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embrace your failures

I am a planner, a dreamer, and thinker upper. I love nothing more than to settle into a little nook on the couch with a notebook and plan things–vacations, semester schedules, weddings, science lessons, website layouts. I keep mini clipboards stationed all around–in my purse, on my bedside table, in my car–for planning purposes only. I research, I outline, I draft, I brainstorm, all the time. It’s what I do best and it’s how I solve problems.

Do you have a problem with keeping your closet organized? I can make a plan for that.

Do you have trouble eating enough vegetables? I can make a plan for that.

Do you want to learn Spanish in seven months? I can make a plan for that.

I can plan until the cows come home.  The planning comes easy, but the doing takes practice. And when the stars align and the planning actually becomes doing, there is a hard truth that I have to try and accept: eventually, my plan will fail.

Plans are tidy. Plans are square. Plans are black and white (unless you use fancy pens to write them).

Life is unpredictable. Life is messy. Life does not always ever go according to plan.

So. Let’s talk about fitness plans. Do you have one? I did. I’m working on a new one. From August to December, my fitness goals were threefold: eat something green at every meal, drink at least  5 bottles of water a day, and do at least 30 minutes of HIIT or strength training.

I made a list of things I could eat for breakfast that included something green, because I usually default to oatmeal or cereal. I washed my Brita and bought a 24 pack of water to keep in my car in case I ever left my water bottle at home. I  made coordinating fitness and  cleaning schedules to make sure that the living room was always tidy on a day I needed the TV for a DVD workout.

My goals had plans and my plans became actions. I lost 7 pounds and earned the ability to actually do ten pushups in a row. I maintained through Christmas’ roast beasts and chocolate feasts. And then a cold, aimless winter set in. My plan, which had centered on a busy school schedule, quickly gave way to sleeping in and eating awesome sandwich concoctions made from left overs. A new semester started, and panic set in. My plan had run its course. What if life had finally gotten the best of me?

So what did I do? Did I settle? Nope. I made a plan for when plans fail. (I like to make Inception jokes at times like these, when I find myself making plans for plans or checking my to-do lists of a to-do list To-Do List. But I’ll spare you.) Here are the steps I’m taking right now to get my fitness goals back on course:

1. Identify why the old plan stopped working.

Is it a matter of motivation? Did the plan lose relevance? Can a tweak here or there put the plan back into motion? If you’ve noticed your eating habits have become a little more “fast” and a little less “fresh,” but you’re plumb fed up with spinach salads, you might just need to up your creativity when it comes to planning lunch. And definitely don’t include spinach salads as your go-to when you devise your next healthy eating manifesto.

Why did my fitness plan stop working? Simply put, it became a matter of the winter blues, blahs, and blargs. And while I tried to keep up with the program, my lack of motivation totally derailed my success. It was time to embrace a physical and mental break.

2. Let go of your feelings of failure.

In case you’re familiar with the if-you-fail-to-plan-you-plan-to-fail adage, let’s reflect. Making a plan does not eliminate the possibility of failure. Planning is important, doing is necessary, and readjusting and adapting is crucial. So when you plan, plan to fail. Get comfortable with it. When a ball comes at you curvaceously, plan to catch it. But when it hits you square in the nose instead, readjust and adapt. You aren’t failing. You’re learning. If you’re in a failure funk, reflect on why and just trust that you’ll find your groove thang again.

Letting go of failure–real or perceived–is especially hard for me to do. It’s January 26th and I’m still a little angry at myself for taking what has now become a 30 day respite from all things gymnasium. But a new plan is in the works, and I’m focusing on mini successes, like making it to the gym once a week and tackling Insanity here and there. Did I tell you I finally made it  through the entire first week with Shaun T? For the first time ever?! I’m raising the roof over here.

3. Give yourself time to determine the best course of action.

If your plan isn’t working anymore, it’s probably because your life is different. How have your circumstances changed? How have YOU changed? What are your current struggles? What is inspiring you? Have your goals evolved? Answer these questions and forge a new path, but realize that finding what works best again might take a long time. Usually just long enough for your life to change again. C’est la vie!

What is my new plan? My general goals still include daily workouts and maintaining a healthy diet, but my schedule for this semester is, in a word, wonky. Morning classes here, night classes there, and long stretches of time that could easily be filled with reruns of Parks and Recreation. January has been a month of trials and errors. I tried getting up at the crack of dawn to work out, but the temptation to sleep in was just too great. I tried working out in the middle of the day, but the temptation to just schlep around in sweaty workout clothes all day long was just too great.  My next work out move? Nighttime workouts. Typically, my drive to sweat it out after a day of classes is not remarkably high, but I think this might be the ticket–for now, anyway!

This week’s fitness highlights…

Addicted to: Lime flavored Greek yogurt. My favorite is Oikos. I eat it everyday for breakfast–it’s delicious and portable. Eating this for breakfast is one holdover from the old fitness plan of last semester!

Something new I learned: Definitely check out this series on beginning weightlifting. I’m trying to learn as much as possible to boost my confidence and frequency with the free weights.

Confession of the week: I definitely admit to fast forwarding through any instance of globe jumps during Insanity. I hate them. Do you ever allow yourself to point at the TV and yell “NOPE, NOT DOING THAT, YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!” Because I do!

Don’t forget to pay Samantha a visit and see how her fitness journey/Insanity marathon is going!

–Catherine

To read each post in this series, click the links below.

Embrace the Uncomfortable

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