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Overcome These 5 Exercise Hurdles

Many of us have resolved to lose weight and exercise more this year. Rather than making resolutions, now is a good time to take inventory of our lives and goals for improving our health, says Temple University psychology professor Frank Farley, PhD.

He suggests making a list of goals for the year ahead. Then share your list with family, friends or a professional so that you have a support system as you work toward realizing your goals.

Support can help you overcome some of the most-common reasons why so many of us balk at putting on those walking shoes and stocking the fridge with fruits and veggies. Here are some common obstacles and suggestions for overcoming them.

Lack of focus. “We get busy keeping track of everything but ourselves,” says Lynn Fischer, an author of healthy cookbooks. “But it’s true what the airline flight attendants say: You must first put the mask over your own mouth and nose, and then you can help your child.”

Try this: Make your health a top priority and mean it. “You’ll be amazed at how supportive your family can be,” she says.

Depression. If you’re not feeling good about yourself, it’s tough to get motivated.

Try this: “When you’re depressed, exercise is the best medicine, and it has no side effects,” says fitness-motivation consultant Ron Useldinger. The first few times you exercise, trust the experts who say it’s good medicine. Look at your walks, or laps in the pool, as gifts to your well-being.

Your quirks. So you can’t stand the thought of exercising after working all day? You crave sweets? Might as well give up, go buy a giant Snickers bar and sit around watching movies, right?

Try this: Work around your likes and dislikes. “I work out at 6am,” says Fischer. “By 7:30 I’ve already accomplished the toughest part of my day.” As you break your sweets habit, allow yourself an occasional piece of cake or candy.

Hopelessness. It’s common, when the weight has piled on and your stamina has diminished, to feel as if you’ve passed the point of no return.

Try this: Don’t overthink it. Just start. As with any change, it will take a lot of effort for two or three weeks. After that, your new healthy routines will become habits.

Rebellion. Exercise and healthy eating seem like tough work, and you’re already working hard. So you go on strike.

Try this: Make your healthy choices a reward, not torture. “People have to find things in their life that are soothing,” says exercise therapist Robert Ochs. Tie changes to a reward, he suggests, like a massage after a certain number of workouts or a mini-Hershey bar after sticking to your food plan. “Now the new behavior becomes associated with something more pleasurable,” says Ochs.

Kathy Sena is a freelance writer. 

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