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Habits-why so hard to break?

October 14, 2008


Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot why old habits are so hard to break. Studies have shown that it takes about three weeks to break a habit, and then after the trial period, the desire for the habit decreases or is diminished. I have found this to be true, for the most part.

I’ve cut caffeine out of my life, and after the first grueling two weeks, my desire for it isn’t as strong (at least when I’m well-rested). But I do also know that all it takes is a few days of drinking it to become hooked again. The question is-why do we continue to do those things that could potentially harm our health in the long run KNOWING that we can change these habits, thus preventing possible disease or ailments?

Remember, I am speaking of habits, not true addictions-they are completely different in nature and should be treated as such.

Caffeine is the least of my worries-I’m talking about the big stuff-those who continuously sabotage his or her health efforts knowing that he/she has a bleak family health history, or those who are currently suffering from some sort of disease or condition (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.) It truly boggles my mind how one, knowing that his/her health could be improved by taking steps such as exercising more frequently, eating more healthfully, losing weight, cutting sugar, etc., can continue to engage in negative behavior!

I know that habits are HARD to break and that life is no fun without the occasional treat or splurge. However, I’ve seen first hand how addictive certain foods can be-sugar, caffeine, processed foods, sodas-and I’ve even lived with a man (my father-sorry pops) who, although he suffers from diabetes, will indulge in poor behavior KNOWING that his life is in danger (potentially-diabetes is a serious disease and should be taken seriously). Human behavior is complex, and I guess there are even times when one’s most precious gift, health, is not even a strong enough motivating factor to change one’s ways.

I have a friend who used to be an avid consumer of a beverage called DIET COKE. After about 10 or more years of drinking this liquid poison/crack several times a day, she started to exhibit strange bodily aches and pains, fatigue, inability to make a fist…she saw a doctor but he was clueless as to what could be causing these symptoms. She did a little research, and found that many people who drink diet coke on a regular basis have also had these strange symptoms (google ‘aspartame poisoning’).

So, she cut out diet coke and cleaned up her diet a bit. The symptoms went away as well. Now, I am not saying that her issues were caused by aspartame, but knowing that it is a chemical and potentially dangerous (regardless of what the FDA or any other huge corporation wants to tell us), it just may have been a contributing factor. What drives me absolutely mad about this lovely little story is that she is back drinking diet coke again. Go figure. As I have been saying, addictions/habits are definitely hard to break, even under dire circumstances.

I am not a psychologist, and human behavior will always be a very difficult subject to completely understand. If you are suffering from a habit that you are having a tough time breaking, take a moment to think about why you are experiencing difficulty, your motivations and reasons, and what you may need to do to find a solution to the problem.

Something to ponder! Until we find a panacea-be good to yourself!

Happy Tuesday. 😀

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