I’m going to just come out and say it – I suck at plans.  Make a plan with me and more than likely, I’ll be late.  Beyond that, I don’t make plans for myself.  Like ever.

Whenever anyone asks me what workout plan I’m following I give them a definite quizzical look…”Plan?”

For example, I’ve created some amazing workout plans over the years for myself.  The problem is I’ve never followed any of them for more than 6 weeks.  This despite having spent a good amount of time on creating these plans – they’re doable, they target all of my goals and personally, I would pay good money for them.  But nope, I haven’t followed a plan for more than a few weeks.  It’s just not my personality. 

The same is true with all of the goals I’ve ever achieved.  I’ve never followed a plan although I’ve made quite a few in my day.  When I managed a gym, I had to make a strategic plan for the year and each year I would and then when the time would come to implement it, I wouldn’t.

But this doesn’t mean that I went into the situations blind.  Let me explain.

A Great Plan versus an Average System

When I train clients, I don’t have them follow a specific workout plan, because I’m continually adapting to how they’re feeling, what’s sore, what hurts, how worn out from life are they, etc.  From that information, I figure out their workout plan for that day.  But I don’t “wing” their workouts.  Instead, it goes into a system that I’m usually using for that specific client.

Plans tend to be too rigid.  They confine you and can sometimes limit your progress at times.  A system allows you to adapt and grow beyond what you may have planned.

An example of a plan versus a system is to imagine one of your friends who always needs to follow a specific plan whenever you go out for fun?  (Are you “that friend?”)  Instead of enjoying the night, no matter what comes up, they get obsessed about following the plan and in doing so, miss out on the fun they could be having by focusing on the way things ‘should be’?

On the other hand, most people, have a “system” when they go out.  An example, of a system is to have a good time, no matter where you end up.  By doing so, you this sort of system you can enjoy time with the people you’re with (why most people go out) and have fun.  If you don’t go to the bar or restaurant that was originally planned, Awesome, go find another place and have fun there.

The key difference between the two is system is adaptable whereas plans are rigid.

Often times with plans, people get lost in the details and miss the forest for the trees.  With a system, the goal is kept in mind and you can move within the system to achieve the goal.

Don’t get me wrong – there are times when you need a solid plan.  But a good majority of the time, a system would serve you better.

So back to those amazing workout plans that I’ve put together but have never followed.  They are great and I know that if I followed them, I would achieve all of my goals.  But I also know my personality and mindset.  If I felt like I couldn’t follow the plan, then I would just skip the gym.  Oh, the horror!

With that mindset, these great plans go nowhere, collecting dust in the storage bins of my laptop.

On the other hand, my system for working out is quite simple – Show up and work on what feels freshest for that day.

Some days, those are my legs and others it’s my chest.  Other days, it’s damn near everything and completely my choice.

With this system, even when I didn’t want to workout hard, I ended up working out more often, longer and more intense than with any workout plan that I did follow.  By following this system, I have worked out on every major body part, as hard as I could, each time I stepped in the gym.  I find it more fun and don’t ever feel truly worn out as I do following a plan.

This “system” is quite vague and average, but it delivers good results because I workout more often than I would otherwise.

Therefore, sometimes an average system is better than the best plans. 

Eating Plans versus Systems

The one place that systems work better than most plans are when it comes to eating.  For example, I’ve created over 10 separate eating plan templates for clients to follow.  Low-Carb, high carb, medium carb, low animal fat, carb cycling, men and women versions, etc.  You know the last time I gave someone an eating plan to follow?  I don’t.  Want to know why?  Because almost no one follows the plan for more than a few weeks, at best.*

Following an eating plan can be hard.  Meetings come up, unplanned trips to restaurants, celebrations, etc. and if you are trying to follow a specific plan, then it becomes hard to follow it for long.

Again, these eating plans are pretty good (if I do say so myself) and for most people, they can work great…when the people work the plan.  Most people don’t though.

So over the past couple of years, I have shied away from eating plans and have almost continuously focused on implementing the eating systems that lead to fat loss.

Have you ate enough protein? How can we get more in, meal by meal, week by week?
Are you eating enough vegetables?  How can you get more in, meal by meal, week by week?
Are you drinking enough water?
Are you drinking too much alcohol?

Eating systems are adaptable to life and can be tailored to the individual.

*With all of that said, there are a few people who LOVE plans.  They need plans and if you give this person a plan, they follow it to a T.  I would say, that on average, I meet one to two of these people per year.  They tend to be great clients and work hard, but they are the statistical oddity, not the norm.

For the rest of us, the use of systems can create success just as sure.

What Systems Will You Use?

When training for fat loss, you will need at least 3 systems:

1 – A system for eating.
Eat 30-40 grams of protein per meal, at least 3 meals per day, minimum.
Eat as many non-starchy vegetables as possible, with 5 servings being a minimum.

2 – A system for working out.
Get to the gym 4 to 7 days per week.  Once there, do one day of high intensity cardio, one day of strength and two days of mixed.  You get to choose the days you will do that, depending on how you feel that day.

3 – A system for “life.”
How will you control your eating and drinking when you’re out with friends and family?
How will you get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night?
How will you find the time to get to the gym?

Every successful body and life transformation has come on the backs of strong systems that turn into plans, for the individual, while maintaining enough flexibility to bend to life’s demands, but not break under them.

Figure out your systems (and maybe combine it with some fitness love)!


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