Most of us would like to improve our health habits— but it’s tough. Two of the most popular and most challenging areas of habit change are eating more healthfully and exercising regularly.
To change our habits, it’s crucial that we know ourselves, so that we can make changes in a way that will suit us. Want to know yourself better? Take this quiz to find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel.
1. Clean Slate
A new situation makes it much easier to change habits. If you move to a new city, change jobs or schools, or have a new routine, take advantage of the clean slate. New job? Start taking your lunch to work.
For some people— but not everyone— moderation is too tough; it’s easier to give up something altogether. For Abstainers, it’s far easier to eat no brownies than one brownie. (Want to take a quiz, to see if you’re an Abstainer or a Moderator? Look here.)
3. Convenience and Inconvenience
Make it easy to eat right and hard to eat wrong. Keep healthy snacks in your desk so you don’t use the vending machine. Store the crackers on a high shelf.
Keep track of what you eat: how many cups of cereal, how many slices of pizza. Don’t eat out of a container. Decide how much you want to eat, and put it on your plate— and no seconds.
Plan to fail; anticipate temptation and decide in advance how to handle it. What will you eat at the birthday party? On vacation? If Aunt Bertha serves her famous mac and cheese?
Only eat X when you’re doing Y. Only eat when sitting at a table. Only eat a croissant after you finish an exam.
We use loopholes to justify breaking a good habit. Watch out for these popular loopholes:
• Tomorrow loophole-“It doesn’t matter what I eat today, because I’ll eat great tomorrow.”
• Fake-Self Actualization loophole-“You only live once. I can’t pass this up!”
• Lack of Control loophole-“Someone brought cupcakes to the meeting.”
• One-Coin loophole-“What difference does one trip to the gym make?