Replace those resolutions! (with small, effective habits that last)

 

How many times have you made a New Year's resolution to "get healthy" that didn't last a month? Don't worry, we're not judging. Fact is, it's pretty tough to stick to resolutions. And, according to behavioural economists, it takes a lot more than sheer willpower.

Research has shown that people are systematically and predictably prone to biases, both in the way we judge situations and in the way we make decisions. We want to go on a diet, but only tomorrow - for now, all we want is to chill in front of the TV with junk food.

Why? Apparently, we're prone to making decisions that practically predispose us to chronic diseases. For example, humans generally display these behavioural traits:

  • We want instant gratification, even when it's not good for us: We tend to procrastinate doing things that are in our long-term interests compared to things that provide immediate gratification. In other words, we value a second helping of dessert right now, rather than refraining at the thought of future health.
  • We're unrealistically overconfident: Optimism is usually good, except when it's a blind belief that health issues like lung cancer or heart attacks happen to other people but won't happen to you, no matter how you behave. Studies show that people who engage in risky behaviour often display an unrealistic confidence in their ability to give up bad habits such as smoking.
  • We think we're at greater risk from recent events or ones that are memorable: We tend to judge events that have recently affected someone we know, or ones well-covered by the media, as more likely to recur, even if (in reality) they don't occur often. For example, people can worry more about terrorism and shark attacks than about diabetes and hypertension, although the latter are far more likely to harm you.

If it sounds like you're fighting a losing battle, don't fear - help is at hand. There's been a lot of ongoing research to help us understand how and why we make the decisions we do. But by learning the biases you're prone to, you can consciously guard against making unhealthy choices just because they are, for example, more convenient, cheaper or you're fatigued.

Instead, you can actively foster an environment that supports healthy behaviours (like not stocking junk food at home) and use any tools and incentive structures available to you (like positive peer pressure and discounts at fitness facilities) to make being healthy the easier and more rewarding choice.

So if you want to improve your lifestyle through your daily behaviours, turn wishful thinking into action by setting an achievable goal, and finding a support structure that enables and empowers you. This is where a health programme like Discovery Vitality can give you a win-win solution.

For example, Vitality's range of incentives lower the cost barrier of becoming healthier, and motivate and reward people on many levels for doing so. Check out this calendar for ideas on how to start making small changes in the first half of this year to help get big results in 2018. Just a few small steps like these can help instil healthy habits that?ll last ? and save you money in the process!

Your Vitality action plan for better health and greater savings in 2018

Month

Action

How Vitality can help you

January

Schedule all your family's health screenings and health checks for the year. Understanding your family's health status means that you can take the necessary steps to change.

  • The Vitality Health Check is a simple and convenient set of essential screening tests. It includes blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, a weight assessment and a non-smoker's declaration. You can do the Vitality Health Check at any pharmacy in the Vitality Wellness Network, a Vitality Wellness Centre or at your nearest Discovery Store.
  • Find out your Vitality Age online to understand how healthy you are relative to your actual age.

February

Want to eat healthier, but aren't sure where where to start? Begin by incorporating more fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and lean protein. Reduce your salt and sugar intake.

  • Activate the Vitality HealthyFood benefit and get cash back when you buy healthy food items at our partner stores - Pick n Pay or Woolworths.
  • Need to lose weight? Join Vitality Weight Loss Rewards for support, information and rewards.

March

Getting active is one of the best decisions you could make for your overall health. By making daily exercise part of your life, you can reduce your risk of obesity and developing chronic diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure. Remember to also make time for relaxation.

  • Do any exercise you like that gets your heart pumping and measure your progress with Vitality Active Rewards. Meet your weekly goals and you can get a free drink or snack. You can also qualify for a surprise reward when you earn three consecutive goals.
  • Treat yourself and your family to half-price movies at Ster-Kinekor. Plus, kids watch for free before 7pm when they complete a Kids Vitality Health Review.

April

Try a new fitness activity and get active outside.

  • Join one of your local parkruns for a free, timed 5km run. Bring your kids and pets for a run or walk at one of more than 100 parkrun venues around South Africa. You will also earn Vitality points that add to your overall Vitality status. Register on parkrun.co.za

May

Keen to try running or cycling? Perhaps set a goal of running a 10km race or a mountain bike challenge. Choose an upcoming race that you can comfortably enter in a few months' time. Start with an easy-to-follow beginner programme that will get you fit and ready.  

  • Join Team Vitality and get 50% cash back on your registration fees for selected race events. You will also get a Team Vitality starter pack with race gear worth over R1 000. Plus you will have access to VIP hospitality at certain events on the Team Vitality race calendar.

June

June means the start of winter and the dreaded flu. Eating healthy, sticking to your exercise regime and practising good hygiene can help you boost your immune system and if you do get sick, to get back on your feet quicker.

  • Vitality's HealthyCare benefit gives you up to 25% cash back at Clicks or Dis-Chem on loads of everyday personal and family care items - like antibacterial handwash, sun care, dental care, self-medication, selected supplements and more.
  • Get a flu vaccine to help protect you against flu.

July

Need a little motivation to get fit for spring?

  • Get ready to take on Joburg by entering the Vitality Run Series, which consists of iconic races in August and September each year.
  • Remember you can kit yourself out for less with Vitality's HealthyGear benefit. Activate it online to earn up to 25% cash back on selected sports gear and equipment at Totalsports and Sportsmans Warehouse stores
 

Exciting new surprise rewards: become a winner by getting fitter!

Vitality Active Rewards encourages you to work out more frequently, wherever you are, by giving you weekly rewards for meeting personalised physical activity goals. Now the stakes have been upped with a host of exciting new surprise rewards! Achieve a goal streak with three fitness goals in a row to earn a surprise reward.

Thousands of surprise rewards have been won - including grand prizes of local and international holiday packages and retail rewards from partners like Cape Union Mart, Nando's, NetFlorist, Sorbet and Yuppiechef.

Join Vitality today and then activate Vitality Active Rewards on the latest version of the Discovery app.

 

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