(AscendHealthy.com)- When it comes to changing bad habits, humans tend to fall short. A mere 8 percent of people who set New Year’s resolutions actually keep them. Most give up within the first month. Diets also have a staggering fail rate. If you’ve ever started a diet only to blow it on the first day, you know how hard it is to change. But why? Why is it so hard to change bad habits when you have the ability to do so?
What Are Your Worst Habits?
If you’ve ever stood up after five hours of binge-watching TV and snacking feeling bloated and blah, you’re not alone. About 70 percent of Americans have admitted to binge-watching movies and television shows. What’s more, there is a direct correlation between watching a lot of TV and overeating, which leads to weight gain.
There are other bad habits ingrained in American culture, such as leading a sedentary lifestyle, eating fast food, overspending, living in stress, drinking too much alcohol and smoking. Likely one or more of your bad habits is on the list, and you’ve struggled to change.
Why You Can’t Break Your Bad Habits
If you can’t stop doing things that are bad for you, blame it on your brain. When you engage in a pleasure-based activity, such as eating or watching your favorite show, your brain releases dopamine. Your brain loves this chemical, so you will begin to have cravings to repeat the rewarded task. When you continue to engage in the activity, your brain becomes hardwired to repeat the behavior and a habit forms.
To break a habit, you must practice self-control, a byproduct of willpower. Unfortunately, willpower is not a limitless resource. It will only get you so far. You must also have the commitment to follow through.
Common Habits and How to Break Them
In order to change your bad habits, you must dig deep to find the willpower and commitment to change. You must also establish a strategy that will help you realize your goals. Here are a few examples of some of the most common habits and how you can break them.
- Sedentary Lifestyle – You cannot go from sitting on the couch all day to a dedicated gym rat in the span of a week. You will only be successful if you make small, manageable changes. For example, allow yourself to watch only two hours of TV per day. Use 30 minutes of your free time each day to take a walk.
- Eating Fast Food – Remember, small changes add up. Instead of driving through your favorite fast food joint, choose a place with healthier food choices. If you can’t seem to find the time to shop and cook a healthy meal at home, sign up for a meal delivery service. Always running late and grabbing food on the go? Consider meal prepping on days you have spare time?
- Living in Stress – Practice self-care. Carve out 30 minutes each day to do something for yourself, such as reading, meditating, exercising or engaging in a hobby.
- Drinking Alcohol – If you consume too much alcohol, take measures to quit. If you need help, speak to your doctor or reach out to a support group.
- Smoking – Take advantage of aids, such as medications, nicotine patches, and nicotine gum, that will help you quit smoking. Also, reach out for support. If you need help giving up cigarettes, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for help.
You have the willpower and strength to break your own worst health habits. All you need to do is establish a foolproof strategy and work toward implementing it each and every day. If you fall, get back up and try again. You’ve got this!
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