When I was 16 years old, I was accepted into De La Salle College in Salford - which, unfortunately, is no more, but that's a different story for another day. At the time, it operated one of the very first Football academy colleges in the UK. It accommodated approximately 80 teenage lads, with one last-ditch attempt to make it into football. It was undoubtedly one of the most incredible experiences of my life: being treated like an academy player, training, being coached up to 4 hours a day and getting the opportunity to play against some professional academies. All this while also studying traditional A Levels alongside.
Funny enough, as impressive as the football training was, it wasn't my defining experience. This was by far both the amazingly diverse set of lads we engaged with daily and the fact that we were all put through our professional football coaching certificates and the ability to gain various other coaching accreditations. I received about 10 in total over two years. Undoubtedly this is where my love for coaching and development came from and led to equally impressive experiences coaching all over the UK for Manchester United Soccer Schools & across America.
This is also where I was first introduced to the saying, "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail" (Benjamin Franklin). To say that this was ingrained into us is the understatement of the century. We would have that saying drilled into our minds multiple times every day - and of that, I will be eternally grateful as I indeed saw how powerful it was when applied to coaching and studying to pass out FA Coaching badges. The ability to prepare for any session had almost magical powers to make that session go from being an ok one to an outstanding one.
I have taken that mantra throughout life and have always tried to implement it into absolutely everything I do (I guess it also helps that it speaks to my OCD tendencies and massively helps with any anxiety I experience). Without exception, whenever things haven't gone to plan for me, I can almost always identify one of the root causes of failing to prepare.
It is so powerful that I will go as far as to say If you adopt this mantra and implement it into your health and fitness journey, you will succeed. If not, you will fail! And how do you do that -.
Take time on a Sunday to look at your week. Travelling for work, kids' school events, meeting friends for a meal/ drinks. Then make sure you book your training around this. And I do mean book it in - with an actual calendar invite.
You can also do the same to give you a rough idea of what foods and ingredients you might need to get in for the week based on what you think you will be cooking/ consuming that week. For example, I use an excellent notes function on my Android phone - I jot down any foods/ ingredients I'll need for the week and tick them off as I go shopping.
You can get all your gym equipment out and ready the night before any session. This means filling up my water bottle with my amino acids, preparing my protein & creatine shake and placing them in the fridge. Then, packing my gym bag with a clean change of clothes, my swim shorts for a sauna after the session and any accessories, I'll need for the session (straps, weighted belt etc.)
Get your clothes ready and laid out the night before—shorts, t-shirt, socks, hoody, trainers etc.
Take 5 minutes to build out your entire day of eating in MyFitness pal, based on your daily commitments and your access to food (at home or travelling). This removes any stress of thinking about what to eat when on the fly and finding out you have not got an essential ingredient at the last minute. Instead, you eat exactly what you have planned based on what you can access and where you will be. This way, while building out your food for the following day, you can also trial and error with calories and macros to ensure you are on point with hitting what you have set.
All the above will take 5 to 10 minutes each evening!