Every time a new baseball season comes around, I’m reminded of one of my favorite strategies for staying on-track with my exercise and nutrition. You see, a baseball season and an exercise or nutrition plan have a lot in common. This is best explained by the legendary Orioles Manager, Davey Johnson.
For those of you who are not baseball fanatics like myself, Johnson was the manager of the Baltimore Orioles for the 1996 and 1997 season. During his tenure with the team, they made it to the AL pennant each year, and in 1997, they had the best record in the American League ... not to mention being wire to wire champs (meaning they were in first place in their division for every day of the season). Johnson was voted manager of the year.
Post-season, Davey was asked what his strategy was. How did he keep his team motivated and focused for the grueling six-plus months of the baseball season? How did he accomplish the rare feat of being wire to wire champs of the unforgiving American League East?
His answer was simple … “Don’t get swept.”
Every sports fan will know that there are two types of teams you will encounter during the season: the challenging teams and the easier teams. In baseball, you usually face an opponent for a three game series at a time. So, when you face an easier team, the Orioles’ job was the sweep the series, meaning to take care of business, and win all three games. When playing a challenging team, the job was to not get swept. Find a way to win one of the games. Sure, you tried to win more if possible, but the goal was ultimately to find a way to win one game. Davey pointed out that if this strategy was executed over the course of the six month 162 game baseball season, you would end up with one of the best records in baseball.
Exercise and nutrition plans are similar this baseball strategy. The MLB season is long and so is your exercise and nutrition journey. While every day you’re going to try your best, some days are going to be easy. These are days when life doesn’t get in the way quite as much. When stress levels aren’t at their highest. When our daily routine is pretty normal. These days, according to Davey, we need to sweep. There’s no reason not to be able to make it to our workout or to eat the foods we were planning on.
Then there are the challenging days. You know, the days when life is a little more difficult? Work gets stressful. Our family needs us. We have a special dinner with friends. If we approach this day considering anything less than perfect adherence to our plan as failure, then we’re setting ourselves up for a let down. Rather, when these days pop up (and they will!), try to just not get swept. Maybe you had to cancel your workout, but you nailed your nutrition for the day. Maybe you went to a birthday and ate some food you weren’t planning on, but you made sure to have a great breakfast and nailed your workout.
Your body does not look at exercise and nutritional efforts as pass/fail only. Finding a way to do something positive with your day to help with your goals is always better than doing nothing at all. As a self confessed type-A personality, I realize that this is easier said than done. But when a stressful, chaotic, out of the ordinary day pops up, rather than throw in the towel and tell yourself that you’ll just go back on the plan tomorrow, instead, remember the wise words of Davey, and ask yourself: “what can I do to not get swept today?"