged to do a big ride on Wednesday mornings, so that will take up most of the morning (9am-11:30 or 12), meaning I can’t do a ride and a run as well as a horsey ride.

Out come the pencils and charts! Let the rescheduling begin!

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