The SparkPeople Blog

Habits of Fit People: Develop a Plan B

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
11/7/2008 6:43 AM   :  62 comments

You want to be a fit person, right? That's why I'm sharing my own habits for keeping fit and staying healthy in the ongoing Habits of Fit People series.

Here's one that works for me: Developing a plan B. So why does something like this matter?

It's hard enough to get the gym or carve out a few minutes to work out at home without LIFE getting in the way. It seems like 1,000 different things happen in a single day that can throw off your plans to exercise: a sick child, a last-minute deadline at work, a traffic jam, a phone call from a friend in need—you name it. And as if these unexpected events didn't make it difficult enough, then there are the saboteurs—the co-workers, friends and even loved ones who sabotage your efforts or discourage you from following through. It's a wonder that anyone with a job, family or social life is able to exercise at all!

That's where a plan B comes in. Similar to the 10-minute rule, a plan B is something else you can do that's better than doing nothing. It's an alternative you can use when you are late for Pilates class, unable to get to the gym, or simply don't have the time for your usual workout. The key is that you have to think about it in advance, long before the interferences or interruptions come your way—that's why it's called a plan.

Here are just a few "plan B's" that I keep up my own sleeve:

  • Walking or running outside. Walking is a good alternative when I'm feeling low on energy or under the weather. Running is a great workout that I can do when I'm short on time or unable to get to the gym.

  • Workout DVDs. It's a good idea for everyone to have a few good DVDs at home. When I work late, need a shorter workout, or just feel less than enthusiastic about my usual routine, I can usually find a workout DVD at home that fits my schedule and my mood.

  • An express routine. If time is the issue, I'll fit in a shorter version of my strength training or cardio routine, usually bumping up the intensity (incline, resistance, speed, etc.) to make the most of my time. Sometimes I'll do just one set of each strength training move, and switch between each one quickly to limit downtime.

Why it works: When you plan for the unexpected, you're better able to face it and take it in stride. When you don't have any alternatives, it's easier to just give up and get down on yourself.

Do you have a plan B? If not, come up with one now! What "go to" workout can you turn to when life gets in the way?


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Comments

  • 62
    love this blog... I totally agree, always have a plan B - 6/11/2012   3:16:48 PM
  • _MORGENSTERN_
    61
    Current Plan A - I do two workouts regularly (not on the same day, mind you!)
    yoga class, or treadmill with circuit strength training

    Plan B - Fitness DVD (often Jillian Michaels 30 day shred, or Power 90) - 6/9/2012   7:26:48 PM
  • ROCKINMAMABRIS
    60
    Thank you for this information. I am making my plan B today. It is going to be no matter what is going on in life I can at least fit in a walk with my daughter around our neighborhood. - 6/8/2012   8:35:51 AM
  • 59
    My plan B is to try to do 10 minutes of some kind of movement. I usually walk but occasionally I fit in some strength and flex exercises. - 6/8/2012   7:17:46 AM
  • 58
    this was such a good plan and I am for sure going to start doing it myself today. - 6/7/2012   11:01:01 AM
  • EMMANYC
    57
    When I'm pressed for time, my Plan B workouts generally are: a) a shorter version of my usual workout (e.g., 15 minutes of strength instead of 30, 20 minutes of higher intensity cardio; b) a circuit routine that combines strength and cardio); or c) a longer than usual walk to and from the office (e.g., add in a trip to the grocery store, take the long way home, etc.).

    I also need Plan B workouts when some part of my body is misbehaving. I've got several old injuries that still cause trouble from time to time - a torn rotator cuff (gets in the way of strength training), ruptured discs in my back (ditto), stress fractures in my legs. If it's my shoulder or back, I typically turn to an easy elliptical workout, which seems to work the kinks out in my body. If it's my legs that are bothering me, I usually do strength instead of cardio. - 1/28/2011   4:34:54 PM
  • 56
    Love this idea...my Plan B is walking my dogs! - 1/28/2011   1:35:41 PM
  • 55
    I haven't had a plan B until now, and for me, it's more about lack of motivation than time, sometimes...so my plan B will be about "NOT being about me, but how can I *active*ly help others: so I will play with my cat for 15 minutes (very active cat he is, and includes running for me) and help someone else, like mom, sister or neighbor or whoever's around, with 15 min of their chores.

    BANG!: 30 min of being active, with a little cardio thrown in, while 'paying it forward'. - 1/6/2011   9:32:01 AM
  • 54
    My Plan B includes, the exercise bike, putting on some good music and dancing or a workout DVD. - 5/2/2010   2:39:10 AM
  • 53
    I go on cardio circuits of 5 different kinds of cardio workouts for 30 seconds each then I do 3-5 circuits.
    For example I'll do jumping jacks, squat thrusts, jump rope, mountain climbers, and skaters for 30 seconds without rest then rest 30 seconds between circuits. - 8/30/2009   8:25:10 AM
  • 52
    I do appreciate the Plan B plans. I used to think that it was "all or nothing." I keep a resistant band at work (I'm a teach), and use it during my planning period when sitting and "doing nothing" (as in grading papers, etc., etc, etc.). I also took it to a seminar with me and during breaks walked around using it (probably looked silly, but that's ok). As you can see from my pic, I also have a 4-lb. weighted hula hoop, so I use that for 10 minutes when I can do nothing else. - 8/21/2009   7:30:45 AM
  • NO-41_RAZZYS_PL
    51
    Right now, my back up plan (plan B) is your 10 minute jump rope!! :) - 1/14/2009   8:32:31 AM
  • 50
    Thanks for the good advice. I need to do this and will! - 11/12/2008   12:27:15 PM
  • 49
    Great advice, thanks! I love the 10-minute rule. You can always find 10 minutes in a day. - 11/10/2008   11:10:21 PM
  • 48
    I try to keep moving when I cannot make a formal workout.. Like walking while talking to my friend or try to make more back and forths doing my daily chores.. 10 min rule is my great helper.. - 11/10/2008   1:32:16 PM
  • 47
    One of my back up plans when I can't make it to the gym is to go for a walk around the neighborhood while I am returning phone calls. I am the type of person who has pretty much any number I will ever need programed into my cell phone, so if it is business related, or something like scheduling a doctor's appointment (especially things that you know you are going to get stuck on hold for) I call while I am walking, and don't let myself go home until the matter is resolved, or I have been walking for at least a predetermined time. If I have a friend or family member call that wants to talk for an extended period of time, I ask them if I can call them back later, and then I give them a ring when I am walking. You get to kill two birds with one stone, and the distance can add up really quickly when you are focused on what the other person is saying, and not how far/long you have to go. This works well for me, hopefully it will be useful to someone else! - 11/10/2008   5:03:05 AM
  • 46
    I think that my plan B was the key to losing weight. I was always told, have a plan, exercise at the same time every day. With a husband, 3 kids and a job I always had some reason I couldn't get my "planned" exercise in or the meal I had planned fell through. When I started out I decided that sticking to a plan was not for me. I always had a plan. I planned my work out, planned my dinner but I always had a plan B. I even went so far as to have a Plan C which I called my minimum acceptable plan. I even do that now with my runs and goals. I set a goal, then a back up goal and then an if all else fails goal. What this does for me is show me that I am still working on it. It may not be at the highest level but I am still going forward. It helps me mentally to know that I am succeeding at some level. This may sound like a cop out to some but for me it works. - 11/9/2008   11:54:11 PM
  • DHINSTL
    45
    THE SPARK PEOPLE WEBSITE HAS BECOME MY PLAN B - MY REMINDER-MOTIVATOR-MY WORKOUT VIDEO @ TIMES... - 11/9/2008   11:19:12 PM
  • RENEE_27
    44
    I didn't have a plan B but what a great idea! I'll get right to it :) - 11/9/2008   8:21:38 PM
  • DONEPAT
    43
    I need more of a plan B. By that I mean, changing it up- due to weather or how I feel. The article and comments gave me new ideas! thanks! - 11/9/2008   3:28:19 PM
  • 42
    I normally walk on the treadmill for cardio, but my tm is "sick" and maybe "dying", so I've been walking outside. I also have some DVD workouts that I can use. - 11/9/2008   2:45:06 PM
  • 41
    Wii Fit is my plan B!
    Measuring... Measiring... Measuring... All done! ;-) - 11/9/2008   1:42:48 PM
  • 40
    Dancing sounds like a great back up plan! It's something I can do WITH my daughter as she LOVES to dance :) I'm sure a good 20 minutes of dancing would be a decent substitute for a missed session at the gym :) - 11/9/2008   12:25:34 PM
  • 39
    Dance Dance Revolution has been my plan B since it is fun and I can play it with my kids. - 11/9/2008   12:16:55 PM
  • 38
    My plan B is to turn on the Wii and do some DDR. Not such a high degree of difficulty if I won't have time to shower, and a higher level if I will. The time required is very flexible and it is something that I enjoy.

    [DDR=Dance Dance Revolution] - 11/9/2008   10:26:30 AM
  • PANDORA130
    37
    I don't have a formal Plan B, but after reading this I'll try to develop one. I have a stability ball, resistance bands and a Pilates ring so I can do a few exercises no matter what happens with my day- but I don't want to fool myself into thinking that a few exercises will take the place of a regular workout, so I'll have to be thoughtful about this. - 11/9/2008   8:47:46 AM
  • 36
    I do WATP type walking while watching a TV show, since I've learned the "steps" from the videos. LOL With all the Sparkpeople work outs, I've learned to do a lot of exercises. If you have to sit with a sick child, you could do some squats by the bed, jumping jacks, lunges, etc. without leaving the room. You might even get a laugh out of the child, while doing it. - 11/9/2008   1:10:14 AM
  • 35
    I have a peddler I keep in my living room, so if I am watching TV, I am peddling. - 11/8/2008   11:28:31 PM
  • 34
    My plan is that if I can't work out at all that day I make up for it by exercising on the day that would normally be my day to not exercise. - 11/8/2008   11:21:24 PM
  • 33
    I dont have a plan B but tis blog got me thinking about one. Thanks for the smart idea...I need to learn to outwit my lazy side :) - 11/8/2008   11:58:53 AM
  • 32
    I usually climb stairs for 30 minutes by breaking it up into three 10-minute sessions. - 11/8/2008   12:41:19 AM
  • 31
    I normally walk outside, but living in the Pacific Northwest requires that I have something to do when it's dumping outside (I will walk in a drizzle, but not a downpour). So, I have several WATP tapes I can do. I've also developed a 10 minute aerobic routine that I can do while watching TV. So I've got both a Plan B and a Plan C. - 11/7/2008   7:59:00 PM
  • 30
    This is great I think I'll just dance and shake my booty for 20 minutes when all else fails. There's no excuse not to do that, even if you have to dance to music in your head lo! - 11/7/2008   7:51:00 PM
  • SWINGKITTEN
    29
    I love plan B's We run swing dance nights so putting out tables and chairs and then dancing 3 times a week adds onto my excercise routine - 11/7/2008   7:00:16 PM
  • 28
    I too have a few Plan B's I have DVD's, jump ropes, hand weights, and music so I can switch up my workout routine whenever nessecary! - 11/7/2008   5:06:51 PM
  • NODUH60
    27
    alot of time we overlook playing with the babies as a plan B when we cant get out....when we have kids or grandkids under school age....they love to be played with and you can dance and also use their body weight in play as toning or strengthening....beats the heck out of not getting anything done...
    - 11/7/2008   3:12:51 PM
  • CINCIN65
    26
    I love this blog. I didn't realize I even had a plan B, but I use my treadmill for running or dance tread when I can't get to the gym. I guess I'm on the right track without even realizing it.
    Thanks SP, it's all starting to sink in and be second nature. - 11/7/2008   2:42:10 PM
  • RACHELRB
    25
    I have a couple of 10 minute workout DVDs for plan be. I take 10 minutes to start but usually once I get going I manage to fit a few more in. It's getting them into the machine that is the impetus, after that I'm good to go! - 11/7/2008   2:31:05 PM
  • 24
    Thanks for this article. I needed this today as I am here because I was not able to get out to work out at my center today. A delivery I was waiting on is late and has thrown me off schedule and I was really feeling like chalking up the whole day. Instead I will do some stretches, theraband exercises and maybe put on a cd and dance. I'll also clarify my "go to" plan B exercise. - 11/7/2008   1:58:34 PM
  • 23
    I go to the gym on MWF at 5AM. But on TTS I exercise at home. I take the opportunity to spend time with my kids in the evenings and include them in my exercise routine. I go Jogging on the evenings I don't go to the gym and during the day I do simple exercises to strength train such as calf raises, lunges, push ups, crunches, and stretching all while watching television. This is my plan B. - 11/7/2008   1:22:38 PM
  • 22
    I just wish I had a Plan B for the days coming when it snows too much for me to get to the gym. I won't work out outside when its pouring down rain/sleet/snow. I own workout DVDs, but I can't use them without irritating my downstairs neighbor. Those days stink! - 11/7/2008   1:18:43 PM
  • 21
    If I can't get to the gym I bust out my yoga tape, take a bike ride, or go for a run outside. I also use my wii Fit as a backup if I can't get to the gym. - 11/7/2008   1:11:13 PM
  • MRS_LUNDT
    20
    I have a few alternative exercises that I do.

    I try to in general walk more if I know I may not have time to exercise. I am in college, and I commute on the bus, so instead of sitting and waiting for the bus, if I have some extra time I will walk around campus until I know the bus will be there. I also sometimes get off at an earlier stop and walk the rest of the way to my class.

    Another alternative I have is the wii. I have wii fit and wii sports and I love to play them. It is really easy to play for an hour and not even know it. As long as I try my best and really get into the game, I can burn about 5-6 calories per minute which isn't bad!

    I also have a game called Yourself!Fitness and you play it on the Xbox. It is a game where you have this girl named Maya as your personal trainer and you can decide on what kind of workout you want to do. They have 15-1 hour workouts and you can also incorporate exercises that are done with a stationary ball or dumbells. It is really fun and no two workouts are the same. I like to do this every once in a while, especially when I can't make it to the gym or it is too dark outside to go running!

    This is an awesome article and I think it is really important to keep this in mind because almost every day there is at least one obsticale to overcome when it comes to exercising. - 11/7/2008   12:55:51 PM
  • 19
    My plan B is house cleaning. Yep if I can't find the time or energy, there is always some form of cleaning I can do. Some times I will sweep the outside patio (big area). Other times I might srub the shower( I really brake a sweat there), but all in all I would rather exersize than clean house so 9 out of 10 times I will opt for the gym. - 11/7/2008   12:06:47 PM
  • 18
    Good article.

    I change my routine occasionally. If i am walking 30 minutes twice a day and using my treadmill for 30 minutes then i change that and go to the gym and get in some good strength training and away we go. My body tends to get bored with the same workout day after day. - 11/7/2008   11:33:14 AM
  • 17
    Working out at 5am makes me pretty accountable to not let life get in the way of working out. But I do strength and sometimes other cardio in the PM. If I don't do it the SECOND I walk in the door, I have an excuse...cooking dinner, cleaning, etc. Setting up parameters so we don't have excuses is essential! Thanks for the great article! - 11/7/2008   10:18:55 AM
  • 16
    Some days when I get home, the kids are pulling my arm wanting me to play a game or something. Even though exercise is important, to me time with my kids is more important. So, my plan B is playing with the kids. When they're craving my attention, I give it to them, while still getting my exercise in for the day. If it's pretty we go to the park, go outside and play, or go for a walk down the dirt trail I live down (from my house to one end and then the other and back to the house is @ 2 miles). If the weather's not permitting, we play Wii. When my son is preoccupied, but my daughter wants mommy, I inlcude her in my exercise routine. I've done situps many times while craddling her in my arms or with her sitting on my stomach (she's only 18 months). - 11/7/2008   10:03:41 AM
  • 15
    Plan B can be something fun too. Hubby and I sometimes dance around in the kitchen once the food is prepped and cooking. Just don't forget to stop and stir occassionally!!! - 11/7/2008   9:51:43 AM
  • 14
    First of all I am SO impressed that all you working folks find the time and energy to workout at all!! I am a VERY late bloomer in this department but enjoying tricking myself in to changing lifelong habits .All my life I took pride in taking shortcuts to save energy-using shortcut habits and appliances- but now with the new mind set thanks to SPARK PEOPLE I take pride in just the opposite! So I guess my plan B was the tricking myself- and it is definately working. Thank you! - 11/7/2008   9:50:53 AM
  • GLBRITTON
    13
    I agree totally and it is definetly a habit that i need to develop for myself, thanks Nicole - 11/7/2008   9:38:34 AM

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