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How to transform your bad habits—without actually breaking them

January 22, 2015

Our idol Alex Jameson at her best!

Of course, there are some very unhealthy habits (like smoking) that you might need to break ASAP. But then there a lot of common, unhealthy habits that you can start to re-think. Here’s how.

1. You love a late-night snack.
What it really means
Okay, first question: “Why are you up so late?” If you don’t know why, “The answer is go to bed. You’re up too late. You might have hit your second wind,” Jamieson says, which is why you’re reaching for a little (sometimes sugar-y) pick-me-up. You can also do some microbiome investigating, she says. If you’re craving something like sugar, it might be because your gut is out of whack.

2. You’re binge-watching Netflix when you get home from work.
What it really means:
It sounds harmless (hey, you’re really tired from work!). But you might be using it as a way to avoid some other thoughts you’re having—like maybe you really want to be taking an art class or spending time with friends like you used to, Jamieson explains.
You can ask yourself, “‘What do I want more of in life?’ Is it creativity? Is it a connection with someone? If it’s learning something new and feeling physically empowered—is there an archery class you can take? If it’s having time with your friends, can you go roller skating with them? Rather than watching TV and dreaming about it,” Jamieson says.

3. You really rely on your afternoon coffee or latte.
What it really means:
This one also has to do with shut-eye (or lack of it). “Most of us don’t get enough sleep, and by 3:00 or 4:00 p.m., we just want to take a nap, but you’ve created this caffeinated adult milkshake habit,” Jamieson says.
If you can’t get what the rest your body is actually asking for (AKA a mid-afternoon power nap), she says, try walking around the block. The air and sun is a legit pick-me-up. “We are just not built to sit at our desks all day,” she says.

4. You reach for snacks like granola bars, chips, or a bag of pretzels pretty much every day.
What it really means:
Crunchy foods are a way for us to destroy something with our teeth, Jamieson explains, “We’re releasing pent up anger and frustration.” She suggests trying healthier Brazil nuts and a few raisins instead. That way, you satisfy that desire for taste, and texture, and crunch. And if that’s still not helping with your anger, may we suggest a kickboxing class? —Molly Gallagher


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