I will share 5 barriers to healthy lifestyles for those ages 50+ that can inhibit personal success, and more importantly, what to do instead.
Here are my top 5:
Barrier 1: Not believing you can or should cook meals at home.
This is a mindset issue, especially for those who spent years caring for others and preparing 2 to 3 meals every day. They express “burn out” and look for other options. They frequently watch the Food Channel, but rarely take the next step – you know the one where they actually get in the kitchen and use the utensils! Instead, eating out is the option of choice. Expense is only part of the issue; calories consumed in eating one meal out can exceed any reasonable amount for one full day.
What to do instead. If you are eating out more than three times a week, develop a new habit to cook one of those meals at home, make it simple, balanced, and prepare as much ahead of time as you can. Keep track of what the meal out would have cost and what it cost you to cook at home; do this for one month and look at the results.
Barrier 2: No time or energy for exercise.
How many of us have exercise equipment that we have not touched in years and have physical limitations we did not have at 20? If we are working 40+ hours a week with a one hour commute each way, this seriously cuts into our free time. We are exhausted from fighting traffic and simply want to have some peace and quiet when we get home.
What to do instead. Ask for support. Decide on something simple at first; walking is an easy choice. Get family cooperation. If you are a morning person, get up fifteen minutes earlier and have a short walk or short session on the exercise equipment you have cleared so that it can be used. If you are an evening person, take a short walk as soon as you get home or right after dinner. Add this to your daily schedule and you may want to have an accountability partner to keep you on track.
Barrier 3: Infrequent Health Checkups.
This is not typically on our list of the top five things we most want to do. The time and expense are typically the reasons we use to avoid taking this step. An annual general checkup, eye exam, dental checkup, and any follow up exams and medication are not exciting and so easy to put off doing, especially if you think you might not like the results.
What to do instead. Check the family calendar to avoid potential conflicts. If you do not have a doctor you like, ask for recommendations from family and friends whose opinion you trust. Then schedule the appointments, either as close to each one as you can get, or spread out during the year according to what works best for you. Many potentially serious conditions can be detected or prevented by making the choice to take care of your body.
Barrier 4: Mental Noise.
We are connected to the world twenty four hours a day. With smart phones, IPads, desktop and laptop computers, 24-hours a day news and entertainment, we have become addicted to constant communication. How long has it been since we let our minds be totally quiet and therefore our other senses? What does this do to our powers of observation, initiative, sense of peace and new ideas?
What to do instead. Pick a time during the day or evening and devote fifteen minutes to total silence. If necessary, plug in to “white noise” and take three deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Then, simply enjoy letting your body relax and your mind drift – no problems allowed during this time. Try journaling the results.
Barrier 5: Gut-Wrenching Fear.
We rebel against changes in our routines. When we look at our routines honestly, we probably see room for improvement but may be more comfortable with leaving them the way they are, rather than risk doing something differently.
What to do instead. People forget that small steps are the best alternative to failure. Negotiate with yourself. Take baby steps and do something differently for a maximum of fifteen minutes at a time. Choose to make a different decision and look forward to a different outcome.
The Bottom Line: Adults have many choices to consider. Having a healthy lifestyle opens the doors for a sense of well-being and pride in achieving positive results. Addressing some of the barriers can make a huge difference in the results over time.
As Roger Crawford so aptly put it: “Being challenged in life is inevitable; being defeated is optional.”