Mindfulness and overcoming barriers

Mindful Approach to Physical Activity

Does your perspective on physical activity energize you? Or does it drain you?

Do you look forward to physical activity? Or do you view it as more of a chore? 

Choose your perspective wisely!

It is perfectly normal to experience moments where you don’t feel like being physically active. It happens to everyone, and when it does it is important never to beat yourself up. But what if there was a way to change your thinking, so that these moments would be easier to overcome? Thankfully, a simple tactic will be a great help to you when you just don’t feel like exercising. This is the practice of “mindfulness.” 

It is an excellent self-care tool to carry with you through your weight management journey!

Mindfulness in the “do I?” or “don’t I?” moments

High quality thinking leads to high quality actions.

When it comes to physical activity, a moment of choice presents itself where you decide whether or not to engage. Picture it for a moment. 

You’re driving home on a cold and rainy evening. You’ve worked hard all day, and what you want more than anything is to simply get home and relax. Earlier, however, you decided that you were going to spend an hour outside of home doing a physical activity. 

What do you do in a situation like this?

This is where mindfulness can orient you in the moment of choice. A higher level of awareness gives you a greater chance of making the decision you really want to make. A greater chance to show self-love. 

Now put yourself back in the car on the rainy night for a moment.

Five steps to better mindfulness

Focus on your breathing. Focus on where you are in your vehicle. Feel your hands against the steering wheel. Hear the whisper of traffic. 

Accept the thoughts that are trying to divert you away from your plans for an hour of physical activity. Remember they are only suggestions that you can dismiss rather than commands you must obey. Continue peacefully toward your destination, while staying anchored in the present moment. 

You arrive at the gym. Pay attention to the sights and sounds. The relaxed and friendly faces. 

Remove the comfy clothes from your bag. Put them on slowly without rushing. Feel the fabric against your skin. Make any adjustments needed so that they fit comfortably. 

You are now ready to be physically active. 

Taking things one step at a time and being physically present will prevent you from being overpowered by your thoughts.

Other ways to overcome your internal barriers

One of the best ways to practice self care is to identify the reasons you tend to use that make you feel like you’d rather not be active. Recognising them will allow you to make the best decisions in those moments of choice! 

Common barriers to physical activity

Lack Of Time
Add physical activity to your daily routine. For example, walk or ride your bike to work or while going shopping. Organize school activities around physical activity, walk the dog, exercise while you watch TV, park further away from your destination, etc.

Social Influence
Work out at the places you enjoy frequenting. People who know your name. The Cheers concept. 

Lack Of Energy
Convince yourself that if you give it a chance, physical activity will increase your energy level, then try it.

Lack Of Motivation
Plan ahead. Make physical activity a regular part of your daily or weekly schedule and write it on your calendar.

Fear Of Injury
Learn how to exercise appropriately considering your age, fitness level, skill level, and health status.

Lack Of Skill
Take a class to develop new skills.
Accept where you are with grace and humour. Embrace the learning curve. Become a little bit better each time you go. Be patient, gentle, and kind with yourself. 

Lack Of Resources
Identify inexpensive, convenient resources available in your community (community education programs, park and recreation programs, worksite programs etc.).

Weather Conditions
Develop a set of regular activities that are always available regardless of weather (indoor cycling, aerobic dance, indoor swimming, calisthenics, stair climbing, rope skipping, mall walking, dancing, gymnasium games etc.).

Put a jump rope in your suitcase and jump rope.
Get a guest pass at a local fitness centre.
Renting a bike or paddle boat to do your sightseeing.

Family Obligations
Exercise with the kids – go for a walk together, play tag or other running games, get an aerobic dance or exercise tape for kids (there are several on the market) and exercise together. You can spend time together and still get your exercise.

Retirement Years
Look upon your retirement as an opportunity to become more active instead of less. Spend more time gardening, walking the dog, and playing with your grandchildren. Children with short legs and grandparents with slower gaits are often great walking partners. Learn a new skill you’ve always been interested in, such as ballroom dancing or square dancing.

Now that you have the time, make regular physical activity a part of every day. Go for a walk every morning or every evening before dinner. Treat yourself to an exercycle and ride every day while reading your favourite book or magazine.