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[Wellness] Why Is It So Hard to Get Healthy?

“What would you most like to learn about Wellness?” I asked my husband. Almost immediately I got my answer. “Why is it so hard to get healthy?”

I think the answer to that can be different for each of us, but there are probably some things we have in common when it comes to trying to improve our wellness.

Today for Wellness Wednesday, I thought we could take a look at some of the potential roadblocks we encounter when trying to improve our wellness and some ways to lessen their impact.

Potential Roadblocks on Our Wellness Journey

Roadblock 1: Conflicting Health Information

Health and Wellness information is ever-evolving and to be honest, there’s a lot of “junk science” out there. With so much conflicting information out there, how are we supposed to know what we should do to be as healthy as possible?

There are a few things we can do to help with this particular problem:

  • Be careful where you get your health information. Studies can be manipulated to make the results say just about anything you want them to. When a study is referenced, it’s good to know how it was conducted, how many people were included, and in some cases, who paid for it.
  • Return to the basics. Where diet is concerned, rather than trying to figure out the whole “best diet” puzzle, it could help to just get back to the basics. Eating unprocessed or minimally-processed food, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and good-quality protein are some of the basic building blocks of a healthy diet. Another helpful tool for a healthy diet can be a food journal. Using a food journal can help us figure out how our bodies react to the foods we eat, good or bad. Getting back to the basics of exercise could mean just starting to move more. With so many choices out there, we can fall into the trap of thinking the latest fad is the “best” exercise. The truth about that is that the best exercise is the one you’ll actually do consistently.

Roadblock 2: We Don’t Know Where to Start

Trying to figure out where to start making wellness changes can be daunting. We may feel there are so many things we want to improve that we become overwhelmed and don’t do anything.

There are a couple of ways to decide where to start, but the first step will be asking questions like the ones we talked about in Thinking Ahead for Meaningful Wellness Goals. This will help us identify where we are and where we want to be.

Once you’ve determined this, there are a couple of approaches you can take to get started. The team at Precision Nutrition calls these approaches The Big Kahuna and The Low-Hanging Fruit. The Big Kahuna is the action that will give you “the most bang for your buck.” This action will probably be difficult, but it will give you huge results. The Low-Hanging Fruit is the action that is easiest to add. These will probably be small changes that won’t be as difficult to incorporate. These small changes can build self-efficacy (the feeling that we can be successful) and give us some small wins early on. Again, there’s not a right or wrong way to approach this – it’s what works best for you.

Roadblock 3: We’ve Gotten Out of the Habit of Taking Care of Our Wellness

How many times do we start doing something positive for our wellness – meditating, exercising, eating well, establishing a sleep routine – only to lapse and never get back to it? One of the easiest ways to circumvent this particular roadblock is to build solid wellness habits.

I know I sound like a broken record here because I say this so often, but starting with one small behavior and performing that behavior until we can be consistent with it can help us build effective wellness habits.

In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear says that setting an implementation intention is the best way to start a new habit. An implementation intention is, according to Clear, “a plan you make beforehand about when and where to act.” Rather than saying something like “I’m going to exercise twice a week” or “I’m going to meditate every day,” an implementation intention would look more like, “I’m going to exercise at 10:00am on Monday, at the YMCA.” See how specific that is? Clear says,

“Once an implementation intention has been set, you don’t have to wait for inspiration to strike…. When the moment of action occurs, there is no need to make a decision. Simply follow your predetermined plan.”

Roadblock 4: We Get Discouraged When We Don’t See Progress

When we first start our wellness improvement efforts, we may feel extremely motivated, but when we aren’t seeing results right away, we may become discouraged. It’s often at this point that we start to think, “This isn’t doing any good anyway, so I might as well give up.” It can take weeks, or sometimes months, to see any measurable improvements, but that doesn’t mean we’re not making progress.

One way to combat discouragement is to celebrate small wins. Did you eat veggies every day this week? Celebrate! Did you get on your Yoga mat this week? Celebrate!

Rather than measuring progress strictly by results, focusing on the process can help us celebrate small wins. This can keep us from becoming discouraged and giving up.

These are only a few of the roadblocks we can encounter when we’re trying to improve our wellness. Finding ways to lessen them can help us stay focused, maintain motivation, and experience success in our wellness journey.

What are the biggest roadblocks you run into when trying to improve your wellness? Please share!

Blessings,

~Terri

Sources:

The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition, 3rd ed, 2019, John Berardi, PhD,CSCS, et. al, Precision Nutrition, Inc.

Atomic Habits, 2018, James Clear, Penguin Random House, London

26 comments

  1. These are great tips! There are way too many choices of junk foods out there and they’re all very tempting. Fast food makes for an easy dinner when you’re super busy. Sometimes it’s hard to have self control.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Michelle! You make a great point about the ease and availability of junk/fast food. Especially for busy people, fast food can just be so convenient. It’s unfortunate that so much of it doesn’t support our wellness goals. Blessings to you sweet friend!

  2. Thanks for the great post Terri. One of my roadblocks is not asking for help and accountability. I do better when someone knows I’m trying and lovingly agrees to support my effort. Also applies to other areas of life. Keep helping folks!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Tim! That’s such a great point about not asking for help and accountability. Having strong social support can be so important to our wellness efforts. Like you, I have a hard time with this also. For me, I think it’s that often when we share what we’re trying to do with others, what they think is “helpful” feels like “hijacking” to us. Of course, that’s probably just my issue with needing to feel in control.😁 Blessings to you!

  3. I spent months studying this a few years back and made huge changes to every aspect of my life. Within 3 weeks I was off all medication and within 6 months I was back hillwalking. However, it is difficult to sustain, mainly because of the cost, so that’s my roadblock. I was juicing every day and using only organic produce so it was costly. Now that I am travelling most of the time, house sitting, it is also difficult to stick with healthy foods. However, I remain medication free and reasonably pain free, but fatigue is still a major problem. I can manage to do something maybe twice a week but that’s about my limit I need the days in between to rest.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Jill! I’m glad to hear you’ve been able to make positive changes in your wellness. I get what you mean about the cost – it can be expensive to buy all organic foods. My husband and I were just talking about that the other day. I would imagine it could be even more expensive with juicing because you have to use so much fruit to get even a small amount of juice. Congratulations on the positive changes you’ve made and maintained, and thanks for stopping by!

  4. You’ve made some excellent points and I do think that looking at health, especially when living with chronic illness already, can be pretty daunting so it’s not surprising it can be hard knowing where to start. I like those The Big Kahuna and The Low-Hanging Fruit approaches to thinking about it. I also think that habit side of it is important. I know I’ve let things slip, replacing self-care and a focus on health with just being busy and stressing. Getting into small habits that contribute to your health can make such a difference, bit by bit. Of course the next part of that is perseverance and your roadblock no.4, because it’s easy to get disheartened. Our health is worth fighting for though, so we need to remember that. Fantastic post as always, Terri!  ♥

    1. Thank you so much Caz! Those of us who live with chronic illness definitely have some additional challenges when it comes to trying to improve our wellness. We have the additional roadblocks of pain, fatigue, and various co-morbid conditions we have to work around. That doesn’t mean we can’t be as healthy as is possible for US, though. You’re absolutely right that our health is worth fighting for. I’ve been where you are for the last couple of months – the whole “replacing self-care and a focus on health with just being busy and stressing.” I know better, but there are times that I just have to let something go. Unfortunately, that ‘something’ is often the things I need to do for wellness. I’m getting back on track now, and hope you’re able to soon as well. Sending hugs!

  5. I’m been bouncing between the first 3 roadblocks you mentioned for almost a year now, while watching the scale climb 🙁 I have also become the queen of excuses. As we frequently tend to do, I have been putting others first and using it as an excuse to neglect myself. I just received some concerning blood test results that may just be the excuse stopping excuse I need. ( Of course my doctor is out of town until next week so I’m not sure what/how to plan)

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Grace! I hope you know you’re not alone. I know I’m dealing with the same weight issue right now, and I don’t really have any excuse for it. I know what I need to do, but actually doing it can be a whole other story…. I’ve started getting back into the swing of things since the holidays are over, so I’m hopeful. 😊 I’m sorry to hear about your blood test results. Hopefully your doctor will be able to help you decipher exactly what impact those numbers have on your health and how to improve them. I’d say the best first step is to have that conversation with your doctor. Hope you’re doing well otherwise sweet friend. Hugs!

  6. I loved this Terri! The first and second roadblocks are more true for me if anything. There’s so many information out there, I really don’t know which one is the right one. To top that off, just figuring out where to start can be stressful.

    1. Thanks so much Mark! I think those first two are the ones that trip a lot of us up. Every time you turn around there’s some kind of new diet, or exercise program, etc., and it’s hard to wade through all of the information to figure out what’s sound and what’s not. Figuring out what our first step should be can be difficult. I hope you found something that helps here. Blessings to you!

  7. I have to remind myself from time to time that there is a reason this is called ‘chronic’ disease. As Jill wrote, I can manage my diet, work on sleep hygiene, try to get outdoors and still the fatigue is a problem. Not sure that is beatable, but who knows. My husband recently asked if I think emotions can attribute to it, and I’m sure they do. We are not two-dimensional after all.

    1. Thanks for sharing V.J.! Those of us living with chronic illness definitely have some added challenges. That’s why I really try to concentrate more on wellness than “health and fitness.” As you said, our illnesses are chronic and we’ll most likely be dealing with them for the rest of our lives. Even though we might not be 100%, hopefully we can do things to help us feel as well as possible. You’re not alone with your fatigue, my friend. It’s something I struggle with quite often too. Sending hugs your way!

      1. I’ll try to blow some your way. Planning a surprise party tomorrow for my hubby’s birthday – won’t be happening if snow closes our roads.

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