Episode 100 | Forward Thinking & Backwards Planning For ACL Rehab

Show Notes:

In this episode, we cover a simple, yet effective framework for our 2023 and ACL rehab goals. If you feel like you’re needing some help getting back into a groove and setting up a solid plan for yourself, this episode will help cover that and more. We discuss some thoughts on mindset, all or nothing approaches, specific examples, and how this can be the difference between moving towards your goals or pushing them further away.

What’s up guys? In the spirit of the holidays and the New Year and Christmas, we’re going to start off with a little joke. What do you call a snowman with a six-pack? Abdominal snowman. Another one, what does a gingerbread man use if he breaks his leg? A candy cane. Sometimes we just have to lighten things up because we take life too seriously. And ACL rehab can have its ups and downs and there can be a lot of downs. I hope that that was a feeling for you as we round out this 2022 year. And today is also our hundredth episode, 100, holy crap! It is just wild to think that we have been at this for a hundred weeks straight. 

And when I first started this podcast, I was like, I don’t know what’s going to happen. You guys have heard me before. I thought my wife was going to be the only person to listen to this. And now we get messages every single week from you guys talking about how the podcast has helped you in so many different situations. So thankful to be able to do 100 episodes so far. And we’ve still got many more to go, so pumped. 

And it’s pretty cool that it timed up with the last episode for the end of the year. And so that is just perfect. And that’s going to bridge us into what the topic for today is. And that is forward thinking and backward planning for ACL rehab. And so last week, if you tuned in, we talked about reflecting. We really did a look back on the year 2022. You can almost look at this as a one-of-two-part series. If you are listening to this, go back and listen to episode 99, where it’s looking back on your ACL rehab, as that will be really helpful to step into this episode, episode number 100. Do me a favor, go and do that.

It’s basically a year-end review, and even if you’re listening to this later on, in 2023 or beyond, it’ll still apply so well. Go and do that and then come back to this episode. And today, we are going to be all focused on what’s ahead in 2023. And this is always fun because we get to dream, we get to think about our goals, we get to round out this year and feel almost like there’s a chapter that is ending. And we get to start a new year, especially as we’ve seen kind of Covid take over the past two years, which is still so crazy to look back and think. But now we feel a bit freer, less restricted by that. We are in this for our own personal journey, our ACL journey to grow ourselves and be the best humans we can be. And so we are looking at 2023, what lies ahead, our goals. And with the momentum to hit the year hard and typically the New Year’s resolutions are coming around. You guys are getting set potentially for making these resolutions. Maybe getting into the gym more, and eating better. Maybe it’s going on more walks or maybe it’s working less. There’s so many things that we are going to hope that we learned from 2022, that we’re going to hopefully change or aim for in 2023. 

This episode is all focused on action items of thinking about how you can go about your 2023 and what you have ahead to plan to have things laid out and to be able to have pivoting options in order to make the most of your year ahead. One of the things I want to talk about is that we have this tendency to go all or nothing, especially when it comes to the New Year and New Year’s resolutions. So my recommendation here is to do that reflection that we discussed in episode 99, then sit with those exact same buckets and areas and think about what the goals you have set for 2023.

And then when we’re thinking about these, don’t try to do them all at once. Don’t try to do the all or nothing of like, all right, I’m going to go perfect diet and I’m going to go to the gym five times a week and all these things, especially knowing how you’re coming into the year and what your normal habits are.

I have personally done this the hard way over the years where I try to chase everything and try to crush it at the beginning of the year. And you do this all-or-nothing approach. And then what comes to mind is this Confucius’s’ phrase which is: “The man who chases two rabbits catches neither.” So what ends up happening is, is that you end up trying to do too much and you end up chasing a lot of things. Or you might even burn yourself out. Then you’ll end up missing some pieces to it, and then that all-or-nothing approach will kick in. And if you’re like, all right, if I’ve already broken this habit, might as well just break it. 

A good example of this is when people want to eat healthier. They start off with that intent and they do the all-or-nothing, I’m going to eat healthy all day, every day. And then they crave that cheeseburger or maybe it’s the cheesecake or maybe it’s a cookie or whatever it is. And at the end of the day, life is short so enjoy those things. Don’t ever think you need to eat healthy every meal seven days a week. There are definitely rules to this, and it even helps your psychology for this. But most people will go really hard and they will not allow themselves to indulge in anything that they love. And what happens is, is that they end up choosing the cheeseburger or the cookie. And then they think, well, I’ve already broken the habit, so since I can’t be health all healthy all or nothing, might as well not do it.

And then the habit kind of trickles or it might be I’ll start on Monday, or I’ll start next week, or I’ll start in a month. And then months go by and then you’re like, how did I get here? Instead, just eat the cheeseburger or eat the cookie or cheesecake, then go back to the next meal with the same goal of just making sure that you are staying steady towards that goal of what you want to do, which is eating healthier for a number of reasons. Think about why that might be because you want to cut down on some weight, or you might want to build some muscle or recover in this ACL process, or maybe it just makes you feel better. But don’t let that habit break, and that all comes back to planning. Set realistic goals and get focused on them. Set a realistic plan from those goals and don’t think to have this all-or-nothing approach. And if you do break it, get right back on track as quickly as you can. 

This all brings me to the title of this episode which is: Forward Thinking and Backwards Planning. And this is something that I heard from Nick Bare of Bare Performance Podcast and Bare Performance Nutrition. He is an awesome dude. I respect the guy a lot. And he puts out a lot of really good content and their company itself does really well, in terms of promoting just human beings and performance. Check him out if you haven’t. No affiliations whatsoever. Just love a good brand and love a good company whenever they’re doing good work. But Nick Bare is this guy who was an army ranger and now he’s this heck of a crazy hybrid athlete who runs his company. And he used this simple framework that I loved a lot. And a lot of us do this naturally and it’s actually how we at the ACL Athlete, how we plan with goals with the company and business with development and especially with each of our athletes in ACL rehab. And the thing that we usually term this is called reverse engineering from the end goal. And this is a pretty common thing you’ll hear in different spaces of basically having a goal and reverse engineering from that goal to know how you need to get there.

You guys have heard me talk about it before of trying to find your point A and you’re point Z, and then having that next point, which is point B, to get you closer to that goal. There’s a lot of different ways to think about it. The way that I want to bring this episode to light is to give you a little bit more of a tactical approach and feedback with this framework of forward thinking and backward planning. You forward think and then you backward plan. Forward-thinking so think about the year, the months, the week, the day of what it’s going to look like, and the goals you have set. That’s what these are anchored to. And then you’re going to backward plan. The same thing is reverse engineering to make sure you’ve built a specific plan for what’s ahead.

And I actually like this a lot with goal planning. For example, you’re going away on a vacation for a week and need to think about your goals and that vacation you’ll be on. So that’s going to change your schedule and how that impacts those goals and how you have to backward plan for it to still try to move forward towards those goals. But you’re going to have a change in your schedule and your routine and things to come. 

And the other thing I like about this is also for the day-to-day. Let’s take, for example, it’s a normal week in 2023, coming ahead. You’re back into the normal routine. You’re forward-thinking you have your normal work week, or maybe it’s a school week except you have a few meetings with your boss, professor, or whoever it is. So that’s going to come onto the schedule that is outside of your work hours. And then maybe you have to go to a doctor’s visit, or you have some sort of errand to run. And that’s going to take a lot more time than you think. So that’s going to occupy some time on a specific day. And you’re going out of town on Thursday. You had training in your ACL rehab scheduled for, maybe it was Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. And you realize because of these meeting times, the doctor’s visits and being out of town from Thursday and on is going to significantly impact your week and especially your training, which is therefore going to impact your progress and getting towards your ACL goals.

How many of you listening to this feel very familiar? You’re like, all right, I had this, this week ahead and I was going to do all this stuff for ACL rehab. But what ends up happening is that the week gets in the way. You had to pivot your plans which happens all the time. But it’s one of those things that could have potentially been avoided or easily adjusted if we had a plan in place from our forward thinking. But then we need to backward plan to make sure those items don’t continue to stand in the way. Maybe it’s adjusting the days you typically train, maybe it’s the time on those days, or maybe you end up finding a gym on the weekend while you’re away from Thursday to Sunday, that you can go to. This also plays into maybe your nutrition because of the doctor’s visit and the meetings and being away. Your nutrition is going to be impacted. And maybe you have a certain set of calories you’re taking in or protein, maybe you have to pack an extra meal. You wouldn’t really know that unless you knew that those times were being changed and you could only know that from forward thinking about your week and your day-to-day.

This also follows into your recovery, your stress, all of those different pieces, and being able to essentially be able to be planned out for all of those things, and the better you’ll be able to stay steady with your goals. The easier it also is to be able to pivot if needed, and especially if anything unexpected happens. And I love this because it can be applied across so many different scenarios from the year planning to more so. I love it for the week-to-week and day-to-day because that’s where it’s really going to matter, and that’s where it’s easier to fall off. 

And let these things repeat, and then all of a sudden you find yourself realizing you only hit it one time that week, or you might have skipped certain meals, or you might have lacked on your sleep. This allows you to plan appropriately. And of course, knowing that things are never going to be perfect. You can plan and plan and plan. And you might not be able to adjust to some of the things like this certain meeting, or maybe you had a late dinner with some friends and then you also had an early morning the next day. There are certain things that you’re not going to necessarily always be able to predict. But as long as you have a plan and you’re able to backward plan from knowing how that day or that week is going to be is going to help you a ton. 

Now you’re probably wondering, why am I focusing on this? Why is it so important? This is so obvious, Ravi. I’ll tell you why. This ACL rehab process is built upon win after win, after win. It’s those micro changes that move the needle. It’s the small changes that move the needle. It’s those small little improvements and those days where you show up and do the exercises and you’re present. And sure there might be days where you go through the motions that happen. But it’s the days where you show up, you knock out those sessions. And this is going to be just so big for this ACL rehab process. It’s not just one big session; it’s those sessions compounding after one another. It might feel like it’s easy to miss a session here or there that moves you further away from your goal. And that’s why we’re here, to get to your end goal and to be better humans, better athletes, and to be able to do the things that we love. And it’s all about having these frameworks, having these specific mindsets, and being able to audit and readjust. The end of the year, the beginning of the year is the perfect time to do this because that’s where we have the most time to be able to slow things down and readjust and make sure that we set our foot right for the following year. This is where those one percents build up each and every time you decide to do that session or have the right nutrition to support that, for example. 

Do me a huge favor, do your reflection, and then start setting in your goals for the following year and think about what it is that you want to accomplish. And then think about the big picture, and then break that down into smaller buckets, and then break that down into smaller buckets. And then think about how it is that you can achieve that by dividing and conquering. And then see how you can utilize this forward thinking and backward planning for your month, for your week to week, and especially even let’s say today and tomorrow.

I’ll give you guys a clear example. My parents are coming into town for Christmas tomorrow, so we are going to have a change in our schedule. I’m having to plan for my final day of work for this week, right before the holidays and we’re coming in. And we have to make sure that we hit those buckets that we need to, to make sure that we can go into the weekend with ease and not feeling like we missed anything. And so that’s coming down to forward thinking and backward planning about even just that specific day.

Shout out to Nick Bare for this concept and just a simple framework for us to apply. And even if you’re in the middle of your ACL rehab process, if you are listening to this in June of 2023, I hope that this is helpful for you to be able to replan and to re-shift your focus and thinking about, okay, why isn’t it that my plan isn’t working and thinking about well, Is it because of my schedule or because I’m not prioritizing certain things? This could be a very helpful approach to just plan out your week and to plan out your days and then make sure you’re reverse engineering or backward planning from that. 

And finally, to close out this episode and this year, thank you guys so much for a great 2022. There has been so much growth, there has been so much failure, and I’ve learned a lot and I still have so much to learn. But I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all of you and all of the support. And to think about 100 episodes and what we just have coming down the pipeline that we’re so pumped to finally release here very soon. Keep your eyes peeled on this, on the socials for the ACL Athlete, also at ravipatel.dpt. Especially next week, we’re going to be launching some things and it’s all to focus on you ACLers, how we can support you, how we can help you. And that way we can get you to a solid end goal and for a solid 2023. Cheers to all of you. I will see you in 2023.

Subscribe and leave The ACL Podcast a review – this helps us spread the word and continue to reach more ACLers, healthcare professionals, and more. The goal is to redefine ACL rehab and elevate the standard of care.



  • Check out our free ebooks on our Resources page
  • Sign up for The ACL Athlete – VALUE Newsletter – an exclusive newsletter packed with value – ACL advice, go-to exercises, ACL research reviews, athlete wins, frameworks we use, mindset coaching, blog articles, podcast episodes, and pre-launch access to some exciting projects we have lined up
  • 1-on-1 Remote ACL Coaching – Objective testing. An individualized game plan. Endless support and guidance. From anywhere in the world.
  • More podcasts? Check out our archives




1:1 Coaching   |   Performance Testing   |   Clear Plan   |   Custom Program   |   Return to Sport   |   Community   |   Education   |   Goal Setting   |   Progress Tracking   |   Step by Step Guidance   |   Athlete Support   |   1:1 Coaching   |   Performance Testing   |   Clear Plan   |   Custom Program   |   Return to Sport   |   Community   |   Education   |   Goal Setting   |   Progress Tracking   |   Step by Step Guidance   |   Athlete Support   |   1:1 Coaching   |   Performance Testing   |   Clear Plan   |   Custom Program   |   Return to Sport   |   Community   |   Education   |   Goal Setting   |   Progress Tracking   |   Step by Step Guidance   |   Athlete Support   |   1:1 Coaching   |   Performance Testing   |   Clear Plan   |   Custom Program   |   Return to Sport   |   Community   |   Education   |   Goal Setting   |   Progress Tracking   |   Step by Step Guidance   |   Athlete Support   |   1:1 Coaching   |   Performance Testing   |   Clear Plan   |   Custom Program   |   Return to Sport   |   Community   |   Education   |   Goal Setting   |   Progress Tracking   |   Step by Step Guidance   |   Athlete Support   |   1:1 Coaching   |   Performance Testing   |   Clear Plan   |   Custom Program   |   Return to Sport   |   Community   |   Education   |   Goal Setting   |   Progress Tracking   |   Step by Step Guidance   |   Athlete Support   |   1:1 Coaching   |   Performance Testing   |   Clear Plan   |   Custom Program   |   Return to Sport   |   Community   |   Education   |   Goal Setting   |   Progress Tracking   |   Step by Step Guidance   |   Athlete Support   |   1:1 Coaching   |   Performance Testing   |   Clear Plan   |   Custom Program   |   Return to Sport   |   Community   |   Education   |   Goal Setting   |   Progress Tracking   |   Step by Step Guidance   |   Athlete Support   |   1:1 Coaching   |   Performance Testing   |   Clear Plan   |   Custom Program   |   Return to Sport   |   Community   |   Education   |   Goal Setting   |   Progress Tracking   |   Step by Step Guidance   |   Athlete Support   |   1:1 Coaching   |   Performance Testing   |   Clear Plan   |   Custom Program   |   Return to Sport   |   Community   |   Education   |   Goal Setting   |   Progress Tracking   |   Step by Step Guidance   |   Athlete Support   |   1:1 Coaching   |   Performance Testing   |   Clear Plan   |   Custom Program   |   Return to Sport   |   Community   |   Education   |   Goal Setting   |   Progress Tracking   |   Step by Step Guidance   |   Athlete Support   |   1:1 Coaching   |   Performance Testing   |   Clear Plan   |   Custom Program   |   Return to Sport   |   Community   |   Education   |   Goal Setting   |   Progress Tracking   |   Step by Step Guidance   |   Athlete Support   |   1:1 Coaching   |   Performance Testing   |   Clear Plan   |   Custom Program   |   Return to Sport   |   Community   |   Education   |   Goal Setting   |   Progress Tracking   |   Step by Step Guidance   |   Athlete Support   |   

Remote ACL Rehab + Coaching

No more feeling lost. No more settling for what’s down the road. No more letting your insurance be in control.

You deserve the best care.
That’s why we created this.
Just for you.

Our ACL coaching has been tried and tested by hundreds of ACLers. Rehab and train with us from anywhere in the world. No matter where you are in the process.

In-Person ACL Rehab + Coaching

Live near Atlanta? Wanting to take your ACL rehab to the next level with in-person visits? Wanting to work with someone who’s gone through this process twice themselves?

Say less.

This is a ACL rehab and coaching experience like you’ve never experienced before.

Close this search box.