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5 Ways to Kick an Unhealthy Habit

October 21, 2013

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Nipping unhealthy habits in the bud is much harder than it sounds. If you drink soda, or you don’t get enough sleep, then you know that it’s not just a matter of deciding to change your habits. Baby steps need to be taken to reach your goals and start living a healthier life.

 If you’re overeating, then stop counting calories.

This seems a bit counterintuitive, I know, but if you are restricting your calorie intake, then you are much more likely to slip and overindulge. Instead, focus on eating whole, real foods and cutting out processed foods as much as possible. It’s also important to cut yourself a break once in a while! If you eat a cupcake at an office party, it certainly doesn’t mean you failed. So instead of eating three more and restarting your diet the next day, just forgive yourself and get back on track.

If you are drinking soda, then transition to flavored water.

If you are a regular soda drinker, going cold turkey can be just as hard as a smoker doing the same. The chance of relapsing back to soda is high. Instead of doing that, first cut back on your intake by at least 75%. If you are having four sodas a day, have one instead.  When you feel the need for a soda coming on, have a big glass of water naturally flavored with fruit like berries, cucumber or lemon.

 If you are not sleeping enough, then set yourself a “go-to-sleep” alarm.

Not getting enough sleep is one of the most common and possibly most detrimental health concerns. Your body needs a certain amount of sleep each night. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your immune system is compromised and you’re more likely to overeat and less likely to exercise. Just like you might set an alarm to wake up in the morning, set an alarm at night 30 minutes before you need to go to sleep. When the alarm goes off, all electronics need to be turned off so you can wind down and get ready for bed. Start by setting the alarm 30 minutes before the time you usually get in bed, and move it up by 10 minutes each night until you are getting in bed at a reasonable hour.

 If you aren’t drinking enough water, then set an hourly alarm and start chugging.

It’s nothing you haven’t heard before - water is essential for good health. If you aren’t in the habit of drinking water, the best way to get in the habit is to again set an alarm for yourself. This time, set an hourly alarm on your phone. As soon as that alarm goes off, you need to drink an entire 8-ounce glass of water. You might end up drinking more than necessary at first, but pretty soon you will start to recognize your water cravings and you will no longer need an alarm to remind you.

 5.    If you aren’t making time for the gym, then start working out at home.

For a lot of people, the gym sounds like a big commitment. If you’re like me, then you probably feel like you need to get a nice long workout in since you are going all the way there. This makes it hard to find the motivation, and not to mention time, to fit in regular visits to the weight room. Instead, spend just 20 minutes in the morning doing a couple of easy, and effective workouts (think push ups, sit ups and lunges.) Once you get this workout in daily, it will make it much easier to justify spending just 20 or 30 minutes on the treadmill at the gym instead of an hour or more. Hopefully this will give you a quick daily workout and encourage a few days of daily doubles!

Do you have any tips for kicking an unhealthy habit in an effective way?