How many times has the thought of losing weight come into your mind only for it to be followed by the reasons why you can’t reach this goal? Thoughts like ‘I don’t have time to go to a gym’, ‘I can’t stick to a diet and I don’t want to cook separate meals for me and the kids’, or ‘There’s too many temptations at work, I’d never be able to stick to a diet’. Are these sounding familiar? Don’t worry, you’re definitely not alone and it’s normal when it comes to weight loss to be faced with challenges. But the important thing is that you’re thinking about losing weight and that’s the first step, overcoming barriers is just another part of the journey and one that you don’t have to do alone.
Different types of barriers
There can be a number of different barriers that stop someone from making lifestyle changes and losing weight and you’ll probably find that your barriers will be very different to those of your next-door neighbour, best friend or colleague. Barriers can loosely be divided into 3 main categories:
- Physical – things that physically prevent you from doing something, for example feeling tired or having injuries or health conditions that stop you from doing exercise.
- Environmental – your surrounding environment and things that impact your decisions, for example your home and workplace, do they support you to make healthy choices? And how much free time you have, is it easy for you to make time for yourself?
- Emotional – includes how you’re feeling and your mindset. For example, do you have the knowledge to make healthy choices? How do you motivate yourself? What sources of support do you have?
Identifying your barriers
The first step is to identify your barriers, which might mean giving in to those negative thoughts that creep into your mind. Ask yourself, what is stopping me from losing weight? Be honest with yourself, no matter how silly or scary the reason might sound they are all valid to you. You might even find it helpful to write your barriers down.
Addressing your barriers
Once you’ve identified and know exactly what your barriers are, it’s time to find some solutions! You may have to get creative of think outside the box, and it can be helpful to talk with other people around you about your challenges as they may be able to give you fresh ideas. Try to keep your solutions realistic and achievable, see the table below for a few common barriers and suggested solutions. Coming up with the answers may seem like the hard part, but as the saying goes ‘where’s there’s a will, there’s a way.’
Barrier: I don’t have the time to go to a gym
Solution: Find ways to build activity into my lifestyle eg. Park the car in the furthest park from the supermarket entrance, get off the bus a stop earlier and walk a little further.
Barrier: I need to spend time with my friends and family instead
Solution: Ask my friends and family to do things that involve being active eg. Go for a walk together instead of going out for lunch.
Barrier: There are too many temptations at work
Solution: Talk to my colleagues and be open about my goals and ask for their support.
Barrier: I have a bad knee so I can’t do any exercise
Solution: Consider low-impact activities, eg. Swimming, cycling, water aerobics.
Overcoming your barriers in the long term
It’s normal along the way for our barriers to sometimes outweigh our solutions and that’s why it’s important to have strategies in place to keep us motivated to stay on track.
Visualisation – picture yourself when you’ve pushed through your barriers and reached your goal. How will you feel? How will you look? How proud will you be?
The benefits – what are you going to get out of overcoming your barriers and reaching your goal? Will you be feeling more energised? Will you be fitting into your favourite dress again? Will you be able to do more activities with your kids?
You may find that writing these things down and keeping them somewhere handy, like your bedside table or your handbag, will help you to stay focused and on track.
If you do find you’re having trouble staying on track and overcoming your barriers, remember that it’s ok to ask for help and support. At Jenny your personal consultant can help you to develop solutions and strategies and provide you with the support and motivation you need to stay on track and achieve your goals. Keep in mind that success is measured not by how many times you fall, but how many times you get back up and keep going!