TV is blanketed with the sagas of celebrities trying to break bad habits, from Carnie Wilsons compulsion to overeat to Lindsay Lohans repeated problems with, well, take your pick. But for most, a whole lot less drama and a lot more work goes into reforming behaviors.
Everyday activities, like eating, working or texting, can be transformed into negative habits: overeating or overworking, for example. When you have an occasional midnight snack night after night, youre rewarded with a dose of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine. You set a pattern of behavior-and-reward your brain urges you to repeat over and over.
The good news? Youre more than a bundle of impulses and dopamine. Creating smart strategies and reinforcing healthy choices helps your brain adopt healthy habits. Try this.
Change your environment. Always eat fries and a shake in the cafeteria? Find a new locale and bring healthy food into it; repeat and eat; repeat and eat. Pretty soon that becomes your pattern.
Make breaking the habit your mantra. Turns out telling yourself to shape up actually helps. Interrupting the cycle of impulse and reward, even temporarily, gives you time to NOT do something.
Get enough sleep every night. When it comes to making healthy choices, less than six hours of sleep is equal to being a little tipsy.
Enlist support. Bring everyone into your battle.
The You Docs Mehmet Oz, host of The Dr. Oz Show and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic are authors of YOU: Losing Weight. To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com. A King Features syndicate.