Planning and dedication can help you turn bad habits into good ones

Changing your habits can be hard, but by planning ahead, your chances of succeeding are much greater.

Overeating is not healthy and eating high-fat, sweet treats on a regular basis is also not healthy. If we know something is not healthy, why don’t we stop doing it? Many of us have excess weight that we could lose. So why don’t we just lose it? Bad habits are not formed overnight and they are not stopped overnight. In fact, they can be very challenging to change to healthier habits. But with perseverance and determination, over time, those changes can play an important part in your health and well-being.

A habit is formed from a repeated experience. Habits can play an important role in our everyday lives such as brushing our teeth, showering and combing our hair. But there are also habits that are created from triggers, or cues that we experience repeatedly eventually creating a habit that is not good for our health. For example, walking into the movie theater and smelling popcorn is a trigger to buy the popcorn because of the wonderful smell. If you bought popcorn every time you went to a movie, it could eventually become difficult not to buy the popcorn because of the bad or unhealthy habit that has been created. Movie theater popcorn contains a large amount of fat and calories and if you see a lot of movies that can add on some extra unwanted pounds.

How do we break these habits and create healthy ones? We could rely on New Year’s resolutions except the majority of resolutions are not followed through and they are not realistic. Because habits in general are created from behaviors that are practiced repeatedly and over time, they will take time to turn into healthier habits. Here are some ideas:

  • Avoid tempting situations. Rent a movie at home or go to the movie theater less often maybe only on very special occasions.
  • Replace unhealthy behaviors with healthy behaviors. Hot air pop your popcorn at home or grab a small cup to put a set portion of popcorn into at the theater.
  • Have a plan. If you can’t avoid the unhealthy situation, have a plan on how you are going to deal with the popcorn at the theater. Maybe you are going to chew gum and drink water during the movie. Practice what you plan.
  • Find support. Let friends and family know that you are working on creating healthier habits and you need their support. They may join you.
  • Reward yourself. When you have achieved a small goal, reward yourself with a non-food item. This can be some alone time, a trip to the spa, meeting a friend or buying yourself something for a hobby you enjoy.

Become more aware of your unhealthy habits and create a strategy or a plan to change them. Having a plan before the situation occurs will increase your chances in changing the way you have always addressed these troublesome situations. Habits need constant attention especially when going from bad to good. Bad habits are hard to change but it can be done and Michigan State University Extension is a valuable resource for health and well being. Visit Michigan State University Extension’s website for a wealth of information.

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