In Week 6 we have a very simple task – evaluate and revise your plan.
In Week 5 we discussed the importance of tracking your progress in the form of a wellness log. You’ll recall that your wellness log is a written journal that tracks your wellness habits in our 4 critical wellness areas – exercise, diet, sleep, and stress management. One of our goals in doing so is to understand ourselves, so we can make the necessary changes to improve. We can change that which we can understand, and tracking your progress allows you to understand yourself.
Just a reminder – here are the 5 goals of tracking your wellness log from last week:
- Holding yourself accountable.
- Evaluating your adherence to your plan.
- Figuring out if your plan is appropriate for you, and if not, to make appropriate changes.
- Learning how you can improve yourself through objective self-analysis.
- Discovering areas of opportunity.
These goals are also extremely applicable to this week’s assignment. By looking over your wellness plan and your wellness log, this week you will be:
- Evaluating your adherence to your plan.
- Making appropriate changes.
- Discovering areas of opportunity.
Do these goals seem familiar? As you can see, the goals of this week are drawn directly from the goals of tracking your wellness with a wellness log. It all comes back to recording your progress so you’re able to evaluate your performance, make appropriate changes, and discover areas of opportunity.
But what good will looking at your wellness plan do if you’re not sure what to look for? Not a lot. It’d be like playing Wheel of Fortune and being expected to guess the phrase without revealing any of the letters first. That’s why I’m going to share 4 strategies you’ll use to evaluate and revise your wellness plan.
Strategy #1 – Find Patterns
Have you ever noticed that when you sleep poorly, you don’t have as much energy to exercise? Or maybe you end up eating more because you need more energy, and your body demands carbs. This isn’t just special to you – this is how our body works. Rather than being systems that operate independently of one another, your body is actually an interconnected whole. It’s a complex system of parts that work together to create the incredible machine that is your body.
Lowered ability in one area brings down the functionality of other areas. On the other hand, positive performance in one area results in an increase in performance in the others. When you sleep better, you exercise better, are more likely to stick to your diet, and have less stress. When you have less stress, you sleep better, exercise more consistently, and avoid stress eating.
This brings me to the first thing you’ll be looking for when reviewing your wellness log: Patterns
- Understand why you were or were not successful with completing your scheduled wellness tasks.
- Understand the potential relationships between your wellness activities. How does sleep affect exercise? How does stress management affect sleep?
- Learn how one day affects the next. What does a bad night do for the next morning? How does a good morning relate to the rest of your day?
- Ask yourself questions such as: Do you find that you start to burn out on the 3rd day of the week? Do you notice that eating at a certain time reduces your sleep quality? Are you consistently sore if you don’t stretch at night? What are possible reasons for having a “bad” day?
By looking for these patterns, you will confirm how one area of wellness can have a significant effect on another area of your fitness. Even more importantly, you’ll be able to see how it specifically affects YOU.
But what if you are having trouble completing all of the scheduled tasks of your wellness program? Time could be an issue. You could lack the energy. Maybe you’re really sore from your workouts. Because our health is interconnected, we know that ignoring just 1 area of wellness can have a significantly negative impact on the others. That brings us to our next strategy of evaluating and revising our wellness plan – using alternatives.
Strategy #2 – Using Alternatives
Have you ever gone out to dinner, the movies, or the bar to find out that there was no room? All tables are booked, and the hostess says it will be 2 hours until the next one is available. It’s Friday night, and every seat is sold out. There’s a big conference in town this weekend, and the bar has a line that wraps around the corner. Chances are that you didn’t simply give up and go home. You went to a different restaurant. You saw a different movie instead. Or you went to a different bar.
The same is true for our wellness. We’re not going to simply throw an activity off the schedule altogether because option #1 didn’t work out. Instead, we’ll find a plan B. In other words, your strategy is find an alternative. It’s not your first choice, but it’s better than nothing.
Alternatives: Look for failures or events that didn’t go as planned, and think of possible substitutions to replace the scheduled wellness task with another one.
- This could include changing a particular meal, replacing an intense workout with a gentler, more recovery-focused workout, or switching a stress management activity you didn’t enjoy with one you think might be more enjoyable.
- Were you too sore to exercise because you scheduled workouts without considering how sore you would be? Were you hungry because you didn’t eat enough healthy carbs? Were there certain events you outright skipped or were not successful with? What are alternatives with which you could replace the habit?
The good news about alternatives is that eventually you can go back to your first plan. As your wellness program becomes a habit and your tasks become more manageable, you can attempt to implement a more ambitious workout schedule or plan. Things change. You will get stronger as you adhere to your wellness program, and your wellness program will increase in ambition as you stick to it.
Sometimes alternatives aren’t enough though. You may find you just don’t have enough time in the day. You don’t need to eliminate the task, but you do need to make a significant change in order to make the task more doable. That’s why strategy #3 is making changes.
Strategy #3 – Making Changes
If you notice that you’re not sleeping long enough, choosing an alternative as a strategy might not be enough. Changing your meditation to reading won’t address the fact that you need more sleep. In this case, we need to make an outright change to the schedule. In this case, the ideal strategy to utilize is making changes to the program.
Making changes is part-compromise, part-adaptation. It’s a compromise in that it’s different from the original plan, but an adaptation because it should work better and more effectively than your previous plan.
Changes: For wellness tasks that need to be moved to a different time of day, changed in time length, or otherwise adapted to fit your schedule.
- If you realize you’re not getting enough sleep, you can change your bedtime. Earlier is better. If you have to be up at 6:30 AM for work, you should be in bed with the lights off by 10:30 PM.
- If you find that you don’t have time for an hour-long workout every day, perhaps you could trim that down to 45 minutes instead, and figure out how best to use that extra 15 minutes.
This is one of the most important strategies in reviewing and making changes to your plan. We don’t want to reduce the effectiveness of the plan, but we can do that my making changes to ensure the plan becomes more efficient, more realistic, and more personal to your schedule.
But sometimes… you’re overwhelmed. There may be too much on your plate. You may have been overly ambitious when you created the plan. Or maybe new realities in your life have forced you to cut back on the time you spend on your wellness. In this case, substituting existing workouts or coming up with alternatives for your plan A’s might not help. The most sensible strategy to utilize here is eliminating the wellness habit.
Strategy #4 – Eliminating Tasks
You may just need to get rid of the habit entirely. At that point, we’ve reached our final strategy for revising our schedule – removing the task entirely from the plan.
Elimination: For when you’ve stretched yourself too thin, and creating an alternate task or changing the task is not enough.
- If you scheduled too many wellness tasks, and were overwhelmed in your attempts to keep up with them all, it could make sense to reduce your task load.
- If you were overly ambitious and created a workout program that involves 2 daily workouts, but you’re finding yourself very sore and limited on time.
Important note: If you’re eliminating a critical task, then you should do so with the intention of adding it back to your schedule once your other tasks have become more automatic.
There are many more strategies you can use to evaluate your wellness habits, but the 4 I’ve listed here are the ones that I personally use and the ones I recommend to the people I train.
And now that you understand how to evaluate and make the necessary edits to your plan, it’s time to do just that.
Evaluate and Revise Your Plan
Ready for the assignment? Turn off notifications, set aside anything else you’re doing, and focus 100% on your wellness log. Get ready to think critically.
Part 1: Evaluate.
- Look for patterns. As we discussed in the lesson, all 4 areas of your fitness are interrelated. Each one affects the others. Look for strong correlations (both negative and positive) to completed and uncompleted wellness tasks.
- Look for areas of opportunity. What could you have done better? What did you not end up completing, and why? Use your wellness log to try to get back into your state of mind when you did (or did not) complete your scheduled wellness task.
Part 2: Revise.
- Look back over your wellness plan, and using your notes from part 1 of this assignment, determine how next week’s wellness plan can be improved.
- Decide if you need to create alternatives, make changes, or eliminate certain activities entirely.
How often should you do this? Every. Week.
Figure out a time to do it regularly, either on a Sunday afternoon, morning before everything starts, or Sunday evening when you’re winding down.
This concludes Part 1 of Be The Better You. Let’s quickly review what we’ve covered, so you can return these lessons and assignments on a regular basis to continually sharpen your wellness program.
Week 1 – Find Your Why
When you lose motivation for your wellness plan, come back to this. Your why should remain the same over time, but we may lose sight of that reason if we don’t remember to look at it every now and then.
Week 2 – Create Powerful Goals
Your goals may change over time. If you accomplish your goals, then it’s time to make new ones – just make sure you make powerful goals. Change goals on a regular basis (at least once every 3 months) in order to keep things fresh and exciting.
Week 3 – Making Effective Plans
Use this checklist and guide to make effective plans. You may already be pretty good at making plans, but there’s no reason not to use this guide and improve it as much as you can.
Week 4 – Building Your Wellness Plan
Use this framework to create your wellness plan whenever you make a new plan. This guide should help you create a solid template, no matter what your goals are.
Week 5 – Tracking Your Progress
Don’t forget to track your progress. If you lose motivation to keep tracking your progress or aren’t really sure of notes you’re taking, then it might be a good idea to come back to this lesson and make sure your notes are relevant or helpful.
Week 6 – Evaluating and Revising Your Plan
Continue to sharpen the knife. You should evaluate and make revisions to your plan on a weekly basis. At first this may be somewhat time-consuming, but as it becomes a habit it may only take you 5-10 minutes to review and make revisions to your plan.