Tag Archives: improving fitness

Four Steps to Breaking a Bad Habit

Playing fetch with a dog is tremendous fun. After a few times throwing and retrieving the ball you can fool the dog by faking throwing the ball and most dogs will still run after it. So strong is the power of habit. Funny that when we want to give up a bad habit we think our behavior will be different. Yet even if we remove the offending thing, we will still go chasing after it or a substitute.Four Steps to Breaking a Bad Habit

When living intentionally, to get rid of a bad habit you have to design a replacement behavior to fill the hole you are creating in your life. Otherwise, the old behavior, or another one that may not be quite as bad, becomes like the pits the coyote dug when trying to trap the roadrunner. Notice how he always fell in them himself?

When I decided to give up overeating I knew I had to find an alternative to watching television in the evenings since that was when I was most prone to consume junk. I had read somewhere that avid readers finished at least 50 books a year so I made that my goal. Over the last eight years, I substituted reading over 500 books for eating too much. It is true. I love to eat.

Here are the steps to rid yourself of a bad habit:

  1. Decide on a positive replacement behavior. Work on bad habits one at a time. Give a lot of thought to what you will do instead of the negative behavior. Do you really want to be a gum chewer instead of a smoker?
  2. Commit in writing. When it is in your mind it is a dream, not a goal.
  3. Set 30 days for your first trial. It takes at least a month to get rid of a bad habit. But that is just the first hurdle. Scott Young in his Pick the Brain blog post says that 90 and 365 days are also significant milestones.
  4. Ask for reinforcement from family members, friends, and colleagues. Zig Ziglar notes that when giving something up you should tell as many people as possible since they will be happy to hold you accountable when you backslide.

There are many other techniques you can use to bolster your effort to free yourself from a negative behavior but these four steps form the foundation for an intentional plan to direct your life where you want it to go.

Question – What have you used as a replacement for a bad habit?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below

The Lazy Way to Get Fit

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.” “He can’t see the forest for the trees.”  “Audaces fortuna iuvat – Fortune favors the bold.”

The Lazy Way to Get Fit

Apparently, only daring things are worth doing. Yet, when it comes to developing new, positive habits, small, incremental changes over the long term typically are more effective and longer lasting.

About a year ago, when I set a goal to earn a platinum medal in the President’s Challenge I started increasing the length and number of my weekly runs. The additional pounding began to give me back trouble, especially if a sat for more than 45 minutes or an hour at a time. I decided to stand for more of the day. After a couple of months, my back felt stronger and I was able to sit for longer periods of time without stiffness and pain.

To go from a sedentary lifestyle to running marathons in a couple of months will probably result in an injury that will make getting and staying physically fit harder than ever before. So here an easy first step to improving fitness and losing weight: stand for more of your day.

According to Livestrong.com, standing instead of sitting burns as many as 50 more calories an hour. Not the kind of reduction that will allow you to eat a banana split every day, but something that almost everyone, no matter their current level of fitness, can do. Start modestly. Stand for a half-hour two or three times during the day. Then build up from there.

New York Times blogger Olivia Judson has an excellent post that explains why standing, or at least not sitting, is much healthier.

Not ready to commit to expensive gym fees? Health needs to improve before you embark on an exercise regimen? Be timid! Just stand up for yourself.

Question – Why do you think only big changes seem to be noteworthy?

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