You may not even be aware of your barriers to living a healthy lifestyle. After all, they don’t come with big road signs or flashing lights.
Most barriers to making successful lifestyle changes are deep-rooted. They grow from emotional seeds and become protective, often avoidant habits over time.
As habits develop into barriers to living a healthy lifestyle, you’ll notice shifts in what you think, believe and say. “I don’t have time.” “I’m too busy.” “I don’t know how.” “My job doesn’t make it possible.”
In order to identify what’s getting in the way of you living a healthy lifestyle, you have to first make the decision that you are the one responsible for moving forward or staying stuck. And if you choose to move forward, you have to be willing to examine your own destructive thinking and habits.
Let’s look at some of the most common barriers to living a healthy lifestyle:
- Lack of time.
Most Americans live life on the run. And if you are balancing work, family and self-improvement, chances are that self-improvement takes a back seat.
It takes time to implement a healthy lifestyle. You need to plan trips to the grocery store to make sure you have healthful choices on hand and don’t sneak in those impulse buys for weak moments. It takes time to prep food and fit in a workout in the midst of a jam-packed schedule.
But the allocation of time is a choice. And if you have time to make unhealthy choices, you have time to make healthy ones.
- Lifestyle choices.
Open your refrigerator and pantry and just look. Take note of what you are looking for and what you instinctively reach for.
Barriers to living a healthy lifestyle may not come with flashing lights, but they’re often right in front of you.
How much of your fruits and vegetables go bad because you reach for a quick-fix item you bought “just in case”? When it comes to exercise, do you seek to add it or seek to avoid it? Do you take the stairs or the elevator? Park in valet or get your steps in? Sit all day at work or initiate “walking meetings” to change the health and effectiveness of your entire office?
If you fill your fridge with healthful foods, you will eat healthful foods. And if you look for opportunities to move, life will dance along with you.
- Emotional connection to food.
Food isn’t just about the delivery of nutrients to the body. It’s about connection to emotions and people, too. We build events and memories around food. And we use it to numb our pain, celebrate our victories and hide from our fears.
We give food so much power! And in doing so, we usually forget that we are the ones with the power. Food doesn’t choose. We choose.
If food piggy-backs on your emotions, brave the introspection and figure out when and why you make your food choices. Journaling is a great way to get real about your motivations and barriers to living a healthy lifestyle.
- Lack of support.
Trying to make big changes is difficult enough without having to do it alone. One of the most important components to any successful lifestyle change is access to knowledge and support.
Perhaps you need the accountability and confidence-boost that come from a coach or trainer. Perhaps you need the familiarity that comes from someone else who is on the same journey.
Either way, having support can make all the difference in overcoming barriers to living a healthy lifestyle.
The decision to move forward into a healthy lifestyle starts with identifying its barriers. And, while that can sound like a barrier in and of itself, you don’t have to tackle every trigger at once.
Take on one at a time. One a day. One a week. Whatever keeps you moving forward into a sustainably healthy life.
And remember that you don’t have to do it alone.