returning to fitness

What's a Strategic Health Plan?

When I say "strategic" things like accounting, business development, or college planning come to mind.  What doesn't come to mind is when I will work out, what I will do, and for how long will I commit to the workout.  Still, most of us plan our vacations better than we plan the day to day things that could have more meaning and add more fun to our daily existence.  Too often we drudge our way from one to do item to the next without stepping back and really thinking  about what will make our lives more exciting and meaningful.  We regress into a state of just getting by and letting life happen.  Unfortunately, entropy will only ensure that if we allow ourselves to constantly go with the flow, our health may just flow right out the window. Never in my life have I had to engage in so much planning to get anything done.  That includes my workouts, or even just a quick stroll with my 4 month old twins.  Last Friday I had the liberty of rejoining the morning Fitness Fire classes that we offer at Restoration Fitness.  All I could think the whole time I was there was, I feel so incredibly privileged to get to workout out, and OMG, am I gonna be sore!  It felt incredible to be back in a high energy atmosphere working out with people I love.  I was motivated, inspired, and energized.  I was also sore for 6 straight days.   It would be easy for me to complain about the soreness, the time it took, how out of shape I feel, how I would rather have had more sleep, but to tell you the truth- it doesn't even occur to me.  I showed up anxious to finally get to do something for MY body.  The hard part is committing to do it again and again when a schedule constantly changes and my energy ebbs and flows.

It just so happens I also just finished reading an exceptional business book by Chuck Blakeman about strategic planning.  It got me thinking-  What if we all strategically planned our workouts so they actually got done and we could really look forward to them?  One of the reasons I believe in fitness coaching and training so much is that it helps you do just that...just like a financial planner helps you with your financial assets, we help you with you health assets.

So, in a nutshell, I thought I would give you a little tutorial about how to strategically plan your workouts based on how we do things here:

1) Get a clear picture of WHY you are doing this.  You won't get far if the only reason is to fit into your jeans.  One of my underlying reasons is that I am simply a better person when I workout. Everything about me is better: my mood, energy, attitude, physical appearance, stamina, and much more. I can tell within days if I haven't worked out because I get crabby.  I am no fun to live with if I am crabby.  Just ask my husband (or my mom for that matter).

2) Choose some specific goals and put a date on when you will achieve them.  Nothing sets your body and mind in action than a deadline you can see in the not so distant future.

3) Get accountability.  This step is probably one of the most crucial.  Tell everyone about what you are doing.  Spread your excitement by talking to people, asking questions, blogging, logging your workouts and food (Get a free copy of our food and exercise log sheet here), workout with a friend, or get accountability with your trainer.  The regular conversations and opportunity to trouble shoot where you are and what is going on will help you in the day to day grind of making changes.

4) Get your workouts planned and on the calendar.  You can find workouts online, or you can make them up...but the preferred and easiest method is to simply have the experts write them for you.  We make sure you are doing balanced exercises that keep you pain free and progress your exercise so you don't have to go through the 6 days of soreness like I did (and I did it knowingly and willingly!)  Once you know what you are going to do between weight training, cardio, or yoga, put the specific times on  your calendar and treat them like a sacred appointment.  It's not just you whom you are letting down when you skip...you are letting down your accountability group as well!  Here is a sample of how we change up our sets and reps every 4-6 weeks to progress our clients and keep their muscles growing!

Month 1: 1-3 sets of 15 reps

Month 2: 2-4 sets of 10 reps

Month 3: 2-3 sets of 12 reps

Month 4: A combination of 2-4 sets of 10 reps and 1-2 sets of 20 reps for speed.

As for cardio: Consider doing intervals for 15-30 minutes starting with 1 minute hard. and 90s easy.  Then start reducing your rest time.  Once you get better at these, start reducing your effort to 45 or 30 seconds hard, and give yourself equal rest.  Remember to push yourself to a high intensity for maximum benefit!

5) Check in regularly for milestones along the way:  Re-time your mile, get your circumference measured every 4 weeks, see how many more push-ups you can do.  As long as you choose something that can be measured, it will help you see how far you are coming even if when you look in the mirror you are not seeing as much change as you thought you would.

Most of all, remember that your body is not to be taken for granted.  Keep yourself a a priority, and your health will reward you!