Changing your life: how to change bad habits in 8 steps


Everyone has their own appetite. There are those who always promise themselves to do some physical activity, go to bed earlier at night, go on a diet, drink less coffee, quit smoking, eat more vegetables, find time for themselves. not spending too many hours on social media, cultivating a hobby, seeing friends more often. The problem is that, eventually, this good resolution is postponed one, ten, or a thousand times, until it ends up in the drawer and abandoned.

Each of us knows very well what we want (or should) do, but we don’t do it. In other words, we cannot take action. According to Dr Filippo Ongaro, long-time astronaut doctor, longevity expert and today CEO and founder of the Ongaro Method, the basis of any path consists in changing one’s habits. Even when we talk about lifestyles, it is the automations that direct us to a long and healthy life or, conversely, to an increased risk of disease.

What are habits?

We call “habits” all those behaviors that are repeated continuously over a long period of time and become automatic, to the point where we no longer realize that we are doing them. Let’s think about when we learned to drive a car: the first times we were focused on the lights, the clutch, the gearbox, the steering wheel. Today, after many years of practice, gestures have become instinctive, so we can change gears, turn on the lights and talk to the people next to us all at the same time.

Daily habits tell who we are, because they influence our choices and the attitudes we have in the various areas of life. This is why they are also central to maintaining health,” says Dr. Ongaro. “For example, the habit of consuming junk food, lazing around in front of the TV all afternoon, consuming too much alcohol or any other form of immediate gratification is always associated with a long-term loss of well-being.”

But then how can we interrupt it negative automations of our lives and turn virtuous behaviors into habits, capable of leading us down the path we’ve always dreamed of? Here are 8 steps to new wellness practices.

  1. Let’s ask ourselves: “What is my bad habit?”

It is not enough to say “I want to lose weight”, “I want to eat better”, “I want to drink less alcohol” or “I want to exercise”. I have to first understand which (bad) habit is leading us astray. For example, maybe we can’t lose weight because we eat out too often, during our lunch break we always go to that pastry shop and buy something, we overdo it with alcohol because we indulge in too many aperitifs with friends. some physical exercise. Let’s think about it carefully and focus our attention on the particular habit that is getting in our way.

  1. Let’s identify the trigger

Once we identify the habit to fix, we take a step forward. Maybe we often dine out at restaurants because we feel tired from work. Or maybe we walk into that sweet shop because we’re bored. We don’t want to drive to the gym because driving in traffic stresses us out. THEevery behavior is triggered by a trigger, which needs to be determined.

  1. Let’s find an alternative habit

Now let’s find one new virtuous behavior which satisfies the trigger. For example: after work we do not do physical exercise, because we have the habit of going to the bar with colleagues and drinking an aperitif, which represents a moment of leisure and fun. The solution cannot be to run alone or to do a sport that bores and tires us, but we must find an activity that gives us equal fun and enjoyment, such as a zumba class or a padel game.

Or: we are constantly on Facebook because it relaxes us, but lately we have noticed that spending all these hours on social media creates visual fatigue. To relax without looking at your phone, we could try meditation or enjoy a relaxing massage at a spa. “This reasoning can be applied to any negative or harmful behavior that we want to correct. Let’s ask ourselves what we are trying to satisfy with this habit: desire for relaxation, sharing, joy, excitement. Then, we find a healthy alternative that gives us the same sense of satisfaction» suggests Ongaro.

  1. Let’s give ourselves some time

Usually, when we think of change, we imagine a kind of Copernican revolution in our lives: an all-or-nothing kind. In fact, drastic changes are impossible, because Habits are not abandoned suddenly, but corrected day by day.

“If we make it by automating winning behaviors, we will remove space for negative ones and, in the long run, end up having an avalanche effect in our lives,” Ongaro describes. For example, starting sports prevents us from spending a few hours on the sofa, but ends up making us more attentive to nutrition, hygiene and personal care. “A famous study claims that 21 days is enough to form a new habit, but it actually takes from 2 to 6 months to succeed, without the risk of constantly falling back into the old”, warns the expert.

  1. Let’s not get hung up on the end result

Attention: in these 2-6 months of “training” we should not expect great results, because the goal is to acquire the habit and not to take advantage of it. Therefore, it will not be a few months of dieting that will make us lose weight forever, but it will be the following months and years that will give us an enviable figure, because eating well will become a real way of life.

“Unfortunately, in the early and middle stages of any new habit, there is the so-called “Valley of Disappointment”. We expect to make progress in a linear fashion, and any discrepancy between our expectations and the timing of our result results in a reversal“, describes Dr. Ongaro. “Instead, the results arrive exponentially: for a long time they are very poor, and then they accelerate quickly.” This means that we should not aim for the final result, the most delayed, but start enjoying the immediate benefits: peace, more energy, a clearer mind, time for ourselves.

  1. Let’s proceed in small doses

The starting dose should be minimal to avoid dropout. If we want to adopt the habit of walking every morning, let’s not start with hours of walking and stick to the famous 10 thousand daily steps and then give up on the first rainy day. Rather, we start with 5-10 minutes, but we never skip it. Within a few months we will get into the new habit and be able to lengthen the sessions. It’s the same with diet: let’s start with a small change. For example, we start the meal with vegetables and then increase from there over time. If we want to reduce the number of daily coffees, we scale up the cups little by little and so on.

UA new habit doesn’t have to turn your life upside downbut it has to be sustainable over time: we choose something we can do every day of the week, including weekends, something that can even be done in a few minutes,” advises Ongaro.

  1. We use the environment to our advantage

We try to take advantage of our environment to remind us to continue the new chosen habit. If we want to go jogging in the morning, in the evening we prepare all the equipment we will need next to the bed. If we want to read, we put the books in plain sight. If we want to drink more water, let’s keep it near the workstation. If we want to ride the exercise bike, let’s not keep it hidden in the closet. If we don’t want to eat sweets, we don’t keep the bowl of chocolates on the table in front of the TV. After all, Oscar Wilde already claimed: “I can resist everything except temptation.”

  1. Let’s add the good habits

We trick the brain, taking advantage of existing habits to add something new. For example, when we drink coffee, we can do a few minutes of meditation. If we like TV series, we watch them while pedaling the exercise bike. Let’s use our imagination to our advantage and don’t forget to let ourselves be inspired by others: science teaches that human beings can be influenced and tend to adopt “herd” behavior.

“If we want to lose weight, it’s a good idea to avoid friends who go out to restaurants every weekend. If we want to do sports, it would be better to join a sports club. Let’s expand our knowledge circle and let’s add new figures, which drag us in the direction of the new habit to establish”, concludes Dr. Ongaro.

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