Making healthy life choices is always easy in theory, because the obviously good consequences speak for themselves. Despite this, the reality often looks very different. In the evenings the couch is much more inviting than going for a walk, and the pudding in the fridge is eaten more quickly than you can make yourself a tasty and healthy salad.

Choices

According to the Bronson Health Foundation, the six most frequent unhealthy life choices are:

  1. Not enough exercise
  2. Junk food and soft drinks
  3. Coffee and alcohol
  4. Not enough sleep
  5. Constantly being online
  6. Smoking

All these well-known bad habits are major causes of what are known as “lifestyle diseases.” These include diabetes, cardiovascular problems, obesity, and chronic lung conditions. In a press conference held in September 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that while overall life expectancy has risen in Europe, these positive results could be limited by unhealthy lifestyles. Start making a conscious effort to make healthy choices so you can work toward your own personal positive result.

If some of the unhealthy habits listed above seem all too familiar, you still have a chance to make different choices if you want. But how? Here are four suggestions for you.

1.     Select a personal goal that has top priority for you

Habits are often fully automatic routines that you very rarely think about on a conscious level. So making a change will require your full attention. Often people have a lot of good intentions that they try to act on all at once. Experience shows, however, that trying to stick to all your resolutions at the same time rarely – if ever – works. Of course this can be incredibly frustrating. So it’s better to approach things more slowly. Having a specific goal makes it easier for you to stay focused and keep track of your progress. And don’t forget – baby steps count and are important!

2.     Find your source of motivation

Motivation is the driving force that will help you change your behavior. It is the fuel for your engine, so to speak. Imagine that you manage to achieve you goal. With as much detail as possible, visualize how your life will look after you succeed in making this change. If you like, write it down and read it in moments of weakness so your vision stays fresh in your mind. Draw on it for the motivation and inspiration you need to start your new lifestyle.

3.     Know what triggers your bad habits

It’s important to explore different aspects of your bad habits. The more precisely you understand your weaknesses, the better you can learn to work around them. Ask yourself about the times when you usually perform the behavior you are trying to change. For example, think about the circumstances in which you would reach for another cup of coffee. Can you visualize a situation in which you wouldn’t need that cup of coffee? What would you need to make this situation happen? Which aspects of it would be easy for you to control? Try finding answers to these questions. Maybe the answers will give you some important clues.

4.     Stick with it

A truly lasting change in behavior has to be repeated constantly until it becomes a fully automatic part of our routine – just like the bad habit you are trying to get rid of.  Usually people need three to four weeks to fully establish a new habit. Be patient with yourself and give yourself a pat on the back when you reach small milestones along the way.

5.     Reward yourself

Rewards can help you, especially in the “stick-with-it” phase. Your new behavior, just like the old habit you are trying to replace, needs to awaken a desire. You can best achieve this by giving yourself a reward directly following your small victories. That might be a balanced, beautifully prepared Sunday brunch following your morning walk or a relaxing shower with a fragrant spa lotion after your workout. Your creativity should know no limits here. The only condition – the reward has to be consistent with your healthy lifestyle.

Let yourself be inspired by the FiTS Challenge and try making a series of healthy choices for a day. Maybe it will help you to prioritize your own personal health goal.