I spend a lot of time talking to people about habits. Usually, the focus is on establishing good habits like consistent exercise and healthy food choices. But you can’t focus only on good habits without acknowledging that bad habits exist.
You might be shrugging these bad habits off for now, but they are deceptive. It may not seem like much, but you could actually be self-sabotaging any efforts you’re putting towards establishing good habits by not addressing these things. If you can face them head-on, you’ll set yourself up for a better life.
Let’s look at five bad habits that are holding you back and how to break them.
Lack of Sleep
We all know that 8 hours of sound sleep is where the sweet spot of healthy slumber lies. Most of us laugh at this number because there are not enough hours in the day for eight whole hours of sleep. In fact, the average American only gets 6.9 hours of sleep each night.
Lack of quality sleep wreaks havoc on our health. Decreased cognitive function, weakened immune system, imbalanced hormone levels, unpleasant mood, and even weight gain are all things you can look forward to (or may be experiencing) if you don’t get this right.
How to break it
Caffeine cut-off time – Avoid caffeine eight hours before bedtime. Caffeine keeps your brain alert, which is counterproductive when you are trying to wind down.
Set a cycle – Going to bed and waking up the same time every day (including weekends) establishes a sleep cycle that your body can get accustomed to. This anchors your sleep and wake times which improves quality of sleep.
The bed is for sleeping (mainly) – Don’t watch TV, work on your laptop, scroll your phone, or read in bed. Your brain associates these focused and wakeful activities with your bed and makes it harder to quiet your mind. The only other thing you can do in bed besides sleep is… well, you can figure it out.
Let’s face it. It’s practically impossible to avoid screens these days. Going from a job that requires you to stare at a screen all day to that mini-computer known as your phone to scroll social media, then to the television to binge Netflix takes a toll. Whether it’s avoidable or not, screen time is something that can’t be ignored.
Your eyesight pays the price with excessive blue light from screens. You’re more likely to have a sedentary lifestyle which causes health decline. It can seriously put your cardiovascular health at risk which increases mortality rates.
How to break it
Limit what you can control – I’m not saying you should quit your day job, but think about how much screen time is voluntary. Now decide how much of the voluntary screen time is necessary, and set limits.
Get up and get active – Find something to do that doesn’t require a screen and gets you moving. Workouts are great, but even doing some quick chores around the house or getting outside will count as being active rather than sinking deeper into the couch.
Reconnect to the real world – Find moments to engage with the world around you. Connect with friends, spend time with family, or get out and enjoy the outdoors. The world is much more than what you find through a screen.
From the minute we peel our eyelids open, mornings are usually full speed ahead. This hustle and bustle means most of us fly out of the house without a bite of breakfast. Maybe you can make it until lunch, but not without some negative side effects.
Skipping breakfast and not feeding your body what it needs to start the day triggers a whole series of problems. From migraines, blood sugar crash, slowed metabolism, poor mood and memory skills, and even weight gain, there’s hardly an upside to missing this important meal. Even if you’ve managed to convince yourself that you’re not hungry, it’s worth making breakfast a priority.
How to break it
Create time – Find a few minutes in your busy morning routine to get a bite. Trust me; the time is there; it’s probably hiding somewhere in that social media scrolling time (see above).
Keep it simple – I’m not talking about a full-blown cooking session; just enough to get the nutrients you need to jump start your day. The McClure Fitness Online membership has an entire library of healthy recipes including breakfast!
Plan ahead – Have some quick-grab options at the ready, so you don’t have an excuse for skipping. Keep the cupboards stocked or prep a breakfast option that you can portion out for the week.
Cutting Out Snacks
Somewhere along the way we’ve convinced ourselves that eating happens in three shifts (or two if you’re skipping breakfast). The problem is that our bodies don’t necessarily operate this way. The roller coaster of loading up on calories and depleting down until you get hangry wreaks havoc on your metabolism.
When your blood sugar takes a nosedive, your metabolism slows as you go into famine mode, which is the opposite of what you want if you’re looking to manage your weight. Once you get hungry, it can become a mental distraction too, which causes poor mood decreases cognitive performance.
How to break it
Redistribute your intake – Eating more often doesn’t mean eating more overall. Switch to several small meals throughout the day, eating more during your active hours.
Stay healthy – I’m promoting snacking, not junk food. There is such thing as healthy snacks like fruit, veggies, nuts, and low-fat dairy – not donuts, chips, and candy bars that you’re used to.
Have options – There’s a lot of creative snack ideas that are nutrient-packed to give you the fuel you need throughout the day. Keep some options on hand for those moments when you feel a dip in energy.
I saved this one for last because it’s a big one. Working moms arguably have it the worst, but everyone is guilty of packing too much in the 24 hours we have each day. This bad habit is sneaky because it may not manifest itself in obvious problems, but if you ignore it, you will suffer the consequences.
The self-inflicted stress, overwhelm, and exhaustion wears down your mind and body. What’s worse, it can seriously affect relationships as you have less and less time to commit to more in-depth attention and care. Push this too far, and you’re bound to break, which can be devastating.
How to break it
Set your priorities – there are only 24 hours in a day. Accept that you can only accomplish so much and decide what needs to be handled by order of importance.
Establish limits – Stay aware of when you’ve done enough and either delegate or postpone the rest of your list. Stand firm and make sure you (and others) respect these boundaries.
Don’t apologize – There is no reason to feel guilt or the need to apologize if something doesn’t make the cut. You can’t please everyone, and when you try you will ultimately neglect yourself – and when it comes to pleasing people, you count.
Don’t Be Discouraged
These are a few of the bad habits I regularly see that hold people back. So many people come to me unhappy with the results they’re not getting or just feel stuck. Often it’s the little things like these bad habits that compound and ultimately sabotage your efforts.
Here are a few last tips to help you tackle any bad habit:
Replace something bad with something good. Minimize withdrawal from cutting something out entirely by substituting. Instead of eating a candy bar, eat some fruit. Instead of scrolling social media before bed, take a minute to meditate on your day.
Set yourself up for success. Remove anything that could trigger a bad habit. Turn off notifications on your phone. Throw away the cookies hiding in the top cabinet. Set the alarm for bedtime and stick to it.
Get out of your head. You won’t overcome these things in a snap. Don’t set unrealistic expectations then judge yourself for not doing better. It’s a process; keep going.
For better or worse, our habits ultimately steer us through life. The more awareness you have around your routine and how those habits shape your life, the better equipped you are to adjust and commit to kicking the bad and keeping the good.
Looking for direction, motivation, and accountability to stay on track for your goals? McClure Fitness Online gives you everything you need. It’s just $1to get started!