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After the Bar

Personal & Financial

How a Lack of Habit Can Suppress Your Health

Zachary P Anderson

How a Lack of Habit Can Suppress Your Health
Inti St Clair via GettyImages

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Have you ever considered all the things marketed to you to that promise to make you healthy? The latest headlines and social media trends always seem to highlight a recent study on how to live until you are 102, or how to lose those stubborn last five pounds. Given the many demands on our time, it seems nearly impossible to focus on one of these studies, let alone the hundreds that are thrown at you on social media. Meanwhile, you are overwhelmed with client meetings, contract review, or an upcoming motion to suppress. It is no surprise that we reach for quick fixes, such as fit tea, body wraps, 1200-calorie diets, or meal replacement shakes. 

Ponder all the quick fixes you have tried. How long did the results last? How much money did you spend? How reasonable was the fix? Results likely lasted for a couple of days, maybe a week, or perhaps an entire month. Most likely these weren’t fixes at all—they are quick but not sustainable.

In wellness and nutrition, we tend to go with all-or-nothing approaches. We cut out certain foods, buy all the home exercise equipment, and hit the gym every day for one week. Then we lose motivation. We burn out quickly, become bored, or cannot sustain our routine when we are faced with unanticipated challenges.

Rather than going to extremes, let’s look at some small, sustainable changes. Focus on changes that are easily within your control and that you can maintain for more than just a couple of days. Here are some ideas:

  • Instead of using the bathroom or copy machine closest to your office, use ones that are further away from your office or on another floor.
  • Use the stairs instead of an elevator or an escalator on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
  • Rather than drinking a soda, switch to a zero-calorie beverage or water.
  • Keep your bedroom a cell-phone-free space. Turn on the do-not-disturb mode an hour before bedtime.
  • Set a reminder on your phone to go outside for a five-minute walk around your building once a day.

Does one thing on this list seem doable for the next two weeks? Great! Once this new change has become a habit, think of something else you can do and focus on that for two weeks. These small, sustainable changes made over a long period bring about the most significant and lasting results.