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June 25 - Old Habits Die Hard: Today your challenge is to replace your old bad habits with new healthy routines.

Just knowing something is bad for us isn’t always enough to make us change. Changing bad habits is a difficult process that requires planning and can sometimes take a while. This is why so many people often get discouraged and give up. If you have a bad habit you would like to rid yourself of, be patient and don’t expect perfection the first try. Today, take some time to prepare for your plan of attack. Here’s what you need to know and how to get started.


Psychology defines habits as actions that are triggered automatically in response to external cues that have been associated with their performance. For example, washing your hands (action) after using the restroom (external cue), or putting on your seatbelt (action) after getting into the car (external cue).

Research time and again shows that repetition of a simple action in a regular situation leads to the action being activated following the exposure to those external cues. As a personal example, one habit/routine I follow is never snacking in my living room or bedroom. If I choose to have a snack during my day I have to get up from where ever I am in the house and head directly to my dining room table to eat. I turned my dining room table into my external cue as the only place where I associate food and eating.

Breaking Habits

You don’t eliminate a bad habit, you replace it. First, you must become aware of your unhealthy habit (action) and the trigger (external cue), and then you can develop ways to change them. Here’s how:

  • Avoid Temptation If you always stop for a donut on your way to work, try a different route.
  • Replace Unhealthy with Healthy Behaviors Exercise, practice a favorite hobby, or spend time with family instead of watching TV and snacking.
  • Enlist Support Ask friends, family, and co-workers to support the behaviors you are trying to change.
  • Reward Yourself for Small Steps Give yourself a healthy treat when you’ve reached a small goal.
  • Plan for Mistakes If you can’t avoid tempting situations, prepare in advance. We all slip up now and then, it what makes us human. Instead of beating yourself up over it, plan for it. Plan how to handle temptations and mentally practice what your plan will be to get back on track.

Good habits are built gradually. Start slow, live your life, and get better along the way.

As a Health Coach here at Saint Mary’s Fitness Center I work with members on setting healthy, attainable, and measurable goals. I also set small personal goals for myself, such as training to run a half marathon, competing in CrossFit events, or enjoying the outdoors activities that Nevada has to offer. One of my favorite quotes that I am always inspired by is from Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”.