5 Ways to Overcome Personal Barriers to Fitness
Do you find it hard to get into the mood to exercise? Do you ever sabotage your efforts to get in shape by cheating on a diet or stopping exercise when you’ve been doing well? Do you often use excuses: you don’t have time, the conditions (weather, distance to gym, lack of proper gear) aren’t right? Do you discontinue exercising when you feel down or stressed even though you do at other times?
First, don’t beat yourself up about it. You could have emotional barriers to exercising, and you’re certainly not alone. The trick is to find out what those barriers are. Once you uncover them, you can let them go, and change even long-held beliefs.
Here are 5 Ways to Overcome Your Emotional Blocks to Exercise:
1. Make it fun. Forget the word “workout” that sounds like it’s tough, unenjoyable work. Instead, start out small, perhaps 5 to 15 minutes, doing anything that you really enjoy. Even create special occasions to encourage yourself. For example, on “Tourist in Your Town Day” dust off your bicycle, fill the tires, and invite yourself to go for a 15-minute bike tour of the quiet streets around your home. On “Dancing in the Halls Day” watch a Youtube video instructing how to Zumba, and dance to your heart’s content in privacy for 10 minutes; on “Evil Elevator-Escalator Day” only take stairs or walk up escalators, no riding where ever you go that day; on “BYOB Day,” Be Your Own Bus by parking a few blocks away from work and walking the rest of the way, and Bring Your Own Bag (healthy lunch) instead of buying it.
2. Ask yourself questions. Your beliefs about yourself, which are often long-held, can stop you from moving forward. These perceptions could be about your body-type, your attractiveness, your physical abilities, your level of health, or your age. Consider each of these separately, and say to yourself: “I have invented this situation as I see it.” And, “There is another way of looking at this.” If you believe that you aren’t good at sports, for example, write down why you feel that way, determining how you arrived at that conclusion. Have you tried many types of activities: swimming, skating, pickleball, hiking, weight training, before deciding that, or was it a memory from school that created the block? Ask yourself, “Is it true?” Can you be absolutely sure this is true? Give yourself time to answer. Then ask, “Who would I be without this thought? How would I feel and what would I do?”
3. Use time to your advantage. Time marches on! You might remark about how fast time flies, but you can use it to your advantage. Time is going to pass quickly whether you have something that’s been accomplished within it or not. Therefore, beginning a program with a personal trainer, or starting a Learn to Run class will soon be over, and the results from it will remain. At the end of each day, if you can say that you had one active half hour, you will make time work for you. Since results are cumulative, you’ll make substantial changes in one quickly-passing year because everything you do adds up.
4. Reconsider your fears. Fear of being injured is a common concern when forgoing exercise; and anyone who has suffered an injury can probably relate. Yet, while re-injuring yourself is a possibility, it’s also scientifically undeniable that the best path to non-recurrence is strengthening the muscles/joints around a previously injured area. Ask a personal trainer to suggest low-impact activities that will minimize risk. If fear of others looking at your body – in other words, insecurity around your body image – makes you hesitate, enlist a workout buddy. They’ll both motivate you to show up for an exercise class and lessen feelings of being a focal point.
5. Hide exercise. If you’re overwhelmed with the thought of doing the recommended hour of exercise every day, disguise it in everything you do. How? Pace the floor when you talk on the phone; do squats while you load the dishwasher, holding the counter for support, and lunges while setting the table, using your dining chair back to stabilize yourself; when doing errands like going to the bank or grocery store, or taking out the garbage, pick up your pace to jog instead of walking; take a stroll with a friend instead of going for coffee at a cafe, and ask her to your house for coffee afterward, which is great incentive to burn calories while cleaning your bathroom to prep for her!


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