Why is it so hard to make a change today?

Feet walking up some steps
May 31, 2023
Focusing on the long term rewards of creating new habits, such as taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator, might make it easier to start implementing these habits into your routine today!

It’s no secret that behaviours such as eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and not smoking are good for us in the long term. But why is it that these behaviours are so difficult to adapt into our lives?

Let’s use the example of taking the stairs instead of the elevator. You know that taking the stairs is a good option, because it will help you to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine. But on the other hand, taking the elevator will save you time, and is the easier option. So what’s the better choice today? Well, we can argue that over the long term, taking the stairs is the better option. BUT in the short term, such as today, taking the elevator may be the better option, especially if you’re short on time. Oftentimes, those short-term rewards (for example, of making it to a meeting on time) outweigh the long term ones, so most people are likely to take the elevator this time. Because you were rewarded with making it to your meeting on time, you’re likely inclined to take the elevator again next time. With time, you form a habit of taking the elevator. 

So what if you take the stairs today? You might be more inclined to make that same choice again next time, and the next time. Gradually, a healthy habit develops of taking the stairs more often. Perhaps with time, you end up significantly increasing your walking, and see additional health benefits such as better cardiovascular health.

Knowing this, are you more inclined to make the seemingly more difficult choice today that may lead to a new, healthier habit forming tomorrow?

Dr. Yoni Freedhoff
Medical Director
Since 2004, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, an Associate Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Ottawa, has dedicated his practice to obesity medicine. ‍ Canada's most outspoken obesity expert, Dr. Freedhoff is regularly sought out by the international media for commentary on nutrition and weight matters, and his book, The Diet Fix: Why Diets Fail and How to Make Them Work. Dr. Freedhoff's diet agnostic philosophy and lessons learned from working with over 10,000 patients is the foundation of what Constant Health has been built upon.
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