No matter how experienced you are, no matter how many accomplishments you have made, and no matter how many battles you have won, you will still face challenges. And that is exactly what we are going to discuss today- challenges related to long-term weight management and how individuals that were successful overcame them! Challenges can be either intrinsic or extrinsic, but no matter what part of your life they come from, those able to successfully maintain a healthy weight and workout routine managed to endure them. And although enduring challenges as they arise is not easy, it is certainly possible!
Intrinsic challenges include things like stress, lack of time, emotional eating, and major life events that affect us emotionally. Intrinsic challenges are basically any challenges that come from someone internally or we that we perceive as internal. Unlike Intrinsic challenges, extrinsic challenges are things that we experience due to external influences and include things like staying on track during the holidays, home environments, celebrations such as birthday parties, relationship changes, and unsupportive peers. We might deal with either one or both at the same time. These things are barriers to our success, but they can be overcome! And the more often we overcome challenges, whether intrinsic or extrinsic, the easier it becomes.
So how do we overcome intrinsic challenges? This can be a little tricky, and different coping techniques might be used in different scenarios. You might have to handle daily stressors differently than they would a major life event, say, but there are a variety of ways that you can cope with the stress and emotions that may lead you astray. Turning to food for comfort is something that has happened to every one of us. “Eating our feelings” is a universally recognized problem, and when faced with the urge to eat to cope with difficult situations, remember that food is not the problem. The emotion that is causing you to want to stray from the path of healthy eating is what IS the problem. Understanding what stressors or emotions cause the desire to turn to food for comfort is the first step.
After you have identified what stressor or emotion is affecting you, try a few things. If you are dealing with stress, try taking a brisk walk or doing some deep breathing (or better yet, do a quick HIIT workout!). If you are dealing with sadness or loneliness, reach out to a friend or make a list of accomplishments you’ve made and things you are grateful for. If it’s boredom you are affected by, because sometimes we eat because we are just plain bored and eating is something to do, get up and move or reinvest time into a hobby or socialize instead! As always, it is almost always productive to combat negative emotion or stress with physical activity, and it kills two birds with one stone- not only does it help you overcome intrinsic challenges related to diet, it also keeps you on track with your fitness goals!
Extrinsic challenges are easier to overcome for many people, but can still be challenging. Participants in various studies consistently noted that having clear, personalized activity and eating goals that they prioritized and continually reassessed based on life situations and projected outcomes (like we talked about in our segment about goals!) helped them stay motivated to stay on track with their fitness and diet goals. This was particularly useful in situations such as holidays or celebrations where they were confronted with unhealthy food and alcohol. Next time you attend an event remember to arrive prepared! Know what you will and will not allow yourself to eat or drink that day, and do your best to ignore any unsupportive peers or family members, because at the end of the day, people who are successful find motivation from within!
Everyone who starts out (or continues) a fitness journey will face challenges, sometimes foreseen and sometimes unforeseen, along the way. It can be hard when faced with obstacles to have the resolve to stick to a diet and workout plan, but the more often you overcome challenges, the easier it becomes to overcome the next challenge! You gain confidence in your ability to overcome whatever intrinsic or extrinsic challenges you face, and know that no matter what life throws at you, YOU CAN DO IT!
What are some challenges you have faced, and how did you overcome them?