Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Failing to plan...

This old quote was brought to mind this morning as I headed off to work. "Failing to plan is planning to fail." ~Source Unknown~ I thought of this as I drove past at least a dozen restaurants and coffee shops along my 10 mile path to work. I was thankful that I'd planned today. I packed my lunch and snacks for the day. I'm pretty predictable when it comes to this. You can search my purse, bag, desk, or vehicle at almost any given time and find some sort of snack in there. Whether it's a piece of fruit or a granola bar, I've almost always got something on hand for that moment. You know "that" moment! It's the one where you find yourself starving and suddenly everything looks good! That's when our environment makes decisions for us. So, had I not eaten breakfast, I imagine that a quick trip to Starbucks for a coffee...and maybe one of their scrumptious-looking pastries starts to sound pretty good right about then (a la 500+ kcals, -a lot of nutrients). Or during the workday after lunch when those sweets in the lounge start calling your name. Or it might be when you've left work, exhausted, starving, and ready to chow down at one of the many fast food restaurants along the way home.

Planning is one of the foundations of any effort to improve nutrition, fitness, and/or health, and I must say that it also tends to be one of the hardest skills for many of my clients to grasp. And maybe it's not just to grasp but to want to grasp. Let's face it. We're all busy. We don't really like to plan, but let me tell you, it'll be the best thing you've ever done for your nutrition, fitness, and/or health in the end. As I said before, if I don't plan, my environment makes my decisions for me and the consequences aren't always pretty. (Now, I will also say that there are almost always nutritious options when in a bind, but that's for another blog post.) Yes, if you're not used to it, it will take some additional time and effort up front. But what thing that isn't worth it doesn't take some effort? Have you ever played a sport or had a hobby? I'm sure you realize how much time and effort it took to develop knowledge and skills in the sport or hobby to start, but with practice, practice, practice you got better over time, right? When developing any new habit or skill, it will definitely take additional effort up front, but as long as you give it some time (like 21 days as Steven Covey would suggest), it will seem like old hat. Believe me, it really doesn't take me much time to plan out what I'm going to take for lunch and snacks each day, and I am truly thankful that I've developed this valuable skill. I have been caught in a bind when I did forget my snack or lunch, and in the end, I'd rather not force myself to make the kinds of decisions that must be made in those moments. When people make an average of 250 daily food decisions, I think doing a little planning ahead can certainly enhance your chances of achieving and/or maintaining your health and fitness goals.


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