Overcoming common obstacles to achieve a healthier body

You should take some precautions to make sure your leftovers are safe to eat. (Thinkstock)

Josef Brandenburg, special to wtop.com

WASHINGTON – When people come into our personal training gym, they’ve usually got two things working against them.

The first is a ton of misinformation.

This misinformation varies from the idea that “cardio” works best for fat loss, that low-calorie and/or low-fat diets lead to sustainable results and that crunches will actually do anything to help get you the stomach you want.

This first obstacle — working at things that don’t work — is the simple fix.

The second obstacle, however, is more difficult — because the second obstacle people face is themselves.

Here is a plan to help you overcome this obstacle:

  1. Use your brain. When we get into ruts or engage in behaviors that we can’t seem to stop doing, it’s usually because we’ve stopped thinking and are just on autopilot.

    This week I had a lady tell me that she really wants to get back into shape, and the first nutritional habit she wants to change is her fast food habit. Whenever she takes her son to practice, which is most weeknights, she ends up so hungry that she eats fast food while he practices.

    When discussing the different options — from choosing healthier menu items at fast food establishments, to packing a meal from home — she made excuses as to why nothing else will work except for her fast food pattern.

    Instead of considering the different options (some of which require effort on her part), she continued to operate on autopilot and did not think outside of her habits.

    This is obvious from the outside, but this is very hard to see in ourselves. What nutrition or exercise habit are you frustrated with that you want to change? Ask yourself, “How can I?” rather than list the reasons why you can’t.

  2. Move your feet. Most people look at motivation like getting a cold. Every once in a while you catch it, but eventually it goes away.

    However, unlike a cold, motivation is not something that comes from the outside and infects you without your consent.

    If you do something and see positive results, you will be encouraged to continue that particular action. However, the action comes before the motivation.

    If you find yourself having the “I don’t feel like/I’m too tired/I’m too busy” conversation, just get up and go do whatever it is you are supposed to be doing. If you’re lucky, you’ll be motivated by the time you finish. If not, at least you’ll have taken a step forward instead of two or three steps back.

  3. Program distraction. Mixing and matching is for swimsuits, not for fitness and weight-loss routines.

    It never ceases to amaze me when people following a specific program see good results, yet still switch their routine to match the latest research or magazine fitness tips. Stick with a program that works, and be weary of advice posted on Facebook. Your trainer and/or nutrition team knows what’s best for your health and weight-loss goals.

Overcoming health misinformation and common “human” obstacles puts you one step closer to achieving the body you want.

Editor’s Note: Josef Brandenburg is a D.C.area fitness expert with 14 years of experience and co-author of the international best-selling book “Results Fitness.” In 2004, he started The Body You Want personal training program, which specializes in helping you get the body you want in the available time you have. You can also check out his blog, follow him on Twitter, or check out his fitness videos on YouTube. Follow @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter.

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