Summer is here, and so too is the realization that your New Year’s Resolution to get a beach-ready body has come and gone… What you may not have just realized is that you have already taken the first step towards a healthier lifestyle. How? You may ask. Simply by taking the time to assess your goals and realizing you have not achieved them, you are one step closer to success. Failure happens; it is what you do now that will define your success. It’s time to re-tweak, re-focus, and alter your goal or create a new one to get back on track.
Overcoming barriers is essential for a healthier lifestyle. One of the most common barriers for many people is poor nutrition choices… but we have already covered that in our three part nutritional series a few months ago. Another area that many people fail to address, but is extremely important to your success, is building a proper support team. Just as a pit crew, mechanic, and car are important parts of a race car driver’s success; so are the people that you decide to include in your health goals. You can begin to build a better support team by answering two questions:
- Who can support and help me to achieve my health and fitness goals?
- Who negatively impacts my health and fitness goals?
For many of us family, friends, and co-workers are the most obvious answers to both questions. Within your network you will have people that can help and people that can hinder your healthy lifestyle choices. Now this doesn’t mean you have to instantly cut all ties with those that hurt your progress, just be mindful that they likely are not the ones that can support you in reaching your goals. When choosing your support group try to find people with similar goals and interests, or those that you aspire to be more like.
Did you know that over half of all adults get little to no exercise? For many people, not exercising is OK! So, having people with this belief in your support team; will make you the outcast of the group and the chances of sticking to your goals becomes less probable.
A good support team will help to keep you focused and responsible for your choices. Your team can even help to motivate you when barriers do appear (and they will). The best thing about having a support team around you is that you will never have to feel like you are alone. With a good support team your goals are not only up to just you to achieve. Taking stress away will always have a positive effect! In order to build the best team possible, you may need to consider getting help from the pros: a trainer, nutritionist, physiotherapist, psychologist… etc. Health and fitness professionals can provide you with the tools you need to really break through and succeed. If you don’t have the knowledge or if you need help in a particular area of your health, seek help from someone who does have the knowledge. Remember reaching your goals doesn’t have to be the hardest thing you do in life!
Now that you have identified a support team to help you with your goals; it’s time to identify other obstacles that may have kept you from reaching your goals. Barriers (aka excuses) come in all shapes and sizes. Life events, such as changes in your health, family emergencies, a new job, moving … etc are sometimes inevitable. The good news is, you can either adjust to or resolve most life events and get back on track. Just be mindful that some life events often require more time than you think. Other barriers that are much harder to identify and more difficult to change are internal or psychological barriers. Often times, these barriers are a result from an aversion to exercise. “I don’t have the time” or “I’m too tired” or “I don’t know how” or “I’ve tried before” Are just some of the excuses I hear on a constant basis and typically these are not really a valid reason for not being healthy or not exercising (especially with the right team around you). If you can place a high priority on your health instead of other things, you can overcome many internal barriers.
As a fitness professional, I know that it takes a lot of hard work to eat right and train consistently. Being healthy means making hard choices between your lifestyle and your health… Sounds awesome, right!? Probably not… So changing how you think, about exercise and healthy choices can help you choose the best ways to become healthier. For many people thinking about sweat, heavy breathing, pain, and sacrifice does not conjure up that feel good emotion, even though it is often the result of a good workout. I believe that everyone has a “hook”; meaning every one enjoys some part or aspect of sometype of physical activity. Once you are hooked; being active and thus healthier becomes more enjoyable. If you enjoy something your chances of succeeding in that area are greatly improved. The trick is finding your hook, because it is different for many of us. For one person it is going to the gym, for another it’s golfing (even with a cart there is still some walking), a third person may enjoy kayaking or paddling. Hooks can also be driven by performance or physical appearance. Maybe you enjoy hiking but can’t make it up a flight of stairs without being winded or you don’t like how you get stuck when sitting in small chairs.
Next you need to re-frame the idea of fitness so you get an immediate positive re-enforcement is a better way of viewing exercise and health. Think of a walk with your family not as exercise, but, a chance to boost your mood and spend time with your loved ones. Consider how eating a balanced healthy meal gives you the energy to keep your day going instead of feeling heavy, bloated, and in need of a nap. Even just a small workout to feel like you have accomplished something, it may not be enough to make a physical difference but it’s a starting point. Even the most modest of results are still a positive result and can lead you to pursue more ambitious goals on your own.
Finally, I want you to stop underestimating yourself! Focus on the benefits of being healthy and active, NOT the process. Use your support team to help you keep committed to your goals. Those small steps forward in the beginning will ultimately lead to larger payoff in the future, changing you from unfit and unhappy into fit and happy. Even if you never look like a model, never perform like an athlete… putting in the effort will literally change your life!