Making Room for ‘Real Life’ in Your Wellness Plan

How many times have you been going along with your wellness efforts, doing great, then suddenly WHAM! real life steps in – a family emergency, an unexpected business trip, etc.? We’ve probably all been there from time to time.

When this happens, it can really derail our Wellness efforts. Behavior change is hard. That can make us feel as if we need to structure our wellness plans rigidly so we leave no room for error. We may think that’s the only way we can be successful.

Here’s the problem with that, though….If we are too structured with our wellness plans, when we have those unexpected interruptions, we don’t have room to adjust. This could feed into the discouragement we talked about in Why Is It So Hard to Get Healthy and cause us to completely abandon our plans.

Something that can help us with that dilemma is to build some flexibility into our wellness plan. If we give ourselves a little wiggle room, when things go off-track a little, it’s easier for us re-calibrate and continue to move forward with our wellness efforts.

Background of blurred-looking evergreen trees with text overlay: "Perfection is the enemy of progress." ~Winston Churchill

Making Room for ‘Real Life’ in Our Wellness Plan

For healthy eating, some things that help us build flexibility into our plan could be:

  • Have some easy ‘go-to’ meals that are quick to prepare and cook.
  • Cook in batches when you have the extra time and energy, then freeze some meals so you always have something heathy you can ‘heat and eat’ in the freezer.
  • Have some ‘grab and go’ snacks that you can throw in your bag to help you with healthy eating on the road.

For exercise, here are some things that might help:

  • Give yourself permission ahead of time to skip some exercise days if you need to. You’d be amazed what a difference this can make in helping you not get off-track with exercise. When you plan to skip a workout day, you don’t suffer the whole failure/guilt/discouragement continuum that makes you feel like you’ve messed up so you might as well give up.
  • Have more than one option for exercise. Having several options can help if you aren’t feeling your best, you get hurt and have to avoid certain exercises, or you have to travel and don’t have access to the equipment you’d normally have. For example, you might not feel well enough to get out for a walk, but a few gentle Yoga poses might be exactly what’s needed.

Making room for real life in the area of Financial Wellness might entail:

  • Have a “Miscellaneous” category in our budget for small, unexpected expenses.
  • Start or build your emergency savings account. That way, when those unexpected things happen (like your water heater going out or your kitchen stove kicking the bucket) you can cover them without impacting your monthly income/expenses.

For the Environmental Dimension of Wellness, a built-in cushion could be:

  • Make a habit of cleaning up messes as you go throughout the day, and don’t let things like mail pile up. If we have a daily ‘spiffing-up’ habit established, if we have to miss a couple of cleaning days, it won’t be such a big deal.

Determine Where You Need to Give Yourself Permission to Not Be Perfect with Your Plan

These are just some examples for a couple of the dimensions of Wellness. This idea could be applied to any dimension of our Wellness we’re working on. Our “cushion” or “wiggle room” could be the difference in whether or not we experience success.

So often, we feel as if we have to have a perfect plan and stick to it perfectly. As Winston Churchill famously said, though, “Perfection is the enemy of progress.” Having some space in our plans to make adjustments might mean we don’t execute them perfectly all the time. That’s okay, because it helps us make room for real life. Ultimately, that helps us continue to make consistent forward progress.

Do you make room in your Wellness plan for unexpected interruptions in your wellness efforts? Have you found it helpful? Please share!



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Sunrise over the mountains with text overlay: Making Room for Real Life in Your Wellness Plan

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  1. Excellent post! Staying flexible is so important. I try to intentionally place a “cushion” in my daily planning. Thanks for the reminder! Best Wishes! Leigh

    1. Thanks so much Leigh! I agree with 100% about staying flexible. If living with fibromyalgia has taught me anything, it’s that being able to adapt to changing circumstances is the key to success. Hope you’re doing well sweet friend. Sending hugs your way!

  2. Excellent post. Thanks for including other dimensions of wellness like environmental. I agree – We all need to be agile/flexible with ourself and give ourself some grace- life is busy and the unplanned can throw us, unless we give ourself us wiggle room. – just knowing life happens and having the back up meals or snacks, or other wellness activities is great advice. Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much Sarah! We do have to give ourselves some grace, don’t we? I think that’s hard for us sometimes, as we can tend to be too hard on ourselves when we’re trying hard to accomplish something. Sending hugs your way!

  3. Great lesson to learn Terri. In life, especially with how chaotic it can be, we need to be fluid. It’s hard because a majority of us like structure in our lives but we also need to have an adjusting nature where we can cope with sudden changes that throw a kink in our plans.

    1. Thanks so much Mark! You make a great point about us liking structure in our lives. I know I definitely need to have at least a loose plan, but I always build some flexibility into that plan. As we always said in the military, that helped us “adapt and overcome.” Blessings to you my friend!

  4. Built-in cushions are so important because we all know what happens to best laid plans. Things happen, things change, and we can learn and prepare to be more flexible and build in wiggle room. I like that you’ve applied this concept to the different elements of wellness. Looking after ourselves often goes out the window if things change or something hits us from left field, so making sure we can still keep wellness a priority no matter what is important. Fab post, Terri! xx

    1. Thanks so much Caz! You’re so right about how we let our own self-care go out the window when things change or an emergency upsets our routine, etc. Like I said to Leigh, if living with fibromyalgia has taught me anything, it’s that I need to be prepared for the unexpected. As someone who didn’t really like having my schedule messed with, that’s been a good lesson for me. Hope you’re doing as well as possible sweet friend. Sending hugs your way!

  5. With FM it’s critical to have flexibility in our days, especially with our exercise plans.

    It’s all about balance.
    But it takes a lot of walking on that tightrope to find it! Lol!
    Bless you, Jennifer

    1. 😁You’re so right Jennifer! That tightrope walking can wear us out sometimes…. Hope you’re doing well sweet friend. Blessings to you!

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