Why Bad Habits Stick And Good Habits Don’t

{Image: Phawker}

They say it takes 6 weeks of continuously doing something before it becomes a habit. I think that only applies if the habit in question is no fun at all, like exercising daily, cutting down on starch and eating more vegetables and so forth. Bad habits can get you hooked after only a day because they are so much fun, like Facebook computer games, eating in front of the TV, popcorn and soda at movies, I think you know what I’m talking about.

I am really losing the battle. Looking back there were some great habits that stuck, but they became unstuck as soon as I lost the momentum. Honestly, there was a time I used to love exercise. Well I loved the buzz I got in the middle and after a session. I even felt lost when I missed an evening at the pool, but falling sick and having a break in that routine made me feel that spending that time eating hot dogs in front of the TV was much more fun. I became lazy, and you know what? – being lazy was so much more fun. I enjoyed being lazy! What was no fun? – clothes getting tighter and the darn number on the scale going up.

I guess it’s all about delaying gratification and I find that almost impossible to do. In the past journalling and visualization worked for me, because the battle is usually in your head. I looked around for some articles on the web to get my engines going again:

1. 5 Tips on How To Delay Gratification The one I have not tried yet – rewarding yourself along the way.

2. Don’t at the New Yorker talks about making the waiting worthwhile.

3. This article spoke to me when it said, you always do what you really want to do. Why You Can’t Make That Habit Stick. Some days I think maybe I don’t really want to lose weight that badly if it means giving up my favourite foods. So cutting down on portions may help me, but not completely cutting something out.

The frustrating thing is my partner is the complete opposite and once he decides on something he just does it. It just seems so effortless. He would probably laugh at the idea of delayed gratification and such. One day he decided he would run and he just put on his shoes and did it. One day he decided he would replace soda with water and guess what? – he just did it. It is so absolutely infuriating to me. How come it’s so easy for him when for me it feels like moving a ton of bricks. Do any of you ladies out there experience the same frustration? Is it really easier for men? What did you do to successfully make a new habit stick? How did you feel when you fell off the bandwagon? Did you berate yourself and give up like I did?

The realisation I came to is that for any habit to stick it can’t come from someone else nagging you. For instance your family doctor being the voice of gloom. That will only lead to resentment. It has to come from you really wanting the outcome of the new habit and actually truly believing you can do it. I think it has a lot to do with being positive. Other people can have lack of faith in you, but most often you are your own enemy. You have lack of faith in yourself. I can definitely attest to that. My internal voice, my worst enemy, always tells me, every time I cave in and fail, “You’re never going to make it, so don’t bother” and that’s the most demoralizing thing ever. So don’t be your worst enemy like I am and trying to shut off that negative Nelly. I remember as a kid I used to be so positive internally. I always felt I could do anything and I usually did. I just want that positive energy I had in droves back then, back again.

Bad Habits is a Mexican movie produced in 2007, that I really want to watch.  The premise appeals to me and the trailer captivated me. It talks about how denying pleasure can be cruel and destructive as well. Especially when it’s imposed on a child by a crazy mum.


About bookjunkie

Blogging about life in Singapore & recently cancer too.
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4 Responses to Why Bad Habits Stick And Good Habits Don’t

  1. J says:

    Most people tend to give themselves too much excuses or reasons not to do one thing, especially women. Why so? Generally, women think with their hearts, whereas men with their heads. So once you are able to decide with your head and not let those little voices influence your heart, you will be able to focus better 🙂

  2. J says:

    Uh huh! Just have to shut them up. I would shout out loud sometimes when it get overbearing.

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