5 Tips for Overcoming Fitness Obstacles

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If you’re a little bit like me, the quest to be in shape and manage weight sometimes feels overwhelming. In addition, as if the challenge to be fit and lean isn’t hard enough, there are often additional obstacles to overcome: health issues, new or old injuries to work around, time management, and of course the oldest of foes - mustering up the courage or energy to train every day. Even if you’ve been exercising for a long time, there are always new barriers to be broken and boundaries to be pushed

What if you are supposedly “past your prime”, in your more mature years, and it seems overwhelmingly hard to get back into shape again? How to put all of this into perspective?

Let me tell you about a guy in my gym, Tim Hardy. He had an accident some years back and is in a wheelchair ever since. He comes 5 times per week and works out with a personal trainer. And I do mean work out - he’s lifting and pushing heavy weights, and he’s got impressive guns on him I can tell you. He always arrives with a smile – and leaves with an ever bigger one.

Tim is one of my idols, because he put things in perspective for me. Perspective makes all the difference. And also, according to him, there’s no mountain too high to climb. Tim would know. Although he is paralyzed from the waist down he trains hard, pushing himself to the limit each time. In fact, Tim says, he just couldn’t get along without exercise. It helps him clear his head and deal with the frustrations of his limitations.

When I think about Tim and all the preparation he must do to actually show up at the gym then all my “obstacles” suddenly appear rather pathetic and trivial.

There’s another guy who trains extremely hard at my gym, his name is Wally (Walter). Wally is 78 years old, looks like 65, bench presses 265 pounds (120 kg) and is admired and loved by everyone in the gym. He recently had surgery on both knees – and after 4 weeks he was back in the gym, slowly getting back into his routine. Wally is very careful, he takes his time, but he never misses a day at the gym. He says it keeps him young, strong and socially involved.

Like Tim, Wally helps put any obstacles I may believe I have into perspective. If these guys can make the effort to show up and work out regularly, then what excuse could I possibly have?

Both Tim and Wally have their own challenges and fears, and it would have been hard for them to get started – after a crippling accident or a painful recovery from surgery. So what if you have never trained or have not trained for many years and now want to get back into it?

 Let’s look at how you can overcome some very common barriers in fitness. I’ve identified 3 basic principles that will help you break-down obstacles and limitations when striving to reach your fitness goals.  

Principle #1 Identify Your Fear.

Train you mind to believe no mountain is too high or any goal is too difficult to attain.” Basically, it’s all about meeting your fears and facing them head-on. In this principle, aim to recognize your fears, acknowledge them and then move through them. Ask yourself honestly and truthfully - what is it that makes you uncomfortable? Have you let yourself get out of shape and are afraid you’ll never get back? Do you have an injury that’s caused you to not trust your ability or your body? Identify these fears, write them down and acknowledge them. Then make a list and write down why all these fears are unfounded, untrue and just social conditioning. Visualize creatively, that way you can put your fears in check. See yourself as you’d like to be. Remember: your body loves you and has the potential to heal itself to perfection. Your only job is to trust it and listen.

 Principle #2 Trust Your Intuition.

 It is important when overcoming obstacles and learning to break through barriers that you begin to listen to the still small voice of your body. In most cases, we all want the comfort of having someone telling us what we can and cannot do. However, our highest truth lies within us. This is not to say that some good advice from others is not important, but ultimately the decision making has to come from within.

 When facing a challenge or an obstacle look to how you feel about it. What are your instincts telling you? Often it is simply your instinct that will move you into a new mindset and raise your consciousness to a fitness-focussed-mind. “I wasn’t about to let the wheelchair stand in my way,” Tim told me. In fact, he says he had to merely change his perspective about it. He says he first had to learn about what his restrictions were then, create a boundary for himself. “We all have boundaries,” he tells me. "Regardless if a person can walk or not, obstacles are as unique as people themselves. Therefore, it’s first best to know your boundaries, what you can do, and what you simply cannot do. But be careful as to what you accept as a CAN’T DO - for me it is I cannot walk, but that’s it. I accept no other boundaries"

 I asked Wally how he got back into his routine after his double knee surgery. He told me he pushed carefully to extend his boundaries.  “I first pushed as far as I could within the confines of what I was able to do. I took great care not to hurt myself of course. Whether it was more sets, reps or greater endurance, I allowed myself as much time as necessary to accomplish my small goals. It always surprises me, with small steps, how quickly I can reach a big goal.”

 Principle #3 Find Out Your REAL Reason Why You Want To Get In Shape.

You may have heard it many times “An emotional goal is a goal that will be achieved”. Without a real emotionally charged goal for your fitness journey you are doomed. Find out the real reason why you want to be fit, lean and strong. Be honest to yourself. There is no right or wrong answer, just your very own personal reason.

When I did my first challenge which I ended up winning as “Most Transformed Male Body Over 50” I had to share my true motivation with the other contestants for why I wanted to get back into shape. Rather than saying the usual BS like “I want to be healthy” I admitted “I want to look good naked again!” And to my great surprise I did not get hit with a torrent of “You are so lame, so shallow...” but with a lot of positive feedback from the other contestants, both male and female. Many admitted to me that I hit a nerve with them and that they, too, secretly were doing it for the very same reason. So don’t be afraid to be honest about your real reason why you want to get fit – after all - nobody needs to know about your reasons!

Principle #4 Keep Pushing Those Boundaries

Once you’ve developed a plan to achieve your goals commit to it, and follow it through. Your goals should be realistic, so if you are a few stones overweight don’t expect your six-pack to show in four weeks. Give yourself time, and train sensibly. If you are a more mature person like me (I’m now 57…) train with a focus on injury prevention. Work patiently and diligently towards your goals and – bingo – suddenly you have the body and the fitness you want. Then it is time to push your boundaries and set new, bigger goals. There should always be another challenge, to keep you moving forward.

After I won the title of “Most Transformed Man Over 50” in an international competition I decided to go into a Bodybuilding competition. It took me 9 months to prepare for that and it was the most physically and emotionally gruelling challenge I ever took on. I won the title of Grandmaster as a result. Never stand still, never stagnate, always push your boundaries, both physically and mentally.

Principle #5 Choose Your Idol Wisely

We so often look to the media for sources of motivation. I am a big fan of the action-stars of the 80’s after all I grew up in those years and with their movies. Top of the list of course Arnie, then Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme. They were my initial motivation and especially Arnold Schwarzeneggers rise from a total nobody born in a tiny village in Austria to become the most famous and successful Body Builder of all time was hugely motivational for me.

However, I realized over time that I could never duplicate the extent of his success physically, and that could very well have been very un-motivating and disheartening. Instead, I found real-life heroes closer to home, in my community.

There are “real” people everywhere doing great things - just like Tim and Wally from my gym. Look around you; idols are everywhere!

Learn from them. Get inspired and motivated by their story. Choose someone you look up to, admire or of whom you appreciate their values. Set goals, climb mountains! Set your intentions in motion and enjoy the process.

Most of all – don’t let your current age, body, limitations or shape prevent you from going on your own journey of transformation. You deserve a fit, lean, healthy and attractive body. Get started today to make it a reality!

About the Author:

Michael Bannert is a “Grandmaster” Bodybuilder over 50. The pursuit of Personal Fitness and Well-Being lead him to create his website www.MuscleBuildingForMenOver50.com where he teaches his safe and easy system how to get fit, lose fat, build muscle and achieve that attractive male body for your mature years.

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