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Let Go and Live Free: Breaking Your Bad Habit

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By Rachel Derry
Staff Writer LIFamilies

The human personality is something that can be hard to overcome and control. We are strong minded and become easily susceptible to bad habits and additions. This year, instead of starting the New Year with an arbitrary “New Year’s resolution,” do a little self searching. We all have bad habits that we would be healthier without; many of us are food addicted, live sedentary lives, drink a little too much, or still haven’t quite kicked smoking yet. Take the time this year to really start a healthier life by letting one of your destructive habits go.

Once you have identified your bad habit, and have decided that it’s time to change, you must now set the goal for yourself. One main aspect of setting your goal is to set a start date. If you want to quit binge eating or chain smoking don’t simply decide to start today; you’re setting yourself up to fail and become discouraged. Instead, set a goal starting date somewhere in the near future. Look forward to the day and psyche yourself up. Once you've reached the date, go for the gold! Hopefully you've set your goal date around a time of minimized temptation, to give yourself success time to build your own confidence, while also building your willpower.

When you've started and are on your way to kicking the habit, make sure to take notes and track your progress. Track the good and the bad days; make sure to congratulate yourself on the small victories and to learn from your setbacks. Maybe study the times your cheated/had a setback to see if there are underlying factors: you may find that hanging out with certain acquaintances or in certain environments are counterproductive for you right now, and should be avoided until you've reached your goals.

Set yourself up for success by changing your usual routine. Whether you’re quitting junk food, cutting down on alcohol consumption, or even working down from over exercising (yes, you can exercise too much); change your daily habits to exclude the times in your schedule that you usually filled with the habit. If you commute to the city, maybe walk back to the train station via another route; take a hiatus from your fellow smoking friends until you have a handle on your cravings; make a point of DVRing your favorite shows and do weekend chores during your evenings, giving you more free-time during the weekend while discouraging evening snacking.

Take baby steps along the way, and take every day one at a time. Sometimes we get too focused on our future goals and we end up sabotaging ourselves in the present; you may become complacent, thinking that you have plenty of time to get on track or maybe you become overwhelmed by what seems like an impossible long-term ending. Focus on doing your best to reach today’s goal. Maybe that’s simply cutting back to only 1 cup of coffee, 2 cigarettes, or 0 sugary treats, but that is perfect for today. One foot in front of the other.

Always be prepared for the next round of temptation. Even as you get closer to reaching your goal and feel the power in yourself strengthening, you will still need to be ready for tough temptations that draw you back into bad habits. If you do fall off the wagon for a day, don’t become discouraged. Instead, take that step backwards as a lesson. What can you do differently in the future, how can you avoid similar situations? In the future when you are inevitably in the same situation, but make it through unscathed, you’ll be able to look back at those lessons and appreciate the knowledge.

At the end of the day (figuratively, not every day) make sure to reward yourself for your accomplishments and mini-goals met. Don’t make your rewards your incentive to stay on track, but rather spur of the moment rewards to yourself for helping you get healthy. Buy yourself a good, new book to curl up with or take yourself to the new movie that you’re dying to see. You’re worth it, so show yourself some appreciation!

Long Island Health, Fitness & Beauty Articles > Let Go and Live Free: Breaking Your Bad Habit

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