Key to Success: Always Have a Backup Plan

We are scheduled to run the Peachtree Road Race tomorrow, a 10 K run that is an Atlanta institution. The good news? The normal highs in the 90s have been replaced with temperatures in the 70s. The bad news? It may be more of a swim than a run.

As long as the race is not canceled, we will be there. We’ll adjust to the weather by wearing our Vibrams that don’t get soggy and making sure that we bring hats made of quick dry fabric to try to keep the downpour out of our eyes. In this case, the backup plan is to continue with the race just modify our clothing.

Whenever I’m asked for the keys to succeeding in any health or wellness initiative, having a backup plan is always the first strategy that comes to mind. It’s easy to make promises to yourself:

I’m going to walk at least 3 miles every day.

I’m going to eliminate all sugar from my diet.

I’m going to do an hour of yoga every day.

I’m going to prepare all my meals for the week on Sunday.

But what happens when life intervenes?

I’m going to walk at least 3 miles every day.

There’s a thunderstorm during your walking hour.

I’m going to eliminate all sugar from my diet.

You’re invited to a birthday party.

I’m going to do an hour of yoga every day.

You’re sick and the thought of down dog makes you nauseous.

I’m going to prepare all my meals for the week on Sunday.

You went on a weekend trip and didn’t come back until Sunday night.

Without a backup plan, these speed bumps become stop signs. In the moment, it is easy to allow yourself to become derailed and discouraged. If, however, you think ahead and brainstorm (okay, maybe not the best word with the current weather situation in the SE!) potential roadblocks and their solutions, it makes it easier to adjust on the fly.

I’m going to walk at least 3 miles every day.

There’s a thunderstorm during your walking hour.

Possible backup plans: do an exercise video, go to the gym, walk the hallways at the mall, locate an indoor track, go to an indoor trampoline park

I’m going to eliminate all sugar from my diet.

You’re invited to a birthday party.

Possible backup plans: eat beforehand so that you’re not hungry, bring a dish to share that also meets your needs, only attend for the non-food portion of the festivities

I’m going to do an hour of yoga every day.

You’re sick and the thought of down dog makes you nauseous.

Possible backup plans: do a restorative yoga session that uses props and gentle poses, meditate instead, take to time to locate a new yoga class or video and commit to it on the day you feel better (i.e. cue the video or make a reservation for the class)

I’m going to prepare all my meals for the week on Sunday.

You went on a weekend trip and didn’t come back until Sunday night.

Possible backup plans: prepare meals the week before that can be frozen and thawed, trade cooking duties for the week with a friend, choose very easy recipes with nonperishable items that can be purchased beforehand

Of course, there will always be times when something will not work, no matter how many backup ideas you have. That’s okay. The idea is to think outside the box so that you don’t give up when you can go around. The more backup plans you have, the more likely you will be to establish a new, healthy habit in your life.

As for me, I plan to run the Peachtree tomorrow. Now, I need to plan what I’ll do if the lightening or flooding puts a halt to the event. Maybe snorkel instead?:)

English: 2007 peachtree road race crowd shot

English: 2007 peachtree road race crowd shot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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