5 Most Common Barriers
Not having enough time.
“My life is so busy!”
“I just can’t find the time!”
“Where is the time?”
O my gosh! I hear these sentences all the time. You just can’t seem to find the time to exercise or plan healthy meals. Your schedule is so so busy, you can’t squeeze a 30min workout in, your work is so so important and intense you wake early and sleep late and there simply is no time.
Let me ask you a question, if you were to fall ill today and had to stay in the hospital for a week or two, what would happen to your busy schedule or your intense important work?
People don’t realise that physical activity is the solution to longevity. It’s what will keep your body from breaking down under pressure as you grow older. The human body is not designed to go on and on without some sort of conditioning or maintenance. It will eventually break down.
Your boss will replace you at work if you find yourself in hospital. And if you’re a business owner, the business will have to either go on without you or it will die. If you invest all your time in your work to the detriment of your health, that is a bad investment.
Here’s what I think, we make time for what’s most important. If lack of time is your barrier, then it simply means, exercising or healthy eating is NOT THAT IMPORTANT to you.
Listen, the WHO recommends 30mins of cardiovascular exercise a day. 30mins is 24hours. Can you tell me you don’t have 30mins for a quick workout or walk? Or 20mins for some strength maintaining exercises?
It is so sad when people have to spend their hard earned money paying doctors to fix their bodies when they could have used that money for something else if they had taken better care of themselves.
In this blog, I interview a sister, friend and former FGGC Benin City, Nigeria class of 85 secondary schoolmate Elo Olaniyan. Elo and I have been in fitness groups together for a few years, I am yet to meet anyone who’s life is busier. Whenever people tell me they don’t have time, I tell them about Elo. Read, you will be inspired by how she finds time in her busy hectic life to get some exercise in. I certainly am!
Elozino is an engineer by profession and an Assistant Pastor in the RCCG ministry. She likes to say she works 4 full time jobs, 1) Wife of a pastor 2) Mother of 3 children 3) Engineer in full time employment 4) Entrepreneur/ business woman.
Living this full life has always been a struggle with tiredness and lethargy being the name of the game. But circumstances led to her sitting in the Doctors chair nearly 4 years ago and hearing the words “rather than drugs, I recommend you loose some weight as a management plan”. She googled how to run 5k and as they say, the rest is history. The most counterintuitive outcome of this change is the extra energy which exercise gives.
24hrs is hardly enough to get all her work done and squeezing in regular exercise has required some creativity, for example, prayer walks are a regular on her routine where she can spend 1-2 hours with God undistracted by life, and taking “depressurisation” walks during her lunch breaks. She also builds her exercise schedule around work and church activities, choosing to wake up at 4am twice weekly to run for 1.30hrs before setting off to work.
Helpers have been many on her journey, Kehinde Pitan, Osa Ezekiel, Ogo Belo-Osagie to mention a few, but they are outnumbered by those that “Just don’t get it” and prefer the weight back on. For her there is only 1 obvious choice between a lifetime of medication and a healthier lifestyle.
Elo feels she still has a lot of things to achieve on her fitness journey, but she scores herself a 100% on effort for her accomplishment so far.
What do you do to keep fit?
Sleep well (target is 7hrs), eat right (balanced meals of 50% veg, 25% carbs, 25% protein), stay active (1hr daily), drink 2L of water daily. With regards my targets, sometimes it’s hit or miss, but I strive to hit 80% of the time.
When did you start running?
Oct 2015, 3 and half years now.
What motivated you to start?
Health issues, increasing cholesterol, BP and back pain.
What was your fitness like before you started?
If there is anything like sub-zero that’s me. Famous quotes in my old life “I’m allergic to sweat”, “I can’t run unless chased by a dog”.
Have there been any benefits or gains?
Huge. Cholesterol down, BP down, back pain gone. Skin looks great, more attentive at work, previous lethargic disposition gone.
How do you manage to fit exercising into your schedule?
Sheer grit. Early rising to get the full hour in. When that fails, Going for little bits during the day, lunch walk, short walk in the evening, aerobics video in my sitting room – it adds up. No excuses on holiday, favourite 1 hour Leslie Sansone video “walking with a twist” is bae. Only wifi required.
What advice would you give those who are looking to get fitter, healthier?
- It starts from inside of you. It’s like being born again, you can get preached to for years but it’s that day the holy spirit arrests you that your life changes.
- There is no quick fix, it took you time to put on the weight, it’ll take time to loose it.
- Pace yourself, there is no finish line. It’s a lifestyle change. Pick your comfortable pain lane and stick to it.
Other Common Barriers
Not knowing how to start or what to do.
According to Thaler and Sunstein, “human beings make bad decisions because they don’t posses enough information”. I modify that slightly and call it “human beings make bad decisions because they don’t possess THE RIGHT information”.
When it comes to weight going up and down, it’s all about calories. When you understand this, then you’ll realise that there isn’t a fad diet that’s better than the other.
Here’s a simple way to start, eat less, reduce sugar, salt and oil (necessary especially at 50+) and move much much more than you’re currently doing. Rather than jump on the bandwagon of the latest diet, write down all that you eat and drink, make changes and exercise for a least 30mins daily.
Not being prepared.
Lack of preparation is another common barrier. You can’t eat more fruits and veggies if you don’t stock up on them regularly. You can’t start exercising regularly if you don’t have the right gear and a plan.
Being prepared to eat healthy is planning your meals and making sure you have the right ingredients at home. Being prepared to be more physically active is planning your workout for the day, setting out your clothes the night before, setting an alarm if you want to wake up earlier, taking a bag packed with your trainers and workout clothes to work if you intend to exercise at lunch time or straight after work.
Several years ago, when my son was in nursery, I worked out often in the gym during my lunch break. I’m a gym bunny, I like working out in the gym but you don’t have to. Leave your desk at lunch time, go for a walk and make a habit of doing so daily. Use the evenings and weekends as well, be deliberate. Don’t expect the perfect time to fall on your lap. Most times you will have to shift things around to fit it in. Make it priority!
Struggling with motivation.
Honestly, I can’t say I’ve been motivated 100% of the time. I was kind of lucky because I started my journey at a time when I wanted to prove to the Africans who believe that after a women has had a baby, a flat stomach is impossible. Then, I had a strong motivation. Now, because I persisted and have kept in the game for so long, when the desire isn’t there, my body operates in autopilot mode. I simply Just Do It.
There are 2 schools of thought with regards motivation. One says don’t rely on motivation because you won’t always be motivated and the other says look for something to motivate you. I prefer the first one. I don’t wake up daily thinking, ”Oh! Let me find something to motivate me today so I can press forward” or “I’m motivated to workout today!”. Nah! I think more like, “let me get it over and done with, tick that box because it’s good for my body”.
That saying, know one knows you like you, if you would greatly benefit from being motivated, join a group of CONSISTENT people or get yourself a coach who you’ll be accountable to and who will help you with a plan because your environment matters more than whether you’re motivated or not.
According to psychologist Kurt Lewin, “Behaviour is a function of the person in their environment” and “Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behaviour” James Clear.
Look at your environment, is it set up for a healthy lifestyle, is it set up for your weight loss success? Reduce your exposure to negative influences and increase your exposure to positive influences. The type of food you stock in your kitchen will determine your food choices. The people you constantly associate with will determine how consistent you are with physical activity and healthy eating. You don’t need to be constantly motivated, you just need positive cues to nudge you in the right direction. We all do.
Do you overeat or eat junk when stressed, anxious, sad? And feel bad afterwards?
Whether you are able to overcome emotional eating or not will depend on how badly you want to. Think about what it’s costing you physically, mentally and emotionally and how it prevents you for achieving your weight loss goals.
You tried over and over to change but can’t seem to? That’s because you haven’t gotten to that stage where you are completely sick and tired of it.
If you do want to overcome emotional eating, note, food is meant to provide you with nourishment and energy. It’s not meant to help you feel emotionally better. Be aware of your triggers and replace negative eating behaviours with more positive actions like listening to your favourite music and dancing, watching a feel good a movie or comedy, call a friend,or even go for a walk to clear your head.
Image this scenario, you feel stressed, depressed, anxious, you put on some music and dance vigorously, you’ll instantly feel better, your mood will be lifted, your state will change and you’ll burn some calories!
Try it out and tell me about it.