February is love your body month at Spark! Wellness. Over the past three years of working with clients, I’ve found that we all have good intentions around loving our bodies by eating healthfully and exercising regularly —but we also have a lot of obstacles in our way.

Take a look at your life as it is now:  are there actions you’d like to be taking towards your health that you can’t seem to fit in? Make a list of them: it can be as long or as short as you’d like, the actions big or small.  Now list out all the obstacles: is it time? money? lack of support from friends and family? obsessive love of donuts?

I recently did this and realized that I hadn’t been fitting in exercise on a regular basis. It wasn’t for lack of trying: I had a gym membership. I had workout clothes. I had several playlists dedicated to upbeat music perfect to run to. I would go to work in the morning with the intention of working out after work.

But it never actually happened. So I was left feeling lazy, slothful, and with really low energy. So I decided something had to change. This was my health priority.

I looked at my obstacles:  I didn’t really like my gym – it was dark and I had to traverse multiple levels to do anything. It wasn’t a place I wanted to spend time.  I also hated working out after a long day at work: I felt drained, usually hungry for dinner, and it seemed like such a chore.

After a few weeks of pondering this, I decided to change the variables.  I joined a new gym that, while more expensive, was a much more pleasant environment and located midway between work and the subway stop. I literally have to pass by it going to and from work—so I decided to try working out in the morning. This brought up some new obstacles: I’d have to plan a LOT of things ahead.  I’d have to bring food and clothes and…  I solved this by deciding to make hot porridge at night, put it in Tupperware, and heat it up once I got to work.  I decided that the night before, I would put out my workout clothes to wear to the gym and pack  my gym back with all my clothes for the next day. So all I would have to do in the morning would be to wake up, brush my teeth, grab my bag, and go.

My goal was to be up at 7, at the gym by 7.30, work out for an hour, and be at my desk by 9.15. This seemed like a lot, but I vowed to try it for a week.

And… it totally worked! I’m now in the routine of planning ahead for the early mornings and I’m in love with my new gym! I actually look forward to going.

My point is this:  we all have obstacles—big and small—around our health. Instead of trying to work through them all at once, instead decide what your top priority is. What’s the most important for you to achieve now? (It could be cooking one day per week more, running 10% more than you’ve been doing, not eating late at night – whatever you decide). Then look at the obstacles around that one goal and figure out easy ways to start breaking through them. Start small and work your way up. Before you know it, you’ll have achieved that priority and can move on to the next one.