Getting rid of a bad habit is only half the battle, staying off it completely requires a complete game plan. We have all done it, one week we are determined to never go close to another cigarette, or we are truly determined to stop all drinking except the occasional sip here and there or we will never go close to fast food again until we have lost the extra pounds and we are even strong enough to manage a few weeks without such indulgence. However deep inside, our cravings are getting the better of us, the harder we try to run away from them, the surrounded we find ourselves – weak and almost depressed. It is not rare that soon after suffering from the withdrawal symptoms, and most often when we feel that we are there, we slip back into the bad habits again. Losing all the gains that we made and suffering even more than before.
“Relapses,” says Saul Shiffman a psychologist of great pedigree, “are the bugaboo of every quitter”. A habit is a form of learned automatic behavior that provides pleasure and comfort. A bad habit has long term negative consequences but it still gives us immediate comfort and under stress the logical tendency is to revert to the habit. To permanently get rid of a bad habit, we have to simultaneously unlearn certain behaviors and replace them with new ones that also provide gratification – sounds simple but not very easy to conjure under pressure.
Eating disorder and eating unhealthily are habits – most of the times they give us instant gratification but with long term negative consequences, they barely are helpful when we look at the bigger picture. It is extremely difficult to stop wanting a doughnut with the morning coffee, it is equally difficult to not walk in a burger joint and enjoy the simple pleasures of life, but all in all, there are more problems associated with such habits than benefits. Getting rid of such bad habits is difficult, if not impossible and it takes time to totally eradicate such behavior however the more effort you put on trying to get rid of such habit, the more chances of success are there.
Living healthy is about small things done right, all together at the same time. One must always have the goal of living healthy rather than losing weight – for starters. And once the decision is made, it should be a planned event considering all variables in place. The benefits of planning ahead to cover for a relapse is immense – after all if you think that there will be no relapse, you are wrong. It is really important to understand the emotional aspect of things, it really is equally if not more important than choosing the right vitamins and making the right food choices.
Adopt new habits:
Once you have decided to lose weight, the first activity must be to ensure that you have another habit to replace your existing habit. If you are not going to spend time cooking, there must be an alternative ready and lined to go. There are different activities possible that can be initiated but the new activity must be enjoyable and time consuming. There is no point in having spare time at your hands because the ghosts of your eating habit will come back to haunt you. In order to keep them suppressed, try to find good alternate activities that you can enjoy. Try walking; try getting a gadget that measures the steps you take every day. It will help soothe you and will also help you evaluate your performance.
Involve your family:
The best people to spend time with are the closest in the family. They deserve the best of you with the worst that occasionally surfaces. Once you are trying to get rid of eating habit or any other habit for that matter, the whole family should be (if possible) involved in the process. Let the people know that you are trying to make a better person of you, they would feel privileged to help you and also create a support group around you that will come in handy.
Avoid high risk situations:
There is nothing much to say on this, if you are trying to remain good to your word, try avoiding situation which will put you in a risk of getting your old habits back. There is no point in frequenting joints and places that you loved because it will be hard for you to find yourself saying no. If you are trying to lose weight, a bar that you frequent and love because of its good food will not be the place to go. Simplify your task by avoiding high risk situations; do not test your endurance of patience.
Reward yourself often:
Rewards yourself as often as you can, set yourself benchmarks and once you reach them, let off some steam and bask in the glory of your success. Pedometers are ideal for such things, get one, set a target and work for it, once you have done it, let your hair down and celebrate.
Be Honest with yourself:
There is no point in denying your realities. We are all bound in our limitations and the sooner we understand them, the better it gets for our body. If you are tired or if you are unable to hold back, let someone know who can help you. Do not lie to yourself that you can manage in all conditions, your will breaks if you are unable to control the realities around you.
Set realistic goals:
The picture of the models who you are aspiring to be look good but you cannot be there in a few days. It takes time and effort and a lot of hard work to reach such levels. Start small, reach the goal, set another goal and reach there. A goal too big or too hard is often a cause of relapse and depressions – also do not ever underestimate the power of photoshop these days
Do not let your mistake become a behavior pattern:
You will err on the path – that is a given. If you are so strong mentally, you probably will not be in such a place in the first time. You will make mistakes and will sneak in some extra food and break some of your rules. Accept them but do not encourage your mistakes. It is right to err sometimes but if you start accepting them, you will fall in the trap and all the good work you have done will be lost.
It takes time and effort to get rid out of a bad habit but it is very much possible. What seems impossible today may not seem too difficult in a few days, start now and maybe and hopefully soon enough, you will be able to look in the mirror and say “wow”
Trust me, once you know that feeling, all of this will be well worth.
Photo credit: epSos.de
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Photo credit: j_bary
/ CC BY