Habit Hacks: Back-Up Plans

Tara Penawell Habit Hacks Blog Cover Photo

Simplify starting and consisting a new routine with Habit Hacks! Every month, Elite Personal Trainer and Health Coach, Tara Penawell, will serve up and break down the building blocks of creating a routine that sticks. Learn hacks from the pro that will help you actualize your goals! 


It may not feel like it, but backsliding is a normal part of achieving your goals. There are always going to be days when everything clicks – the sun is shining, you feel great, and things are going your way. There are also always going to be days that are the opposite. Days when you are tired, unmotivated, and would rather crawl under a blanket rather than go to the gym. 

The truth is that we all ebb and flow in our motivation and commitment to meet our own expectations! The key is to find ways to keep going even and not give up. Once you’ve given up, it takes almost a herculean effort to get going again. 

I always encourage my training and health coaching clients to have a “plan B”. This is something that you plan ahead of time, in anticipation of those weeks when it feels like you don’t have time to meal prep, go to the gym, or give that extra effort. When it feels like life is crushing you, that back-up plan will help make things a little easier. 


For example, let’s say you don’t think you have time to do your weight training routine today. Instead of completely skipping it, just do one set of each exercise you’d normally do, at a weight that is more challenging to you. Rather than spending an hour working out, you’ve cut it down to 15 minutes and still got your sweat on! 

If motivation is the issue, try committing to just a few minutes of exercise. If in five minutes, you don’t want to keep going, then can stop. This is an effective tactic because usually you’ll find it much easier to keep going once you’ve started! But sometimes you do – and that is perfectly okay. At least you got a few minutes in, and that’s better than nothing at all. 

Back-up plans in the kitchen can look like making a quick recipe, or simply reheating something you’ve previously frozen for this situation. Thank you, Past Me! It helps to have a couple of easy, go-to recipes that you can make in a pinch, using dry or frozen ingredients you keep on hand. 


To make your own back-up plan, think of the situations that usually throw you off your game. Situations like having to travel and not having access to your normal gym or kitchen. Or is it when you’re busier than normal, or super tired and just don’t feel like it? 

Once you’ve narrowed down the disruptive situations, think of what you can do to make things easier on yourself. For example, for those times you’re tired and don’t feel like working out. Try calling a friend and asking them to workout with you – working out with a friend is a great way to reinvigorate your motivation and helps keep you accountable! Or try taking a fitness class you know you enjoy, or do a lower-level workout than you’d originally planned. 


Feeling unmotivated is completely normal. While skipping a day won’t hurt, it’ll help your long-term consistency to find ways to push past those feelings. Planning ahead for those blah times will do wonders for easing stress and improving your commitment to yourself! 


More Habit Hacks from Tara: 

  1. 5 Steps to Better Goals
  2. Habit Stacking
  3. Shifting Your Motivation


Elite Personal Trainer Tara PenawellTara has an extensive background in the health and fitness industry, with over sixteen years working as a personal trainer. Her experience and dedication to acquiring new skills qualify her to serve a wide range of clients. She enjoys the diversity of working with people with different goals and backgrounds. Above all, Tara is passionate about helping people meet their goals and find the joy and satisfaction that comes along with their success.

Tara also teaches weekly fitness classes on our schedule, as well as virtually. Learn more about Tara’s classes and inquire about private sessions at the button below! 

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