“If you could ask one question about Wellness, what would it be?” I asked my husband. Almost immediately I got my answer. “Why is it so hard to get healthy?” The answer to that can be different for each of us, but there are some pretty common roadblocks most of us encounter when trying to improve our wellness.
Let’s take a look at a few of them, and how we can get around them to continue making progress on our Wellness journey.
Potential Roadblocks on Our Wellness Journey
Roadblock 1: Conflicting Health Information
Health and Wellness information is ever-evolving and to be honest, there’s a lot of “junk science” out there. With so much conflicting information out there, how are we supposed to know what we should do to be as healthy as possible?
There are a couple of things we can do to help with this particular problem:
- Be careful where you get your health information. Studies can be manipulated to make the results say just about anything you want them to. When a study is referenced, it’s good to know how it was conducted, how many people were included, and in some cases, who paid for it. All of these things can impact the reliability of the study results.
- Return to the basics. Where diet is concerned, rather than trying to figure out the whole “best diet” puzzle, it could help to just get back to the basics. Eating unprocessed or minimally-processed food, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and good-quality protein are some of the basic building blocks of a healthy diet. Another helpful tool for a healthy diet can be a food journal. Using a food journal can help us figure out how our bodies react to the foods we eat, good or bad. Getting back to the basics of exercise could mean just starting to move more. With so many choices out there, we can fall into the trap of thinking the latest fad is the “best” exercise. The truth about that is that the best exercise is the one you’ll actually do consistently.
Roadblock 2: We Don’t Know Where to Start
Trying to figure out where to start making wellness changes can be daunting. We may feel there are so many things we want to improve that we become overwhelmed and don’t do anything.
There are a couple of ways to decide where to start, but the first step will be asking ourselves some questions to help us identify where we are and where we want to be.
Once you’ve determined this, there are a couple of approaches you can take to get started. The team at Precision Nutrition (1) calls these approaches The Big Kahuna and The Low-Hanging Fruit. The Big Kahuna is the action that will give you “the most bang for your buck.” This action will probably be difficult, but it will give you huge results. The Low-Hanging Fruit is the action that is easiest to add. These will probably be small changes that won’t be as difficult to incorporate. These small changes can build self-efficacy (the feeling that we can be successful) and give us some small wins early on. Again, there’s not a right or wrong way to approach this – it’s what works best for you.
Roadblock 3: We’ve Gotten Out of the Habit of Taking Care of Our Wellness
How many times do we start doing something positive for our wellness – meditating, exercising, eating well, establishing a sleep routine – only to lapse and never get back to it? One of the easiest ways to circumvent this particular roadblock is to build solid wellness habits.
I know I sound like a broken record here because I say this so often, but starting with one small behavior and performing that behavior until we can be consistent with it can help us build effective wellness habits.
In his book Atomic Habits (2), James Clear says that setting an implementation intention is the best way to start a new habit. An implementation intention is, according to Clear, “a plan you make beforehand about when and where to act.” Rather than saying something like “I’m going to exercise twice a week” or “I’m going to eat 5 servings of vegetables a day,” an implementation intention would look more like, “I’m going to exercise at 10:00am on Monday, at the YMCA.” or “I’m going to have one serving of vegetables for breakfast, two servings at lunch, and two servings for dinner each day.” See how specific that is? Clear says,
“Once an implementation intention has been set, you don’t have to wait for inspiration to strike…. When the moment of action occurs, there is no need to make a decision. Simply follow your predetermined plan.”James Clear, Atomic Habits
Roadblock 4: We Get Discouraged When We Don’t See Progress
When we first start our wellness improvement efforts, we may feel extremely motivated, but when we aren’t seeing results right away, we may become discouraged. It’s often at this point we start to think, “This isn’t doing any good anyway, so I might as well give up.” It can take weeks, or sometimes months, to see any measurable improvements, but that doesn’t mean we’re not making progress.
One way to combat discouragement is to celebrate small wins. Did you eat veggies every day this week? Celebrate! Did you get on your Yoga mat this week? Celebrate!
Rather than measuring progress strictly by results, focusing on the process can help us celebrate small wins. This can keep us from becoming discouraged and giving up.
Be Prepared for Roadblocks
It’s important to take stock of the things that might cause issues for us ahead of time. That way, we can figure out how we’re going to deal with them. For example, the roadblocks mentioned above are just some of the roadblocks we can encounter when we’re trying to improve our wellness.
You may be dealing with special circumstances, such as a health issue, family stresses, etc., that can also have the potential to derail you. Every person’s situation is unique, and taking some time to look ahead and address potential roadblocks can save you some time and heartache.
Finding ways to lessen the impact of our wellness roadblocks can help us stay focused, maintain motivation, and experience success in our wellness journey.
What are the biggest roadblocks you run into when trying to improve your wellness? Please share!
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(1) The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition, 3rd ed., 2019, John Berardi, PhD, CSCS, et. al, Precision Nutrition, Inc.
(2) Atomic Habits, 2018, James Clear, Penguin Random House, London