If you’re like me, things just seem to flow better when you have a plan. Yeah, I know, sometimes not planning anything and going with the flow can be just as fun and less stressful but hear me out.

The key that can, without a doubt, make or break your fitness/nutrition goals is planning.…But before we talk about why planning is important and ways you can use it to your advantage I want to tell you a story.

So, I said yes to being in a photoshoot coming up within the next 6 weeks.

Why? I have no idea. I’ve asked myself that every day since I said yes, but, I make impulse decisions on the reg. Whatever.

In all seriousness, though, I am in a photoshoot with my buddies Josiah and Kevin for some online biz stuff we’ve been working on. They both look badass and I’m just out here trying to not look like a before picture you know? Don’t want to be the guy in an 80’s tracksuit.

I’m down about 13 pounds so far, which is great, but then last week happened. We were absolutely slammed at the studio and had all kinds of obligations that had us running around like crazy so that left me scrambling for meals and good food options. I failed. A lot. I put some of the weight I had lost back on, but most of all I felt like a failure. I know a week wont define me or won’t matter *that much* in the grand scheme of things. But in that moment? It didn’t matter. I felt like I sucked, like I couldn’t do it. So, believe me when I say I know what it’s like to feel defeated.

Knowing that I was being irrational I sat down Saturday evening and reviewed the past week. The obvious thing missing that contributed to my failures was planning. I didn’t plan my meals or have anything prepped so I was left with the closest thing around to eat – which, as you know, is rarely awesome for fat loss.

Sunday, I spent 10 minutes mapping out meals for the week and less than an hour prepping food. I’ve yet to mess up this week and I’ve been way more productive because that’s just one less thing I had to worry about.

I say all of that to highlight why planning can and is so effective. My lack of planning was in the kitchen, but, lack of planning in the gym can wreck progress too.

Planning for the kitchen:

  • Spend a little time on Saturday or Sunday (or whenever works for you, obv) mapping out your meals for the week
  • Designate two days where you have time to meal prep meals for 3-4 days
  • Keep a food journal of what you ate/how you felt/what you could do better
  • Keep healthy snacks on hand, and preferably already portioned out where you know how many calories are in it
  • If you know you’re going out to eat, try to take a peek at the menu beforehand and pick a health(ier) option

Some of those take hardly any time at all while others are a little bit more time intensive, but worth it. Counting calories can be a pain and you may be overwhelmed by it if you don’t have meals prepped ahead of time. Meal prepping allows you to portion your meals beforehand and lets you know how many calories you’re getting. As much as I want to hit my calories I can tell you right now there’s no damn way I’m going to measure my food on the go.

Planning for the gym:

  • Gym clothes laid out ready to go
  • Gym bag stocked up (pre workout, headphones, extra undies because you never know, deodorant etc.)
  • Workout printed/loaded on your phone
  • Look over workout so you have a game plan for the day
  • Have a set workout program

Check out this graphic I made for instagram: Gym Bag Essentials <– the comments are golden so click the link to check them out haha

Super simple, right? Sure is. All it takes is a little extra time planning/prepping. The awesome thing about being prepared is that it makes it a lot easier to develop habits because you have more things cueing you to get into that routine.

A workout program is only as good as the effort you put into it. The best workout program in the world cannot outrun lack of effort/consistency. You’re better off doing a generic borderline bad program all out than being inconsistent with the best. I guess what I am trying to say is that you should be prepared ahead of time with workouts, but, don’t stress over having the perfect plan – it doesn’t exist, anyway.

A healthy lifestyle is simple. It can be summed up in its simplest form: eat better, move more, sit less. Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s going to be a walk in the park and that’s where planning shines.

Hell, trying to figure out what type of protein powder to use can be a stressful task in itself. Set yourself up for success by taking some extra time to plan what you’re going to eat for the week and have a workout program ready to go before you get to the gym. The gym can be intimidating. If you say it wasn’t the first time you walked in I would like to politely ask you to wash your mouth out with soap because you’re lying. Getting in the door is a huge step, but too often you see new peeps at the gym walk around a bit then settle in on the treadmill for an hour and are wondering the whole time why the hell they’re paying a gym membership to walk when you can walk outside for free.

Be as prepared as possible. Try to eliminate as many potential excuses as you can so that when it comes time to eat or hit the gym you’re ready and can run on autopilot because you did your homework.

I touched on this a bit earlier but I think it deserves a little more time – the extra planning I’m talking about above may take a little more time out of your week, but, it helps you out to an incredible degree when trying to build and sustain new habits. I’m reading a book right now called “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, and one of the main things that has stuck out to me so far is what they call the “Cue –> Routine –> Reward Loop”. In its most basic form it is talking about little things that cue us (get us going) that set the habit in motion and our brains go on autopilot. Once you start your car to leave your habit of backing out of the driveway takes over and you could dang near do it in your sleep. That’s how engrained habits can become in your life. By planning and having things ready to go it can help build the cues you’re going to need to establish a new habit, to create new cue > routine > reward loops. The new habit loop may be the planning time itself or could be you setting out your gym clothes the night before.

When it comes to building new habits, it is crucial that you take away as many decisions that could derail your progress as possible. Planning does just that. The less decisions you have to make, the less opportunities you have to break.