Monday, March 23, 2015

Make a Plan

I have been working on this blog for nearly four weeks.

In the first draft, the tone was too angry. It was not much better for the second draft nor the third. Finally now, weeks later, I have found the proper tone.

It all started with a rash of cancellations from my personal training clients and my cleaning lady.
I love routine. And when my routine is interrupted, it drives me crazy. (My nickname is not Gumby). That’s not to say that I am not flexible, I am. I just prefer to stick to the plan.

The first week my cleaning lady cancelled, it was because it was too cold for her to be outside. It was well into the single digits and I understand that standing around waiting for a bus or a subway is not ideal. The same week, a client cancelled because she was sick. I get that too. Sick is sick. No one wants to jump around and push themselves when they are under the weather. A second client cancelled two days ahead of her scheduled appointment because she was tired. Seriously? Two days before and you are already too tired?! I know she just didn't want to train. To make my week complete, a third client cancelled because she had too many other things going on that week. Poor planning on her part.

Cancellations drive me batty. Mainly because it changes my week. (Have I mentioned how much I hate change?) I have a set schedule for my week. Because my week takes coordination, it is easier to have an idea of when/where I need to be and when. I learned my discipline from my mother early on (she consistently packs her lunch the night before and lays out her clothes) and then from my Sensei later on in life (instilling discipline, drives self-discipline). And let's not forget The Husband, the project manager. He plans for a living. When I come across people who fail to plan, well... I just don't get it.

Please allow me to help. This is not just fitness advice but perhaps a little life advice. Although it sounds rigid, having a plan is a good thing. If you have a plan, you can make time, plan alternatives and not rush. Things don't get forgotten. Planning and organizing actually gives you time to relax. It may sound forced but scheduling down time works.

If I know I have a client in midtown at noon on Friday, I am not going to book another in the Bronx at 1. I go so far as to sit down Saturday mornings and create a food plan for the week. So when I hit the grocery store, I have a list and no extras make it into my cart. I don't have to think about what I am going to eat during the week. Everything is laid out in front of me. Of course there are last minute invitation to lunch or dinner but, with a plan, 80% of the time I eat better. I shop at the same time more or less every week. I work out at the same time every day.

A plan does not have to be strict (I know the husband will disagree here [Editor’s note: I actually agree]) but at least a guideline for what your week/day/month look like.

Since I write about fitness, let's talk about planning your workouts. Start with your goals: weight loss; increase strength; improve endurance, etc. Define the time frame and be realistic. It takes at least three months before you will see results. With that done, how do we get there? Pull out your calendar. We already know you work. That pretty much eliminates Monday through Friday from 9-5 plus commute time. That leaves us with mornings, evenings and weekends. Is there a gym near your office? Could lunch time work for you? We have to explore all options.

Personally, I prefer morning workouts. You say “Laura, I have to be in the office at 8:00 am, and I have no time”. Let me ask what are your expectations of a morning workout? A morning workout can be 20 minutes and not an entire hour. Save the long workouts for the weekends.

Have heard of HIIT (High intensity interval training)? You can burn colossal calories in a short period of time. Without getting into specific protocols of the different types HIIT training, let me give you an example of one. Get on the treadmill. Start at your normal pace. Run for 3 minutes, at the top of the third minutes, turn up the pace. If you usually run at 5.5 or 6, take the pace up to 9/9.5/10 and sprint for 30 seconds. Recover for 30 seconds and then go back to your regular pace. During the course of 20 minutes, you will sprint 4 times and gain a great calorie burn. There are so many types of HIIT. You could do a lifting circuit in those same 20 minutes. With the right intensity, 20 minutes can feel like an hour.

If you want some help putting together a 20 minute morning routine whether it is for the gym or your living room, email me: You can use the same idea for a lunch time workout during the week. Save your long runs or cycling for the weekends.

Back to my point, get your workout on the calendar. Monday at 5:30 am. Wednesday 7:00 pm Friday 6:00am. Whatever works for you? It might be different every week, and that's ok. But you should treating this time to be as important to your day as any doctor appointment or work meeting.
You only get one body. You cannot trade it in and replacing the parts gets expensive. Preventative maintenance is easier and less expensive.

Clients complain all the time about not seeing results. It drives me crazy. I would like to shake them. Remember that appointment that you cancelled last week and the week before? Training consistently will actually get you the results you are looking to achieve. Working out once a week or once every other week makes your workouts more of a chore than enjoyable. It’s like starting over again every week. As you build stamina and strength, your workouts will get easier, then they become fun. Your body needs to be taxed in order for it to adapt to new stressors. You just need to do the workout.

There is no such thing as a perfect week. Life gets in the way, kids get sick, people call out cold & tired and bosses demand some crazy after-work meeting at the last minute. Knowing that, and having a plan will allow you to get other important things done, like taking care of yourself. If you don't take care of yourself by dedicating some time every week to your workout, you won't be able to take care of those kids or attend that meeting or cover for an employee that is tired & cold. Make the plan, it’s a start to a successful week.