Help To Change Unhealthy Habits
But counting on willpower alone to make a change is inviting failure. A Special Report in the February issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter discusses the essential steps to a healthier life, including how planning and self-control skills -- not willpower alone -- help make healthy behavior changes.
These examples show how self-control wins over willpower alone:
Willpower: I'll make a cheesecake for others in the house, but I won't eat it. Self-control: I won't make a cheesecake, but I can have a slice when I dine out.
Willpower: I'll keep a liquor cabinet for guests, but I won't drink. Self-control: For a time, and perhaps forever, I will not have alcohol in the house.
Willpower: I'll stop cold turkey. Self-control: Before I stop, I'll talk to my doctor about ways to ease withdrawal.
Willpower: We'll go to the buffet, but I'll just have salad. Self-control: We'll go to a restaurant that offers small portions and low-fat or vegetarian items.
Willpower: Although I'm tired in the evening, I'm going to get out and walk for 30 minutes every day after dinner. Self-control: I'm going to try to walk 15 to 30 minutes in the morning and at lunch. I'll ask a friend to join me for encouragement.
Self-control is one step. But many factors impact why we do what we do -- or don't do. In fact, discarding an unhealthy behavior, or adopting a healthy one, is a tough challenge and often takes from three to 30 attempts.
Ask your doctor for recommendations to help you make needed changes. For example, going cold turkey to stop smoking or drinking is often ineffective and, in many cases, inappropriate. Medical conditions, such as depression, can make change difficult, too.
For more information about Mayo Clinic Health Letter, visit http://HealthLetter.MayoClinic.com.
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