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The Challenging Task of Developing Healthy Habits

It is a common occurrence for people to preach about living a healthy lifestyle. This means adopting healthy habits that eventually translate to maximum overall health. Of course, they are not wrong. Developing healthy habits can lower our risk of contracting chronic diseases and improve our overall quality of life.

Healthy habits can include keeping clean diets and getting regular exercise. While these have been established to help us live our best lives, many of us still struggle to integrate them into our daily lives. Plenty of chronic diseases are still prevalent to this day, especially heart disease. This type of disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States.

Some of these illnesses could have been avoided if healthy habits were developed. Of course, these can be treated with integrative medical treatments. But healthy habits can only enhance our health and elevate our well-being. It is only fair to break down the challenges that hinder people from developing these healthy habits.

Habit Formation: A Challenge in Itself

To best digest the hindrances that people face towards a healthy lifestyle, we should first understand how habits work. Habits are behaviors that we repeatedly do. We often perform habits subconsciously and automatically. There are times when we do not even notice that we are performing a certain habit.

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Habits are formed with time and repetition until we do them automatically. There are too many factors to take into account when it comes to forming a habit. This makes it hard to identify how long it takes to form one. But there is this pattern called a habit loop.

A habit loop is a system of habit formation that consists of three stages: a cue or trigger, the routine, and the reward. Cues or triggers are essentially stimuli or situations that can prompt you to perform a certain behavior. The routine refers to the behavior being performed. And the reward is what we get from performing such behaviors.

For instance, let’s break down how one may develop a habit of eating too much fast food. Let’s say a person works across a fast food restaurant. They would end their workdays in the evening, just in time for dinner. The sight and proximity of the fast-food restaurant can prompt them to eat there. The reward they get is the removal of their feelings of hunger.

This shows that habits do not form randomly and are influenced by multiple factors in our daily lives. This alone is already a challenge, especially when we try to develop healthy habits and avoiding harmful ones.

A Lack of Time and Resources

Another challenge that people have to face is the lack of time and resources. People typically have to set aside time to practice and develop these habits. Some people do not have enough time to practice healthy habits.

Unhealthy habits, such as frequently eating fast food, can be more time-efficient than their healthier counterparts. The same can be said for going to the gym frequently. These habits take time. If one cannot accommodate these activities regularly, adopting unhealthy alternatives is likely to happen.

These habits may also cost money. It can be an added financial burden to develop and practice healthy habits. If health is not an urgent priority, some people may completely forget about it.

Psychological Reactance

In some cases, we might not want to practice these simply because someone told us to. As humans, we experience psychological reactance. We have this innate want to have control over our actions and have freedom. When this freedom is threatened by an outside force, we feel this negative motivational arousal. This is essentially psychological reactance.

Psychological reactance may cause us to ignore this outside force or do the opposite. This motivates us to restore our threatened freedom. It might be harmful to tell people to practice healthy habits when it is against their will.


Of course, there is always the issue of patience. Healthy habits make us exert a lot of effort, and sometimes progress can be slow. Some may give up on practicing healthy habits before even seeing any results.

Apart from that, they also have to fight the temptation of the pleasurable rewards that unhealthy habits can bring. Our behaviors can sometimes be fueled by rewards. This makes it hard to practice healthy habits even more because of the pleasurable experiences we may gain from practicing unhealthy habits.

Determination can sometimes be the key to practicing a healthy lifestyle. If we want to achieve a healthy lifestyle, there is no challenge that is big enough to stop us from doing it. Knowing what stops you from achieving a healthy lifestyle is the first step towards attaining it.

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