In my last post, we established that more than 60% of the UK population are overweight or obese, yet many of these people are unwilling or unable to improve their health and longevity by losing weight. Inspired by an article on ShapeFit.com , I wanted to address some of the fundamental weight loss barriers faced by people in this difficult situation, with a view to offering some words of encouragement.
Today we will discuss: ‘Barriers to Weight Loss #2 – Environmental Barriers’.
There are numerous contributing factors which may relate to environmental weight loss barriers, but for simplicity I have divided these into diet and exercise related issues, as well as issues arising from the influence other people may have on you.
Environmental Barriers to Weight Loss – Diet Relates Issues
In order to improve health and lose weight, most people will need to address their diet. In ‘The Complete Health Toolkit Workbook’ I recommend a healthy eating plan consisting of whole foods, as well as a regime of nutritional supplements. Some people might find this unachievable for a host of ‘reasons’ including busy work schedules and engagements such as company lunches and dinners.
This may sound a little blunt, but ‘reasons’ are often excuses in disguise! Most people know what they should and shouldn’t be eating, but rationalise poor food choices with ‘reasons’ like: “I can’t eat healthily because of my busy work schedule. I have to grab whatever is available when I can.” Does this sound familiar? (from other people of course, not from you!)
The essence of the solution is very simple. Plan your meals at the start of the week, shop accordingly and prepare food for the day ahead. You will then have healthy food readily available when you are hungry. I would argue that this is more convenient than having to go to a shop or café to grab lunch. Personally I recommend preparing your meals the night before, to avoid backing out in the morning! It is also easier to monitor what you are eating when you prepare your own meals.
Rationalisations will also often occur when making food choices in a restaurant (such as during a work dinner). What is unhealthy is often available, but so is what is healthy! There is no reason why you can’t ask the waiter to substitute chips for a jacket potato if you are following a healthy eating plan, or remove the cheese from a salad sandwich on a lunch buffet, as another example.
Environmental Barriers to Weight Loss – Exercise Relates Issues
Another potential environmental barrier to weight loss might relate to exercise. Perhaps you don’t live near to a gym, or perhaps the gym’s opening hours do not fit in with your work schedule and other commitments. It may even be the case that you do not yet feel confident or comfortable going to the gym and don’t have much space at home for exercise.
Issues relating to gym opening times may well be viable. If you work long hours, then perhaps there isn’t enough time before or after work to train, especially if you have other responsibilities. If the gym is a long way from your home, then there is nothing worse than spending longer travelling to and from the gym than the time you spend actually training in the gym!
I do use the swimming pool at my local gym and I also attend a couple of circuit-based classes throughout the week, but the majority of my workouts do not take place in the gym. I do quite a lot of cycling and used to run frequently too. In the winter I use an indoor bike trainer which currently resides in my garage and takes up next to no space!
If losing weight is important enough to you then you will find a way to do exercise. You might be able to do fitness DVDs at home, or use a treadmill or stationary bike. There are even lots of free exercise videos on YouTube. Find something that works for you.
I provide both gym-based and home-based exercise programmes with ‘The Complete Health Toolkit Workbook’, which you can download for free by registering below:
Environmental Barriers to Weight Loss – Peer Related Issues
It is possible that the people around you are sabotaging your efforts, or not supporting you in your pursuit of a healthier body. This might be people at home (family), at work, or even your closest friends. Sometimes it may seem like others around you would prefer it if you didn’t change for the better. This is because it highlights their own insecurities and shortcomings! Why else would someone try to stand in the way of you making positive changes to your lifestyle? It probably makes them feel less secure about themselves.
Try to encourage your loved ones to join you on your quest for better health. Inspire them and help them to understand the benefits of healthy eating and exercise. If this is something that you can do as a unit, then your chances of success increase dramatically. Accountability is a powerful tool for overcoming barriers, and being held to account could be the difference between success and failure for both you and your loved ones.
It is important to put things into perspective and decide what is most important to you. You can find time to exercise and you can eat healthily in almost all situations, even when you are on holiday or travelling. Rest assured that people will support you once they understand that this is important enough to you that you are willing to remain committed, even when circumstances make quitting the easier option. With their support, you will be able to overcome each of the barriers to weight loss.