Why Do People Knowingly Continue Unhealthy Habits?
It’s the way we’re wired. Our brains seek out immediate rewards and avoid things that are immediately punished.
We know cooking wholesome food at home is good for our health long-term but after a long day we’re tired and hungry and it feels like a punishment to have to cook a meal before we eat it.
We know eating fast food regularly is likely going to lead to a slew of health problems later on, but right now it tastes good and it’s convenient.
We know exercise will benefit us long term, but short term it seems like a punishment and sitting on the couch watching Netflix instead is immediately satisfying.
What Can We Do About It?
According to James Clear (author of atomic habits), you can get around this by giving yourself some sort of small but immediate reward after doing something you want to make a habit of. So if you were just about to Netflix and chill, try doing a HIIT workout or meal prepping for tomorrow and then reward yourself with a piece of dark chocolate or a relaxing bath (or whatever you would like to do).
Striving for optimal health has a lot to do with habit changes, both breaking old habits and creating new ones. Most practices that improve wellness involve habits, like meditating and/or exercising daily, or meal prepping, or going to bed at an earlier hour. If you haven’t read Atomic Habits yet I highly recommend it to help you do just that, it’s one of my favourite books!