How to Stop Bad Habits
Three years ago I noticed I was starting to gain weight. My pants were tighter. I looked different in pictures. I was scared to death to step on the bathroom scale , a clear sign that I knew I had a problem.
If I had told anyone I was concerned about my weight, they would have laughed at me. By most standards I was still considered “okay.” The problem was not so much my weight at the time, but more the direction I was headed. Gradually, little by little, I was losing muscle and gaining fat.
I knew that if something didn’t change my developing problem would continue to grow. Literally.
And if I didn’t change something soon I would eventually find myself in a place I didn’t want to be. a place that would be much harder to recover from.
So I decided to make a change.
Try, Try Again
And I failed miserably.
At first I decided I would eat less. I would cut my proportions at meal time in half. But meal after meal, I found myself going back for seconds. And I also decided to skip dessert. Guess what happened. Meal after meal I found myself going for dessert.
Meal after meal, I failed.
Sitting there with a stuffed stomach I would be overwhelmed with guilt. Despite my best intentions, nothing was changing. I kept making the same bad decisions over and over.
I was stuck in my bad habits.
A New, Good Habit
Eventually I found something that did work for me. My wife mentioned that she wanted to start a low carb diet. I offered to do it with her wanting her to see me as the loving, supporting type of husband. I never told her the truth that I was really desperate to find a way to lose weight.
At first the low carb diet was impossibly hard. I was used to carb heavy foods, such as bread, filling my stomach at every meal. I would finish eating and I would never feel full.
A turning point came, however, when I discovered vegetables.
In the past I resisted fad diets because I thought it would be hard for me to stick to it at work. I eat at the cafeteria every day and most of the foods there are not necessarily designed for those who are counting their carb intakes. Except for the vegetables.
I starting reading food labels and found out that I could eat all of the broccoli and carrots and cauliflower and squash and zucchini I wanted. I would have them fill an entire plate full of every vegetable that was offered each day. And I would eat as many vegetables as I could stand.
Intially the sheer volume of food helped me to feel satisfied. Eventually, however, I learned that I liked the vegetables. I learned that they not only can taste good, but they made me feel better.
Later, after losing a significant amount of weight, I stopped the low-carb diet, but I kept eating the vegetables. I like how they tasted. I liked how they made me feel. I liked how they were low in calories.
I learned I liked vegetables. And a new, good habit was born.
Change Your Path with Good Habits
Where we end up in life is decided by the road we take. The path we are on is decided by the choices we make. Sometimes that path is decided by the big decisions, like whom to marry or what to study or which job to take.
Most of the time, though, our path is determined by the small decisions we make on a daily basis. These small decisions are made out of habit. Good habits help you go where you want to be. Bad habits take you somewhere you don’t.
And bad habits can be hard to quit.
The secret to stopping bad habits is to develop good habits to replace them.
You need to stop trying to stop. And you need to practice choosing what you want to choose.
Instead of quitting something, try doing something new. If it is a good habit, if it makes you feel better, eventually you will lose interest in the old, bad habit. Over time you will naturally find yourself choosing the good one more and more.
And one day you will find that you have become the person you want to be.