Breaking the Final Barrier…YOU!!!

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Hello friends, if you saw my Facebook teaser, you will know the theme of this post: the ultimate barrier you need to break is really all about…you. Think about the topics that serve as barriers…I challenge you to think critically, are they really barriers? Does how you perceive them matter??

Recently, I engaged in a conversation with my work team, and I challenged them to think about the following concept: The exact same topic can be either workplace gossip, or healthy conflict necessary to move an organization forward, depending on the methods used to address the topic. I believe the exact same thing is true with our health; the exact same topic can be either a barrier, or an opportunity, depending on how we approach it!

Here is an example: Finances. Finances can be a barrier…I need more money to get a gym membership, eat organic, get a personal trainer, take a class…If I can just get more money, it will be easier to get healthy. At face value, sure, sounds logical, but let me play out another scenario for you. The same person has been seeing finances as a barrier to health/fitness, and wins the lottery, what do you think happens? Will money solve their problems? Let me ask you another question, what do you think happens to a person who will not give a dime out of a dollar to charity who wins the lottery at $1 million? Will they donate $100,000 to charity (10%)?? Probably not!

Rather than focusing on a topic as a barrier, here is an idea, focus on it as an opportunity. Seriously, think of the example of finances…if you really wanted to, what could you do to improve your health, that would cost you no money?

  1. Walk more
  2. Eat less candy
  3. Switch to black coffee
  4. Switch soda to water
  5. Switch booze to water
  6. Take the stairs
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Dance more
  9. Laugh more
  10. Stretch more

Etc, etc, etc…The take-away, is money important, heck yeah! Is motivation important, yup! However, anything we come up with in our head as a barrier, can also be translated in another way, an excuse. Those who believe they can, and those who believe they can’t, are both right. Hope you enjoyed this post series, please connect with me if you have any questions or suggestions on future topics!

Breaking Barriers (Series)-Part IV- TMI (Information Overload)

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As we continue the series about breaking barriers to health and fitness success, information overload is a common topic. In other words, with all the information out there and constant bombardment from the internet, how do I know what is correct/useful? How do I know what is healthy?!

Well, asking questions is a good place to start, rather than just accepting something as the only answer/method to do things. I am going to give an overview of some tips to be an informed consumer of information related to health and fitness. If you’ve got 10 minutes, here are some questions to ask yourself to get on the path to find the right information for you, to chart your own course, so to speak:

  1. What is my desired outcome, what are my goals? Answering this questions should help you narrow your focus and search…for example, if your goal is to lose weight, you can skip all the information related to increasing your numbers in the Deadlift. Know your outcome, it will help you chose topics and avoid way too much information.
  2. What is the source of the information, where is it coming from? After you narrow your topic, you need to be able to sort through information and make a judgement on its validity. In this case for example, you are reviewing information from a Health and Fitness blog…I (as the writer) do have a degree in Exercise Science and I have held professional training certifications, but I am in no way qualified to diagnose your exact needs and prescribe you an exercise/diet plan via this blog. When reading my perspectives on health and fitness topics, I would always advise you to do your due diligence before considering putting anything into practice. Always consider the source of information, what you intend to use it for, and any ulterior motive that may exist. For example, are you reading information about a certain supplement resulting in weight loss? Is the information you are reading coming from a website or affiliate link seeking to sell you this supplement? Food for thought.
  3. Is there science to back up the information? Always look for scientific, peer reviewed articles or studies to back up any information you are consuming. You are not likely to get 100% consensus on a topic related to health and fitness, however more scientific peer reviewed information helps make the case stronger. Pro tip: when you read scientific articles, correlation does not equal causation. What do I mean? If there is a correlation between people eating a certain amount of vegetables and having lower instances of cancer, the way to interpret that correlation is “people who eat more vegetables tend to get cancer less often.” If you read the result as “if I eat vegetables I will not get cancer”, you can see the issue with that.
  4. Is there an informed, alternate point of view to what I am currently viewing/researching? Let’s face it, we all have preferences, even biases for what we want to see and hear. It is really easy to find information to support your point of view/preference, and ignore other information that may be very important. For example, if I want to try a low carb diet, I can find plenty of evidence/information that this is a great diet plan for my health, and will help me lose weight! However, if I do not look at the pros and cons of a low carb diet before putting it into practice, I am not doing my due diligence and taking responsibility for my own health. Think about substances like Alcohol, Coffee, Fats (healthy/unhealthy fats)…you can find information supporting that these are either great, or terrible for your health! There are some slam dunk topics you don’t need to do a lot of search on in this day and time (cigarettes are bad for you, for example), but for the most part we really need to do our homework before accepting something as fact and putting it into practice for ourselves.

I hope this is a good starting point for the topic of information overload. Expert advice can be very helpful when it comes to deciphering information, and I do plan on a future topic being picking the right personal trainer (for you). If you feel I didn’t answer the question “what is healthy?” in this post, good! I hope this is a helpful starting point to help you determine that answer for yourself. Have a great week!

Break Barriers (series), Topic III- Motivation

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I posted on the Facebook page recently that I am tired, and a bit lacking in motivation to follow through on my workout and nutrition plans this week. Motivation (or lack thereof) is a major obstacle to doing the things we need to do to be healthy and fit, so let’s break that barrier!!! If you’ve got 10 minutes, let’s dive in:

I am going to throw out some common reasons for lack of motivation to exercise/eat right/attend to our health, please connect with me if you have others and I’d love to do a follow up post or Facebook post.

  1. I’m tired
  2. I don’t know what I’m trying to achieve/I don’t have a sense of direction
  3. I’m stressed, I’m upset, I’m mad, I’m sad
  4. I thought that having a treat once in a while was ok, once in a while is now three times a week and I’m stuck
  5. I don’t have enough time/I’m too busy
  6. I feel like anything I do isn’t going to matter/make a difference to my health
  7. My family is not supportive of my healthy lifestyle, and it is impacting my motivation
  8. I don’t feel I’m in good shape, and therefore I am self-conscious about going to the gym/not motivated
  9. I don’t want to give up my favorite food/drink!
  10. I honestly just don’t see the point, so why bother?

That is a pretty daunting list, and I am sure there are many more reasons why people may lose motivation to be healthy. Hopefully, by reading this post, you can start to see a pattern on how one strategy may be helpful to apply to multiple reasons for loss of motivation. One by one, here are some ideas to get motivated and tackle these challenges:

  1. I’m tired…

Start with finding out why you are tired/lacking energy. How are you sleeping? Are you in a busy time of year at work/with your personal life? If so, give yourself a break and try to get some extra rest, don’t beat yourself up if you need to alter your routine to get your energy levels back. I knew I needed to do that for myself this week, and I am now getting back into the routine.

If not, take a look at your daily schedule…when are you the most tired/lacking energy to work out? For me, if I try to exercise in the evening, forget it. For some of you, the evening might be a time when you have high levels of energy. Try to rearrange your schedule so that you can exercise at a time that works well for you and helps you manage your energy, whether that is early morning, lunch time, or the evenings. Also, take a look at what you are eating/when you are eating, and see if you notice a pattern in how much energy you have following meals. For example, do you get up early and eat a big breakfast before attempting to work out? If so, is that impacting your energy level/motivation to move? Because of the function of the PNS (Nervous System involved in digestion), most of us would have a very difficult time doing any meaningful exercise after a big meal, even if it is healthy foods.

  1. I don’t know what I’m trying to achieve/I don’t have a sense of direction

Lack of motivation may have to do with a lack of direction…if you don’t know where you are going, it is tough to get started. If this applies to you, take a look at my previous post about goal setting, and see if that helps get started.

  1. I’m stressed, I’m upset, I’m mad, I’m sad

Our emotional state can be very powerful when it comes to a factor of motivation. If you are in a mood or a state that is taking away from your motivation to work towards your health and fitness goals, change your state. How to do it? Try changing what you are focusing on…whatever you are focusing on/thinking of currently has you mad, sad, stressed, not motivated, so change your focus to something more motivating. At the same time, try changing the way you are using your body…stand up, go for a walk, use a forceful hand clap…all while focusing on something more empowering. Maybe listen to some music you find motivating at the same time! If this is a more consistent issue for you, more exploration may be needed…however sometimes we just get into a funk, and need some strategies to snap out of it!

  1. I thought that having a treat once in a while was ok, once in a while is now three times a week and I’m stuck

This reads like an accountability issue. If you ever find yourself here, just remember that the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging that there is one. Although it may not (initially) be motivating to try and break a treat pattern you have identified as an issue, you can do it one step at a time. For motivation here, go back and make sure you have goals, and cross check to see how this frequency of treats is helping you reach that goal. It’s not?! Also take a look at my previous accountability post for strategies in this area.

  1. I don’t have enough time/I’m too busy

If this applies, please check out my post on breaking the barrier of time, there are some great time management strategies to help you prioritize what is important.

  1. I feel like anything I do isn’t going to matter/make a difference to my health

Start with why on this one, why do you feel like nothing you do will make a difference? While you are unpacking this demotivating factor, remind yourself that something is always better than nothing. If you feel like nothing you do will make a difference, try educating yourself on the health benefits of something as basic as walking, to help motivate you. Track your progress, to show yourself that you are making a difference. Having clear goals, educating yourself on befits of what you are doing, and tracking progress will hopefully help bust this motivation barrier.

  1. My family is not supportive of my healthy lifestyle, and it is impacting my motivation

This can be tough, and demotivating in a few different ways. 1. Does your family make comments, essentially heckle you about your goals and aspirations related to health? “Eh, just have some pizza, it won’t kill you!” Something like that? If so, it may be time to have a frank conversation with this/these family members on how this type of commentary makes you feel. This may not be easy at first, but if they really care about you, they should respect that this is important to you and adjust their behavior.

2. Maybe nobody is heckling you or making comments, but your family is not really into doing healthy/active things with you, and your feel like you are on your own. This can be very demotivating, because you may feel like you need to choose between family time and health/fitness time. Try having a conversation with your family about why you would love it if you could all find one activity that you could all do together/enjoy, and brainstorm! Who knows, maybe someone in your family has always wanted to try Disc Golf, and you can have a new family activity. Ultimately, even if you can’t find common ground here, there are ways you can prioritize your healthy lifestyle, even if your family does not join with you. If it is the community/support you are seeking in this area, consider joining a gym, fitness class, or online community for the motivation/support. Or, if you are like me, use it is your time to decompress and work out on your own.

  1. I don’t feel I’m in good shape, and therefore I am self-conscious about going to the gym/not motivated

This is also a tough one. I have never been I the position to feel this way myself, but I have talked to people who are intimidated to join a gym because they are out of shape, feel they don’t know what they are doing, etc. One idea is to try and get together with a friend or friend group who are around the same fitness level as you, and who have similar goals and aspirations. The partnership and comradery may take the edge off of going to gym or class, as compared to going by yourself. There are also many options you can look into of exercise with no gym. Get creative on this one if it applies to you…do not let being self-conscious about going to the gym derail your motivation to be healthy.

  1. I don’t want to give up my favorite food/drink!

This one is easy, you don’t have to! Go back and look at my budget post(s), I added in a strategy to make a healthy lifestyle change that doesn’t cost you anything. In a nutshell, you don’t have to give up your favorite treat, you just want to make sure you are enjoying it in a way that is more empowering to your health and your goals.

  1. I honestly just don’t see the point, so why even bother?

Until you answer this question (in a more empowering way), you are going to be stuck. The most important aspect of any life style change or set of goals is to start with why. Why do I want to prioritize my health, how will this enhance my life? Do you see the difference between that previous question, and why bother?? If we ask ourselves lousy questions, we will get lousy answers. If this is where you are right now, you need to have a very frank (and empowering) conversation with yourself about why you need to make some changes, and what your reason why is going to be. I posted about this on my intro post launching the blog, my reason why is to be a strong example for my son, and to keep up with him and teach him activities as he grows up, rather than (only) sitting in the stands and watching. If you have a strong enough reason why you want to do something, how you do it will fall into place because your focus will be so strong on why this is important.

Whew! That actually took a lot of motivation to write about, I really hope that this helps you break through the barrier of motivation…we all have times when we need a little extra lift, I do plan to come back to these strategies when I need one. Have a great weekend!