Barriers to change – Distraction.

When it comes to improving our health, there is no question that our diets are important, but the foods we consume are just one piece of the puzzle. For example, our unhealthy habits and behaviours in the past may have been driven by thoughts or emotions that we haven’t fully explored. On the flip side, we may struggle to begin things like exercising because we can’t find the time or we are unsure of where to start. 

At MD Weight Loss, we want to help you live your best life and seize the potential of each day. We understand that the journey can be challenging and we’re here to help. Over the next few months we are going to explore three of the big “D’s” that can hinder our progress:  Distraction, Doubt and Discouragement. This month we’ll explore how distractions can sometimes keep us from fully engaging in a physically active lifestyle and what we can do about it. 

Even if going to the gym or exercising at home isn’t a new thing for you, the constant buzzing of your phone,  thinking about work or worrying about all the other things on your “to do” list can rob you of a quality workout. 

“Mindfulness”, learning to be present in the moment, takes work. It is not our default position. If you find that distractions are consistently intruding on your ability to exercise, there is hope. By taking the necessary steps and doing a little preparation,  you will not only have better workouts  but you will be able to sustain them over the long haul. 

Mindfulness is important. While exercise can be recreational, it’s not optional. Just like food and water, our bodies need movement. Beyond that, exercise is an opportunity to practice self-care, to unwind and ultimately help you enjoy a more productive and satisfied life. Here are three things you can do to improve the quality of your exercise, while minimizing distractions.  

Have a Plan

Spontaneity is great but it does not create consistency. Consistency takes planning. Before you begin, have a plan in place for what you are going to do. Will you go for a walk? Ride your bike? Go for a run or lift weights? Having a plan in place helps to ensure your valuable time isn’t wasted aimlessly wandering or wondering what you should do.  

Building an exercise program doesn’t have to be overly complicated, but it should be designed to keep you safe and deliver quality results. Take the time to do some research. You don’t need to train like an olympian, you just need to be challenged every day. Daily physical challenges help keep our minds focussed. 

Know Your “Why”

When it comes to overcoming distractions, clarifying your motivation can be a great tool for success. Asking yourself “Why am I here?” (so I can play with my kids or grandchildren …so I can continue to live independently…so I can travel and explore). Everyone will have a different “why” that can help drown out the distractions and bring you closer to your goals.  

On the days when “I don’t feel like doing it” is your distraction, remember why you started in the first place. Sometimes the first step is the hardest. 

Keep it fun

Your workout should be fun to help keep you motivated. When you are first beginning to get active, a good place to start might be reacquainting yourself with activities you may have enjoyed in the past but haven’t done in a while. 

As you progress, you can continue to structure your program around things you enjoy, but gradually increase the challenge to your body. For example, if you enjoy walking, start with a 15 minute daily walk with a goal to increase it to 30 min a day within a month. 

People get distracted by phones or socializing if the challenge is too small or if they are resting too long along the way.  To help eliminate this common issue, designing your program in a way to help keep you engaged is going to be important. Here are some tips for improving your focus:

Choose challenging exercises that require complete focus. This will help keep you engaged as you think through how to improve your posture and form or to improve your speed and distance. All exercises require complete focus to train safely, but choosing moves that challenge different facets of movement can make for an amazing workout. 

Shorten your rest times. Reducing your rest time between sets and exercises will keep your heart rate up, burn more calories and remove the possibility of getting distracted. Work on mobility, flexibility or core exercises during your rest periods. Circuit training is a great way to accomplish this as it gives you the opportunity to rest some body parts while working others instead. 

Incorporate more low-intensity moves into your workout. Another way to stay on track is to spend some time improving your range of motion and mobility, focussing on your stretching, lower and upper back and hips. 

Set your phone on “Do not Disturb”. If you really need to disconnect, consider going “dark” for a set period of time while you exercise. Let your friends and family know you will be unavailable until your workout is complete, load up your favorite playlist and get it done. 

If you are struggling, remember you are not alone. Reach out to the online MD Weight Loss community or your MD Weight Loss physician. Together we can keep focussed and continue on the path to success.

Come on back next month to learn about the next “D” in the series!

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