“I Kicked a Bad Habit…and You Can, Too!”

Are you a mindless snacker? Can’t seem to quit smoking? Try one of these real-life strategies to ditch your worst habits today!

Beth Shapouri
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Want to make your bad habits a thing of the past? Get creative! Here, the sneaky, smart and rheumatoid arthritis (RA)-friendly ways three folks figured out how to give negative behaviors the boot for good—and how you can, too!

“I cured my mindless snacking and junk-food binges.”
Kymberly Williams-Evans knew better—she’s an exercise professional and fitness blogger—but despite her training, she had a bad habit of snacking at night while watching TV. So she decided to switch her behavior by making herself a deal. “During commercials, I would get up and jog or do in-place lunges. If I exercised for the entire commercial break, then I could get a snack. But since I hated missing the show, I’d skip out on heading to the fridge. By the time the show was over, I found that I had exercised through every commercial and decided each time that I wasn’t hungry after all!”

Why a smart swap works: Replacing your habit with another behavior is a great way to snap out of a negative cycle. It allows you to focus on something else, short-circuiting the automatic response to a situation.

“I quit smoking!”
After her husband quit smoking, Pat Miller decided it was her turn. But instead of going cold turkey like he did, she preferred to kick the habit gradually. In the past, she’d found that creating “rules” in her life—guidelines that helped keep her organized—kept her on track in other areas. So she decided to set up some new policies. First she “outlawed” smoking in the house to keep from tempting her hubby. Once she was comfortable with that, she made a new rule: “No smoking in the car unless the windows are open.” She kept adding rules (e.g., “no smoking before brushing my teeth”), until finally she lit her last cigarette. “That was about five or six years ago!”

Why rules work: Many smokers find quitting all at once hard, which is why making “rules” for yourself like this—in steps—can be helpful. And that goes for other bad habits as well!

“I stopped being a coach potato!”
While in graduate school, psychologist Randy Gilchrest, PsyD, found himself practically glued to the couch. “I had never really been big into exercise. I was studying all the time—it was a very sedentary lifestyle.” Unsatisfied with the way his body felt—and frustrated that he couldn’t seem to muster up motivation on his own—he started a series of hypnosis sessions. The result? He changed his eating habits and began walking—and lost 70 pounds, without feeling like he was constantly struggling! Now Gilchrest uses hypnotherapy with his patients regularly.

Why hypnosis works: Hypnosis allows you to reshape your thoughts, beliefs and memories about a behavior in a particular context or situation. Working on a subconscious level, a few sessions can help break down the thought patterns that lead to negative behaviors. Self-hypnosis CDs may be helpful for some, but for more deeply ingrained habits, a professional will be able to provide better help. Find a licensed hypnotherapist in your area, at the National Board for Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists’ website, natboard.com

April 2013