Bulletin Board with the words Nutrition, Exercise and Health with text overlay: Making Room for "Real Life" in Your Wellness Plan

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.

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.

In the area of Financial Wellness, it might help to:

  • Have a “Miscellaneous” category in our budget for small, unexpected expenses.
  • Start or build your  emergency savings account.

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.

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.

Apple, dumbbell, and blackboard that reads Progress, not Perfection with text overlay: "Perfection is the enemy of Progress." Winston Churchill

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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Apple, dumbbells, water, and tape measure on a hardwood floor with text overlay: Making Room for "Real Life" in Your Wellness Plan
Chalkboard that reads Progress not Perfection with text overlay: Making Room for Real Life in Your Wellness Plan


  1. I’m trying to work more down time into my “schedule.” I’m retired, so I don’t have much of a set schedule. (I am trying to write a novel, though.) Having that flexibility is truly a gift when you have something like fibromyalgia. I’m trying (with limited success) to set aside two days a week when I don’t have to do anything and I can’t feel guilty about it. So far, I’m finding it’s impossible for me to do nothing. Like most women, I’m used to multi-tasking. Doing nothing is a foreign concept for me, but it was recommended to me by a sleep specialist. I have a set time at night to turn off all electronic devices, and I try to go to bed at the same time every night. I’ve had several 72-hour flares since adopting these habits but, in general, I’ve had less fibromyalgia pain. I’m still experimenting with this plan. Two days a week I can plan six hours of activity. Three days a week I can plan four hours of activity. The other two days a week I plan no activities. So far, this works better on paper than in real life, but it does give me some goals. Best of all, if I’m having a bad day, it gives me permission to do only what has to be done. I keep a supply of TV dinners in the freezer for days when I only have enough energy to pop dinner in the microwave. I no longer feel guilty for doing that.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Janet! It sounds like you’ve made a great start on your plan, and I’m sure if you keep experimenting, you’re going to find that sweet spot that works for you. I’m glad you’ve ditched the whole guilt thing too. Blessings to you sweet friend!

  2. It’s funny you wrote about this Terri as I just seem to be giving myself to much to do every day then I feel like I haven’t achieved anything. I am actually going on a Bullet Journaling Course which teaches you to put things in boxes. No idea if it will help but it sounded like a couple of hours of fun. Great post xx

    1. Thank you so much Bar! I hope you enjoy your Bullet Journaling Course. For probably close to 20 years now, I’ve had my Top 6 Things list for things I wanted to get done. Of course, now that I have to work around my Fibro symptoms, I don’t always get six things done in a day, and I’ve learned to be okay with that. I generally have my One Most Important Thing that I want to get done so if I do that, I’m happy. I hope you enjoy your course. Sending hugs!

  3. A very helpful post Terri! In my case, I’m realising I”ve been learning to work life into my wiggle room! Even my blog title was about creating ‘space,’ finding a balance, appreciating the things that really matter not what society or media dictate.

    1. Thank you so much Marie! You make such a great point about needing to appreciate the things that really matter. I agree that we can’t allow society or the media dictate what should be important to us. Sending hugs your way!

  4. I love the idea of a cushion, a way to make readjusting that little bit easier. We often do this with having a ‘rainy day’ pot and factoring in unexpected expenses financially (if possible), so why not for other areas of our life? A few of your suggestions, like having more options for exercise, makes me think that a little flexibility can be very beneficial not just when you’re at baseline and ticking along, but when you get thrown off track. Open up the opens a little, try to go with the flow, have back up plans and small ways to make things a bit more manageable when times get tough or life throws us a curveball. When dealing with illness, and then stress that comes with it and life ‘stuff’ in generally, actual real life and the stuff that matters can get squeezed out far too easily, along with self-care. Great post, Terri!

    1. Thanks so much Caz! I agree 100% that when we’re dealing with illness and its accompanying “stuff” its easy for the things that really matter to get squeezed out. For me, it has all had to come down to priorities and flexibility. Hope you’re doing well sweet friend. Sending hugs!

  5. Such a great post! There’s this fine line with chronic illness between living in the moment to not freak out about dealing with it for a lifetime, and also preparing for the days ahead. I try to keep lists of to-dos and then in short bursts prepare as able. The lists help me just let stuff go until I’m able. Thank you for the great ideas! Hoping today is a good one for you 🌸

    1. Thank you so much Mishka! You make such a brilliant point about that fine line…. It’s difficult to make the adjustment sometimes from being able to plan and knowing that you’ll be able to accomplish it, to knowing that even your most well-thought-out plans may have to take a backseat when we have flares. I see we’re kindred spirits with the whole list thing – I do the same thing, and for the same reason. Thanks so much for sharing – sending hugs!

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