By Erin Wegner
A barrier is an obstacle that prevents movement or access. With healthy living, a barrier is anything that is keeping you from living the healthiest life you can.
Barriers to healthy living can be caused by habits we’ve formed, our circumstances, or even how we were raised. But any barrier will affect how we live our daily lives. Some common barriers to living a healthy life with a balanced diet and regular exercise include not having enough time or money, not enjoying healthy food, and not knowing what to do or how to start.
If any of these barriers prevent you from leading a healthier lifestyle, it’s important to recognize your barriers. And it’s equally important to have a plan in place to get around, over or through your barriers.
Some barriers will be easier and faster to overcome than others. If it takes time to build a habit, it may take even more time to break. In our fast-paced world, it’s understandable to want to see a change immediately, but it is important to remember that habits don’t change overnight.
If you don’t already plan a portion of your day for physical fitness, time can be a huge barrier – and it can be hard to plan time for exercise if you’re not already in the habit. Your goal should be to get 150 minutes of exercise a week – that’s 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week.
If you don’t have 30 minutes for exercise today, here are some tips for getting in more physical activity:
- Use the stairs at work.
- If you have an hour before your child’s practice is over, use this time to walk around.
- During commercials, try jogging in place, doing crunches, squats or lunges.
- Do leg raises while you brush your teeth or cook on the stove.
- Do calf stretches while waiting for and riding in elevators.
Healthy eating also takes time to plan, shop and prepare. Time management plays an important role here. Setting aside time to plan a week’s worth of meals and snacks can get you started in the right direction. Meal planning may even save you money, as you learn which meals create leftovers or share similar ingredients.
- Reserve time in the kitchen right after you get home from the grocery store.
- Wash, chop and separate snack-size portions of fruits and vegetables.
- Plan ahead – make a grocery list before you go to the store.
- Grow your own garden.
- Keep a well-stocked pantry.
- Make double portions.
When you think of working out, you may immediately picture a personal trainer and a gym membership, which can both be expensive. But walking is good exercise that requires no special equipment and can be done anywhere.
- Walk on trails.
- Walk around your neighborhood or office building.
- Use canned foods as dumbbell weights at home.
Not Liking Vegetables
Just because you don’t like vegetables doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat them. The great thing about vegetables is that they can be prepared in different ways. Find what works for you.
- Try preparing vegetables in different ways: steamed, boiled, baked, sautéed or even grilled.
- Use herbs and spices to season vegetables to suit your tastes.
- Grind or chop vegetables
- into small pieces and add them to casseroles, protein shakes or soups.
Not Knowing How To Cook
- Buy a pre-made dinner from the grocery store.
- Start by picking a simple recipe. Read the directions beforehand and have all of your tools ready. Pre-measure and chop ingredients before you start.
- If a recipe calls for a step that you have not done before, look up what the direction means online, so you know what to do.
- Play some music while you cook. Make cooking fun, not stressful!
Not Knowing What To Do Or How To Start
Leading a healthy lifestyle can be hard, especially with so much confusing and overwhelming information out there. Start slowly and make one small, simple change at a time.
Small changes you can start making today:
- Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day.
- Get some form of exercise for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
- Adjust your meals to include lean protein, high fiber, whole-grain, low-fat dairy and fruits and vegetables.