Better With Sprinkles

The Colourful Side to Healthy Living.

The Non-Plan Plan.


Good morning! How is everyone’s week going thus far? Mine’s been pretty quiet…my class on Tuesday and one of my classes on Wednesday were cancelled. The extra time off has been appreciated!

Something else for me to appreciate:


The macadamia nut Kisses and the coconut M&M’s I won from Amanda’s giveaway a little while ago came in! I haven’t gotten to the M&M’s yet, but the Kisses are amazing. You know the cookies at Subway? Whenever I get one, my first choice is the white chocolate chip macadamia nut. Because chocolate and macadamia nut makes for a fabulous combo. Thanks love!

Speaking of good food, last nights dinner was the simplest, but most delicious dinner possible:


A shrimp ring with cocktail sauce and a loaf of cheesy garlic bread, split between the boyfriend and myself. All I had to do with defrost the shrimp and stick the loaf in the oven for a few minutes – best dinner idea ever. Yes, I am obsessed with shrimp and cocktail sauce Smile with tongue out

Workout Plan…or Lack Thereof.

So in my goal post on Tuesday, I eluded to a new approach that I’m taking to my workouts in April.

Basically, I love working out and being active. Sitting on the couch all day, every day is not appealing to me in the least – I just get lethargic and antsy. The last year or so, I’ve been putting a lot more effort into weights over anything else, and I’m happy with the results I’ve gotten. I feel stronger and more accomplished fitness-wise than I have in a really long time.

But, I think my relationship with the gym needs some work.

Although I had never really thought of it in these terms before, I think it’s safe to say that in recovery, I became dependent on exercise. It was more comfortable for me to watch my food and calorie intake go up when I was hitting the gym and burning something off 5-6 days a week. If something got in the way and I wasn’t able to fit my workout in, I would panic. Although I knew it was unrealistic to think so, I was convinced that if I missed just one workout, I would gain five pounds instantly. Last spring, I was working overnights and still dragging myself to the gym, even when I was exhausted. Because I had a plan, and I couldn’t deviate.

Over the last 8 months or so, I’ve broken away from that mindset. I remember when I started doing Jamie Eason’s Livefit Trainer last summer, I laid awake for hours at night agonizing over the fact that the first four weeks of the program had me working out 4 days a week. And there was no cardio. After working out 5-6 days a week for years with at least 3 runs or treadmill workouts, I was absolutely terrified to cut it out completely, even for only a month. I did end up following through with it, and began to realize that I didn’t have to ‘sweat every day’ or anything of the sort – the body desperately needs rest just as much as it needs to be active.

I’m confident in saying that I have a much more comfortable relationship with exercise and the gym. I’m perfectly happy working out 4-5 days a week, and I take a complete deload every few months to allow my body ample recovery. In fact, I ended up taking all of my two-week Christmas vacation off from exercise and I enjoyed every moment.

However, thanks to this post, I realized a couple weeks ago that I’m still more reliant on the gym than I need to be. I’m a perfectionist at heart, so when I can’t stick to my planned workouts, I get a little bit of anxiety or guilt. When I’ve planned 20 minutes on the elliptical and I’m only able to complete 10 due to time constraints, I mentally beat myself up for not planning my time better. It’s frustrates me now to think about why I let that bother me so much. Why do I let a piece of paper dictate how much exercise is ‘enough’?

The truth is, I allow the gym and my workouts too much control in my life. When I got my class schedule in January, my first goal was to figure out when I was going to fit in my workouts. I was 15 minutes late to class a few weeks ago because I ‘had’ to finish up my workout. When I go back to my parents for a weekend, I make sure to pack my running shoes because I usually have a workout planned on Saturday or Sunday. If I’m tired and don’t really feel like going to the gym, I go anyways, because I had planned for it. When I need to make an appointment, I make sure it’s not between the hours of 10:00-11:00 am, because that’s been my gym time all semester. 

So, I need to break away from this mindset and give myself a bit more freedom when it comes to my workouts. So my workout plan this month?

No plan. Absolutely nothing. I will wake up in the morning and decide in the moment what my workout will be…if I workout at all that day. I love my heavy weights, so it’s likely that I’ll still hit the gym quite a bit. But now that the weather’s getting warmer, I may want to go for a run outside. Or take a walk on the trail around the river that’s near my apartment. I might stay in and stretch or do yoga…or plant my butt right on the couch. I will actually listen to my body, and not an obscure piece of paper telling me what I should be doing that day.

I’m starting to realize that I let my life revolve around my workouts, when really, it should be the other way around. I don’t know what’ll happen in May; I may decide that I like this approach and stick with it, or I might go back to following a plan (that I will allow myself more freedom on). We’ll see. But for now, I need to break away from the extra stress, guilt and anxiety that my workouts can cause. Perfectionism is stressful – when I broke away from that in my eating habits, I became a lot happier and carefree. I’m thinking breaking that mindset in my exercise will do the same.

<— What’s your approach to workouts? Planned or unplanned?

<— Anyone feel that they put too much pressure on themselves to complete workouts?

<— Favourite cookie? Oatmeal chocolate chip is another favourite for me.


img source 1, 2


52 thoughts on “The Non-Plan Plan.

  1. Love this post Sam & I think you’re Non-Plan sounds wonderful. Mentally I am sure that you will see it through and surprise yourself at how okay you are with exercising intuitively! I still work out with a plan in my mind but I am much more relaxed about it. If a specific workout doesn’t happen or if I need an unplanned rest day, I’m a-ok with it. Right now my only goal with exercise is for the enjoyment factor, and working out when I don’t want to just defeats the whole purpose.

  2. Wow, it’s like I wrote this post! I feel the EXACT same way that you do! I agree with what you said exactly. I, too, am way too reliant and dependant on my work outs and going to the gym. If my schedule is tight, I do whatever I can to fit in my workout regardless…better something than nothing. Yet, I always feel like I could do more. If I need a “rest day” I have to come up with some sort of “excuse” to allow it…like having to stay late at work or having to run errands instead, etc. so that I didn’t have time for the workout, versus just needing a day off. It sucks. And it is still something that I am currently struggling with. It’s exactly what you said too, that if I eat more during my recovery like I’m supposed to, I have to justify it by making sure that I work out too. Otherwise, I get anxious about it. I know I don’t have a healthy approach to exercise right now and it is definitely taking over and unhealthy. Thanks for the post and hopefully we can both work on this and exercising for the enjoyment of it versus because we feel we have to do so.

  3. That is exactly what I do Sam – I don’t plan anything, I just set my alarm to do a workout in the AM and see how I feel. For example, this morning I was tired and sore so did 30 mins of yoga. Tomorrow I might go to the gym if I get an early night but it isn’t the end of the world if not. It has taken a long time to get to this peace of mind but it feels so much less stressful to have arrived!

  4. I really like your non plan. It’s hard to break the routines but that’s how you form a healthy relationship- whether it is with a person, food, or exercise. Once it becomes a chore, it’s time to step away. I love this post! You should be able to workout when you want to, not because you feel like you have to or need to workout for a certain amount of time. I definitely have had times where I put a lot of pressure on myself to work out but I have gotten so much better about just saying no, today is a rest day. I hope this new plan goes well for you!

  5. I love that approach and it is so brave!! I am curious on how it goes!
    I have to plan my workouts because if I don’t, I overtrain. Which means, I actually plan my rest time. If I don’t plan it, I just workout before work, at lunch and after work. And that’s non sense. So as long as I am in danger to fall back in the overtraining habit, I follow that plan.

  6. I get you! I recently got on to this no-plan plan as well and it has been going great (doing it for about a month now)! I used to try to fit in 3 or 4 weight sessions for each muscle group + at least 2 cardio sessions in a week and it was crazy – I kept burning out! Then I realised that my body doesn’t care what day of the week it is! So I ditched that mentality and just looked at my workouts in the bigger picture. I can do whatever I want whenever I want as long as I’m active and happy!

  7. I think you know where I stand on this one, and I have to say that I’m a big fan of your non-plan plan. I used to be the same way with planning my whole life around my workout schedule. I had a weekly plan set up and I would stick to it no matter what, even if that meant being late, having to pass on time out with friends, or ignore a lot of the other responsibilities I had in my life. The ONLY thing that mattered was that I get my workouts done, and it’s definitely sad to look back and realize how much I missed out on because I was slaving away in the gym… But live and learn, and oh boy did I ever learn. My workout schedule ended up burning me out big time and I think I suffered some serious overtraining and adrenal fatigue. Giving up formal workouts was probably one of the best things I’ve ever done, especially because of how much stress it removed from my life.

  8. I totally see where you’re coming from. I prefer a no-plan approach. Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are my favorite! The ones from Potbelly’s are the best 🙂

  9. Awesome post Sam!!I love this plan of the non-plan;)
    I can totally relate to what you’re saying, what you’ve experienced in the past too of course. I don’t usually plan my workout, but I maybe have an idea of what I want to do. Hm. I used to HAVE to have a workout plan or I’d feel like the world was ending (seriously) and wow I was dramatic ha, but it felt so weird but freeing to let go of that “need”.
    I do however, still have a hard time de-loading or taking a long stretch of rest, say a week or even a few days off. Another thing I need to work on!
    I’m exciting to hear more on your experience with this!

  10. I really liked this post, actually more I really loved this post. You make some very noteworthy points here on the exercise “addiction” and control factor. I too, let my life revolve around my workouts and my training which until recently I honestly never really thought more about. I figured well if I’m happy – but that’s the key point, I wasn’t happy. It’s hard to beat the exercise obsession, especially with considering an Ed/recovery. I feel like it’s an easy thing to cling onto because it seems to healthy, and that nothing could be wrong/out of control. I am a huge fan of your current plan, your non-plan plan. In reality I think that more people than recognized would benefit from this style, I know I would. It’s like intuitive exercise… a topic I think needs some major light shed onto. When I start training again I’m going to try to implement this style of “plan/program”, versus just jumping right back into competitive sport. I can’t wait to hear how you are doing and what your finding is working well for you! 🙂

  11. I LOVVVVEEE shrimp with cocktail sauce. I just had to share my undying love. I need some like stat.

    I experienced this back in the day–as I’ve shared on the blog–and I’m so grateful I am no longer dependant on the gym. I love it yes, but I don’t ever feel like I HAVE to go. Best feeling eva!

  12. Both of those candies sound insanely divine – YUM! And shrimp + a loaf of good bread is always a huge hit in our house so that looks like a meal we’d have too 🙂

    With the races that I’ve signed up for it helps me to have a plan… To see what’s on the agenda for the week ahead. That being said, if there’s a day that I don’t feel like doing the planned workout I save it for another day. I’ve come to terms with the fact that some days are better than others and rest days are necessary. No need to beat ourselves up!

  13. I need to try the Coconut M&M’s STAT! They sound so good, hopefully they will not disappoint. I like the “wait to see what you feel like” mentality for workouts. I’m so Type A that I have to go to sleep with a “plan” in mind. Trying to break away from that somewhat. Can’t wait to hear about your journey as time goes on. Enjoy the day!

  14. I’m glad you feel that you can work out as you want! I love working out and love having a plan but sometimes a plan to not have a plan is fun too, especially if it means that your feeling more comfortable with yourself!

  15. Macadamia Nut Kisses??? Seriously?? Oh geez, those sound like trouble!! 😉

    My favorite cookies are peanut butter blossoms :).

  16. Planned, yes, and any 😉 how’s that for concise haha…as far as “planned” goes, I like knowing what type of workout I’m doing each day (“run” :core” “yoga” etc) but the workout itself can vary. I know I still put too much pressure on myself to get my workout done the way I think it “should be” but I’m learning to let go a little…the other morning i only did two run throughs of this core workout because that’s all I had time for…hard but better than it would have been mentally a few months ago, so I’ll take it

  17. Wonderful post here Sam and something I have written about in the past as a matter of fact… aka we are the same person quite often 🙂 But yes, I was/am the exact same way, using exercise as my reasoning/excuse to eat more, include variation and such, because at least I am burning some of it off. I have to justify my intake with exercising… basically it’s just another form of the disorder, perhaps seemingly healthy at first, but not when you come to rely on it, as we both have. With me and running for example, still can’t do, legs still feel like sh*t and while I want to run more than anything because I truly love it, there is a part of me that is saying, “if I can just run, i’ll be better..overall!” Noooo cannot rely on that, cannot use that as an excuse (or not) to continuously better my relationship with food and my body. Your non plan plan is a fantastic one and if you are really and truly listening to what your body wants or needs for that day, well then you will be feeling better in no time, both mentally and physically. Looking forward to hearing more about your progress on this as it goes along 🙂

  18. I’m glad you’re trying this out! I used to be really strict about my workout regime too but when my knee pain started in the summer I became so much more relaxed. Now I just have the attitude that I will just do what I can. I don’t start the day with any expectations about my workout, so I consider any amount of exercise accomplished to be a good thing. This means I definitely exercise less and at a lower intensity than I used to, but I’m okay with that for now.

    Oatmeal chocolate chip is totally my favourite cookie too! My grandma makes such good ones. Also my Nana used to make the most amazing shortbread cookies, so those are also a favourite. 😀

  19. I ❤ garlic bread. Especially cheesy garlic bread.

  20. Love this, Sam!! Sounds like exactly what you need. Can’t wait to hear updates on the progress you make mentally from it. 🙂
    Now that spring is back (well, almost!) and I have my bike back, I’m going to be doing a much looser non-plan plan concept too. Basically, we just want our hearts to be happy (emotionally and physically), and I think that this is an excellent way to accomplish this.

  21. I love your non-plan plan and I would really benefit from incorporating something similar myself! I know I’ve become too reliant on working out when I base my schedule around my workout times and have even skipped a class to fit in an extra workout. That’s when I know something’s gotta change! I’m fine at not planning my workouts obsessively and just doing whatever I feel like doing that day, but I get very anxious when I workout less one day or have to take a full rest day due to just being too busy to fit something in so I want to work on being more flexible and allowing myself to take one rest day each week!

  22. Fantastic post, Sam, and one that resonates very deeply with me. I know I mentioned it a few days ago, but I’ve been exercising “intuitively” for about 3-4 weeks now, and it’s been extremely liberating. I lift when I feel like lifting, run when I feel like running, and rest when I feel like resting. Sure, “I should do X today” slips into my mind from time to time, but taking an extra moment to take a deep breath and think about what I *really* feel like doing has worked wonders. The concept of “breaking the plan” was unfathomable just a year ago, and now I realize that I’m okay living in shades of gray.

    I look forward to following your journey, and hearing how it goes for you! Hugs! ❤ xoxo

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  24. Yay! This sounds like a great, healthy change for you to make. Overcoming exercise addiction can be hard, and it can take years to be fully recovered, but the more you realise that nothing bad happens when you work out less, the easier it gets.

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  27. Oh honey, I am SO proud of you for doing this! Towards the end of my time counting calories (BEFORE my knee when rebel on me) I was doing the EXACT same thing…I would feel guilty if I didn’t go to the gym or do some kind of workout at least 5-6 days a week and if I went and didn’t sweat, omg, that was just terrible! What was the point? I couldn’t have possibly burned ANY calories if I didn’t sweat!! <- Yeah, totally sounds crazy to me…NOW! I also got waaaaaaaaay caught up in the number of calories I was burning/the time I was working out…I would NEVER get off the cardio equipment in less than 10, 20, or 30 minutes…it had to be even…and I HAD to know how many calories I burned. Ridiculous. I used to just go with the flow…sometimes not even deciding on my workout until I pulled into the gym parking lot. I was so much happier back then. All I focussed on was the endorphins and how GOOD it felt to move!

    It's been rough since my surgery not really being able to do anything physical, but starting last week, I made the transition from pool therapy to doing some work on the stationary bike. I'm not powering through any hill workouts by any means, but I'm doing a good job on improving my range of motion. Now if I could just get my IT band to loosen up a bit, I think I'd be home free!

    Favorite cookie: almond shortbread…though I could never turn down a perfectly chewy chocolate chip cookie! 😀

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