Published January 17, 2021

Failproof tips for success (ep. 4)

by Helen M. Ryan
Old and newer building Thessaloniki Greece

Part 1: Success or failure with weight loss? Building a strong foundation makes the difference.

Episode 4A with background walking music

Episode 4B voice only

EPISODE SUMMARY: Stick your sneakers on your feet and come out for a coached walk/podcast combo.

This is a short "break time" walk to get you moving, and part 1 of a series of "doing the things" it takes to lose weight and get back into hippity hop shape.


  • Why is building a foundation the basis of a new habit?
  • Why does creating a blueprint/plan create good new habits?
  • How can thinking ahead keep you from binge-eating?
  • How can your environment make or break you?
  • Why is being in your head a good thing?


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What we're going to talk about today is making a plan because if you don't have a plan, it's really hard to meet your goals, to achieve your goals. Plans actually make things happen. I'm not big on planning overall because I like to flow by the seat of my pants, but sometimes we have to plan. And like I said in a previous episode, we also have to make backup plans.

For example, if your thought is you that want to exercise before work, you need to make it easy to follow through with that idea. So take your workout clothes, your water bottle, your exercise gear, your shoes… have everything ready for you by the door or in your gym bag by the door. That way, when you wake up you already see that it's there and you're ready to go. So you made a plan and you followed through

If you want to eat healthier, you also need to make a plan. You need to have a lot of healthy options including healthy snacks because no matter how hard we try, if we're hungry and we just can't find something healthy immediately, we're going to go for the chips, the cookies, or the crackers. 

You want to make a plan for the healthy foods you're going to have in your pantry and in your fridge. And try not to keep too many junk foods around. I know it's hard because most of you have kids or other people in your household. Trust me, this I know, but you want to try to eliminate as many of the foods that you really like that are not the best choice for you. That way, you don't have that temptation in front of you.

In many ways, you want to think of it as outsmarting yourself because your body really wants you just to do nothing. It doesn't want to lose fat. It doesn't want to do anything different because when the famine comes, it needs to have this fat store. So it's going to try everything it can to make you not follow through with your intentions. 

To outsmart your body, you’ve got to make a plan. Then you’ve got to make a backup plan for the plan because life throws things that you. Before you know it, something else happened, something else happened, something else happened.

Another thing you want to think about is the environment that you're in and how you set yourself up for success. One of the things that's important for that is to really start taking yourself seriously and to make your health a priority. 

If you want to exercise at certain times, take a class at certain times, or go to the gym at certain times, put it in your calendar. Put it in your calendar first and then schedule all your other appointments around that. That way, you become a priority and your health becomes a priority.

Think of what else you can do in your environment to make things more successful for whatever your goal is. 

Can you schedule a quick workout for 20 minutes in your house before you go to work? Can you go for a walk during lunch with either your coworkers or your friends or your kids? 

There's a lot of things you can do to keep moving, but you want to try to make that environment as easy as possible for you. It's human nature; we all want to look for excuses to not do what we know we should be doing. So create an environment that makes you feel comfortable, that makes you reach towards your goals.

Like at night, for example. I am really bad at this because I'm working on stuff to the very last minute before I climb into bed.  But at night, if you were to take a nice bath or a nice shower and maybe drink some chamomile tea; put on some relaxing body lotion and read a book, and you make that your little routine. A lot of people do that already, but they don't have that same routine for other things like exercise or eating healthy. And you can create those little routines.

You can have like a morning breakfast. A lot of us eat the same foods over and over again. I find that if I have two or three options for breakfast, I'm probably going to pick the main one — which is oatmeal because I love oatmeal — or something else might be yogurt with fruit or berries, something like that.

If you know that these are the things that you're going to eat for breakfast and you're going to like for breakfast, just stick with that and have that ready to go. So, you know in the morning, “I'm going to get up, I'm going to do my workout. I'm going to have this for breakfast and I'm going to go.” 

That will be your little routine and that's going to be your breakfast environment. So that's how you give yourself these little things that will help you stay on track and get on track, and maybe make it something you can look forward to.

You can also do a massage. You can give yourself a self-massage and that's something that's actually really good. I'm a huge fan of foam rollers and that horrible little massage ball that really gets into your neck, glutes, calves, and shoulders. That's something that you can do also for yourself. 

Maybe every night — before you start your nighttime routine — you spend 10 minutes foam rolling and 10 minutes on the massage ball and you just relieve those really tight spots.

A lot of us have pain and we don't really realize it, or we don't acknowledge it. We're just used to it as a constant low-grade pain if something's really tight. If we take care of ourselves and we build that into the routine, our bodies will feel so much better because we're stretched and we're relaxed. Then they'll function a little bit better, too.

There are so many things you can do to support your goals. It's really good to write it down, make a little plan in your calendar, but also have a loose daily plan like, "This is what I do in the morning. This is what I do at night, and maybe I'm going to work out here and there." The rest of your day can free flow because if you're like me, you hate everything that has to do with planning. You're like, “what's going to happen today? I have no idea,” and that's how I like to live, but it doesn't always work out.

Just plan the things that you can plan and then let the rest of the day free flow around if that's the kind of person you are. If you love to plan, well, this is for you because then you can just plan away. 

And also make sure, like we talked about in the previous episode — to create a back-up plan because something is going to happen. You can't get to class. You can't go for your run. So even if it's 10 minutes, just do a little something so that you can feel accomplished like you did something for yourself. That's part of why we do this. We do this to make ourselves feel better and we do this for self-care.

Self-care is also part of the whole getting healthier and taking care of yourself. You can push your body, do HIIT (high intensity interval training), and really hard workouts day in and day out, but if you're not taking care of the way your body feels, your muscles are tight, you're stiff, and your back hurts. If you're not taking care of those things — even if your skin is really dry for example — do the little things for yourself because that will really make everything else fall into place.

So you want to try to get on these little walks as much as you can. Just pop out for 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and it will make a difference, especially if you do it a couple of times a day. You can really just get that extra time. And it makes you feel better. Your blood gets flowing. I always think about it like an oil change for your body. You bring fresh oxygen into your blood.

Think about what else you can do to make your life easier and to make your choices easier. So much of our days are spent with chaos and so many things are happening. It's actually really good to know that you have something to look forward to. We're going to talk in another episode about reframing, which will help you get into exercise more or what you're eating, and reframe that to be more of a positive experience and not a negative experience.

Taking this time to walk is actually really good because you can take time for yourself in your head, especially if you put your phone on "Do Not Disturb" and people can't call you while you're walking. Just take a moment to settle in your head and make it a moment from mindfulness. Just relax and feel how good it is to move. Just be in your own body, be in your own head, be in your own space, and just really feel that moment… those 10 minutes that are just for you. It's really important that we have this in our lives.

Hopefully, you'll walk with me pretty soon again.

Photo: Thessaloniki, Greece