Everyone has developed habits with their diets, some good and some bad. It is important to start breaking your bad habits around food in order to have a successful weight loss journey. Whether the habit is eating too quickly, drinking with your meals or grazing throughout the day, breaking these habits is one of the first steps towards successful weight loss.
Psychologists say that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. The first step to breaking a bad habit is to understand what it is doing to your life. Then it becomes a matter of starting each day by re-committing yourself to a new way of life.
8 Steps to breaking free from a bad habit
- Realize why it is important. Decide how serious you are. If a habit seems to bother everyone but you, it may be hard to break. You must have motivation. Listen to your intuition. Write down the negativity that this habit is bringing into your life. For example, smoking is harmful to your health.
- Identify the times, situations and your emotional state when you perform the behavior. Habits can be automatic. Conscious awareness is critical. If you can anticipate that you are about to perform the behavior, before you actually do, you are more likely to be able to stop it.
- Set short-term goals. Be realistic when setting short-term goals that will help you reach your long-term goals. Goals should be written down, specific, measurable and realistic. Create deadlines for your goals. Substitute better behaviors. For example, by Feb 1, I will have cut down to one small cup of coffee, by replacing coffee with water.
- Set yourself up for success. Develop a plan that can work for you. Identify another behavior that you can do to avoid the problem behavior. For example, if you know that you should stop buying candy bars at the vending machine on your way to meetings, change your route so that you don’t pass the vending machine and if the route is a little longer, embrace the additional steps!
- Our mind is often more motivated by pictures and visualization, than words or written exercises. Draw, cut out pictures or take photographs of what you want in your life. Put pictures on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror or anyplace that will remind your subconscious of your desires to reinforce your goal.
- Develop confidence in yourself and your abilities. Listen to motivational CD’s and tapes in your car while commuting. Control your self-talk. Focus on your strengths, not your weakness. Develop a determination to follow through on your goals regardless of obstacles, circumstances or criticism. Have persistence. Live in the moment, pay attention to the beauty in the world and look for the good in people. Help someone each day. Don’t allow yourself to become distracted with excuses about why things can’t be done.
- Praise, social support and material rewards can reinforce successful attempts.
- Commit to exercise. Exercise is an instant confidence booster – blood starts to flow and you feel better. Even if you only do 10 minutes a day, every morning for the rest of your life, it would perpetuate other positive actions throughout your day.