Three Questions to Ask When Planning Your Fitegic Week

PlansWhen we have goals we want to meet it just makes sense to have a plan in place that charts how we’re going to achieve those goals.  This is especially true when it comes to attaining and sustaining healthy weight and fitness.  That’s what Fitegic Planning is all about:

“Fitegic Planning is the way you will marry Meaning, Motivation, and Method into a plan of action that promotes a life-long healthy weight and level of fitness.” 

“Simply put Fitegic Planning is a system of organizing your thoughts and actions in a way that supports not just weight LOSS, but SUSTAINING a life-long healthy weight.”

The key words here are “plan” and “system.”  Let’s take a gander at “plan” first.

Woody Allen summed things up quite well when he said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”  And how about “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry?”

I mean how many times have you totally and absolutely committed to sticking to your plan only to have any number of things pop up that throw everything out of kilter?  This is why planning has gotten a bad name – it became a popular notion that because things change all the time making a plan is a waste of time because what we need to be doing is adapting to all this change in our daily lives.

But that’s just silly.  It doesn’t make sense to throw the baby out with the bath water.  You wouldn’t go to college and just take any course that suited your fancy and expect to graduate.  If you’re taking a business trip and need to be at a meeting at a certain time you wouldn’t just show up at the airport.

If you don’t have a plan how do you know if what you are doing is moving your towards your goals, how to adapt to changes in your plan?????

Make a New Plan Stan

Which brings us to our second keyword “system.”  Your Fitegic Plan is unique to you.  But in order to put your plan to work in your ever-changing world you need to have a system.  And an important part of the FP system is sitting down once a week and reviewing your unique plan to attain (or sustain) healthy weight and fitness.  Why would you want to do that?  Because no matter how much you may think that one week is the same as the next in your life – they are all different.  There is only one thing that stays the same in life and that is the fact that things are always changing.

A simple way to do that is to ask yourself three simple questions:

  • “How meaningful is my why?”
  • “How am I going to motivate myself this week?”
  • “What methods will I put to work this week to stay the course?”

How meaningful is my why?

MC900433797If this the first FP post you’ve ever read you’re probably wondering what the heck is a “Meaningful Why” and how in the heck making sure you’ve either got one in the first place or if the one you’ve got is still meaningful makes any difference when it comes to “sticking to it.”

If you don’t have a Meaningful Why just jump over to the exercise on my About page and you soon will.  If you DO have a Meaningful Why you will want to pull it out, read it over, and then do this same exercise to make sure that your “reason(s)” for attaining  – or sustaining – healthy weight and fitness are still as meaningful to you as they once were.

You should review your Meaningful Why once a week because this is the absolute foundation upon which your Fitegic Plan is built.  And, once you’ve created it, write it down and read it before you start your day.

How am I going to motivate myself this week?

I like to say there are two types of motivators, BIG motivators and NOT SO BIG motivators.  Both are necessary if you want to stay your course to achieving goals.  Your BIG motivator here is your Meaningful Why – all the rest are NOT SO BIG.

Reviewing your Meaningful Why ensures the main engine driving your journey is running.  But we’ve also got to be sure we have Not So Big motivators in place each week.  Think of your Meaningful Why as the forest.  Your Not So Big motivators are the trees.  Some trees are bigger than others – just as some motivators are bigger than others.

There are also two types of Not So Big Motivators:  Those that are a “reward for good behavior” and those that “document good behavior.”

cALENDARFor example say you’re a woman and the Not So Big reward motivator you’ve been using is putting $20 away every week you stick your plan (which you plan to splurge on new clothes when you reach your goal.)  It’s been working so far, but is losing its mojo lately.  You might want to keep this motivator in place, but if you just aren’t feeling it this week you’d benefit by adding something to your Motivator Menu.  Maybe taking $20 out of that jar and going to a movie at the end of the week.

Not so Big motivators that document “good behavior” are just as important as those that reward.  Whether  you are looking at losing quite a bit of weight or working to sustain a healthy weight after meeting your goals being able to “see” what you’re doing can go a long way to your being motivated enough to “keep doing it.” – because the healthy weight and fitness journey is a journey with no end.  Which can make it really difficult to keep going because there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel.  For example sometimes I keep a “ME Calendar” to document what I’m doing.  “M” stands for “menu” and “E” stands for exercise.  Each day I adhere to my eating plan I place an M, and for each day I stick with my activity plan I place an E – the goal is to have both an M and an E (ME) in each box.  This allows me to “see” what I’m doing and gives me some very real positive feedback.

“What methods will I put to work this week to stay the course?”

donutsBy method I mean whatever type of (healthy) eating plan you are using to attain or sustain a healthy weight.  I also mean whatever type of (healthy) fitness regime you are using.  Once a week take a look at both of these factors.  Are they working for you?  By working I don’t just mean the obvious – you really need to ask yourself if they work for YOU.  If you’re attempting to follow a low carb diet because your office mate did and the weight just fell off them – but what is really happening with YOU is that approach is sending you to the doughnut shop every day – well, there ARE other healthy methods for attaining and sustaining a healthy weight that might work better for you.  Same with your fitness program.  If you’re following a “short and heavy” weight lifting program but keep getting injured and have to sit it out every few days, lifting light with more reps might work better for you simply because you will keep doing it.

But certainly the methods we use are not limited to what we eat or how we exercise.  Remember how we talked about how things change all the time?  We need to take a look at our week in advance  because, when we do, what we previously thought of as “change we couldn’t anticipate” was really staring us in the face if we’d only stopped to take a look.  For example, is there an office potluck in your future this week?  Do you have a date to eat at Grandma’s?  Is your daughter’s parent/teacher conference going to conflict with your workout?

You get it – take a good look at your week and, when you see a “change” that impacts your plan, adjust to that change.  You plan to take two dishes you know are on your eating plan to that potluck.  You know Grandma is going to be expecting you to eat everything so you take a couple containers and tell her you’re so full right now but can I take some home? (Which you can then either not eat at all, or portion out.)  You get up early and hit the gym or the pavement before you go to work on the day of your daughter’s parent/teacher conference.

Keep on Keeping On

sTONEThe point here is that your Fitegic Plan isn’t “written in stone” – too often we drift away from our goals because life just seems to get in the way or it just doesn’t mean enough to us anymore to keep it up.  Sitting down once a week and asking yourself these three simple questions allows you to adapt your plan to what life throws at you, as well as make sure that the foundation of your plan – your Meaningful Why – is still meaningful when you consider the changes in your life circumstances (and adjust if necessary.)

Have a great Fitegic week!

Playing Devil’s Advocate with the New GNC “Beat Average” Ad Campaign

There’s something out there that all of us have a tendency to suffer from – something that’s been labeled “illusory superiority” – and that something is something GNC has grabbed onto to promote their products as they launch their new “Beat Average” ad campaign.

driverSimply put illusory superiority is a psychological term for the tendency for human beings to think they are somehow superior to other human beings.  An office worker might think they do a better job than most people they work with.  A college student thinks they are smarter than most of the other students in class.  A mother thinks she’s a better parent than most other mothers.  And who doesn’t think they are a better driver than most of those idiots on the highway?

Doesn’t sound very humble but (and here’s the irony) we might just think that we’re superior because we don’t think we’re superior.  Well I hate to burst our bubble but it appears that most of us DO think we are better than most.  While I’m not going to cite them here just trust me that there have been plenty of studies out there that would prove us wrong (Don’t trust me?  Do a Google search.)

Here’s how GNC plays off this less-than-humble tendency of ours – they provide “examples” of average such as:

  • Average sets the treadmill on ‘mosey’
  • Average isn’t a big fan of stairs
  • Average keeps its shirt on at the beach
  • Average doesn’t know that Danish is also a nationality
  • Average only has ‘before’ pictures

There’s certainly nothing wrong with ramping up on the treadmill, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, feeling fit enough to take our shirt off at the beach, taking a pass on that Danish, or being able to post a killer after picture on Facebook.

AverageBut is being “average” really so bad?  Not when you take into consideration that “average” might not mean exactly what you think it does.  Sure we all learned what an average is in math class.  If one person has one apple, a second has two apples, and a third has three apples what is the average number of apples each person has?  You just add up the number of apples and divide by the number of people.  This means that each person has an average of 2 apples.

However, there are some variables that we didn’t consider.  For instance, are all the apples the same size?  Are all the apples the same variety?  Are all the apples fresh?  Are all the apples unblemished?  Are all the apples free of disease?

After all these are individual apples – and each one of these apples is in some way different from the other apples.  Even if they are the same kind of apple, there are differences that make each apple unique in some way.

Human beings are all unique in some way as well.

One Person’s Mosey is Another’s …

Not following me?  Let’s take the statement “Average sets the treadmill on ‘mosey’.”  I think the point GNC is trying to make is that most people over-estimate how active they are and/or over-estimate the amount of effort they might be putting into their fitness program.  Which is most likely true.  For instance a young mother might convince herself that all the running around she does taking care of her toddler is equal to 45 minutes on a treadmill any day.  But it really isn’t.  That continuous 45 minutes on the treadmill exercises her heart in ways that the “start/stop” nature of caring for her children does not.  So, in fact, 30-60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise is still a really good idea for that mother.  It’s exercise that will help provide her with the stamina she needs every day to care for her children.

On the other hand, setting the treadmill on ‘mosey’ can be a true victory and actually represent quite a bit of effort for a 50-year-old empty nester who is 50 pounds overweight and hasn’t exercised for the last 30 years.  But if that person anticipates that they’re going to jump on that treadmill, ramp up the incline and immediately be able to keep up a 4 mph pace for 60 minutes in their effort not to be “average” – well, there’s a good chance they might give up before the timer hits the first five minutes.   Yet many of us do exactly that – give up – because we have this sense of illusory superiority that fosters a belief that we can perform at higher than average levels – even when we haven’t done the work to get us to that ill-conceived idea of “average” in the first place.

And, when we fail, when faced with the fact that we are presently “less than average” in our own eyes it is all too easy to simply give up the ghost and go back to that unhealthy “average” otherwise known as our comfort zone.

I’m not really knocking GNC’s approach.  The fact is that the average American adult IS overweight and/or has a poor level of fitness – certainly not the kind of average you’d want to shoot for.  By pointing out to us that we can do more, be more by engaging in activities and behaviors that improve our health GNC sends us a positive and motivating message.

Above Average vs Unique Goals

What I am advocating for is for each of us to consider other variables in our quest to be “above average.”   Just as notions of “illusory superiority” can fool us into thinking we are doing “better” or “more” than we actually are – not recognizing our own unique “average” at any given time can also stymie our efforts to attain and sustain healthy weight and fitness.

AppleFrom where I sit periodically setting our own unique “above average” goals and taking into consideration our unique circumstances is more likely to set us up for life-long positive results than attempting to fit ourselves into cookie-cutter notions of what constitutes “above average.”  This is the approach I’ve taken for over 30 years after losing 100 pounds – and I have sustained a healthy weight and level of fitness for all those years.

Considering that only 5% of those who have lost weight keep it off – I don’t think I’m suffering from illusory superiority, instead I am hopefully motivating others to give this approach an “above average” try 🙂