In the early 90’s I worked in a gym in Trim County Meath. I trained hard and loved it. Unfortunately, I also had a poor diet and my big love was chocolate. At one point I found myself eating 4 bars of chocolate a day. This had become a habit. A habit I really wanted to change.

The first thing I did was to take a look at where I was eating the chocolate. The gym was a 20-minute drive from my home, and I noticed that I would stop the car at a shop on the way to work. Then on my 15minute break I would walk to the local shop and buy another bar. On the way home I would stop and buy one if not two bars because I was hungry. At this point my brain was pretty much working on automatic pilot. I would find myself stopping at the shop whether I was hungry or not. 

Here’s what I did to break the habit:

I needed to take away the automatic feeling I got from wanting to stop at the shop on the way to work. I could have fought the craving and used willpower but a much easier thing to do was to remove the trigger, which was the shop. Rather than fight the craving, I stopped it completely by driving a different route to work. It may sound a bit over the top but it’s easier to remove a temptation than fight it. 

Next, I wanted to tackle the habit of eating the bar on the 15-minute break. I found the easiest thing to do here was to bring an apple from home and eat it on my walk. This meant by the time I reached the shop on my short walk I was still eating it and so didn’t need to eat the chocolate. 

The hardest habit I found to break was the trip home. There were two things I needed to do here. The first was to make sure I wasn’t hungry. This meant having some healthy food in the car, so I could easily have it to hand. The second thing I needed to do (and probably the most important) was to do what I had done with my trip over. I needed to find a new route home. When I did this, I removed the temptation of stopping at the shop. 

In summary, here are the steps I took to break that particular habit:

  1. Recognised what the habit was and when it happened
  2. Removed the temptation to stop at the shop by changing the route
  3. Replace the habit of eating the chocolate with eating something that made me feel healthier. 

Please feel to comment or this story or share your own. What have you done to break a habit?

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