Breaking Habits

The first theme of YHF Community Discussion Page is regarding the process of breaking a habit. If you have had a habit that is detrimental to your health, what were some ways that you were able to liberate yourself from it? For more information on behavior change theory, refer to the recent post on Understanding Your Readiness for Behavior Change.

Describe the habit and then outline some ways that you were able to overcome it…

We are looking for actionable tips for the members, so that we can all benefit from your success.

I will start:

When I get home, I have a tendency to run to the cupboards and start snacking on reasonably healthy foods like nuts – but to the point where I lose control of the amount. I notice when I get too much, that I will have stomach cramps at night. Meanwhile, I am coming home very hungry – so not filling myself with the best foods. If I can grab a snack, like a small piece of fruit and have that in between lunch and home, I usually do not have the same cravings. I also have to make a salad and eat it pretty soon after coming home from work to try to overcome the drive to the cupboards.

At this time, the tendency to the habit is still there but not as strong. I am working on the Maintenance phase.

Please provide your behavior change success stories in the comment section and I will have them available for those involved.


Published by Christopher Cirino

I am a board certified physician trained in infectious diseases and internal medicine. This site will feature health issues as they relate to infectious diseases, behavior and finding wellness.

2 thoughts on “Breaking Habits

  1. Thank you for this great forum, Dr. Cirino! In response to your request for other success stories, I would love to share mine as well.

    Years ago, I had four young children at home and found that I had stopped exercising—other than chasing the kids around the house, of course. It dawned on me that over the course of 5 or 6 years, I had gained 50 pounds and was feeling lethargic and unhealthy—not to mention that I was avoiding any glances at the mirror. I realized that the only way for me to add exercise into my life would be to wake up by 4:20 am in order to work out before the baby needed to be fed. It was the only time I would be available, and yet it seemed like an impossible feat.

    One day I noticed that the only clothes that could fit me were my maternity clothes, though my baby was by then a year old! Something had to change.

    I started going to bed by 8:30 every night and setting my alarm clock for 4:30 every morning. Even with eight hours of sleep, it was painful to awaken so early and get out of my cozy bed. But I would immediately turn on the lamp beside my bed, put eye drops in my eyes, and remind myself that if I allowed myself to fall back to sleep, it was pointless: I had already disturbed my sleep cycle anyway. Then I would say to myself, “I didn’t wake up early to toss and turn in bed. I didn’t disturb my sleep just to roll over and go back to sleep. Waking up is hard, but it will be easier in just a few minutes.” After my little self pep talk, I would get up.

    Over the course of that year, I did in fact lose the 50 pounds. Now, 15 years later, I am leaner and much stronger than I was back then, and I still wake up at 4:20 am each day! I continue to have to remind myself of the “why” when that alarm awakens me, and I still go through the daily routine of self-talk.

    I find that having a set sleep/wake time, to whatever extent is possible, is very helpful. Also, when the alarm sounds, try to respond immediately rather than pressing snooze. When you are tempted to just turn it off and go back to sleep, remind yourself why you set that alarm clock. And remember that you might be feeling very comfortable and sleepy there in bed, but once you are up and going, you’ll be glad you made the choice.

    The exercise doesn’t just happen to you. You must choose it, to plan for it and prioritize it.

    1. Thanks for sharing this information Cara.

      This is very sound advice. So many times, we have to juggle busy schedules. Sometimes, we realize that there is down time that we are wasting or not using efficiently/effectively. Other times, once we schedule the time for exercise, we can fit it in. After several days, weeks, and months, this behavior becomes a set priority and our whole day works better.

      Chris Cirino

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