Some Thoughts on Habits
Some behaviors are repeated so often and they become so routine that they become an unconscious behavior. We don’t really have to think about doing them, we just do them. You probably have several habits in your day. Do you commute to work? Do you drive the same route every day? Do you have to think about every turn you make or which lane to move over in to get off at the proper exit any more? You may have had to when you first started on that but now you don’t. You don’t even think about it. In fact, you probably can listen to the radio, talk on your cell phone, even put on a little makeup all while following the same commute route by habit.
Habits can be bad. A lot of people have the bad habit of asking, “What’s for dessert?” after they’ve eaten a big meal. It’s tradition. It’s what they always did in their household. It’s what there dad taught them. It’s a habit. Dinner doesn’t feel complete until someone has served up a big bowl or ice cream to top it all off. That’s a bad habit.
Habits can be good too. Some people who are focused on health and fitness are in the habit of exercising every day. In fact, they tell you they don’t even feel good, they don’t sleep well, or they don’t feel like their day is complete, unless they have gone for a run or gotten in an hour’s worth of exercise.
The real trick is to create habits that serve to help you achieve your goals of better health, longer life and better quality of life. That means you need to create habits that promote weight loss and maintenance of a healthy weight.
Sometimes creating a new habit is the hardest thing. Think of the smoker who has to try seven or eight times before they finally quit smoking. But then talk to them a few years later and almost all of them will tell you that it’s easier now. They are in the habit of not smoking. They don’t even think about it. But getting there, that was another story. Creating the new habit was difficult. It was a matter of fighting and shaking off the old habits of lighting up at umpteen different times during the day, and then creating new ones. That was the hard part. But after a year or two and hundreds and hundreds of repetitions, the new habit became an unconscious repeated behavior and a better, healthier one.
So remember that you can succeed in the battle to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. It’s more difficult in the beginning and for a long period of time until all those behaviors become habit. But keep trying to make them habit because every single time that you exhibit a “good” behavior like skipping dessert, cutting back on treats and snacks, avoiding the chips, skipping food after dinner time, then the more those behaviors become unconscious habits. And the more you replace bad habits with good ones like, say substituting a new habit of a nice long walk after dinner for an old habit of a bowl of ice cream, the more those become habits that feel good and that you can’t do without.