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Top 4 Things Holding You Back From Better Eating & Fitness, And What To Do About Them: Part 1

Updated: Sep 9, 2018

September is here and even if your school days are far behind you, this month always feels like it's full of new possibilities. With all that "back to school" enthusiasm, you're feeling ready to make some changes to your nutrition and exercise habits. Perhaps you've tried to do this in previous years, and soon found yourself hitting some obstacles that dampened your enthusiasm and threw you off course. Here are the most common challenges I observe, and how to address them.

Obstacle 1 - You want to change your body without changing your mind

Many people have an All-or-None approach when it comes to their nutrition and fitness. Our culture reinforces this notion with transformation focused reality TV shows, and articles and ads for the latest exercise craze (get shredded NOW!) and restrictive fad diets (NO carbs/sugar/etc EVER). Real life is full of multiple responsibilities pulling us in a million directions. A perfectionist approach results in inconsistent behavior, leading to no change. A flexible mindset will keep you moving forward.

How to overcome it: Commit to something smaller that feels doable, even easy.

Real life example: You have too many tempting snacks in your kitchen, so you have a massive clean out of your fridge and cupboards, and replace it with nothing but whole foods. Within a few weeks, you (or your family) begin sneaking snacks back into the house, and the veg drawer looks like a science experiment that no one is volunteering to clean up.

What if you just focused on ditching one or two less healthy choices, and carry on from there?

Obstacle 2 - You're waiting for the perfect time

When the children are settled in the new school routine, when work lets up a bit, when x is done, then you'll focus on your eating and/or exercise. The problem is, there is always going to be something that makes it challenging to begin the process of change. Adapting to all of these challenges is what allows you to make the kind of change that will last.

How to overcome it: This challenge is intertwined with all-or-none thinking. Instead of asking yourself IF there is something you can do, ask yourself HOW can I do this thing, even a little. Look, if you're a reasonably responsible adult and you've made it this far, chances are good that you've figured out how to work around challenges in other arenas of your life. Putting those skills to work for your health and fitness might not be so easy in the beginning, but you will become easier if you keep at it.

Real life example: You typically pick up fast food for breakfast most mornings. What could you do instead, just 1 or 2 days a week - partially prepare something so that if you get up 5 minutes earlier, you'll have time to eat? Pack a breakfast to eat at your desk? What is one small change you can make, relative to where you are now?

Obstacle 3 - Overcommitting yourself

The enthusiasm we feel for making changes to our health in September carries over to all parts of our lives, and we often commit to new projects and volunteer work.

How to overcome it: Before you say yes to another thing, have you worked on your planning? It's okay to ask for some time to consider whether you can commit to the request. Be discerning in what you're willing to add, being full aware that saying YES to certain things results in saying NO to others (more on that, here). If you fill all of your free time and leave no time to plan, cook, exercise, or just breathe, you won't be able to make the changes you desire. I am not just speaking to those employed full time. Choosing things that align with your priorities, rather than guilt, will allow you the energy to work on your habits.

Real life example: You work part time and have just been asked to get involved in a big PTA role at your children's school. Rather than saying YES right off the bat, you thank them for putting their trust in you, and tell them you need a bit of time to think it over. There are always lots of opportunities out there, so no need to guilt yourself, you can find somewhere else to contribute. Look at your priorities and ask yourself, will this work for me?

Obstacle 4 - You take a random approach to eating and exercise

The old adage, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail" is especially true when it comes to eating and exercise.

How to overcome it: Plan your meals and exercise, gradually. Start building from where you are, and what's most important to you.

Real life example: Exercise: You're already exercising and you're not seeing the changes you want. Be open new types of exercise and figure out a way to give it a try, and if you really don't know where to begin, find a certified trainer to give you some guidance. If you're a runner, have you tried lifting weights? Meals: You frequently skip breakfast in your rush to make the school run and/or get to work. How about finding a couple of healthy take-and-go recipes (like this, or this) that you can prep ahead of time?

If you found this article helpful, please pay it forward by sharing. If you'd like more information on working with me on your fitness and nutrition, click on Contact at the top of the page.
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