By Kathy Emiko
A habit is something you do repeatedly; over and over again. What you do becomes a habit when you do it automatically, without really thinking and if challenged about it, you find it difficult to change. You may even become defensive.
You are what you choose: Choice gives you the ability to break bad habits. You always have a choice. You can be a lousy eater and feel dreadful as a result of your poor food choices or you can choose to eat the right foods and realize your health potential.
Magic bullets: You can create your own magic bullet for change by following these steps:
1.Â Â Identify your bad habits: To break bad habits, you need to first of all become aware of what they are. This brings them back into the realm of consciousness and helps you regain your ability to make choices. Grab a pen and paper and write a list of all the things you do that you know are not good for you; even if you enjoy doing them. For example, eating foods high in sugar and fat, indulging in ice cream, not getting enough exercise, drinking alcohol in excess and so on.
2.Â Â Â Whatâ€™s in it for you? What is the motivation for doing these things you know are bad for you? Why do you do it? Ask yourself why you find this action so compelling. In order words, what is the supposed â€œpay offâ€ for doing something you know isnâ€™t good for you? There is always a â€œpay offâ€. But is it worth it? For example, letâ€™s say your bad habit is to snack on several bars of chocolate a day. Of course, you get quick comfort fix when you do so. But, how long does it last? Instead of doing any exercise, you get to slob out in front of the TV. The â€œpay offâ€ is probably that you get to unwind and relax. But there are better ways of doing so!
3.Â Â Are you trading off? Analyze the trade off. What is it that you are losing by giving in to that habit? This step should be easier. Why is it that you consider it a bad habit in the first place? Eating too much chocolate is a bad habit because, it interferes with your blood sugars and triggers mood swings and it also encourages weight gain. Not exercising enough is a bad habit because, it makes you feel unfit and out of shape. In both cases, you are trading short-term comfort for long term weight gain and poor health and well being. When you look at it this way, it doesnâ€™t seem like you are making very wise choices, does it? There has to be a better way.
4. Pay off or trade off? That is the question. Now that youâ€™ve looked at your pay off and trade off, indulging in a bad habit is no longer an involuntary act. You now know that you are making a choice every time you perform this action. So, each time you feel tempted to indulge in a bad habit, remind yourself that you have a choice. Which do you value more? The instant relief you get from unhealthy snacking and sitting in front of the TV or overall health and wellbeing? I want you to become more conscious and aware. Donâ€™t go through life unengaged with yourself, mindlessly going through the motions and stuffing rubbish into your system.
If you make conscious choices, you will most likely make the right actions.
5.Â Substituting better habits: The reason you formed your habit in the first place is that it must have filled a need. Some people say that they needed to be comforted so, they reached out for food. Maybe, you were feeling tried so, you switched the TV on for the whole evening. Make active choices to break those old patterns. Instead of grabbing a chocolate bar when you feel low, eat an apple; instead of turning to the TV, go for a walk. Whatever the new habit is you use to substitute the old one is not so relevant; what is important is if you feel good about the choices you have made. After all, the reason you consider it a bad habit is because it leaves you feeling bad about yourself.
6.Â Itâ€™s up to you: The only way to give bad habits a life line is to sink back into denial about why you have bad habits in the first place. Each time you begin to resume your old habits, the thought will pass through your mind that you are trading one thing for another each time you perform that action. You will be forced to make a choice about continuing your habit or stopping right there. What choices will you make? The one that makes you feel disappointed with yourself or the one that makes feel positive about yourself? Itâ€™s up to you. To empower yourself, make the choice that you know, intuitively, is the right one.
If you listen to your body and make intuitive food choices, then you will make the right choices. After 365 days of eating, what you see in front of the mirror is the result of your choice of foods that year.
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