I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately from people who have slipped up or gotten off track, or for whatever reason, just plain aren’t doing what needs to be done. 

Listen, it happens.  So today, I thought I’d share with you a 4-phase plan that I created to get back on track and get back in the gym.  


Phase 1 is the planning phase.

In this phase you’re going to plan out your workouts and your meals. 

I want for you to get out your calendar.  I don’t care what kind of calendar system you use.  Maybe it’s your phone or google calendars … maybe you’ll even make a trip to the store and buy one of those big desk-blotter-style calendars.  It doesn’t matter as long as you have something that you’ll see on a daily basis.  For the next month, you’re going to write down everything you can think of that’s important in your schedule.  Make sure you include anything that could get in the way of your exercising program.

Alright, when that’s done, plug in the days you can work out.  It doesn’t have to be pretty.  It might not fit into a perfect box, but that’s okay.  Right now, just identify the days you can work out.  If you have a full body workouts, that would be ideal for this time period. 

Don’t worry about spacing them out or anything.  If you do it multiple days in a row, that’s okay.  This is about getting back on track.  You can work out the other details later.  The important thing for right now is that you get the workouts in. 

I catch flack from others in the industry for recommending a two-day-in-a-row workout when it's necessary.  The science may support the other way, but I'm not concerned about the mechanics right now.  Right now, I'm more concerned about you getting some momentum for the sake of motivation.  I've seen amazingly written fitness plans fail because motivation just wasn't there.


Phase 2 is the physical preparation phase.

This is the time to make any necessary purchases you need to make.  Do you need to buy equipment? Join a gym (or maybe just reactivate an old membership)? This is the time to do your grocery shopping and buy all the food you’re going to need.  Maybe you need to get some new workout shoes or clothes.  Whatever you need to purchase, do it. 

Take the food you bought and prepare it ahead of time, yes for the whole month.  Frozen chicken breast, tuna, lots of green, leafy vegetables, some brown rice.  Cook it up, portion it out, and freeze it.  For a month, your freezer will be stock-piled with food.  This is important because you don’t want the convenience excuse to drive you to buy take out! 

Now, if you’ve done the calendar work, you’ll know what days you’ll need to eat this food, and what days you’ll need to eat out, maybe you’ll be eating at someone else’s house for dinner some night and you won’t have control over the food.  I strongly suggest you plan in a cheat meal once a week, for just this reason.  It gives you some control over the situation, plus it has psychological and physiological benefits.  

This step is tedious and takes some thought, but I promise you it’s well worth the effort.


Phase 3 is the emotional preparation phase.

It can actually be done at the same time as Phase 2.  Originally, it was part of Phase 2, but I thought it was important enough to be its own phase. 

Gather your support group.  Start to tell everyone about your goal for the month, which could be anything from a weight loss goal to a goal where you say, “I’m going to make sure I work out X amount of times this month.”  Start sharing it with everybody because it does 3 things. 

First, it helps solidify it in your mind.  The more you say it, the more you believe it. 

Second, it puts a positive pressure on you to perform.  You don’t want to fail and have to answer to 35 people as to what happened, do you? 

Third, it helps you to separate good and bad influences.  Try to keep yourself surrounded by those who will support you and avoid (as much as possible) the people who will try to bring you down.

Also, as a part of Phase 3, you need to do your mental prep work

Start reviewing you successes in the past.  I don’t care how insignificant they may seem.  Review them in your head.  Write them down, too.  That’s a great way to keep track of them. 

Also, you’ll need to acknowledge that the next few weeks will be tough.  Know that and accept it.  If you know that going in, and you give yourself permission to have a less than stellar workout, it may soften the blow.  I think we get it in our heads that all of our workouts should feel great, but I’ve known enough people who exercise regularly to know that some workouts are a struggle from the moment you step into the gym.  That’s perfectly okay.  You know what else?  It’s normal.


So now that the first three phases are done.  It’s time for Phase 4.

You’ve probably guessed that Phase 4 is just to execute your plan.

We all hope and probably expect that our program will go well, but there are always times when we back slide.  I know we’ve always been told that you need to think about what you want, rather than what you don’t want, because thoughts have a way of manifesting themselves.  But as the old saying goes, “Expect the best and prepare for the worst.” 

So the next time you feel yourself sliding backwards on the progress chart, try this plan … it may save your workout!