We all have a few bad habits that we'd like to get rid of, but habits are hard to break.They can prevent you from accomlishing your goals, waste time and energy, and jeapordize your health--both mentally and physically. By proactively confronting bad habits, you have a better chance of leaving them behind, once and for all.
1. DRINKING TOO MUCH
How to kick it
There seems to be two general camps here: you’re in your 20's or 30's and drink excessively when you go out with friends once or twice a week or you’re 40+ and have a drink or two on most days. I’d use different strategies to kick each of these habits:
You drink excessively 1-2 times a week
- Count your drinks one of these times. Holy cow. Chances are you are drinking WAY more than you thought and consuming way more calories than you thought. Five days of eating healthy can easily be sabotaged by one night of drinking. This awareness of your calorie consumption will help you start in the right direction.
- Try swapping out every other drink for a seltzer with orange or anything non-alcoholic. You’ll still be part of the party vibe but won’t get plastered.
- Plan activities that don’t include drinking. If you’re anything like me, you have a lot of friends that want to do non-drinking activities, but no one ever plans anything, So you always end up at bars where no planning is needed. My favorites only need 1 other person but can be scaled depending on how many friends join: hiking, tennis, travel, or head to the nearest city event.
You have 1-2 drinks most nights a week
- Set a limit to how many nights a week you are allowed to have your favorite beverage. You’ll enjoy it more because it’s a treat.
- Get the lowest calorie version of whatever it is you’re drinking and measure how much you are actually imbibing. You may not be having a standard drink – it could be 2-3 times as much as you’re estimating. This knowledge alone will help you cut back.
- Ask your significant other to get on board. Cut back together for added motivation.
Drinking your calories makes it really tough to stay within your calorie constraints with your food. You may feel like you’re doing great on your diet but never end up losing weight. The answer could simply be to cut out some of the excess drinking. Even better, with a little added effort at planning outings, you’ll get to do more fun stuff and it’ll be even cheaper than a night at the bars!
2. NOT SLEEPING ENOUGH
How to kick it
Everyone says, turn off the TV and computer before bed. Who the heck is doing that though? Our phone is in our hand until we pull the blankets up…sometimes even after that! These are the two methods that we’ve seen work in real life:
- Go to bed in the same timeframe every night. Let’s say between 9:30PM and 10PM for example. Stick to it every night, even on weekends when possible. You’ll notice that you get tired at the same time each night and fall asleep much faster.
- Focus on your breathing and repeat a word each time you breathe out. For example: “one” or the more traditional “Om”. Regardless of the word you choose, if you find your mind wandering (the newer you are at this, the more it will), just think “oh well” and return to your meditation. The more you practice, the faster you can put yourself to sleep with this method.
As much as a 6 hour binge of Breaking Bad is needed, giving that up to get some extra zzz’s will have you feeling and looking a lot better.
3. DIET SODA
How to kick it
I hope most of you aren’t drinking regular soda either but diet soda seems to be “not that bad” in many people’s views. The first and easiest thing that anyone should do if you are trying to lose weight, is eliminate sodas.
- The tried and true method of cutting anything out of your life is to replace it with something else. Substitute coffee or tea (without a bunch of added sugar or cream). If you’re dying for the fizz, get some flavored waters or juice and seltzer. Find something that works for you and make the switch – the first few days may be tough but you’ll be thankful you kicked the habit as you watch the pounds melt away.
- Another approach is to slowly cut out soda in various places. First start by cutting it out at home. Then at work. Then at fast food restaurants. Continue to eliminate places where you drink soda until they are all gone. The slow removal will help with any headaches caused by the reduction of sugar from your diet.
It confuses your body. Artificial sweeteners have more intense flavor than real sugar, so over time products like diet soda dull our senses to naturally sweet foods like fruit. After binging on cookie dough this weekend (yes, I’m ashamed) I went back to my normal diet, and my oatmeal tasted SO plain. Normally it’s one of my favorite foods, but my taste buds were used to such an intense processed sugary flavor that I was really thrown off. Same thing applies to soda and healthy food. Health food can be extremely enjoyable when you cut out the extra sugary stuff – it will start to taste much better.
4. SKIPPING BREAKFAST
How to kick it
Eat fewer snacks before bed so your stomach isn’t full when you wake up. Keep it simple and healthy – your willpower is at its highest first thing in the morning, so you can start your day off the right way with super healthy food. Whether that’s eggs and oatmeal or a smoothie on the go, this only adds a few extra minutes to your morning routine.
Eating a healthy breakfast helps reduce hunger throughout the day and encourages you to make better food choices at other meals. Snacking every hour or two and pigging out at mealtimes obviously has major weight implications.
5. ENDLESS TV WATCHING
How to kick it
It’s been a long day at work, your boss is overloading you and you’re exhausted. It’s so easy to slump on the couch and turn on your favorite show. Or maybe you get a game of Call of Duty going or surf the web or maybe it’s all of the above. First of all, do you really want to look back at your life and remember busting your ass each day and then watching TV each night? I didn’t think so. Start on the road to recovery by limiting yourself to one show per day. This may be a huge reduction in your TV habits, but I promise you won’t regret it.
- Download some audiobooks. This may sound nerdy but you’ll be able to escape into a story while at the same time getting things done: dishes, laundry, cooking, you name it. If you’re really ambitious, download some books that will take you to the next level in your job or hobby.
- Choose one show at a time. Don’t try to keep up with the Kardashians, Dexter, and House of Cards all at once.
No one likes or respects a couch potato. It’s fun every once in a while but making it an everyday ritual will suck the life right out of you. Numerous studies show direct links between excessive television watching and obesity. The average American spends 5 hours a day in front of the TV, meanwhile two-thirds of Americans are overweight. The “mindless snacking” that is induced by TV comas and food advertisements are a major contributor to this.
6. NOT EXERCISING
How to kick it
I know we prefer going with a buddy, but let’s be honest, they usually cop out and it completely ruins your motivation. You need to learn to hold yourself accountable. I’m a big fan of doing positive things like meditating and exercising every day to form habits and become consistent. Anytime you have a 3-4 days a week activity, you are able to make up excuses for it not happening or pushing it off “just one more day”. So make exercise a daily activity.
- Bite the bullet and get a gym membership. There is no better investment than your own health. Try to find one as close to home as possible.
- Hate the gym? Create a home gym. Buy a good total body DVD and some dumbbells.
- Follow your favorite athletes and healthy personas on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. They’ll provide continual motivation and help you create a lifestyle of exercising daily.
- Workout first thing in the morning. Like I said earlier, this is when your willpower is at its highest, and you will be able to get your exercise in before you can make any excuses. It’ll start your day on the right note.
- Shorten your exercise routine. Yea, I said it. When you make it an everyday thing, you don’t need to be at the gym for an hour. 20-30 minutes a day is going to be plenty!
As if any of this needs repeating…Weight control. Self-confidence. Improved mood. Energy. Sleep better. Less stress.
How to kick it
Awareness. The first step is awareness that you are participating in it! Once you’ve taken score of when you complain, start trying to catch yourself. Comment on the awesome dinner your spouse made instead of how they didn’t clean up afterwards. Talk about what you can improve at work instead of all the places you’d rather be instead. As you start saying positive things out loud, you’ll notice your thoughts start to follow, and it creates a re-enforcing cycle of positive energy!
No one wants to think they participate in spreading negativity on a daily or weekly basis. Whether it’s complaining about work or venting about your spouse, it has major effects on your life and those around you. You are what you think about. When you complain or criticize, you are putting energy into negativity when you could put that same energy into productivity or cheerfulness.
Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD. The Many Benefits of Breakfast. WebMD. 29 Aug 2007. Web. 27 Jan 2016. <http://www.webmd.com/diet/many-benefits-breakfast>.
Dietz WH, Jr., Gortmaker SL. Do we fatten our children at the television set? Obesity and television viewing in children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 1985;75:807-12.
United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “American Time Use Survey – 2014 Results.” Web. 27 Jan 2016. <https://lib.gccaz.edu/lmc/help/citations/MLACiteElec.pdf>.
Brooke Alpert, RD and Patricia Farris MD. The Sugar Detox: Lose the Sugar, Lose the Weight--Look and Feel Great. Boston, Da Capo Press, 2014. Print.