Ever thought you could ‘wing it’ on a random gym session? Or instead of checking out the menu online before going out to eat, are you just going to randomly show up, order, and indulge?
To the average person, this might seem like no big deal. And if you’re just trying to live an overall healthy lifestyle, there’s no reason to obsess over food, exercise, or other lifestyle habits on the daily. I totally get it—everyone needs a day off!
But if you have real and specific health and wellness goals, it’s time to stop kidding yourself and start getting conscious of your health behaviors. Winging it, or basically going into something without a plan, is one of the worst diet, fitness, and overall health mistakes you can make. In many of my clients, it’s perhaps their biggest downfall.
Today’s post explores the potential problems of meeting your health and wellness goals without a concrete, organized plan. Trust me, next time you consider randomly ‘winging it,’ you’ll think twice. I promise!
1. You Fall Into Bad Habits
This is a classic problem that happens when you wing it. Whether it’s a random happy hour or a last minute workout that you didn’t really plan for, when we go into a health situation unplanned, we leave ourselves vulnerable to falling back into old bad habits.
Take the happy hour example I just threw at you. Say normally you tend to go a little overboard at the happy hours (that spinach and artichoke dip always seems to call out your name). But when you plan ahead, and say look at the happy hour menu on your phone or computer before arriving, you’re much better at finding suitable and healthy alternatives. In this situation, winging it and not thinking about what you’re going to order ahead of time could be secretly sabotaging you from reaching your health and wellness goals. Even worse, you won’t realize this until you’ve down a couple margaritas and stuffed your face with enough chips and gauc to last you until your next birthday.
2. You Fall Into Good, But Overdone Habits
Let’s take another example. Let’s say instead of planning out what workout you’re going to complete that day, you simply hop on the elliptical for 45 minutes of steady state cardio. Now, there’s nothing wrong with doing LISS (low intensity steady state) cardio. And there are even some experts that think it’s part of a healthy workout regiment. But even a ‘good’ habit can be overdone. In other words, too many workouts of doing the same thing, even if that’s a good thing, can lead to a lack of progress and results over time. It can even lead to an overuse injury if you’re not careful. Essentially, planning your workouts ahead of time instead of ‘winging it’ or going in unprepared will keep you from wasting a workout that doesn’t meet your goals.
3. Pre and Post-Workout Nutrition Helps You Reach Your Fitness Goals Sooner, And They Require Planning
In my opinion, pre and post-workout nutrition are some of the most important meals/snacks when you’re training and eating for specific health goals. I’ve written about this before, but for pre-workout meals you want something based in carbohydrate to give you energy. Post-workout, you want healthy carbohydrate to refuel glycogen stores and protein to promote protein muscle synthesis.
If these meals aren’t planned and timed well, you’re potentially missing out on valuable recovery time that could aid in getting stronger, fitter, or reaching a healthy weight. In other words, why waste your time with a killer workout if you don’t properly plan and refuel afterwards, or fuel yourself appropriately before exercising? If you’re into exercising truly for the fun of it, then more power to you. But chances are if you’re reading this, you have or want to have specific goals. Planning your meals, especially around your workouts, is a fundamental part of using diet to compliment your exercise routine.
So am I saying you need to become a lean, mean, over-planning machine? Absolutely not! I’m all for the day of rest that we all need from time to time. And by no means should you obsess or get to a point where you’re over-planning. I’ve been there, and I can tell you from personal experience that’s there’s not a drop of fun in planning every single meal or every single workout for two weeks straight. After you spend some time embarking on your health behavior/lifestyle change, it’s true that you do tend to develop better eating and exercise habits, and over time you won’t have to scrutinize every move you make.
With that said, it is good to reevaluate what you’ve been doing from time to time, and planning is one way to determine if you’ve really been meeting the goals you’ve been setting for yourself. Even the most dedicated and knowledgeable health and wellness professionals fall victim to temptation and winging it. Use these strategies to overcome the next time you feel the urge to wing it 🙂