Plotting Your Fitness Story – What’s in a Plan?

Text Only LogoHow many of you have categorized yourself as a plotter or pantser when it comes to writing? For those who don’t know, pantsers are those who eschew outlines or other structured approaches to a novel or story and just “fly by the seat of their pants” for their first draft. Plotters take the opposite approach, laying out detailed notes so they have at least a solid idea of the story structure, main events and characters. Both are valid approaches with their own pros and cons.

When it comes to your fitness, though, without at least a general plan in place, it can be incredibly difficult to follow-through on your aspirations. There are many ways you can setup a plan for yourself, including working with a personal trainer, researching online, or downloading a pre-made twelve-week program to follow. You can also develop one yourself, based on your schedule, budget, current fitness levels, and goals. It’s not that hard!

So, what make up the bones of a solid fitness plan? You can construct one quickly enough by asking yourself a series of questions and using the answers to establish your fitness goals and methods. Let’s begin:

  • When is the best time for me to work out during the day/week? – Once you’ve determined this, block out that time as best you can and keep it consistent. This is similar to how many writers have a “writing schedule” that is inviolable even by friends and family.
  • Where will I work out? – At home? The gym? Boot camp in the park? Nearby running trails? Try to identify two or three spots you could use so you always have options in case one place isn’t convenient or available during a regular workout time.
  • What type of exercises do I enjoy? – Weightlifting? Dance classes? Swimming? Running? If you don’t know, don’t be afraid to explore! Exercise is so much easier when it involves an activity you actually delight in, even when it’s making you sweat buckets. There are enough options out there that everyone can find something that appeals to them.
  • What aspects of my health and fitness do I want to improve? – Are you aiming to run farther? Lift heavier? Lose weight? Train for a race or other competitive event? Give yourself focus in what you want to achieve. Different exercises and workout programs are going to develop different aspects of your fitness. You don’t want to be doing nothing but sprint intervals if you’re aiming to enter a bodybuilding competition. That’d be like trying to sell your YA dystopia novel to a publisher who only buys academic nonfiction.
  • What are my specific goals? – Few things can frustrate and discourage more than vague goals and timelines. Think of NaNoWriMo as a writing example. You’ve got a hard goal of writing at least 50k words in one month. There’s no quibbling about whether you’ve achieved it or not. Same goes for your fitness. The more specific you are about what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it by, the likelier it is you’ll actually put in the effort to stay on track. Be realistic, of course, but be focused.

Don’t just think through these. Record them. Write them down. Once you’ve done that, get yourself an activity and progress log/journal. A lot of writers keep word count logs to make sure they’re on track for a novel draft. Do the same for your fitness. Note down when you workout, for how long, what you did, etc. How many miles did you run and how long did it take? What dumbbell exercises did you do and how much weight did you lift? Not only will this keep you honest, but it can be encouraging to see your steady progress as you make entries over the weeks and months, inspiring you to keep going.

What sort of plan have you come up with? Does it give you a clear idea of what you should be working on? Does it establish concrete goals to be working towards?