Overcome the 3 Biggest Road Blocks to Exercise

Avoidance is not the answer!!!

Whether you run, swim, bike, lift weight, or do any other form of exercise accomplishing your goal of exercise each day can be difficult to achieve. The weather, time, or stress are possible impediments. Such obstacles lead to frustration for bowing out of training. Has this been you?  Let’s look at a few simple suggestions to help overcome any obstacle that is interfering with reaching your exercise/ training goals!

1. Weather can be a bugger. HOWEVER, it is only as big of a problem as you make it. Seriously! If you are wise in you choice of clothing weather cannot stop you from getting and moving. The problem is it is easy to look out the window and notice the rain, snow, heat, or cold and say “Ah, bad weather I’ll just take the day off.” NO!!! Wrong answer. Now, I am in no way saying a day off is bad… but schedule it and listen to your body for that. Do not let the weather determine your day off! Here is why…

Exercising no matter the weather is a great life lesson to not shy away from challenges that come unexpectedly. When one avoids handling adversity he allows that challenge to limit personal growth. If you make the choice to recognize the challenges in life and make adjustments to overcome them you will grow. Likewise, exercising in adverse weather is liberating and will increase your confidence and self-efficacy as an athlete/exerciser. When it starts to rain I start to think “Bring it on it baby.” After all, at some point in the day I will be wet anyway… that is if I shower after my workout! So, you see the trick is to look forward to, and anticipate crappy weather because it is something new and will add character to that workout.

2. We all have 24 hours in a day. What do you choose to do in your 24 hours? Can you wake up 45 minutes earlier or come home 45 minutes later? Can you get in a 30 minute work out during lunch? The trick with time is to MAKE time…. do not wait until you find time. Anything you want to accomplish in life has to be a priority and will take time. So, take an extra minute to put exercise in your phone calendar.

You might enjoy pushing a time limit. Sometimes I take off for a lunch run knowing that I must be back at a certain time and will only have 4 minutes to shower and be ready to work. It is like a fun little race in the middle of the day!

In regards to keeping balance and not over scheduling your life, you will be much more effective and cognitively sound in the rest of your life if you make the time for some exercise. I was talking with a young father at a race. While we were running he told me  he has learned that when he comes home after work he usually has 3.5-4.5 hours with his kiddos. If he takes 45 minutes to workout on his way home he is shortening the overall time with his children, however, 3 hours of a very happy and healthy dad is better than 4 hours of a grumpy and unhealthy dad. In contrast, I prefer to make my time early in the morning before family is awake and the fam does not know I slipped out the door!

If time is your issue…. then make the effort to MAKE time and realize you do have time. In fact, we know you will be more effective with the remainder of your time if you are regularly engaging in exercise!

3. STRESS!!! Ahhh it is killing so many people.,.. really! It is extremely baffling, and frankly paradoxical, how stress so often prevents one from exercising when we know that exercise is one of the biggest preventive measures taken to prevent stress.

Stress makes itself known to us through a cue (ie. headache, irritability, fatigue),  which quickly leads us to particiaption in self-comforting behaviors (ie. comfort eating, more sleep, drinking alcohol, etc…). We engage in these behaviors in attempt to hopefully lessen the stress, however, the stress is only exacerbated by the way in which we have trained our body to respond to our stress cues. So, how do we change this? Let’s talk….

One of the most effective ways to change your response (eat more) to a cue (irritability) is to:

First, Recognize what the cue is actually telling you . Pay attention to when you are snappy toward others or you might notice people being short back to you. In addition, be aware of times you are eating more, because there is usually a stressor, or cue. As you begin to quickly notice why you are overeating, drinking, or engaging in some other self-comforting behavior you will be more prepared for the next step.

Second, make a list of all your own personal cues and a list of what new behaviors in which you would rather engage when you feel the stress. In other words you are writing down what you will do when you notice stress.

Let me give you my personal example.. I notice that I am feeling excessive stress when I am short with my children (irritability). In the past, I would simply eat some brownies and watch a ball game to comfort myself. Now, I have trained myself that soon as I notice my quick temper creeping up I am due for a nice run. If I cannot go on a run quickly then I  plan for my next run and decide on the route I would like to take. I also will think about, and even write a few things that are stressing me and plan to think through them during my run. I consider this a simple way to use stress to actively engage in my training, instead of avoiding my training and causing problems. So, think of stress as fuel. Recognize the cue and retrain yourself to engage!!!

Choices, choices, choices… that is what this journey is all about. Remember, you will not find motivation while waiting for it come to you… Behavior almost always precedes motivation!

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