Are you tired of failing at your efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle? If so, it time to unravel exactly why you keep make unhealthy choices.
Almost everyone has been in this position: You’ve committed yourself to eat healthier and work out more, but somehow you always find yourself falling back into your old habits. So, why is sticking to a healthy lifestyle so hard? Well, here are six possible explanations.
What is a healthy lifestyle?
A healthy lifestyle is one that allows you to live an active, fulfilled life for as long as possible.
Notably, a healthy lifestyle includes things that are good for your all dimensions of your personal wellness.
But why is sticking to your health goals so hard?
The answer is not as complex as you may think. Actually, our brains are wired to trick us in 3 different ways:
- Instant gratification
- Approval traps
- Decision traps
Let’s dive deeper into what each of these is and their influence on your health choices.
1. Instant gratification makes a healthy lifestyle so hard
First up are instant gratification traps that describe the experience of feeling pleasure or satisfaction from an action without having to wait for a delayed reward.
Instant gratification makes us think that immediate rewards are more valuable than delayed ones.
In our fast-paced, digital world, it’s easier than ever to get what we want right away – and this instant gratification can often be quite addictive and cause a healthy lifestyle to be so hard.
From ordering takeout with just a few clicks to streaming our favorite shows at the press of a button, we’re used to getting what we want, when we want it.
While there’s nothing wrong with occasional indulgence, instant gratification can become a problem when we start to expect it all the time.
As such, you’ll get frustrated when you’ve gone to the gym for months but aren’t losing the amount of weight you desire.
When you’re constantly seeking immediate pleasure, you can become impatient, anxious, and even sad when you don’t get it.
Instant gratification can also lead to financial problems if you’re constantly spending money on things that you don’t really need.
So next time you’re tempted to seek instant gratification, take a step back and ask yourself if it’s really worth it in the long run.
Avoiding instant gratification is important for sticking to a healthy lifestyle
To overcome instant gratification, it is important to develop healthy habits and self-discipline.
This may involve making a conscious effort to avoid distractions, removing temptations from your surroundings, and regularly setting goals that you can work towards over time.
Additionally, building positive relationships with others through social activities like volunteering and group exercise classes can help us stay focused on the bigger picture and promote a sense of meaning and purpose.
By developing healthy habits through mindfulness and mindful living, we can learn to overcome instant gratification and achieve our long-term goals while maintaining balance in our lives.
2. Approval traps make it hard to stick to a healthy diet
Approval traps occur when we become fixated on seeking approval from a particular group or individual, to the exclusion of all else.
Approval traps make us seek self-esteem through major social groups.
This can often lead to suboptimal decisions, as you become fixated on the approval of others and lose sight of your own objectives. Ultimately, this makes sticking to a healthy lifestyle so much harder.
Approval traps typically arise when there is a high degree of uncertainty or risk involved in a decision. In such situations, you tend to seek approval from those who they perceive as being more knowledgeable or experienced.
However, constantly seeking approval or acceptance from others will negatively affect your self-esteem and self-worth.
Avoiding approval traps is important for sticking to a healthy lifestyle
Most of us have a need to be liked and approved. This need is so strong that it can sometimes lead us these approval traps which makes sticking to a healthy lifestyle so hard.
These are situations where we find ourselves compromising our own values and standards in order to gain the approval of others.
The good news is that there are ways to overcome these traps. The first step is to become aware of them. Pay attention to the times when you find yourself bending your own rules in order to please someone else.
When you catch yourself doing this, ask yourself what your true goals and values are in that situation. Are you more concerned with being liked or with staying true to yourself?
Once you’ve identified an approval trap, the next step is to establish some clear boundaries. Decide ahead of time what you are and are not willing to do in order to maintain your integrity.
Then, when you’re faced with a situation where you’re tempted to compromise your values, you’ll be able to say no with confidence.
It’s also important to remember that not everyone will like or approve of everything we do.
3. Decision traps make a healthy lifestyle so hard to stick to
Thirdly, decision traps which are formed by societal influence or our upbringing make sticking to a healthy lifestyle so hard.
Decision traps are a type of cognitive bias that can lead us to make suboptimal decisions.
They occur when we allow our judgments to be influenced by factors that are not relevant to the decision at hand.
For example, the ‘sunk cost fallacy’ is a common decision trap that leads us to continue investing in something (e.g., a stock, a relationship) even when it is no longer rational to do so.
This is because we feel like we have already invested so much time and/or that we cannot possibly walk away without seeing a return.
However, this way of thinking ignores the opportunity cost of our decision, which is the potential benefit that we forego by making one choice over another.
As rational decision-makers, it is important to be aware of the various cognitive biases that can lead us astray. Otherwise, we may find ourselves trapped in suboptimal decisions.
Decision traps are one of the biggest obstacles when trying to stick to a healthy diet. These psychological pitfalls can lead us down unproductive paths and cause us to fall back on less-healthy habits.
Avoiding decision traps is crucial for sticking to a healthy lifestyle
To overcome these decision traps and maintain a healthy diet, it is important to be mindful of our behaviors and thought patterns.
By being aware of common pitfalls such as these, we can more easily recognize when they are influencing our decisions and take steps to avoid them.
Whether through journaling about our habits and triggers, finding support from others who share our goals, or consulting with a mental health professional or coach, there are many different strategies we can use to help us stay on track.
With the right tools and mindset, it becomes that much easier to tune out the noise and make healthier choices for ourselves every day.
For instance, we often see commercials of perfect people eating junk food and this makes us crave it more, even if we’re full. Later on, when we finish the bag of chips, we make ourselves believe that what we ate wasn’t enough to stop our cravings.
However, when you constantly “cave in” to your unhealthy desires, your brain will remember this and encourage you to eat more the next time around.
One way to train yourself not to cave in is by avoiding or limiting exposure to the unhealthy food you crave.
4. Triggers make a healthy lifestyle so hard to stick to
Besides not being exposed to unhealthy food, avoiding all – or most – of your triggers is crucial too. What are these triggers?
Triggers are psychological cues that trigger certain feelings or behaviors.
Although these triggers can vary from person to person, some common examples include negative emotions like stress or anger, environmental cues like sights or sounds, and life events like loss or trauma.
Triggers can influence both our physical and mental states, triggering unpleasant sensations such as nausea or intense anxiety, as well as responses like avoidance behavior or increased risk-taking.
Despite their potential impact on our wellbeing, there is still much we don’t know about the nature and origins of triggers.
By better understanding how they work and what causes them to manifest, we can develop more effective interventions to cope with their triggers and stick to healthier lifestyle choices.
Avoiding triggers are crucial in sticking to a healthy lifestyle
For examples, “stress makes us turn to comfort foods”, “watching a sad or tense movie can make you feel like eating ice cream” and “the odors from a favorite restaurant can create cravings.” There are many, and you’ve probably even ignored a lot more.
When you figure out what your triggers are, it’s time to remove yourself from the situation: make it more difficult to access junk food or just don’t buy them at all and throw away all, work on managing your stress levels.
Another way is to eat healthy before going to the movies or try to eat something that will be easy for your stomach. Consider eating a fruit before you eat lunch to avoid overeating.
For instance, if you’re craving ice cream after seeing a sad movie, recognize and make deliberate attempts to change this behavior.
The daily amount of fruits adults should eat: 2 cups.
“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” ~Thomas Edison
5. Lack of knowledge makes it hard to stick to a healthy lifestyle
Unhealthy lifestyle habits are often passed down from generation to generation and make sticking to a healthy lifestyle so hard.
For instance, if you grew up in a family where processed foods were the norm, it can be hard to break out of that mindset and adopt healthier habits.
Lack of knowledge about health and wellness is a common barrier to adapting a healthy lifestyle.
In fact, you may simply not know how to make healthy choices and even more so, how to do so in a sustainable way.
Additionally, you may not be aware of the health benefits of certain foods or the negative consequences of consuming too much of certain nutrients.
For example, someone who is trying to stick to a healthier diet may not know that certain fats are actually good for them, or that processed sugar can lead to weight gain.
They may be unaware of the dangers of unhealthy options that are disguised as healthy alternatives.
Lack of knowledge can therefore make it difficult to stick to a healthy lifestyle. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you learn more about nutrition and health.
With a little effort, anyone can make the necessary changes to develop a healthier lifestyle.
Improving health knowledge makes it easier to stick to a healthy lifestyle
When armed with the right information, you’re more likely to make healthy choices. For example, someone who understands the link between smoking and lung cancer is more likely to quit smoking than someone who is unaware of the risks.
Knowledge also empowers people to take control of their own health. Someone who knows the signs of a heart attack is more likely to get prompt medical attention than someone who is unaware of the symptoms.
Someone who knows the link between obesity and heart disease is more likely to make changes to their diet and exercise habits than someone who is unaware of these risks.
There are a number of ways that people can improve their health knowledge. One way is to read reliable sources of information, such as medical journals or government health websites.
Another way to improve health knowledge is to talk to a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or nurse. Healthcare professionals can provide accurate information and answer any questions that people might have.
Finally, you can also attend health education classes or events. These classes and events can provide valuable information about staying healthy and preventing illness.
By taking these steps, you can improve their health knowledge and better understand how to maintain their health.
6. Lack of motivation makes a healthy lifestyle so hard to stick to
It can be hard to find the motivation to make changes to your lifestyle, especially if you don’t feel like you’re at risk of developing any health problems.
Lack of motivation is a common barrier to sticking to a healthy lifestyle. It can be hard to muster the energy to cook a healthy meal or pack a nutritious lunch when you’re not feeling motivated.
Also, the lack of motivation can make it more tempting to reach for unhealthy convenience options. If you’re struggling to stick to a healthy lifestyle, it may help to identify the source of your lack of motivation.
Improving motivation makes it easier to stick to a healthy lifestyle
Once you know what’s causing your lack of motivation, you can take steps to address the issue and stick to your healthy lifestyle choices.
For example, if you’re not motivated because you’re bored with your current food options, consider mixing things up with new recipes or exploring different cuisines.
If a lack of time is the issue, try batch cooking or looking for quick and easy healthy recipes. By taking action to address the source of your lack of motivation, you can make it easier to stick to a healthy lifestyle in the long run.
Another tip to increase your motivation is to set small, achievable goals. This can help you to feel a sense of progress and keep you inspired to continue working towards your goals.
Another is to who will encourage and motivate you. Finally, don’t be afraid to towards your goals.
Read also: 21 Tips to stay motivated to healthy eating.
What are some of the Dos and Don’ts of a healthy lifestyle?
While there is no single blueprint for healthy living, there are certain dos and don’ts that experts agree on.
One of the most important things to do for your health is to maintain a healthy weight. This can be accomplished through a combination of diet and exercise.
Another important step is to avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Additionally, it’s important to get regular check-ups and screenings, as well as to take steps to prevent accidents and injuries.
As far as healthy living dos go, these are some of the most important. However, there are also certain don’ts that should be avoided.
These include sitting for long periods of time, eating processed foods, and not getting enough sleep.
By following the dos and avoiding the don’ts of healthy living, you can improve your overall health and wellbeing. Read more do’s and don’s of healthy living.
Final words on why a healthy lifestyle is so hard to stick to
One of the most difficult things to do is adhere to a healthy lifestyle. In fact, the temptation for unhealthy foods or lackadaisical exercise habits seems insurmountable at times.
Many of you may know what we should be doing, but it can feel hard and daunting when faced with the reality of making a change in your day-to-day life.
However, it’s important to realize that small shifts to your lifestyle will have big impacts over time.
What’s your main challenge when it comes to sticking to a healthy lifestyle? Let me know in the comments below.
What are the best foods to eat for a healthy diet?
There are many different opinions on what the best foods to eat for a healthy diet are.
Some people believe that you should stick to strictly organic, whole foods, while others think that it’s ok to indulge in some unhealthy foods every now and then.
So, what’s the right answer? What are the best foods to eat for overall health and well-being? Read on to find out!
What are some self-care ideas that I should practice daily?
It is important to practice self-care every day in order to maintain your well-being.
There are many different self-care ideas that you can try, and it is important to find the ones that work best for you. Here are some self-care ideas that I recommend.
Poraj-Weder M, Wąsowicz G, Pasternak A. Why it is so hard to lose weight? An exploration of patients’ and dietitians’ perspectives by means of thematic analysis. Health Psychol Open. 2021;8(1):20551029211024406. Published 2021 Jun 18.