Identifying and Overcoming Barriers to Lifestyle Change

By Becky Cannon

The difficulties of making lifestyle changes can be identified in many different ways and we all have that one unique barrier that makes it all the more challenging for us to make those desired lifestyle changes.

overcoming hurdles to better lifestyles

It is likely we have made some goals to improve certain aspects of our life, especially those that are health-related and are focused on improving diet or exercising more often. In order to best help ourselves reach these health-related goals, it is important to identify barriers that have previously kept us from reaching them. These barriers are more commonly identified as lack of self-motivation, lack of time, being too busy, etc. Barriers to improving health by eating better or exercising more can also be lifestyle habits which include drinking high calorie beverages, eating large portion sizes, snacking frequently, watching TV for extended periods of time, etc.

Which barriers in the table listed below apply most to you?

Lack of self-motivation

Busy schedule

Lack of time

Drinking lots of high calorie beverages

Eating fast food often

Snacking on high calorie foods

Eating high fat foods

Eating quickly

Skipping meals

Breading or frying foods

Eating late (after 8:00 PM)

Eating in front of TV

Using lots of high fat/calorie condiments and salad dressings

Eating large portion sizes

Frequently eating high calorie desserts

Significant others

Work

Home environment

Making excuses

Saying “I will start tomorrow”

Snacking often/mindless snacking

Environmental barriers

Physical barriers to exercise

Job that requires a lot of sitting

Spending extended periods of time sitting in front of TV or computer at home

Feeling tired all the time

Identifying your individual barriers to lifestyle change and improving health is the first step to creating strategies in order to overcome them. First ask yourself, “If I make these changes, how will my life be different than it is today?” Next, brainstorm and provide yourself with realistic solutions to the problem or barrier to change. Consider a variety of options - even ones that you have not tried before – but be creative. Evaluate if this is a realistic solution for you by listing the pros and cons. Think about how this solution will help you achieve your goals. Finally, select the best solution that will help you make those desired lifestyle changes.