Week 4: Building Your Wellness Program

Dean PohlmanBlogs, From Dean, Lifestyle & Wellness3 Comments

Week 4: Building Your Wellness Program

Welcome to Week 4 of Be The Better You. In Week 3, we focused on the the importance of making a plan, as well as the components involved in creating an effective plan.

This week, I’m going to talk about the specifics of making an effective fitness plan, including:

  • Breaking down a comprehensive plan into singular, manageable tasks.
  • The 4 components of an effective fitness plan

After that, I’m giving you an assignment to create your very own 1-month plan. Let’s get started!

Let’s talk about creating your plan.

For the purposes of this program, I want to focus on 1-month chunks of time. Planning for 3 or 6 months away reduces the sense of urgency, and creating plans for just 1 or 2 weeks is unlikely to yield results, which can cause frustration and lead us to lose faith in our plan.

One month of time, on the other hand, is long enough to see results [as long as you’re following an effective plan] and can be easily segmented into weeks, days, and specific actions for each day.

  • 1 month 4 weeks
  • 4 weeks 1 week
  • 1 week 7 days
  • 7 days 1 day
  • 1 day 1 specific action on that day.

In this way, we are reducing a one-month plan to one specific action on a certain day. Nick Saban, the legendary football coach of Alabama, is famous for his coaching philosophy of breaking down the gargantuan task of winning a championship into a single drill.

Essentially, it’s about doing the best you can with the task that’s in front of you right now, and not worrying about stuff further down the line. You can’t do anything about something that’s happening 2 or 3 months from now, but you can do your best with whatever it is you’re doing at this very moment. Whether that’s adding spices to your chicken instead of barbecue sauce or holding that plank for just a few more seconds, the same concept applies.

To recap the first part of the lesson: break down your plan into singular tasks, and do your best at each one when it’s time to do it.

Next, we’ll cover the 4 areas covered by a comprehensive, effective fitness plan.

An effective fitness plan includes the following 4 areas: exercise, diet, sleep, and stress management. In this lesson, I’ll give you the basics to each of these areas, as well as list some helpful resources for additional information, to give you the foundation so you can create your own plan.

Before I give you these, I want to stress that your body does not accept excuses. You can’t tell your body that you didn’t have time to eat healthy or you didn’t have the energy to work out, and then expect it to say, okay, I’ll let it slide this time. Your body gives you exactly what you give it, no matter how good (or bad) your excuses are.

Exercise
Your workout plan for everyday, as specific as possible, including the time you will work out and the exercises or workout you will follow. Going beyond this, you can even plan your transportation (if applicable), the outfit you’ll wear (again, if applicable, depending on where you exercise), when and what you’ll pack in your gym bag, and anything else that goes into the workout process.

Work out at the same time every day. If you have a schedule that changes often, you’ll have to plan your workouts around that. Figure out the time of day that works best for YOU, and do it. I recommend working out in the morning. You might not like it first, but it gets easier the more you do it. It’s a fantastic way to boost your energy levels for the day, and it also makes it so that your workout is done before your day even starts, so stuff that comes up during the day won’t prevent you from doing your workout (because it’s already done.)

Exercise Resources

Diet
A diet is NOT a temporary means to an end. A diet is the eating habits that combine to form what you eat on a regular basis. Here are some guidelines you may use for effective dieting:

  • Plan out healthy meal options for yourself.
  • Make sure you are giving yourself time to prepare the meals.
  • Have a backup healthy meal plan in place, in case life gets in the way and you can’t stick to your original plan.
  • Make your meals as repetitive as possible, so they become habit.
  • Follow the 80/20 rule, ensuring that 4 out of 5 of your meals are clean, allowing yourself to slack off 1 out of 5 meals.

It takes less time than you think, tastes better than you would expect, and is the second most important practice of good health (sleep is #1). I feel incredible when I’m eating well, and lethargic when I’m not. Personally, I also find preparing food to be an enjoyable and stress-relieving process – you may as well!

Diet/Nutrition Resources

Sleep
Getting good sleep is the single most important aspect of your health. This is when your body recovers, recharges, and rebuilds. Without adequate sleep, you’ll find yourself eating more, experiencing higher stress levels, and seeing less significant results with your fitness program. Good sleep, on the other hand, lowers your stress levels, helps your body get stronger more quickly, and puts in you in a better mood, with more mental clarity, better focus, and less irritability.

Wake up at the same time every morning – even on the weekends. Feel free to experiment and figure out what time that is for you. Your bedtime is less important, but I would plan on setting aside at least 8 hours, including 7.5 hours for actual sleep, and 30 minutes for a relaxing evening activity to prepare for sleep (such as reading, meditation, or restorative exercise like stretching, self-myofascial release, or foam rolling).

There are also many habits and practices that go into improving your sleep quality. I’ve written many blogs and creating a ton of content on the subject, and you can view that information at the link below:

Sleep Resources

Stress Management
Set aside 15 minutes for yourself every day where you are taking time to be alone with your thoughts. This could be a 15-minute walk, a 15-minute meditation, or just sitting in your favorite chair and mentally reviewing the day.

Meditation is way easier than you think. I’ve included a link below on how to meditate. (Hint: It’s just breathing and focusing on your breath. When you notice you’re thinking about something else, acknowledge it, and then go back to thinking about your breath.) You can also use an app like Oak or Headspace for a guided meditation. These are free and work very well. If meditation isn’t for you, go out for a nice stroll – just be sure to leave your phone at home.

Stress Management Resources

You’re almost at the end of the lesson! But before I give you the assignment, I want to share 3 quick notes with you:

  1. The best way to improve your overall fitness is by taking an active interest in fitness, and focusing on the creation of healthy habits. Focusing on the results is helpful for motivation, but for long-term success it’s important to focus on enjoying a healthy lifestyle. What’s more important than the destination is enjoying the process of getting there.
  2. Progress is not linear. If you lose 10 pounds one month, you might not lose 10 pounds again the next month. As you reach your goal, your linear progress slows. It takes more and more effort to reach the next level of fitness, and this is true with any endeavor.
  3. All 4 of these areas – exercise, diet, sleep, and stress management – are important. Neglecting any one of these will hurt your progress in all areas.

Now it’s time to create your plan. Instead of creating a 1-month plan, what you’re going to be doing is creating a plan for each week, one at a time. Next week, we’ll talk about fulfilling your plan! But for now, it’s time to create a 1-week plan that makes you excited.

Assignment

Create A Comprehensive 1-Week Plan

Turn off your phone, eliminate distractions, and start with a blank page, chart, or word document.

If you completed last week’s assignment, you’ve already established a powerful, meaningful, and achievable goal for yourself. As you create your plan, you may realize you’re missing certain pieces of information. Make sure to do the research you need to do in order to make sure your plan is effective.

Important: This 1 week plan serves as your template for each week after it. Don’t worry – you can (and should) make tweaks and changes to your plan in order to improve its overall effectiveness, but if you make it great the first time you won’t have to change as much later on.

Part 1: Create the schedule for your first week.

Include the following in your 1-week plan:

  • Exercise – Workout times, locations, and content of each workout.
    • Shoot for 6 scheduled workouts. If you’re too sore, do restorative yoga.
    • The more specific your plan is, the better.
    • You can even go further and list things like mode of transportation, items you’ll need to bring to your workout, pre and post-workout nutrition, or anything else you can think of that goes into the workout process.
  • Diet – List what you plan on eating for each day.
    • Follow the 80/20 rule (4 good meals, 1 cheat).
    • If you eat 6x per day, that’s fine. If you eat 2x per day, that’s fine too. Just plan it out and do your best to stick to it.
  • Sleep – Figure out what time you’re getting up in the morning (the same time EVERY day), as well as when you’ll go to sleep.
    • I also recommend scheduling a relaxing activity of some sort leading up to bed to help facilitate better sleep.
  • Stress Management – Try to be pick a single time and stick to it.
    • The best times for this are first thing in the morning, after work, after your last meal of the day, or before bed.
    • Set aside 15 minutes and do it.
    • If you hate it, choose a new form of stress management for the next week.

Once you’ve finished the plan, it’s time to create standards for your plan.

Part 2: Determine your standards, rewards, and consequences.

I highly encourage you to create standards that are based upon the actions you take to reach your goals, rather than the end result. Here’s how I recommend doing this:

  • Outstanding – Complete 90% or more of your scheduled healthy activities. Reward yourself with something big.
  • Excellent – Complete 80% to 89% of your scheduled healthy activities. Reward yourself with a nice gift.
  • Good – Complete 70 – 79%, reward yourself with something small.
  • Okay – Complete 60 – 69%, take away something small.
  • Fail – 60% or lower, donate $50 to an organization you can’t stand.

Come up with rewards and consequences that are personal to you. Carrots and sticks shouldn’t be your main motivation, but they do help.

Join me next week for Week 5, and get ready to DO your plan!.

Additional Resources:

  • My 1 Month Plan
  • The Primal Blueprint – Mark Sisson
  • Sleep Smarter – Shawn Stevenson
  • Eat Fat, Get Thin – Mark Hyman
  • The 4 Hour Chef – Tim Ferriss

3 Comments on “Week 4: Building Your Wellness Program”

  1. Hi Dean,

    I would like to try your program as it sounds a good fit for me and (what used to be) my regular training and healthy habits. Is this program possible to start despite my existing pain from injuries of bursitis in shoulder and herniated disc? How will I know which exercises are ok for my body?

    Thanks!
    A

    1. Andrea – For the bursitis in your shoulder, you’re just going to have to avoid planks, downdogs, or anything else where you’re using your shoulders to support your weight. Also just listen to your body – if it hurts, don’t do it. I would start with my Bulletproof Your Back Program, especially with your herniated disc.

  2. Hi Dean,

    I have eating Habit and I have stress because I get from my work at McDonald’s Greenlane.

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