Since I am a creature of habit, I may be a voice of experience in this subject matter. I have, as of now, successfully changed a few of my bad habits. What works for me, is to establish a daily routine with the habits that I want to incorporate into my life to replace the bad habits. The first week is, of course, always the hardest. The key is to be mindful of your new habit and your new routine, it helps to remind you of why you are doing this in the first place. This approach really works best for eating habits, keeping the focus on the good things that your new eating habits will bring you. However, I find that with emotional eating, the habit that needs to be broken, isn’t the eating, it is the why the eating is happening that needs to change. I am not saying that it isn’t a struggle but the replacement of say one type of carbohydrate (white) for another (whole grain) makes the change a little easier because you are essentially modifying a choice not eradicating it. And that mindset, that you are changing your habits with better ones does work, it’s an upgrade to better eating.
Now onto, for me the bete noir of habit changes, smoking. I tried for years and sometimes for even 2 or 3 years at a time to stop smoking. It was finally on November 1, 2007 that I had my last cigarette. The date was through no choice of my own, that day was the day I was admitted into the hospital where I was dying. The conversation that I had sometime during my long stay in the hospital with my hospitalist, Dr. Baker, was what truly made me stop. He sat on the edge of my bed for one of his many pep talks, this man was extraordinary, and he asked, if upon leaving the hospital I would go back to smoking. I replied, well I must have at least one vice. He said that it would pain him immeasurably that after all the work that he and I had done and gone through that I would then, upon leaving the hospital, engage in a habit that would then kill me in the second most painful way to die, the first most painful way to die, liver and kidney failure, I had just beaten. That talk is what finally got through to me and I quit for good. I know that part of what had held me back from quitting was the huge fear of weight gain, it is a big fear for a lot of women. I cannot lie to you, I did gain weight and I was depressed about it. For the most part, the weight gain comes from the mindless snacking which comes with the restless fingers. They can’t hold a cigarette so they hold something edible. The other reason for snacking is boredom, smoking occupied you when you were waiting for someone and it made you feel as if you were doing something besides waiting. The list goes on and on as to all the habits that need to be changed when you stop smoking. Many people can’t go to bars or drink until they have quit for a pretty long time, some can’t drink coffee because of the immediate association with smoking. All these habits and links to one another need to be redirected or replaced with other things. The weight gain eventually after the 3 year mark starts to drop on its own because usually by then you have mastered the boredom, the fidgety fingers, the drink or not drinking and the coffee.
I am happy to say that I can say with certainty that I will never go back to smoking, I have worked too hard and changed many habits to be smoke-free and it is a great feeling.