Replacing Bad Habits with Good Habits, without adding Unnecessary Stress to your Life!
The problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that they are self-imposed “hard deadlines” to change habits that have become deeply rooted in our routine and minds for several years.
We know that replacing bad habits with good ones is not an easy task at the best of times. It’s especially hard to do on a set date because changing any pattern takes time and commitment. These habits are, after all, associated with pleasure or stress relief and have been with us for years.
Let’s look at a few examples:
Smoking, drinking, overeating, going to bed too late, getting up too late, overindulging on cakes or candy, fast food, TV binge-watching, over texting, social media binging, not exercising, poor food choices, being stressed and upset.
A more effective way to make resolutions is to agree to a “reset program” with yourself. Identify the problem, write it down, research how it can be improved/changed, and then set a reset timeframe and plan.
It all starts with writing your resolutions down. Writing down your goals realistically and kindly will allow you to prepare mentally, and follow a clear plan, without causing yourself stress with hard and immediate cuts in your routine.
Let’s look at some of the most common New Year’s Resolutions with the “reset” approach.
“I’m going to Stop Smoking.”
Stopping smoking is a major resolution for many people. Yet, it’s one of the hardest to accomplish, especially on any set date. Smoking is addictive as cigarettes contain nicotine which is an addictive chemical. The brain and body become used to these chemicals and quitting causes severe withdrawal symptoms.
Acknowledge the addiction is real and a problem. Speak to a doctor or therapist and see what treatment options may be suitable for you to eliminate the habit over time. A slow approach may be more productive. For example, reducing the amount you are smoking every week by half for a month, then set a date for total abstinence. Quitting smoking can be done with or without the help of medication, therapy, or other methods, such as meditation, while setting yourself milestones and a final deadline.
“I’m going to Stop Drinking Alcohol.”
Identifying the reason you want to stop drinking is the first step. Are you binge drinking or drinking all the time, do you think alcohol is making you gain weight, are you depressed, are you feeling less productive at work because you are drinking during the week? There may be multiple reasons, or just one.
If you enjoy drinking socially, are a wine or whiskey lover, why give it up entirely instead of resetting your mindset and approach? Make a plan where you set yourself guidelines to follow. That way, you can reset, and keep enjoying the beverage of your choice, in a more controlled manner.
If you are an alcoholic and have come to terms with that fact, then the total and immediate cold turkey reset is likely the best and only option. If, however, it is depression that is causing excessive drinking, the root cause (depression) needs to be treated. If you are drinking because you feel stressed out financially or at work, then you will need to ask yourself questions about how to solve these issues, instead of just quitting drinking, as the root problem will not vanish.
Good ways to reset would be:
- Cut the current amount you are drinking per week in half.
- Only drink on weekends, not during the workweek.
- Reduce the types of alcohol consumed to just one, such as wine.
- Cut out all high alcohol content drinks such as spirits.
- If you love wine, maybe poor a half bottle into a carafe and put the rest away, setting yourself a daily limit.
Then you should track your weekly progress in a journal and see if you have stuck to your reset goals and reduced your drinking over time. Plus, you can analyze how you feel week by week and day by day. Has this method made you feel better and more relaxed about drinking? Is the quantity you are drinking under control?
“I’m going to Start Exercising for Real.”
Exercising is one of the most common resolutions for the new year, but also where people most frequently fail. Why do so many fail? The reasons can vary, but they generally come down to the same few, bad habits. People who resolve to exercise are usually people who currently are not exercising at all and have not exercised much in their lifetime. Making exercise a part of your daily life requires a total shift in lifestyle behaviors and mindset. If you are not willing to make that shift and start the new year without a fundamental lifestyle change and plan, you are bound to get bored, disappointed, and will fail.
The other problem is the health and fitness industry itself. Sadly the health and fitness industry isn’t interested in you being healthy and fit; these companies are only interested in your money. Gym memberships are pushed on you, to get you to sign up for more classes, and all kinds of useless protein drinks and other supplements, to increase profits. The majority of the gyms and fitness clubs don’t take a personal interest in your health and well-being, its just a numbers game.
The way to reset your mind for you to achieve fitness is first to question yourself firmly. Do you want this? How do you want to accomplish this, and will you have the will power and determination to keep it up? If you decide that you can do it, then you need to figure out what your interests are before you start. I can tell you with pretty much 100% certainty that a gym is not your field of interest. Gyms are, however, pushed on the novice as the easiest and fastest way to get fit. Not true. Gyms are the most tedious and most laborious way to regain any fitness unless you have been involved in fitness and training your whole life.
A much better way to start is to go natural. Start walking, jogging, biking, swimming, or hiking, for example. Or take up a sport that you have always been interested in but never got round to playing, such as tennis, karate, rowing, boxing, soccer, to name a few.
Then, over time, once you have managed to find your activity and have stuck with it for a few weeks, you can think about hitting a gym to build strength or gain muscle mass, if that is something you want. The best way to start the process is by finding a training buddy of similar fitness levels. The goal is to support each other to be accountable and to motivate during workouts.
This type of reset and easing into your new lifestyle resolution will help you stick with it.
“I’m going to Stop Eating Fast Food and Junk Food.”
This one is an excellent resolution and habit to break, and one that will help you lose weight and feel much better. But how will you do it? Okay, quitting MacDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and so on is a great start. However, you will need a nutritional plan to guide you. Dropping the nasty fast food or junk food habit is one thing, but how do you figure out what you should eat and what is healthy? There is so much misinformation out there about what’s good for you and what’s not, it’s enough to want to make people give up before they start.
As with the above resolutions, this one will initially cause you an immense amount of stress. Your body is used to the food you have been ingesting; it will crave once you stop, causing stress to body and mind.
Let’s take a look at the reset option.
Similarly to starting a serious exercise regime, you must begin your venture to healthy eating by educating yourself, and not just cutting out the bad stuff. Begin by researching your options online, read nutrition blogs, read about foods that may aid with weight loss, the different types of diets available, such as keto, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, and so on. Then you need to decide what kind of diet or lifestyle you would like to follow. Meat, no meat, some meat, fake meat, or full-blown vegan?
Being a Primal-Keto Coach, I will always advise you to go with the Primal-Keto way of life. Why? Firstly, this lifestyle healed me, made me a healthy and happy person, from being unhealthy and depressed. Secondly, once you study this lifestyle and food intake, it simply makes sense, as it follows the laws of nature and nothing else. If you learn how to do this right, you will lose weight with ease and become a whole different person from within.
Let’s look at some of the symptoms that you can heal:
If you are overweight, you will lose weight; if you suffer from acne, this will dramatically improve; if you are bloated or suffer from severe heartburn, these will be eradicated, and more.
The reset method lets you take a step by step approach. You don’t have to give up everything you like on a given day. You can gradually taper yourself off the bad and on to the right foods, over a month or two. This way, you will reduce your stress and cravings to a minimum and transition smoothly into your new lifestyle and a healthy body and mind.
I’m going to stop Binge Texting and Focus on “Real-Life”.
The “phone addict,” a new kind of resolution that’s being talked about more and more every year!
It’s not hard to see that the majority of the population already suffers from “phone addiction” to varying degrees. A habit or addiction? All you have to do is look at and observe the people around you. You see it everywhere, in shopping malls, bus stops, couples or families at dining tables, trains, planes, everywhere!
What’s to blame? Social media apps, boredom, lack of attention span, the desire for another life, what is it? It’s hard to say, but it affects all walks of life, young and old, and it’s a scary addiction because the phone seems to have taken control over most people’s lives. It’s become their daily reality show, their safe haven, instead of nature, real friends, and real life.
Nobody is going to say, “Okay, I’m done; I’m giving up my phone for good this New Year!” We need our phones for many practical reasons as well. Still, we must find a way to limit the use of the phone for entertainment, daily life, and instead bring ourselves back to real life, nature, friends, and family.
How to reset this habit without causing too much distress? Here are some suggestions that I practice myself with my family and lovely new wife:
- Limit and check the daily screen time.
- When reaching for my phone, I ask myself, do you need to check now?
- No phone during meals.
- No phone while watching TV, or reading.
- No phone during exercise or walking in nature.
- No phone when we hang out together for quality time.
- No phone while dining out at a restaurant.
- Focus more on downtime, alone time, and talks with friends and family, without a phone.
Again, implementing all these rules at once is unrealistic and stressful, so start with a couple, and once you see it working, add a couple more.
I’m going to Stop being Stressed and Relax more.
A great goal to set, but how? This is not an easy one as you can’t just flip a switch, stop being stressed, and be relaxed. Stress was a big challenge for me a few years ago. I was suffering from severe anxiety and depression. It was, without a doubt, the most difficult time of my life and extremely hard to find a way out.
So, what are the options? Let’s take a look.
- Medication? Most definitely not. I went that route for a good two years, and things only went from bad to worse. One med would replace or complement the other I was told, when in fact, I only became addicted, and couldn’t function without the meds. Not one single medication helped the root cause of the problem to be solved.
- Exercise? Sure, exercise helps, as it gets you moving, the heart rate up and exercise releases endorphins (the happy hormone) into the bloodstream. The problem with exercise is feeling up to it in the first place. If you are always stressed and upset, getting the willpower together to get out and workout, walk, run, or bike is a challenge in itself. Still, it’s a highly recommendable practice to release stress and relax.
- Meditation, Mindfulness, Positive Thinking, and Affirmations are what helped me out of my rut. Some say meditation is too hard; they can’t stay with it or stay focused long enough for it to help. I felt that way at first, too, at least for the first year, and I kept stopping because of that. But, you have to keep at it for at least three to four weeks. Then, if you learn about mindfulness, positive thinking, and affirmations, and combine all these practices, you have some potent weapons in your arsenal.
As with everything else, you can’t start all of this with immediate effect; it would be too demanding. You can start small, by joining a meditation class, or taking private lessons for a few weeks, then read a book on mindfulness and positive thinking. Once you feel you are making progress and understand these tools, move on to “The Law of Attraction and Positive Affirmations.” It’s not magic, but if you practice it often enough, it sure will start to feel like magic, as you see things unwinding, improving, and things that you always wished for come true.
In the End.
Always be kind to yourself, yet if you decide on a New Year’s Resolution to switch bad habits for good ones, plan it, educate yourself, phase it in, and keep it up.
What’s your reset going to be this year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.
As always, thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!
Former Olympic Athlete & Certified Health Coach.
“It is my mission to educate people on how to lose weight, how to build a healthy, strong heart, body, and mind, supporting a longer life.”
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