Health and Fitness: 8 Obstacles to Exercising and How You Can Overcome Them

Obstacle #7: “I’ve tried before, and I always fail to maintain the routine.”

There are so many ways to break a great habit (why are the bad ones so much easier to keep!?). Maybe the last time you started an exercise program you had the goal of losing weight for a specific event. Maybe you decided you wanted to make a lifestyle change, but you missed a couple of workouts, and those two turned into 20, and before you knew it you hadn’t spent time in a gym for over a year. Whatever your reason for not starting or for starting and stopping, those moments has likely influenced your feelings about exercise. And if you’ve tried and faltered more than once, it’s likely each attempt feels like a failure. And as we know, no one wants to do something that makes him or her feel bad.


successful woman backpacker sit on mountain peak cliff

BE KIND TO YOURSELF! By choosing to exercise, you’re doing something kind for yourself. In addition to toning, increasing energy, and building stamina, you are also decreasing stress levels, reducing your risk of heart disease, improving blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and helping your body use insulin better. That’s a lot. Exercise should (eventually) be a positive experience associated with positive feelings. So how do you get those good feelings, and let go of the bad ones?

Forgive yourself. While consistency is going to render the best results, if you miss a few days, a few weeks, or have even stopped for years, it’s important to let go of the guilt and start focusing on the future. Just keep going. Pick up your exercise the next day, and stay focused on your big picture goals.

Speaking of goals… set them, and make sure they’re realistic. Setting unrealistic goals sets us up for failure, sending in that rush of negative feelings that make us want to give up. Make sure you’re specific, as well. For instance, instead of saying, “I’m going to lose 10 lbs. this week,” try “I will walk before work three days this week.” The goal is to continuously set new goals for yourself that are both attainable and challenging. That way, when we reach our goals, we get more of the good feelings that keep us motivated and ready for a new challenge.

Speaking of challenges… beginning a workout is a challenge. Acknowledge that. And don’t expect to be an expert right away. Push yourself, but make sure you listen to your body, and don’t push too hard. Give yourself time to work up to more intense activity. While you may think you can fast track your way to achieving your long-term goals, overdoing it typically leads to injury and burnout.

Reward yourself! When you work hard and achieve your goals, make sure you take the time to acknowledge your accomplishments.

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Obstacle #8: “Fitness is really confusing.”

It can be incredibly overwhelming to walk into a gym and see rows and rows of strange looking machines. Machines you have no idea how to operate. If you’ve ever overheard a conversation wherein people are touting the benefits of workout supplements, and felt like they were speaking a foreign language, or seen someone do an exercise you can’t even begin to understand, you might have been left feeling more than a little intimidated. Intimidated and completely confused.


Woman walking through forest.

Start with the basics. No one is expecting you to be the most athletic person in the room, or to understand everything right away. As with starting anything new, a learning curve is to be expected. Start with a walk. Increase that walk in duration and frequency a little bit each week, giving your body time to adjust to the new activity.

Keep things simple. Once you find something you like, you will naturally increase your skill level. You might find that you never want to step foot on a machine, but you love swimming. As you get better, you can start researching different strokes, so you can switch things up when you’d like. Doing so will be a lot easier once you’re feeling confident in the basics.

Do it for you. Remember that you’re doing something terrific for yourself– physically, mentally, and emotionally. So what if the woman in front of you is mastering a yoga pose that you can’t quite do yet? Give yourself time. Be patient. And remember, it’s not a competition.

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