Have you ever wondered why most diets fail? And why do people buy a year-long gym membership only to use it a couple of times and then stop going? What happened to cutting down on all those weekend alcohol binges? And why are you still smoking?
All of these changes you’d like to make in your life involve breaking habits. That can be hard to do and very hard to keep up over the long-term, especially if you have formed an addiction. In that case you might need to seek out professional help in order to make the changes you want. If you have a physical addiction to a substance such as alcohol, you absolutely must consult your doctor before trying to quit. Cold turkey abstinence can cause your body to react in a way which can kill you.
What we need to do in most cases, is break a habit. Let’s look firstly at typical poor eating habits. A person wakes up and is instantly in a rush to get ready and get off to work. If they have time to sit down for breakfast, it may well only be to scoff down a bowl of sugary cereal or some kind of microwaved waffle. The reason is that they’ve been eating these foods for breakfast since childhood – they don’t require any thinking. The other is that they don’t require any effort to make. They are, of course, better than wolfing down a chocolate bar or a pack of chips in the car, but could improve a lot by waking up a few minutes earlier, choosing a wholegrain cereal, muesli or porridge and peeling fresh fruit to eat with it. You might want to boil an egg, too or make a green smoothie.
The same goes for rushed lunches – choosing the easiest option instead of the healthy option. If you’d spent ten minutes preparing your lunch at home, perhaps the night before, you might be eating a healthy sandwich, a delicious soup or a salad.
At the end of the work day, you’re probably hungry. You might even snack on chocolate bars or whatever you can get your hands on before the drive home. Once home, you’re too exhausted to think about preparing a healthy meal so you heat up a prepared meal or even order something to be delivered. Instead of making you feel better, these meals make you feel more exhausted due to their lack of nutrients and highly-processed nature.
All you need to do to improve your eating habits is to get into the habit of taking more time to prepare and eat food. If your eating choices are all last-minute, you’re not going to benefit from a healthy diet.
Habits are important for fitness, too. The easier it is to work out, the more likely you will do it. If you can’t face getting your kit ready and driving down to the gym after a day’s work, you’re not going to go. However, if you have some gym equipment at home (http://indoorellipticals.com/), you are much more likely to use it. Install a pull-up bar in your bedroom’s doorframe and get a treadmill or an elliptical trainer. Work out whenever you feel like it.
Smoking and such habits are difficult to break. You might have to change the group of people you socialize with. If you are used to taking smoke breaks at work, they could become ‘stroll breaks’ instead. You might find you don’t know what to do with your hands. You will almost certainly feel heightened levels of stress and anxiety for up to a month – this can seem unbearable when you are experiencing cravings as well. Remember that your cravings usually only last for around two or three minutes at a time – if you can stay strong for a few minutes, you’ll have a good chance of success. Lastly, if you’ve made it to one, two or three weeks without smoking (which can seem an incredibly long time), don’t think you are in the clear. You can’t get away with the odd cigarette here and there – this is the classic way in which smokers relapse.
By planning your time and avoiding certain situations, you can change your habits and lead a healthier, happy and more energetic lifestyle.