How Breaking 7 Bad Health Habits Can Really Change Your Life
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New habits can be hard to form—and bad habits even harder to break. But we all have habits in our lives we could stand to break. Some are nothing more than a nuisance, while others are actually unhealthy.
Become a healthier you—break these bad habits.
- Lying to your doctor. “A lot of people do this out of embarrassment more than anything else,” said Meridan Zerner, Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Whether you told your doctor you took your medication when you didn’t, or you started taking a multivitamin when you haven’t—whatever that lie might be, your doctor can’t make an accurate assessment of your health. Don’t minimize the small stuff because sometimes the small stuff gives your doctor big clues as to what else might be going on with your health.
- Emotional eating. Your time, energy and self-esteem are too valuable to invest so much of them into something that will only give you a brief coping mechanism. The fallout of emotional eating is so vast—feelings of guilt, weight gain, gastrointestinal issues. We all need coping strategies for life, but eating should never be one of them. Breaking this habit—like all habits—isn’t easy. “It’s like learning a new language,” said Zerner. “It’s a process and it might take coaching, support or help from a counselor. After all, it’s not what you’re eating, it’s what’s eating you,” Zerner said. Get to the root of the issue in order to be more satisfied, healthier and happier.
- Weighing yourself too often. Awareness of your overall health is important, but when it comes to the scale, it can be too much. When we become too focused on the number, we don’t take into account the fact that the body is designed to fluctuate. “Most people don’t need to get on the scale more than once a week” suggested Zerner. “Just use it as feedback—one of many tools to measure weight gain or weight loss, in addition to how you feel in your clothes, waist measurements, body mass index (BMI), etc.” Using all the tools gives you context. “When we are so focused on the scale, it becomes about the number and not about health, energy and what kind of weight is being lost,” said Zerner. “Those things matter.”
- Putting your health last. Cooper Clinic is all about prevention. Studies are clear — many diseases and health challenges are preventable, especially if they’re detected early. “If you don’t prioritize your health—exercise, eat healthy, have regular check-ups—the consequences are far more severe and harder to unravel,” said Zerner. Take prediabetes, for example. “If we can keep people moving and keep their weight in a healthy place, their chances of prediabetes are slim.” But your health must be a priority to get the most out of prevention.
- Late night snacking. It’s important to understand that late night snacking isn’t unhealthy for everyone. “If you’re within your daily calorie balance, you could have a healthy late night snack. However, more often than not, we’re over eating,” Zerner said. Most people who snack at night aren’t snacking because they’re hungry, but because they are bored or because it’s habitual. Zerner discourages late night snacking because she wants people to be hungry in the morning for breakfast. “Typically late night snacks are not great choices, because we don’t make healthy choices when we are tired,” she said. If late night snacking becomes a habit, it can cause weight gain.
- Not getting enough sleep. If you consistently get less than seven hours of sleep per night, you have a 30 percent greater risk of obesity. The recommendation for adults is seven to eight hours of sleep per night. On the other hand, sleeping too long (10- 11 hours a night) can put you at similar risk of health problems.
- Doing the same workout every day. “About every eight weeks, the human body adapts to what it has been doing consistently for those eight weeks,” explained Zerner. “That’s called fitness.” Getting stuck in a workout routine means your body becomes more efficient at what it is doing, therefore fat burn and muscle build slow down. “You have to be moving forward or else you’ll slide backwards,” Zerner said. Focus on getting FIT—frequency, intensity and time—and change your exercise routine every two or three months.
No matter how many of these habits you need to break, don’t let them weigh you down. Every day is new. When you have an “off day,” empower yourself to get up and go again. It may be that you need a different plan, better strategies or more support—but all bad habits can be turned around.
Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.