How to Change a Bad Habit

biting fingernailsI bite my nails. Yep, I’ve done this ever since my Mom wouldn’t let me chew my hair anymore. It grossed her out and she kept yelling at me. In a pique of desperation, she took me to the hairdresser and gave me a shag haircut.

The haircut scarred me on many levels (it was so ugly!), but it left me no other option for chewing except my nails.

Did I change a gross habit for a bad habit? Yes. Was that the best way to do it?  Um, probably not. But it was effective. However … there is a nice little insight into what my Mom did: swapping.

So … swap up.

Maybe you’d like to trade your sedentary, couch potato lifestyle for one that has you effortlessly looking like a movie star, thin and stylish.  Okay, are you just going to throw on a pair of sneakers and change your life with the snap of your fingers? Um, no.

Start swapping.

Swap one thing for three weeks. Swap soda for water … swap TV time for sit-ups … swap 20 minutes of surfing the ‘net for 20 minutes of walking around the neighborhood … swap regular potatoes for sweet potatoes … swap one sandwich a week for a salad instead … swap one starch for a veggie.

Just keep swapping up. And keep swapping a new thing every three weeks.

Make a Swap List

It’s just one swap at a time. Yes, we all want to look amazing and beautiful and desirable in two weeks flat. But if you want to actually reach your goal AND stay there, you’re going to need to do it slowly.

Make a list, use some of the suggestions above, add your own. Pick an easy one first, one that’s nearly painless. Do it for three weeks successfully and then pick another one off the list. Maybe even promise yourself a reward once you complete the three weeks.

Once you complete your swap list, you’ll find there are a couple items that you’re eyeing … the ones you’re not ready for yet. Those will be the swaps where you’ll have to make a lifestyle shift and you might not be ready for that yet. Don’t worry … let ‘em sit there for a while and once every few months, add one of the more “daunting” items into your mix. Mentally psyche yourself up for it!

That’s all it takes. Swapping is an easy concept for changing a bad habit.

I’ve been using it for years and it’s definitely made a difference in my life. My most recent change was adding 20 minutes of meditation every morning to my routine. I have been so successful with it that I’m now trying to swap 20 minutes of exercise into my morning routine right after the meditation. (My afternoon workouts have been really spotty since my social media business took off.)

We’ll see how it goes. I’m picking two big ones in a row, so it’s a lot for my psyche. How about you? What bad habit would you like to change? Good luck!

Cheers,

Lisa

photo credit: heliosphan

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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2 Responses to How to Change a Bad Habit

  1. Yogawears March 3, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Great article,understanding how Habits work is the key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success.

  2. Lisa Johnson March 5, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

    Yes … it does come down to habits for almost all those things doesn’t it? L–

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