Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight or get healthier knows that unhealthy habits are hard to break. After all, if they weren’t, wouldn’t everyone be at their ideal weight with great diet and exercise habits?
Unfortunately, many great intentions are sidetracked — or sabotaged altogether — by those pesky bad habits that keep coming back into our lives. Perhaps it’s snacking on carbs late at night or binging on Netflix instead of going to the gym.
Why are habits so hard to change? Perhaps because we focus too much on the things we shouldn’t be doing — instead of turning our attention to the things we should.
Starting today, you can focus on a new way to say goodbye to those old habits that keep coming back to haunt you. You do this by replacing them with healthy, constructive habits. Focus your efforts on tools and activities that boost your physical and mental well-being, and you may find that you simply don’t have time for those bad habits anymore — no “cold turkey” motivational talks required.
1. A meal schedule
Our bodies are made for routine. Sleep experts will tell you that going to bed and getting up at the same time each day is one of the most effective ways to get the rest you need. And if you’ve ever experienced jet lag, you know exactly how bad you feel when your body can’t find its normal rhythm.
It’s no different with food. In fact, you can “program” your body to expect certain amounts of food at certain times of day by eating on a regular schedule.
Use this to your advantage: set a schedule for when you will eat your meals each day, such as breakfast at 7, lunch at noon, and dinner at 6. Don’t eat meals at odd times of day or change the quantity of food drastically. With time, your body will likely stop craving food at other times (like those late-night cravings that are so tough to resist).
In addition, your body will learn to feel satisfied with the amount of food you’re providing. Just make sure you’re eating the appropriate foods for your body type, health goals, and fitness level. Not sure what the right diet for your body is? Talking with a medical professional who specializes in weight loss is a good place to start.
2. Stress-reducing tools
Stress happens to all of us — we can’t avoid it. But those who learn to manage it are healthier and happier than those who let it take over their lives. Chronically high levels of stress can lead to all sorts of health problems, like an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and yes, weight gain.
Part of the reason stress makes it hard to lose weight is that it alters certain hormones in the body. But stress is also a major trigger for those bad habits we’re trying to avoid, from nail biting to overindulging in comfort foods. That’s why stress management can have such a life-changing effect.
Luckily, anyone can learn to manage stress. These days, there are yoga classes in nearly every town, online resources and apps for deep breathing and meditation, and there’s also the classic stress-reducer: exercise. Treat stress like you would any urgent health problem: start treating it and managing it today.
3. Positive self-talk
We all talk to ourselves in our heads, whether we realize it or not. While it may sound a little awkward for people who aren’t used to self- talk, it’s a powerful way to succeed in making healthy changes.
The first step is to become aware of your self-talk. Then, you can learn how to change it. Unfortunately, when many people are trying to make positive changes in their lives, negative self-talk holds them back. They don’t realize that when they slip up or have a bad day, they’re telling themselves things like, “I’m a failure,” or “I can’t do this.” Shortly after, they give up.
When you look in the mirror, do you immediately notice flaws and wish you had a different appearance? Instead, start focusing on positive things about yourself. Changing your self-talk to things like, “I am working to make my body strong and healthy” or “my health is important, so I am going to fill my body with good things,” could help give you a weight-loss edge.
4. A favorite hobby or activity
With our busy schedules today, many people feel they simply don’t have time to play a favorite sport, join a community musical group, or take up a painting class.
Whatever it is that you love, make time for it. By default, this will take time away from the things that are not helping you reach your goals. For instance, an art class could stand in the way of a Netflix binge. A group bike ride may leave you no time to sit on the couch after dinner.
You’ll also feel emotionally refreshed, which could give you that extra motivation you need to keep going when you hit plateaus or roadblocks on your weight loss journey.
5. An emergency bad-habit substitute
When all else fails and you feel yourself going back to a bad habit, have a substitute in place.
If you find yourself reaching for the cookies or junk food, have fresh fruits and veggies at the ready and eat those instead. Or, when you feel yourself wanting to watch another television show, get up and take a walk around the block. Call a friend, chew a piece of gum, drink a glass of water, or listen to some guided imagery or meditation tracks. Sometimes it helps to write down your substitute so you know what to do.
Your bad habits don’t define you. Remember that you are capable of removing things from your life that are standing in the way of a healthier you. You can overcome bad habits and get to a healthier place in your life — and we can help. Request your no-cost consultation with one of our weight loss experts at Garcia Weight Loss and Wellness Centers today!