Although this article is written to help you understand a little more about what habits are and how they can change your life, we serve a higher goal. To change your viewpoint of how to look at good and bad habits. This shift in mindset will help you break bad habits once and for all.
A habit is defined by the Oxford dictionary as a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.
The very definition of this word proclaims that it is an action that is hard to give up. What this definition leaves out is the fact that habits can be good or bad. They could push you towards your goals or pull you away from them. If you have a good habit, why would you want to give that up?
Not all habits are bad. Because of the negative connotation that is given to habits, we chose to give the word our own definition. We chose to define it for what it is.
A habit is a repeated, conscious, or unconscious action that has a trigger.
This could be good or bad, constructive, or destructive. Now, a habit can be something you want to build on, or something you want to eliminate from your life. By changing the way you define the word, habit, you are able to change the way you look at your actions.
With this definition you are not only able to identify what a habit is, but also the mechanism that puts it in action. Just like a bomb, habits usually have triggers that put them in action. There are many benefits to breaking bad habits, but lets see what’s triggering them in the first place.
Why would identifying the habit’s trigger be important?
This is useful for both, building on habits, but also breaking them down. If you can identify what triggers your action, you are able to build on the habit by reinforcing the trigger or break it down by avoiding the trigger. Identifying the trigger can also be used to change your response to it. So instead of carrying out your habit, you make a conscious decision to take a different action.
Before we get into more details about strategies you can use to change your habits, here are some examples of good and bad health habits.
5 Examples of Good Health Related Habits
We define good habits as, actions that will help you improve your health and have a healthier lifestyle.
Exercising on a regular basis
Exercise is very important to the body. Physical activity stimulates the body, feeds the brain with all kinds of information and keeps it active. It increases the load on the cardiovascular system, so that it remains conditioned. It helps pump the lymphatic system. Exercise sets the endocrine system in action and also breaks the musculoskeletal system down. As a response, the body builds itself up stronger! Muscles get bigger and your bones denser. Your hormones become better regulated and the lymph doesn’t pool in the legs. Most importantly, the cardiovascular system functions at a higher level and the nervous system learns how to work more efficiently!
Staying hydrated throughout the day
About 60% of humans is water! That means that water is essential for our survival. They say, you can go days without eating but only 3 days without water. Water has 7 properties that make it the ideal substrate for many of the metabolic processes that happen in the body. It’s not by luck that earth has water in abundance and the only planet we know so far that can sustain human life. Staying hydrated throughout the day is important so you can balance your water intake and not just drink it all at once. To find out how to know if you are well hydrated, read this article.
Eating a variety of foods
Have you ever heard the term “Too much of anything is a bad thing?”. Well, this applies to food. When you eat too much of one type of food, your body starts lacking things that are not present in the food you eat. This could be vitamins and minerals, or it could be oils and fats. The important thing is to increase the variety of food you eat. Diversify your protein, your greens, your vegetables and your carbs. This helps your body use different mechanisms to break the food down and eliminate the waste. And prevents the pilling up which will cause backflow and an increase amount of waste.
Reading and educating yourself
This could very well be the most important aspect of not just health, but life in general. Like the great Socrates said “The more I learn, the less I realize I know”. Education never ends. Understanding how your health and life interact with your environment is ever changing. What worked for you 10 years ago might not work for you now and will probably not work for you in the future. Educating yourself in new ways to overcome your health problems and achieve your goals is vital to thrive!
Getting adequate sleep
Whether you like it or not, sleep is probably the single most important action we take every day. It’s so important, we dedicate a third of our lives to it. From balancing hormone levels, to creating long term memory and clearing the waste that has been accumulated over the day. Sleep, is not when we rest, but our body’s chance to clean up after the mess we’ve created throughout the day.
5 Examples of Bad Health Related Habits
We define bad habits as an action that holds you back from living your best life. These could be actions that may or may not cause you any harm but nonetheless, are not pushing you towards your goal. This list could be as simple as not having the above-mentioned good habits. But we’ll take it a step further. Here are a few bad habits:
This habit was once promoted to pregnant women by their physicians as something that will improve their health and safe for pregnancy! Now we know that especially cigarette smoking is not healthy for an individual, let alone their unborn child. While every other animal on this planet will run away from smoke, humans chose to inhale it. Some even believe that the stronger the pull, the deeper into the lungs it gets, the better it serves their purpose. If their purpose is to fill up their lungs with smoke and cause an adrenaline rush, is sure does! People that claim that smoking is relaxing are the people that are looking for instant gratification and cannot see the long-term harms of it.
Probably one of the most misinterpreted part of nutrition. We’ve all heard about the bodybuilders or professional athletes taking in 7-8 meals per day. Because we try to be like them, we adhere to their diets. The problem is that we’re not burning as many calories as they are. So, what ends up happening is our digestions stops moving, our gut bacteria overgrow, we gain weight, feel bloated, have brain fog and many other symptoms that affect our lives. While we were working on getting a set of abs, we end up with a set of gastrointestinal problems that won’t go away.
Not eating enough greens and vegetables
I have met people that only eat greens and others that don’t eat vegetables at all. Sooner or later, something in their body gives up. The truth is that everyone should be eating greens and vegetables. Although some people may have conditions that could prevent them from eating certain things, that does not mean there are no alternatives. Keep your diet diverse and colorful!
Consuming food high in sugars
Probably one of the hardest part of living in our times. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements that push sugar and wheat on us 24/7! Whether its candy, coffee, snacks or sports drinks, the amount of sugar that is consumed today is crazy! According to the New Hampshire Department of health and human services, 200 years ago, the average American would consume 2 pounds of sugar per year. Today that consumption is 3 pounds per week, or 152 pounds per year! Checking the labels of the food and drinks you consume is important to identify your sugar consumption!
Not having a goal with a purpose and a plan
A lot of people will tell you that setting goals is the way to achieving what you want! Whether this is in business, health or relationships. The truth is that setting a goal is only the beginning. A goal with no purpose to fuel you and a plan for direction on how to reach it, is simply words! To understand why you set that as a goal, and how will reaching that goal change your health is the only way to become self-motivated. A good thought-out plan, with self-motivation fueled by a purpose, is a recipe for succeed.
How Long Does it Take to Break Bad Habits?
I don’t know anyone that would want to break a good habit, so let’s talk about how to break bad habits. Although there are many strategies you can use to break back habits, the most common question I hear is “How long does it take to break bad habits?”.
Some would say that habits are engraved in us. The longer you’ve had a bad habit, the deeper the engraving. This could be discouraging to some, so they never attempt to break the bad habits they have. The truth is that no matter how long you’ve had the habit, how deep the engravings are, you can break through and change your life for the better.
How to Break Bad Habits?
The determining factor is finding your why. Why do you want to break this bad habit? How will your life change if you break through?
You see, without a reason or a purpose to motivate you to your goal, you get disinterested. You start thinking that its not worth the fight. But once your purpose for breaking the bad habit is bigger than the benefits you get from the habit itself, you have a never-ending fire! You don’t need external motivation or to take a break. You keep going and you are ruthless on the way!
Once you are clear on the goal and your purpose, you need a plan. How will you get to your goal? Writing down your goals and how you’re going to achieve them, allows you to stay on track. If you see yourself slipping away, the plan and your purpose should show you what you need to do to push harder and get there!
So the question is never about time. It never has been. Scientists and others try to quantify the amount of time you need to break bad habits. They’ll tell you it takes 21 days or 90 days, depending on what they believe. How would you explain the people that stopped smoking for 3-4 years but then started up again when things get tough?
Focusing on the time necessary to break a habit, you are distracting yourself from your purpose. Destructions will keep you from achieving your goals. Keep your purpose stronger than your desire for the bad habit and it will see you through to the end of time.