Wild Arkansas

September 4, 2008

Late Bloomer: the habits you just can’t break

Filed under: health — Tags: , , , , , , , — WildArkansas @ 4:51 pm

We all know fast food is bad for us, but still manage to spend a bit of our time under the golden arches. Drinking to excess causes liver damage, but that doesn’t stop millions of college kids every year from pouring the stuff into their system. Exercise is good for you and smoking is bad, but that doesn’t inspire millions of couch potatoes or computer geeks to get out of the chair or smokers to quit.

Why is it the no-brainers of healthy living go un-heeded?

In two different Canadian studies, researchers have found that participants had the right information about bad habits, but found ways to justify their own. Relating positive experience, such as, “My mom smoked until she was in her 90s…” or placing it in a social context, “Everyone is doing it.”

Part of the problem is we focus more about what is tangible right now. Immediate gratification holds more power over us than a benefit that may or may not be experienced in the future. Though eating carrots instead of potato chips may be a good healthy alternative, we aren’t going to get the carb kick needed right now.

So how does one beat the no-brainers?

The most effective way is to educate oneself on how to change behavior. More often than not, replacing those bad behaviors with good ones seems to work for some. If the habit is fast food and convenience is an excuse, get rid of the excuse and carry healthy snacks with you.

There also have to be incentives for replacing bad habits. If you are kicking the caffeine habit, replace that habit with something you’ve always wanted to do and couldn’t afford. It has to mimic the time spent with that habit in order for it to be effective. An example would be to spend the coffee money on a yoga mat. Instead of waking up to morning coffee, you’re waking to morning yoga.

Some find that they have to set up an immediate reward system to keep themselves on track. A weekly manicure for nail biters not only give the satisfaction of beautiful nails, but is a deterrent to biting because of the money spent.

Others may actually need a bit more help and seek out a hypnotherapist, which has been found by many to be effective. Whichever method you choose, if successful you’ll be grateful you made it through the process and beat the odds.

Top no-brainers:

  1. Smoking [according to AMA, kills 435,000 people per year]
  2. Bad eating habits [along with sedentary lifestyle – 400,000]
  3. Alcohol consumption [85,000 per year]
  4. Lack of exercise [see bad eating habits]


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