How many of you can relate to this situation: It's Wednesday. You've yet to make it to the gym this week, and your nutrition has been less than stellar. Frankly, you're a little grumpy (no training, poor diet) and you're feeling that your progress made over the previous weeks is disappearing. You want to go to the gym tomorrow, but it's so late in the week and you have a busy weekend planned. Instead of training, you resolve to go back next Monday.
This is a very common cycle for our clients. The pressures of careers, family and other hobbies are sometimes enough to derail their training. Once they haven't trained for a few weeks, it becomes easier to stay home and before they know it, they've missed a month or more of training.
When a new athlete joins our gym, we always emphasize the role of consistency when plotting their training. We tell them that without consistent attendance, and consistent attention to relevant lifestyle factors (nutrition, sleep, etc), that it will be virtually impossible to reach their goals. Consistency, put simply, is the 'master variable' when thinking about CrossFit.
For me, the best way I've found to keep my weeks on track is to set aside a 30-minute planning window on the Sunday before the week starts. I plan this time when it's quiet and I'm not distracted by my kids or other responsibilities. I pour a cup of coffee and sit down with a blank sheet of paper and my electronic calendar. From there, I'll think about the week ahead and document/schedule the following:
- My training. What am I doing? Which days am I doing CrossFit and which are lifting days? I actually write out my lifting workouts in my logbook so I don't need to mess around when I hit the gym. This saves me time and lets me get my head wrapped around what I need to get accomplished. I schedule my training blocks as appointments in my calendar. These are non-negotiable (save for emergencies) because I know that if I don't make the time, the workouts won't happen. It's easier to miss a workout than it is to miss an appointment.
- My food. I schedule my weekly meal preps and think through when I'll prep and what ingredients I'll need. I also work out my kids eating schedule and what food I'll need to feed them (hint: a LOT). I'll create my grocery list via Wunderlist and determine if I need to go to Costco or just Giant. I check my cupboard for supplies and mark off things that I already have (saves $$).
- I also write down my stretch goals for the week. For me, it's easy to get trapped in a loop of 'operational' tasks with the gym (i.e. low-value things that could be done with little thought or vision). So, I document my strategic goals in addition to the operational stuff. This helps me keep me on track towards my long-term goals and reduces inefficiency during my upcoming week. This is where Wunderlist (a checklisting app) helps, I prioritize my stretch tasks for the week and each time I open the application, they're there staring at me.
This whole process takes about 20-30 minutes most weeks. I enter the week with a clear picture of what I'm doing and I'm a lot less anxious because my schedule is set.
Norman Vincent Peale, author of 'the Power of Positive Thinking', has a great quote that sums this up: 'Plan the work and work the plan'. Try this strategy for your upcoming week and let me know how you make out. Good luck!