Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Breaking Your Bad Habits

Ask Glen!

Q. Glen, I want to eat healthy ! But eating junk food and unhealthy food is a habit!I can't change. How can I break a habit?

A. Habit, habit, habit! That's a word I hear an awful lot around these parts. Since we humans are creatures of habit, habit can be your best friend or your worst enemy. When it comes to creating a new healthy lifestyle and losing weight, habit becomes the enemy of change. As a matter of fact, it is old habits that keep most people stuck in the past. So let’s take a closer look at this ominous agent of resistance.

Let's begin with the basics. What is a habit? Technically speaking, behavioral psychology defines a habit as a link between a stimulus and a response. In other words, it is the mental connection that is made between something that happens (the stimulus) and your repetitive, automatic reaction to it (the response).

The repetition of this connection over time is how habits are formed -- they become entrenched in our lives and, thereby, effect the decisions that we make. In computer terminology, one might say that it's how we hardwire our thoughts and behavior into our brains.

For example, the stimulus may be the onset of stress. Stress just happens to be the "strongest emotional eating trigger, and the number one reason for weight-loss relapse," according to Dr. John Foreyt of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Stress comes from a variety of sources. Its introduction into your life may be due to a restricted diet, a disagreement with a spouse, a bad day at work or the simple tension that comes from being stuck in the house all day. For many people that I work with, the learned habitual emotional response to stress is eating.

Stress eating is very typical in overweight people. In psychology, learning to eat in response to stress is called classical conditioning. This occurs when you make the mental connection between a stimulus and a response for so long that, over time, it becomes unconscious repetitive behavior. As I mentioned above, this is how we hardwire our brains, and this is how habits are formed.

The most famous example of classical conditioning is that of Pavlov’s dogs. You may remember from basic psychology that, through conditioning, Ivan Pavlov linked feeding time with the sound of a bell and was able to eventually make his dogs salivate at the sound of the bell alone. When this kind of conditioning results in thoughtless, repetitive behavior, habit has taken hold.

To effectively interrupt and eventually eliminate a habit, you must weaken the bond that connects the stimulus to the response. This always begins with awareness. If you can isolate that one moment when the decision to eat is made, you can solve this problem

Those who struggle with weight control often react to food through learned, reflex responses that they have been unconsciously reinforced over time. The key to creating change for these people is to become more mindful and less mindless about the health choices they make. In reality, habits create mental resistance to change by concealing other options also available to you at the time. Because it is very difficult, if not impossible, to do one thing while your mind is telling you to do something else.

Any personal health questions or problems mental or physical or before starting any diet or exercise program. Please consult your physician !

Happy Holidays!

Wishing You A Healthy Life Style!

Any questions?

Ask Glen!

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Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States
Is the Founder of Fitness Builders 4 Life,the WorkOut GEM,G350,G180, G90, Eat 4 Life, Clean, Lean & Mean & Ask Glen. The mission of the Fitness Builders is to provide the community with health education and to empower people to change unhealthy lifestyles thereby increasing life expectancy. By educating the community on healthier lifestyle practices it is the intent of Fitness Builders to reduce the ravages of obesity, heart disease, cancer and other lifestyle or self inflicted diseases. Glen is also a AMA Certified Nutrition Specialist and a ACE, ACSM, NASM Certified Personal Trainer has 30+ years in Sports, Exercise Science and Nutritional Food Management, Learning and Mentoring Men and Women on a more Mental & Physical Healthy Life Style consisting of a low fat, low salt, Low carbohydrate, high protein, organic nutrition which also includes moderate exercise and mental awareness. Stay Informed, Live long and be Mentally and Physically Healthy! Any questions? Ask Glen!

Any Questions? Ask Glen!