Lessons Learned – Have a Plan

I recently got home from the Obesity Action Coalition’s 8th Annual Your Weight Matters national convention, this year held in Tampa Bay, where the OAC is headquartered. There’s a lot of great offerings included with the base registration, but there’s also a few extras you can opt to participate in. One of those is the breakfast/lunch with the experts events where a small group gets together with an “expert” to learn about and discuss things about a specific topic.

In the past I’ve hosted tables on advocacy, a table for guys attending, and a general welcoming for new attendees, these were all topics that the planning committee set up and I just happened to get asked to lead. Last year I hosted a table with a topic that I developed myself, and I hosted it again this year; The Path to Healthy Living through the Great Outdoors.

spray falls

I previously posted how the whole idea came about, so I will skip that part. Instead, I’m going to share a bit of what I did with the folks that attended my tables.

Have a plan, but be open to the possibilities.

I have been leading an hiking/outdoors group on Meetup for about a couple years now, and was an event host for a couple years before that. I’ve hosted a lot of hikes, and every one of them begins with a plan. Where we’re going. When we’re going. How we’re getting there. What route we’re going to take. Things like that. I map out the trail, share it with the others going.

Planning is great. And there are LOTS of resources for helping you to learn to be better at planning. In some ways, goal setting is part of this as well. I’m not going to take the time to teach you about that right now, right here… I have blogged about it before though, so check that out if you want. What I will add to that though is even when following your plan, leave yourself some room to adjust that plan as things unfold around you.

eunice lake with ice on it

The first two photos above, they’re from a trip that we were going to take in the Mt. Rainier National Park from Mowich Lake up to Tolmie Lookout (you can see the lookout in the top center of the second photo). When we got there, the group decided we wanted to check out Spray Falls. I didn’t know much about it, but went with the flow. It was going to be about a 4+ mile trip to the falls and back… which would turn a possible 7 mile trek to the lookout and back in to 11+ miles. All at some fairly decent elevations. But as you can see from that first photo of the falls, it was very much worth it.

But then, because of how things played out, we ended up not making it all the way to the lookout. Instead we stopped along the shore of Eunice Lake (the second photo), and had our lunch there, still a ways below Tolmie Lookout itself. And that was just fine. We still had a wonderful time.

We can plan for all sorts of things, and never truly know what the outcome is going to be. And on top of that, those things don’t always go as planned, but that doesn’t mean they can’t work out in the end. For example, the photo below is one of my all time favorite photos.

mabry mill

Mabry Mill, along the Blue Ridge Parkway in VA. I actually visited here before I had my surgery, in 2008. I was in the area for work, and one weekend I took a drive along the parkway and discovered the mill. I spent a lot of time wandering the grounds, taking LOTS of photos of the mill from many angles. Planning different shots out, if you will.

This particular shot, my favorite of them all, was one I took as I was driving out of the parking lot. I suddenly saw it from this angle, framed just “right”, and so I quickly put down the passenger window and snapped this shot. Sometimes the best things happen, despite our all our planning.

One last aspect about being open to the possibilities is that sometimes “doing nothing” is the best decision for the moment. An extreme example for when you’re in the outdoors; if you get lost, initial instinct is to try and find our way back. All too often, this leads to someone getting even more lost, or maybe even putting them in danger of injury. In that situation, the best thing to do is, well, nothing. As long as you’re somewhere safe, just wait it out for others to find you.

When looking for things to do as you work towards a healthier you, there may be times you need to step back, and “do nothing” for awhile. One example, maybe you have an injury that keeps you from doing some of your regular exercises. Or maybe you are considering bariatric surgery, but you’re not quite sure you’re ready. It is better to do nothing until you’re sure you’re ready.

The point of these topics is not for just me to just share them and move on, but rather to foster some discussion on these ideas and how they apply in "your" life. We're not sitting around the same table, but we can still have a discussion. Just leave your own thoughts in the comments below, or send them to me privately if you prefer. Find the other topics using the lessons learned tag.

Next up, I’ll talk a bit more about when things do not go as planned.

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