Friday, August 18, 2006

Healthy Living: The Key to Successful Living - Part 3

(This is the third of a five-part series on the importance of health as key to a successful life. Today we look at eliminating unhealthy habits.)

Eliminating Unhealthy Habits

Studies have shown that upwards of 80 percent of all heart disease and 70 percent of most cancers could be prevented if we exercised regularly, maintained a healthy diet and eliminated bad habits like smoking, drug abuse and excessive alcohol consumption.

The fact is that most diseases and sickness are caused by our habitual bad habits and if corrected, could be prevented from affecting our lives.

Making the right choices can be hard - habits are habits because they've been ingrained in our subconscious for so long that we don't think about them, we just do them. Habits can seem impossible to break, but break them we must. Our lives, our health and our success is at stake if we don't snap free from the chains of our unhealthy habits.

Smoking, poor food choices, alcohol and drug abuse are the big four when it comes to causing sickness and preventable deaths in these United States. Smoking is responsible for more early deaths than any of the other unhealthy habits combined.

Heart disease, stoke and cancer victims can look to smoking as one of the main culprits. Cigarette smoking is the number one cause of premature and preventable death in the world. Smoking hardens the arteries, raises blood pressure and produces malignant cancer cells in the body.

Alcohol and drug abuse are notorious cancer causers as well as the number one cause of death by vehicle in the U.S. In addition to these, drug abusers run the risk of contracting blood born killers like AIDS and Hepatitis C.

Foods high in sugar, salt, saturated and trans fats can cause numerous damage to the body. Most likely in the forms of heart disease, inflammation and overall ill health. Recent studies suggest that upwards of 70 percent of all deaths in the United States can be attributed to these four deadly habits.

Breaking the Cycle

These habits, especially smoking, are so powerful that many people even after suffering debilitating health problems will not stop their unhealthy habit. The point is the habit can become a very potent addiction over time.

Fortunately, there are ways to break bad habits and addictions for good. Here are six steps to getting free from any unhealthy habit.

1. Self-motivation - before you can stop a bad habit, you must want to stop. If you can't get yourself motivated to really quit, you're defeated before you start.

2. Seek counseling or a support group - Some may not be able to afford a counselor, but support groups can be found anywhere, including friends and family.

3. Exercise regularly - Nothing is more beneficial for the human body than exercise. It lowers blood pressure, cholesterol and releases endorphins (the feel good chemical) throughout the body.

4. Reward yourself - Set up a reward system for yourself. If you go a day without smoking, go buy yourself something, take a night out on the town or whatever rewards you can think of to keep the motivation levels high.

5. Visualization and affirmations - Visualize, see yourself in your minds eye free from your bad habit or addiction. Use strong emotions to plant the vision deep in your subconscious and affirm that you're free from your bad habit. It won't be long before that habit is replaced with your ideal vision.

6. Replace a negative habit with a positive one - This is pretty self-explanatory. All you do is replace a bad habit (smoking) with a positive one (exercise) to take its place.

Defeating an unhealthy habit can take time, but it can be done, provided one takes persistent action and blends it with proper motivation and a solid vision of a successful outcome.

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