Replacing Bad Habits

by Dr. Robert Osgoodby


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There is no room for bad habits in your schedule if your goal is to improve your health and get in shape. Addictions and bad habits are the #1 reason people do not achieve their goals in life. A wise man once said, "The last thing you want to do is often the first thing you need to do." I am not going to lie, overcoming an addiction or a bad habit is tough. Been there, done that, and I'm embarrassed to say, on more than one occasion.

Why are bad habits so hard to break? Simple, because they are habits, you do them everyday. They become a part of your life and daily routine. People are creatures of habit and do not welcome change with open arms. I can remember the days that I didn't have a computer. I ran three successful businesses on paper for years. What did I need a computer for? Now, I couldn't imagine life without it. The point I am trying to make is it doesn't take long for a new positive activity to become a habit and part of your daily routine.

Replace your negative habits with positive activities. I replaced cigarettes and alcohol with exercise, a healthy diet, helping people get in shape and improve their health, and spending more time with my wife and children. I get up every morning at 5:30 AM, and go to the gym. Now, it is as routine as brushing my teeth.

There are many positive habits you can replace negative habits with. Find athletic and exercise activities that you enjoy doing, it makes it much easier to succeed. Here are a few examples: tennis, dancing, swimming, aerobics, ballet, join a football or basketball league, softball, soccer, weight training, or martial arts. If you are not into athletics, take a leisurely walk. Anything that burns calories and gets your blood flowing is better than nothing. Plus, exercise and athletic activities causes your body to release endorphins into your system which provide you with a natural healthy high, unlike drugs and alcohol that kill brain cells and destroy your liver.

Some experts will disagree, but my philosophy is, "The easiest way to break a habit is cold turkey." You will be miserable and cranky for a few days, but every day that goes by, it gets easier. And just like me joining the 20th century and getting my first computer, in no time at all, you won't be able to imagine life any other way.

If you are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol and have found it impossible to quit, get help! Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are two amazing organizations. Their members have literally helped millions of people kick the habit and lead a more enjoyable, healthy, and productive life.

Unless you have truly made the decision to change, you will never succeed in replacing the negative with the positive. Making the decision to change is half the battle. If I had a dollar for every time I said, "I'm going to start on Monday" you'd be reading about me more in Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. It took me nine years to finally make the decision, and guess what, I started on a Saturday, not a Monday.

The most popular bad habits are drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol - but there are many other negatives that can prevent you from achieving your goals. How many hours a day are you parked in front of you're computer? Are you addicted to the internet? Are you a procrastinator or couch potato? Are you addicted to chocolate, ice cream, cookies or sweets? I could go on and on.

If any of this sounds vaguely familiar, it's time to take a good long look in the mirror and do a reality check. If you really want to change your life for the better, for three full days, keep a journal of everything you do, and how long you spend doing it. For this to work, you have to be thorough and honest. If you are going to leave things out, don't waste your time. If you brush your teeth at 6:30 AM, write it down. If you smoke a cigarette, write it down. If you drink 6 glasses of scotch and boot some heroin after work, write it down.

At the end of the week, review your journal, and highlight any negative or excessive habits with a yellow magic marker. Why yellow? No reason at all, if you want to use blue or pink, be my guest. After completing this exercise, most people are absolutely amazed at how many negative habits they have, and how much of their valuable time these habits waste. For example, it takes the average person about 4 minutes to smoke a cigarette. If you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, 80 minutes of your valuable time every day is dedicated to destroying your lungs, arteries and heart.


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