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Overcoming 6 common barriers to healthy lifestyle change

Personal health · Feb 1, 2021

January has come and gone, and if you’re like most people, your New Year’s resolutions came and went with it. Our best intentions to quit smoking, lose weight or exercise often fall by the wayside by the time February hits.

If resolutions about our health are the most important changes we can make, why do we have so much trouble keeping them? The barriers to successful change are deep-rooted and difficult to overcome. However, with appropriate knowledge, guidance and support, you can make healthy lifestyle changes and look forward to impressive results. Here are some common daily barriers — and how to break through them:

Time

Time is a luxury few of us have. We barely have 10 minutes to sit down, let alone work on our core, shop for local fresh food or cook wholesome meals. It is important to prioritize time to make room for new, healthier habits. With professional guidance, you can identify those areas that most need work and create time in your life for meaningful change.

Habits

Old habits die hard. Why? Oftentimes, it’s because unhealthy habits help decrease our anxiety. That daily bag of chips or two glasses of wine after work may be your comfort. Quitting a habit “cold turkey” is often followed by an increase in anxiety. That is why knowledge is crucial for a stress-resistant approach to creating enduring, healthier habits. Your TELUS Health Care Centres team is here to help provide the medical and lifestyle support you may need to create healthier habits.

Consequences

Every decision made during a busy day has a consequence. The consequences that are acceptable to you on any given day profoundly impact your ability to create and sustain change. These may be:  if you go to yoga after work, you’ll miss your son’s basketball game. If you take time to prepare a home-cooked meal, you won’t get to prepare for tomorrow’s meeting. Try to be willing to accept those consequences, especially when the choice you make actually improves your overall health and wellbeing.

Confidence and knowledge

It is tough to make healthy changes when you truly don’t know how and don’t feel comfortable doing so. Maybe you’ve never been to a public gym or used a treadmill. Maybe you don’t know what type of tofu to buy or how to prepare it. Seek the help of experts to identify the most appropriate health pathway for you and gain support to put your plan into action.

Adequate support

Strong support networks are key for any successful outcome. Who is living a healthy lifestyle in your daily world? Do your colleagues bring running equipment for a jog at lunch, or do they sit at their desk for 10 hours per day? Maybe your husband is training for a marathon but leaves you to look after the kids. If there are no suitable allies for your health ambitions, seek a professional support network that is dedicated to your success.

Anxiety and depression

If you feel hopeless and stressed out on a daily basis, the energy and commitment it takes to make positive changes just won’t be available. Mood changes are more common than you may think and can stand in the way of insights related to unhealthy behaviours. With expert diagnosis, medical treatments and behavioural modification, you can help overcome the mental health issues associated with anxiety and depression that inhibit your choice of a healthier lifestyle.

Don’t be afraid to re-charge your New Year’s resolutions. Change can be tough, but with the right support, knowledge and confidence to make it happen, you can make healthy lifestyle changes and look forward to remarkable results.

Your connected care team at TELUS Health Care Centres can help you turn your health resolutions into successes. Contact us to learn more or get started.

Authored by:
Dr. Beth Donaldson
Family physician and medical director

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