Habits of Fit People: Develop a Plan B

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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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thanks, I need to get a plan b Report
LEANJEAN6 9/6/2020
Great ideas--I will try some--- Report
MJ7DM33 8/24/2020
Thanks Report
YMWONG22 5/11/2020
Thank you.
USMAWIFE 2/13/2020
thank you Report
Thanks for sharing this one! Report
Sept 2019 Plan A = failure. Today, starting by acknowledging plan a failed & implementing Sept 2019 Plan B! Report
Interesting Report
Having just retired, I need a new plan A.
My preference is to always do a walk either in my neighborhood or at the local jc track. Plan B tho is marching in place then walking back & forth in the halls; then turn on some tunes & dance. I also do yoga, & arm exercises w/ soup cans from the cupboard. I have resistance bands too & a weighted hula hoop.
We will be relocating within the year & I want to have a workout room w/ a treadmill & cycle at the least, maybe a rower also or rebounder. Report
thanks Report
Thank you for the information. Report
SP videos are a great Plan B - or sometimes even THE plan. Report
Lately my plan B strategies are checking out the menu at a place that I know I'll be going to so I can decide ahead of time what to eat when I'm in a good place mentally and physically and not stressed and hungry...also anticipating that the colder weather is coming in the Midwest and days are getting shorter/darker earlier so I may take a different route on my walk but still try my best to do it....no excuses! Report
love this blog... I totally agree, always have a plan B Report
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) Report
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. Report
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. Report
this was such a good plan and I am for sure going to start doing it myself today. Report
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. Report
Love this idea...my Plan B is walking my dogs! Report
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'. Report
My Plan B includes, the exercise bike, putting on some good music and dancing or a workout DVD. Report
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. Report
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. Report
Right now, my back up plan (plan B) is your 10 minute jump rope!! :) Report
Thanks for the good advice. I need to do this and will! Report
Great advice, thanks! I love the 10-minute rule. You can always find 10 minutes in a day. Report
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.. Report
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! Report
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. Report
I didn't have a plan B but what a great idea! I'll get right to it :) Report
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! Report
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. Report
Wii Fit is my plan B!
Measuring... Measiring... Measuring... All done! ;-) Report
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 :) Report
Dance Dance Revolution has been my plan B since it is fun and I can play it with my kids. Report
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] Report
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. Report
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. Report
I have a peddler I keep in my living room, so if I am watching TV, I am peddling. Report
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. Report
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 :) Report
I usually climb stairs for 30 minutes by breaking it up into three 10-minute sessions. Report
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. Report
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! Report
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 Report
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! Report
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...
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. Report