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How to Kick Bad Habits to the Curb

By Barb Brathwaite, RN MSN CS


Like most people nowadays, you want to exercise more, eat healthier and lose weight. So what’s stopping you? Let me guess...You don’t have time to exercise, you’re too stressed to eat right and you’ll just wait until your life calms down a bit to lose some weight...right?


But no matter how many times you join a gym or try healthy recipes or make New Year’s resolutions, you simply don’t keep it up, do you? Why not?


You know you should do better. You know that exercising and eating healthy and losing weight will make you happier in the long run. But obviously there’s another part of you that’s happy staying exactly the way you are.


So... what’s really going on? Why is it that there’s always something in the way of you getting what you want? And why in the heck is it so hard to change?


While millions of people wake up every day wanting to quit smoking or stop overeating or be more active, a million others are slipping back into their old habits. And, even though they try hard to change, they fail.


So how can you break those bad habits and kick them to the curb? Well, you simply have to replace unwanted behaviors with new, productive, interesting habits. And here’s how you do it:


5 Steps to Breaking Free of Bad Habits

  1. Identify what you are feeling when you do the unwanted behavior. Bad feelings can lead to bad behaviors. Are you feeling lonely, sad, bored and/or angry? The way we feel can trigger the impulse to eat, especially if this has been a pattern in the past. But, once you recognize what you are feeling, you can acknowledge it and find a different outlet such as going for a walk or calling a friend.
  2. Lay the groundwork for success. Substitute another behavior that you can do instead of the unwanted behavior. For instance, if you pass the refrigerator on your way into the house, enter the house a different way. By changing this habit, you will not be tempted to open the refrigerator and you’ll be breaking the cycle.
  3. Prioritize your needs. It is so important to take care of yourself. In our busy lives it is very easy to get distracted and pulled in different directions. Focus on your healthy lifestyle goals and go for it!
  4. Empower yourself. Focus on your accomplishments and the goals you have already reached. Thinking in a more positive way will help you to feel better about yourself. It will also increase your self confidence and self esteem. Get rid of those old, negative images that play over and over in your head.
  5. Work on stress management. Develop other ways to cope with stress rather than food. Stress is part of our lives and will always be present. Use other ways of coping such as walking, yoga, talking with a friend and meditation.


Remember...You can do it. Kick that unwanted habit to the curb!