When Life Punches You in the Mouth

I’m a planner.  I’m a planner, organizer and list maker.  My two favorite iPhone apps are my iCal and To-Do List, which pretty much run my life.  As far as I’m concerned an event doesn’t exist and it was never even discussed if it isn’t in my iCal.  Living this way may seem restricting, but it is actually very liberating. Planning affords me the luxury of spending most of my day and mental energy on execution. It also frees up a lot of mental bandwidth that can be used for creativity.

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

-       Mike Tyson

But what happens on a day like today when your best-laid plans get ruined by things out of your control? 

Yesterday started off like any other day.  I woke up at 6 am with my day’s schedule already mapped out in my iCal and a larger than normal To-Do List because I’m playing catch-up from vacation.  Isn’t it funny how you come back from vacation to face the most stressful times at work?  Maybe funny isn’t the word.

Sandwiched between my morning and my late afternoon client blocks was a large chunk of my day I planned on devoting to completing a couple articles and answering reader questions.  I sat down at my favorite coffee shop a block away from the gym to knock out my work in a peaceful environment.  I got my cup of coffee, laid out my work on the table and searched for the right playlist for work mode.

Unfortunately, life had other plans…

What’s going on here?  My wireless hot spot isn’t working.  WTF?!?!

No worries, I’ll use the coffee shop wireless.  Oh wait, this coffee shop doesn’t have wifi.

Plan B, ride my bike to Starbucks, they always have free wifi.

[Pack my stuff up and walk to my bike.]  No bike.  Crap, I forgot Lauren dropped me off at the gym today.  By the time I walk to Starbucks from here I’ll have about 15 minutes to work before I have to pack up and walk back. 

[Walk back to first coffee shop and unpacks.]  At least I can finish the parts of the blogs that don’t require research and then I can post them later…Nevermind, I saved all my notes to my Dropbox, which would require internet access.  F***!!!

This is an example of life punching me squarely in the mouth.  After cursing under my breath and feeling sorry for myself for the better part of 10 minutes there was nothing else to do, but roll with the punches and make the best of the situation.

Rolling with the punches requires an open mindset and resourcefulness.  My goals today were to write some blogs and help my readers with insights on health and fitness.  Just because I can’t access my notes, emails or website doesn’t mean I can’t accomplish something that contributes to those goals.   I’m just going to have to be more creative on the way I go about doing it.

Corner advice for the times when…

Sometimes when we are in the heat of the moment emotion clouds our decision making.  We make bad decisions because our emotions keep us from being able to see that there are other good options available even if they aren’t the ones we planned on.  That is when you need some objective guidance from someone to help you see what you can’t see on your own; someone, like a corner-man in boxing.

A corner man’s role in a boxing match is to encourage and coach his fighter.  He talks his man through the fight from the objective standpoint of a knowledgeable bystander who can see the entire situation developing.  He keeps the fighter’s head in the fight when it gets stressful and the emotions have a tendency to take over.

Since I can’t be there with you everyday I put together some good advice from the corner that will help you roll with the punches for times when…

You thought you were going to have time to make a healthy breakfast (or lunch)…

Skip it.  Take it as an opportunity to try Intermittent Fasting.

Take the 5 minutes (or less) you do have to make a Bulletproof Coffee.

Have an Epic Bar ready for just this occasion.

Snack on trail mix.

Your friend told you this place was healthy, but when you get there you realized her definition of healthy is much different from yours…

Order a salad with whatever raw vegetables they can put on top.  Hold the dressing and ask for olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the side.  Top it with a hardboiled egg and you have your protein without having to worry about whatever trans-fat they cook their meat in.

Egg omelets and scrambles with veggies can always bail you out.  Every restaurant has eggs and veggies.

If there really are no good options, pick whatever you would enjoy eating the most and don’t stress out about it.  If you have to eat something that you wouldn’t normally eat, you should enjoy it as much as possible.  I don’t have research to back this up, but I firmly believe that our bodies respond to the mindset we are in more than anything else.  If you are in a positive, guilt-free mindset about diet, training and lifestyle I believe your body will respond in a positive way.  I believe this because I’ve experienced it in my own life.

Your meeting ran long and you don’t have time to make it to the gym…

Go outside and do a sprint workout.  If there are hills nearby do a hill sprinting workout.

Set a timer for however much time you have available and do the following…

30x Jumping Jacks + 5x Push-ups + 10x Squats + 5x Push-ups + 10x Step-back Lunges + 5x Push-ups + 10x Lateral Lunges

Pick one of the following numbers: 200, 100, 50, or 25.  Do as many sets of push-ups as it takes to get to that number.

Jump rope.  It is one of the most underrated forms of exercise and we should all do more of it.

If you have access to a pull-up bar do pull-up ladders until you have to go.  It works like this…

Pull-ups x1 x2 x3 x4…until you can’t reach a number.  Take a break and start over at 1.  Between sets of pull-ups you can either rest equal to the time it took you to do the previous set of pull-ups, set a time period like 20 seconds or define another task like 10 jumping jacks.

Your business trip schedule has gone from good to bad to worse.  Realistically, you aren’t even making it to the hotel gym…

Make it a point to stand when you could sit and walk when you could ride.  This works especially well in the airport.  You should never use escalators or those airport walkways.

Do 1,000 (or 500) push-ups before the end of the business trip.  Do as many sets as it takes.  Fit them in whenever you can, wherever you can.

Wake-up, roll out of bed, do 10 push-ups…10 push-ups before you brush your teeth and 10 push-ups after…Waiting on the shower to get hot? Do push-ups…First one in the meeting room?  Push-ups…Be creative, but just do push-ups.

The same thing works for squats and burpees.

Hotels have stairwells.  Stairwells are great makeshift gyms. Sprint 2 flights of stairs then walk two flights.  Repeat until you get to the top.  Walk down and do it again.

Even the best plans can get ruined by things out of our control.  Life has a way of throwing the hardest punches at the most opportune time.  Part of being a good planner is preparing yourself for the likelihood that something won't go as planned.  Stay calm and evaluate all of your options.  There are usually many options available.  Allowing yourself to have an emotional response when things don't go your way will cloud  your judgement.  Instead, roll with the punches.  You may even find that things worked out better than the original plan.