Habits, The Good vs. The Bad; Changing Habits to Improve Health

Habits, The Good vs. The Bad; Changing Habits to Improve Health

What is a habit? Before any problem can be solved or an issue overcome, the root of the problem must be identified. Now, I am sure you are wondering how that relates to the issue regarding habits. Well, let’s say you have a habit of eating too much sugar on the weekends and to you this causes you grief because it offsets all the healthy eating efforts you accomplished during the week. This weekend sugar habit clearly does not fit within your healthy eating goals, but you just don’t know why you can’t break the habit even as it seems so subtle and incidental.

The reason you don’t know why this habit has the best of you is that this habit has a few components that must be dealt with at the core. First, the habit does not exist in isolation and there is something driving the habit whether it is a conscious or unconscious act or choice. So think about what is going on when you splurge on sugar during the weekend. Is it an emotional “feel good” feeling of relaxation, or a feeling of reward for a hard week’s work? What I am trying to get you to understand is the habit is triggered by “something” and that “something” is programmed into your mind. You are not really making the choice but rather the choice is making you. The choice by habit proxy is in control and not your conscious decision to eat something a little healthier. But you might be saying right now…”that sugar high is something I really enjoy and it is just part of my natural mood booster for the weekend.” I would agree with your statement but I would also ask you to dig deep inside to see if there is some other alternative mood booster that might make you feel just as satisfied while giving you healthier benefits. Perhaps making the choice to eat something healthier and sticking with your commitment might be a mood booster that far surpasses your sugar indulgence. How would you know? You would know by changing your habit and the choices you make to see if it fits your healthy eating plan and lifestyle. This one habit change could help you get just a little closer to your desired health goals.

Lastly, I am not implying all habits are bad or need to be eradicated. In fact, some habits are good for us. Early morning exercise became a habit I cultivated in the military and I have not stopped this habit. The sense of accomplishment empowers me throughout the day and I feel energized. This is how you should examine your habits by determining if they move you closer to your values and goals of how you would want to live your life. If a habit truly moves you closer to your goals than continue with the habit, but if it counteracts your life’s goals than find a way to identify the habit trigger and redesign the habit.

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