Health & Wellness Articles

4 Mindless Habits That Are Hurting Your Weight Loss

Get Focused to Get Back on Track

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If you’ve ever tried to break a bad habit, health-related or otherwise, you know how difficult it can be. Every morning, you awake to a daunting, gut-wrenching choice: to commit to change or to fall short of your goals. Those of you who have taken on the challenge of becoming your healthiest self can attest that this choice especially applies to creating changes in your diet and exercise routines. We all realize that the trick to lasting good health lies in mastering positive fitness and nutrition habits. But how can you put bad habits behind you and make wellness your main priority... every single day?
When attempting to dial back unhealthy behaviors, you’re up against several obstacles:
  1. It is likely that you’ve been practicing your unhealthy behavior over and over again for decades. Since your first childhood experience with brussel sprouts, you’ve become a master at avoiding vegetables. Since middle-school gym class, you’ve become adept at excusing yourself from exercise. Because you’ve been forming those unhealthy habits for so long, it isn’t easy to leave them behind.
  2. Efficiency and convenience are another knock against your good-health goals: unhealthy habits are often much easier than the alternative. Should I drive to work or ride my bike? Play football with the kids or rent a movie? Chop and prep fresh veggies or hit the drive-thru? Usually, unhealthy alternatives save us lots of time and require less physical and mental effort than their healthy counterparts. We’ve created such an efficient society that making good choices is almost impossible next to the not-so-healthy, yet quick and easy options.
  3. Finally, bad behaviors also come with sneaky, seductive pay-offs. It is understandable that most of us enjoy chocolate more than apples--it’s sweeter!  And why wouldn’t we avoid morning exercise when we could stay cozy and warm just by hitting snooze one more time? Of course, there are pay-offs for healthy habits as well: lower cholesterol, lower BMI, increased energy, longevity... But they’re usually not immediate or powerful enough to control our choices in the moment.
With the odds stacked against us, it’s easy to understand why conquering unhealthy habits with willpower alone can be rough. Luckily, the science of habit change gives us more effective ways to go about banishing unhealthy routines for good. Let’s take a closer look at some common unhealthy habits to see how we can put behavioral science to work for us.
Bad Habit: Eating on the Run
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About The Author

Megan Coatley Megan Coatley
Megan is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with a masterís degree in applied behavior analysis from Western Michigan University. As a health and wellness coach, she combines her passion for nutrition and fitness with her professional talents to help others creative positive, lasting change and live healthier lives.

Member Comments

  • I can't seem to figure out which is better...wake up at 5:30 and get in a workout, or forego exercise for sleep. I lose an hour of sleep when I wake up to work out & my schedule is literally so tight that I don't have that 5 extra minutes to add each night. I run around until midnight, then pass out.

    So, my question continues to be...sleep or exercise? It sounds like it would be easy to have both, but as a full-time, working mother, I would love to know where I could find that extra time. - 5/31/2016 9:41:20 AM
  • I've tried the sleeping advice and finally got my sleep pattern down - almost. The problem I have is when the time changes. So, to combat that, I change my bed and wake up time to stay the same. In the summer I get up at 6:30am, and in the winter, I get up at 7:30am. Seems to be working. P.S. I'm retired. - 5/31/2016 8:16:09 AM
  • Sleep, no sleep, sleep, no sleep, sleep, no sleep. Kind of gets me tired just thinking about it. This camper defiantly skimps on sleep. The pay off for skimping is I end up not having enough strength to eat right, exercise, and plan. Sooooo, this was a great article for me to read. - 8/11/2015 8:48:30 AM
  • This was such a boost for me. I've been on the vicious, self-defeating cycle of good habits that go bad within a few weeks. I'm back on track now, but after reading this article, I have a more strategic means of staying on track and reaching my fitness goals. Thanks so much! - 7/30/2015 10:27:47 AM
  • The thing I really like about this article is that it got me thinking. When I read something like this I rarely agree with everything that is written. However, I typically find something that encourages me to try something new, think of something differently, or find comfort in knowing that others share in many of my struggles. While the suggestions for more zzZZzzzZzs won't help this insomniac sleep easier tonight, I can replace those sad (most likely rancid) almonds that have been in my glove compartment for months. This just goes to show that knowing and doing often show different parties! I need to see that they hang out together a little more often...heading to the garage right now! - 7/29/2015 7:30:52 AM
  • I started at the beginning with the first assumption made in the article and was frustrated by the end. I loved veggies as a child. My sleep has always been an issue, all my life, yet I am told "just do yoga" or some other foolish thing. I've tried it all, my sleep continues to be messed up. I was very active as a child, as a teen, as a young adult and didn't change until my metabolism really messed up in my late thirties. Metabolic diseases are highly under-researched and easily dismissed yet they cause more damage than anyone realizes. Trust me when I say, after my gut healed (IBD), I was celebrating that I could eat veggies again. - 6/28/2015 11:36:05 PM
  • Just started to change my eating habits today. I will eat smaller portions, healthier foods, no seconds, and make myself walk on that treadmill that has been gathering dust this past year. I need to do this to feel good about myself again. - 12/29/2014 1:07:35 PM
    I am 70 years old and a professional dieter just not a professional loser. I have put on about 40 lbs in the last two years due to A-Fib, Planters Fasciitis, and knee problems. My Dr. is a Cardiac Electrophysiologi
    st (for A-Fib) and our primary doctor both recommended cutting carbohydrates.
    We started this new way of eating since Dec 26 for a jump start but want to get into a long term habit. I have talked about diets for years. I now have a renewed since of focus and need to prove myself. I quit smoking on 7-24-07 at 10PM (who is counting?) I can do this to help with AFib, blood pressure, knee, and heel. - 12/29/2014 8:19:05 AM
  • Good advice! I think gas stations would go out of business overnight if it were not for their convenience stores. I am one who does not care for the image of gasoline and food together, but they were a godsend on road trips where traffic jams delayed us in the middle of nowhere and we had to get food and drink, and fuel. I do avoid them except for emergencies though. I do not even know what some of the food advertised is- what is a "tornado" for instance? Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen... - 11/29/2014 7:04:48 AM
    Such great advice. I definitely saved this one in the favs! - 7/8/2014 1:12:43 AM
  • Easy to say get to "get cranking" but when you are exhausted from a 12 hour work day it is difficult to get motivated to cut veggies for snacks and cooking is right out of the question. And walking for 5-10 minutes really does nothing. - 6/22/2014 8:30:22 AM
    Might be helpful for some, but not me.

    If I miss a workout, it's due to an unplanned incident that just can't be helped - my son freaking out over something and insisting mommy "fix it", the cat having hairball issues that need cleaned before aforementioned toddler plays with it, etc. I don't emotionally or mindlessly eat, sleep is gotten the best I can (set bedtime, screen limits, etc), and I never eat 'on the go' unless it's nibbling bits of my breakfast while making it and my son's simultaneously before sitting to eat with him and honestly I think I would pass out if I didn't! - 5/27/2014 5:57:03 PM
  • This is great article but I found it very disruptive to have all the embedded ads popping up. - 5/16/2014 1:08:43 PM
  • Great points I'd never thought about,and good suggestions, too! Thank You. - 11/22/2013 1:57:09 PM
  • This is a great article... the area I always struggle with is skimping on sleep. Too many things to do in a day, so few hours. :((( - 9/9/2013 9:27:07 AM

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