You could look at these as excuses. Or you could be more observant and realize that life can get in the way of creating a healthy lifestyle. We are all human and will make mistakes regarding our health. The sooner we learn to forgive ourselves for past decades of unhealthy living, the quicker we can move on and start addressing many reasons our fitness goals are often sidetracked.
Here is a list of the top reasons why our best efforts are short-lived when it comes to our fitness and health goals.
1. Your Daily Schedule
"If it is not in the schedule, it does not exist." Whether your schedule is too busy with work or hours in front of video games and other screens, chances are that your fitness appointment with yourself will not happen if you do not plan for it.
Seriously, write it down in your schedule and stick to it as you would a Zoom work meeting at 9 a.m. If life gets in the way of your best-made plans, have a minimum standard activity you can do, even if it is walking for 10 minutes during your lunch break.
The goal is to start and keep moving, regardless of the schedule and no matter how easy the activity is. Your activity can accumulate throughout the day in five- to 10-minute spurts. Here are some tips to help.
2. Energy Levels
When it comes down to it, low energy levels result from many exhausting stresses in life, a lack of sleep and/or recovery time, and improper nutrition. If any of these are out of normal range, the energy to want to exercise (or exercise well) can be seriously eroded.
Instead of thinking you have no willpower, focus on any of the reasons below to see whether you can find some useful energy that does not require caffeine or energy drinks.
3. Job Stress
We spend much of our 24-hour day working or commuting to and from work. There is always going to be work stress. Learning to mix in physical activity to help you work off the stress and tension is as natural as eating and sleeping.
When stress hormones increase, our central nervous system is in fight-or-flight mode. It does not matter if bullets are flying over your head or you fail to meet a work deadline; stress is stress. They are the same stress hormones. Physical activity can help you naturally metabolize these hormones.
If ignored, stress becomes chronic and burnout is certain, along with long-term illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer and heart disease. Learn more about stress mitigation options.
4. Family Stress
The other big life stress is related to family: schedules, responsibilities and general care for others. There is not much more stress in a parent's life than a sick child, though making enough money to pay for the family's daily needs is up there, too. Being away is often a requirement, especially when serving in the military, and that is also tough on all family members.
Finding time to exercise or take a minute for yourself can be challenging when you have young children. These are the times you need to get creative and make playing with your kids an activity for both of you. Your workouts may look different, but caloric burn is caloric burn. Find ways to do something either with the kids or while they sleep.
5. Workout Stress
When stressed, consider a lower-intensity workout to help burn off the stress by simply breathing and moving. An easy cardio day is a great example.
There is nothing wrong with higher-intensity workouts; you simply need to learn the difference between how to implement them. My go-to workout when my day was highly stressful with unforeseen events is Mobility Day. Walk or bike for five minutes, followed by easy stretching or foam rolling for five minutes; do this for about 20-30 minutes. Here are some tips for training when feeling burned out.
6. Lack of Sleep
Sleep is our No. 1 method to recover from a rough day; it covers any and all stresses. But lack of sleep is our main cause of stress and burnout. If you miss out on enough quality sleep, you could still exhibit signs of stress and burnout, even without high stress.
7. Poor Nutrition or Diet
Consider eating food and drinking water and electrolytes necessary for fuel so you can tackle another day of activity. But also realize that today's meal will help you recover from yesterday's stresses.
The amino acids in proteins, the antioxidants and carbohydrates in fruits and vegetables, and the inflammation-fighting factor of omega-3 fats in fish and olive oil (good fats) will help you fuel and recover for the next day. Tips for Eating Healthfully
You are never too old to get moving. If not moving regularly for a decade or more holds you back, all it takes is some basic movement to change how you look and feel completely. Walking (or biking), stretching and drinking more water can change your life at any age.
Another reason we may struggle to meet our fitness goals is the lack of motivation. It's important to find what motivates you. Whether it's a friend to hold you accountable, an upbeat workout playlist or a reward system for meeting your goals, find what works for you and stick with it. Then allow your motivation to evolve into discipline for the best results.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle is a journey, not a destination. It's OK to stumble along the way as long as we keep moving forward and making progress. So forgive yourself for past mistakes, prioritize your health, find your motivation and address any underlying issues.
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to email@example.com.
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