It's Time to Get Out of Your Own Way

Have you ever considered that the biggest obstacle standing between you and success could be staring back at you in the mirror? "I just don't have the willpower to change my diet." "I don't have time to exercise or plan healthy meals." "Yes, I was able to walk a 5K, but I could never complete a half-marathon." It's easy to put limitations on what you think you can accomplish, but what if it's possible for you to get stronger, run farther or do more than you've ever done before? How do you convince yourself that you are capable of achieving ambitious goals?

Instead of focusing on what you can't do, maybe it's time to change your way of thinking. Could you stretch a little further outside of your comfort zone to set goals that are challenging, but attainable? How can you challenge yourself, while being realistic about what's really possible at the same time? How do you stop making excuses and finally commit to those things you really want to do?

Let's face it: change can be scary and it's easy to talk yourself out of the goals you want to accomplish. Don't let fear or lack of confidence keep you from going after your dreams, because if you believe it, you can achieve it. With a few simple changes in the way you think about adopting a healthy lifestyle, you can create a strategy to change your way of thinking and set yourself up for future success.

"It's Harder for Me Than It Is for Anyone Else."

Changing your habits and adopting a healthy lifestyle is not easy. You're convinced that it's more difficult for you to make changes than it is for everyone else, but is it really? If you're honest, you'll admit that it wasn't easier for Beth, a SparkPeople Success Story who lost 100 pounds, or for Marla, another success story who dropped 100 pounds after years of yo-yo dieting. The fact is that these success stories, in addition to many, many others who reach their goals, were just determined to do whatever it took to lose the weight. Most people who change their diet also have to deal with sugar cravings, the desire to stop at their favorite fast food restaurant, frustration at lack of progress on the scale or feeling too tired to work out. The difference is that they keep pushing through those mental barriers because they are ready to lose weight for the last time.

"I'm Just Too Busy."

You want to start a regular exercise program, but there are so many demands on your time that it just doesn't seem possible. In reality, everyone has time to exercise, but not everyone is willing to make exercise a priority in their life. When you move your workout to the top of your to-do list and schedule it just like any other appointment in your day, you make it a point to find time even when the schedule gets crazy. Sometimes it takes creativity—getting up at 5 a.m., breaking your workout into shorter segments throughout the day, walking the track at your son's soccer practice instead of sitting and talking with other parents—but if you really want to make it work, you will.

"I'm Going to Look Like the Magazine Cover."

You've decided you want to train for six-pack abs. You are willing to put in the work at the gym and follow a healthy eating plan, which means success is inevitable, right? In reality, that level of muscle definition requires a low body fat percentage which could be difficult to attain without extreme measures and, for some, it's genetics that prevents this goal from becoming a reality. If abdominal strength is what you're after, an alternate goal could be to do a full plank for five minutes. Does that mean you're a failure because you didn't accomplish your original goal? No way! Have you ever tried to hold a plank for five minutes? Talk about tough! Learn to be flexible and realistic based on what you are right now, not just what you dream of becoming.

"It's Only Been 20 Years…"

Thinking back to the glory days of high school track, you've made a plan to get up off the couch and start running again. You figure four miles with a few sprint intervals shouldn't be a big deal, since that would have been an easy workout back in the day. Keep in mind that 20 years have gone by, and your body has changed. You probably don't have the physical stamina you once did, and you might never run a sub five-minute mile again. That doesn't mean you shouldn't make a realistic plan to start walking and eventually running again, but try not to make comparisons to the 18-year-old version of yourself. You can still get in great shape for where you are right now in your life, without trying to relive the past.


Give Yourself a Fighting Chance

When you think about the changes you want to make in your life and the goals you hope to achieve, here are four things to keep in mind:
  1. Attitude is everything. If you feel like you'll never be able to lose 50 pounds or be fit enough to try a Pilates class you probably won't. But if you look at where you are right now, develop a plan for slowly working toward your goals and, most importantly, believe you can do it, then anything is possible.
  2. Set goals that are challenging, but achievable. It's great if you want to push yourself to run a full marathon, but if you're just starting to exercise regularly, that might not be the best goal right now. On the other hand, if you're currently exercising for 20 minutes a day, a goal of 30 minutes might not be enough of a stretch to challenge you to push harder. Forming your own goals isn't difficult, but it is important to set the right kinds of goals based on where you are and what's possible for you to accomplish.
  3. Celebrate small, daily accomplishments. Many goals (such as losing 100 pounds) take time to accomplish, so there can be days when it's difficult to stay motivated. Recognize that every day you track your food, squeeze in a short workout or turn down a second serving of dinner because you weren't actually hungry, you've accomplished something great. Each of these things might seem small on their own, but collectively they add up to big results. Don't forget to celebrate the small stuff along the journey to stay motivated, determined and empowered.

  4. Embrace your flaws. The cold, hard truth is that no one is perfect. Unless you're a supermodel, there are parts of your body that might never look magazine-worthy. You're going to have days when you cave in and eat the candy bar you swore you could resist. Does that mean you should throw in the towel? Of course not! Everyone has imperfections and weaknesses, so recognize them, and then move on to recognize all of the positive and wonderful things about yourself. You'll find the good completely outweighs the bad.   

If it's been a long-term struggle for you to adopt a healthy lifestyle, maybe it's time to turn your attention inward to see what changes you need to make in order to reach your goals. Don't let your age, how strong you are, how much time you have available or how much support you have from family and friends determine your level of success. Anything is possible as long as you are realistic about where you are now and what it's going to take to get you to where you want to be in the future. Believing in your ability to make changes and setting a clear plan for how those changes are going to happen will ensure success in weight loss or any other challenge you face in life.