The old adage that diets – food, financial or otherworldly – don’t work is true. A diet is a temporary restriction or elimination of something to reach a specific goal. Studies have shown that most food-related diets fail. Instead of dieting, setting up a strict budget, or restricting something you love (that is otherwise healthy in small amounts), focus on purging unhealthy food, financial, and procrastination habits. The scale and your savings account will almost invariably follow. Here’s how to get rid of those unhealthy habits!
- Know Yourself – The first step in breaking a habit is to recognize it as a habit, be it grabbing a pint of Ben and Jerry’s when you’re feeling down or hitting up Macy’s after a stressful day at the office. Ask yourself how you benefit in the long term from that comfort food or mall binge. If the answer is no, ask yourself if you really want to break that habit. Be sure to answer honestly, just to yourself. If the answer is “Yes, I know this is bad for me and I want to break this habit,” then proceed. If the answer is “Maybe” or “No”, pause.
- List Reasons Why– Regardless of whether or not you are ready to break a habit, you can still improve your life by increasing your level of self-awareness. Start by listing all of the reasons why you need to break that habit in positive statements such as: “Breaking that habit will improve my energy,” or “Breaking that habit will allow me to take the kids to Disneyworld next year”. It doesn’t matter how long or short of positive reasons are, the important part is writing it down.
- Make the Decision to Start– With your self awareness and commitment to stop the habit, each day you need to consciously act on stopping. Getting in the practice of saying self-acclamations is really powerful. Saying, I choose to eat healthy (or whatever the bad habit is that you want to break) often will enforce the change within you.
- Take Action– Here is where you need to have a plan of attack. Start small so you don’t burnout and fail before the week is out. Want to lose weight? Start an account on MyFitnessPaland start tracking calories or join Weight Watchers. Don’t purge anything from your daily diet, just track. Trying to save money? Grab an empty jar and at the end of every week, drop your pocket or wallet change into it. Want to get in shape? Start by walking at a comfortable pace every other day.
- Accountability– Tell your closest circle of friends and family. Set aside time every week and go to Weight Watchers meetings. Share your goal and plan. If you are comfortable, ask them to check in on your progress. By telling others you have really made a commitment to take charge of changing your bad habits.
- Increase The Difficulty– As you become more and more comfortable with cutting calories, saving money, and/or exercise, increase the difficulty. Use the NIH website to figure out your healthy weight and calorie range and enter that number into MyFitnessPal. Add an extra dollar or two to that jar of coins. Add some wrist weights to your every-other-day walk or change it up to a daily walk.
- Deal with Failure– You will not be alone when I tell you that you will have setbacks. Everyone does. There’s always that party you overeat at. You will fall prey to that sale at Macy’s. You’ll occasionally miss your walk. The key is how you handle those things. Pick yourself up and acknowledge actions. Ask yourself why they happened and file the information away for the next time. Then get moving. Recommit to breaking that habit and off you go!
- Reward Yourself– Keep a chart so you know your progress. Give yourself a reward at various goal points. It doesn’t have to be something big. But congratulating yourself will encourage you to keep going!
Habits are hard to break. We all know it. However, the reward is unbelievable!
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