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Have you ever rewarded yourself for a really great workout by inhaling a pizza? Sure, we all have. It’s a classic example of bad habits that derail our fitness goals, yet we continue to wonder why we can’t reach them. And still, the cycle continues.
There are countless reasons why people get stuck in a cycle of bad habits, but often it comes down to not knowing how to get out of the rut. Because, let’s face it, it’s a lot of work to change a habit.
“So many people think, Well, I’m already here, it will take me 10 times the amount of effort to get healthy, and so instead of changing their mindset, they continue to live their lifestyle because they believe there’s no way of getting out,” says Arnit Kobryniec, a certified personal trainer in South Florida who has a master’s degree in psychology, specializing in eating habits and behaviors. “Though they may hate the way they feel or look, trying to face these unhealthy habits may mean digging deep — emotionally and physically. Also, a fear of failure holds so many people back from taking action.”
Kobryniec outlines a few common bad habits and how to turn them around:
Bad Habit: Overtraining
Overtraining can lead to a halt in progress or not seeing results. Taking a rest from training is imperative.
Habit Breaker: Rest Days
Take two days off from training and reassess your workout program. When planning, make sure to establish limits — two-hour workout sessions are never necessary.
Bad Habit: Binge Eating
Also known as emotional eating, if you find yourself constantly going to the bag of chips or an entire pint of ice cream, you can most likely credit it to something deeper — such as stress, depression or anger. Just like alcohol, food can become a dependent source of comfort for many.
Habit Breaker: Food Journal
Each time you find yourself binging, write down what you’re feeling at that time (e.g., cookies/stressed). Once you find the issue, you can begin to dig deeper as to what is causing those feelings and tackling it head-on.
Bad Habit: Late-Night Snacking
Ingesting extra calories at night means you won’t have time to burn them off. Plus, these snacks tend to be foods that foster binge eating.
Habit Breaker: Check Your Feelings
Ask yourself, Am I truly hungry, or am I just bored? If it’s boredom, do something else, like read a book or reorganize your closet. If it’s truly hunger, then you aren’t eating enough during the day. Try to have a meal with a higher protein and fat content closer to 6 or 7 p.m.
Bad Habit: Fad Diets
Jumping from one fad diet to another can be detrimental to losing weight. Either eating too little, too much or cutting out a specific food group can really affect your weight.
Habit Breaker: Count Macros
Counting macronutrients is not a diet; it’s a lifestyle. The best part is that you aren’t cutting any corners or depriving yourself of a meal. You are eating based off your daily activity level.
Bad Habit: Weeklong Detoxes
Punishing yourself for going overboard by depriving yourself of key nutrients is not the answer. This process can ultimately hurt your body in the long run. The moment you shock your body with food again, its natural response will be to store it as fat “for emergency” purposes in case you starve it again.
Habit Breaker: Clean Eating
When your vacation or birthday celebration is over, jump back to eating clean. Lean proteins and veggies are the perfect “detox.”
If your bad habits are different from those listed above, Kobryniec offers a few tips that will work for any number of issues: “Write everything down because once you see an action on paper, you are more likely to follow through. Big sticky notes are my go-to. I stick them everywhere — on my mirrors, doors — as reminders. It also helps to have a support system and to create smaller goals as steppingstones to the larger goal.
Finally, keep going even though you might have fallen off track a few times. The more you practice an action, the more it becomes a habit.”