You Can Break A Bad Habit!
Who doesn’t have a bad habit? It would be hard to find someone that you know that won’t admit to having some type of bad habit. These habits can be related to your health, your relationship, or to your business.
Before I share my tips for breaking a bad habit I would like to share my own experience of breaking some bad habits.
My Own Journey In Breaking A Bad Habit
In January of 2016 I had an annual physical with my doctor. I weighed 220 lbs. (about 65 lbs. more than my normal weight). I was also diabetic, had a nail fungus in four toes, and I had constant arthritis pain in one knee. My doctor told me that I had to stop eating refined sugar and lose some weight or my diabetic symptoms would worsen.
Five months later I had lost the 65 lbs., but more importantly I had discovered a way of healthy eating that transformed my health and my life. The diet that I chose to eat did not include any refined sugar or processed foods. I only ate real food; meat, fruit, and vegetables. If it could be “cooked” in the microwave I didn’t eat it.
To satisfy my sweet tooth I baked cookies and cobblers using artificial sweeteners. I did not eat large portions of food, but always ate a bit more if I still felt hungry after a meal. I never calculated calories or carbs and I never weighed anything. That’s it. It was that simple. And I expect to continue with this way of eating for the rest of my life.
My weight loss continued until I reached a plateau of 140 lbs, my high school weight. More importantly, about three months into this diet my arthritis pain had stopped. And after one year my diabetes was in remission and the nail fungus was gone. I also have better concentration and focus in my work.
Finding The Motivation
One of the hardest things about breaking a bad habit is getting enough motivation to actually take the steps to break it. Some of the most well-known ways to break a habit include:
• Quitting cold turkey
• Setting a date to quit your habit
• Replacing the bad habit with a good one
All of these methods can work for you if you are truly ready to break your bad habit. Would you say that you currently have the desire to quit your habit? Or is it something that you keep putting off until next week or January 1st?
We are all busy with our lives and this is why quitting cold turkey or setting a quitting date do not always work. The minute you tell yourself that you can’t have or do something, you end up thinking about it all day long. Small children are a fantastic example of this. When you tell them that they can’t have something, they drive you nuts asking for it.
So What Can you Do Instead?
Your approach to quitting your bad habit needs to be a little different. Let’s say for example that you want to quit eating sugar. The minute you place this item on an “I can never have it” list, you constantly crave it.
How about tackling it this way.
Get up tomorrow morning and tell yourself that you are just going to get through one day without eating sugar. You will find it much easier to say no when offered something that contains sugar, because there is always tomorrow (and artificial sweetner).
What you will discover is that when tomorrow comes you only have to get through one day without eating sugar. Again it will be much easier to manage and you will find that your motivation increases. Within a few days you won’t be craving the sugar as much and you will start automatically saying no when offered cake or cookies or ice cream or brownies or candy or milk shakes or pudding or pastries.
Never Say Never
Now that’s not to say you can never eat a piece of cake again. Honestly who doesn’t want to have a piece of birthday cake or a slice of wedding cake when offered? All you are doing is not making sweet things a huge part of your life. Instead you can easily reserve these as “treats” for a special occasion.
Here’s some steps for you to consider:
1. Try and determine what it is that makes you perform your bad habit. Is it getting upset or frustrated with someone? Write down the reason and keep it somewhere that you can see it.
2. If you are letting someone’s reaction to something force you into eating, switch the eating up with another action. Maybe go for a walk, have a cup of tea or coffee, or call up a friend. Don’t let your habit rule your emotions.
3. Is your bad habit affecting your health, do you feel stiff and sore or know that you are putting on the pounds, but hate to admit it? Think about how you will feel if you continue in this way. Are you ready to start feeling worse about yourself?
It May Not Be Easy
Breaking a bad habit may not be as easy for you as it was for me. And while you do need to be aware of your choices, you don’t want this to become an obsession. Don’t ever beat yourself up about making one bad choice. Instead, take one day at a time and get through those 12 or 14 hours one at a time. I expect you will agree that this seems more doable than using another method. Plus, if you do fall off the wagon, you have only ruined one hour or one day and can get back on track right away.
Find A Support Group
Some people may find a support group can help them get through the bad times. You simply go to the Internet and search for one for your particular habit. I would recommend that you avoid any group that ends in “Anonymous” such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Overeaters Anonymous. I know, I know, some will say that they have helped millions of people and it is heresy to say anything against them, especially the truth.
As a therapist for 25 years I’ve worked with dozens and dozens of people who came to me confused and hurting after attending these …Anonymous groups. They want you to believe that you are powerless over your problem and that you must turn your life over to a “higher power” which ultimately turns out to be the Christian God. They also claim that you must become a better person in order to stave off the progression of your “disease”.
Does your doctor ever speak such nonsense about your diabetes, your heart disease, or your cancer? They will treat you even if you have anger issues, are selfish and self-centered, or are a bad parent. Also, your doctor will not require you to make amends to the people you have harmed in your life.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
I recommend that you search for a group that is based on the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This type of therapy and the support groups based upon its principles will help you make connections between your thoughts and your behaviors.
Here’s an example. Your thoughts tell you that you deserve a reward for making it through another terrible day. And, more often than not, that reward may take the form of eating some comfort food.
The principles of CBT, on the other hand, will guide you through the process of changing your thoughts about your terrible day into something more like, “I’m grateful that I got through this day. I think I need to spend some time meditating so that I can relax”. There are no calories or harmful chemicals in meditation.
Please understand that this is a major simplification of CBT. There’s a lot more to it than I have presented here.
Whatever method you choose to tackle your bad habit I truly wish you well on your journey.