bad habits

Get Healthy This Summer, Say Goodbye to Unhealthy Habits

While we’re at school, it’s easy to pick up habits that are not so good for our bodies. Leaving our makeup on over night, pulling all nighters, eating nothing but Ramen noodles for a few weeks straight.  But it’s summer now. You can sleep. You can have your mom or your roommates buy healthy food to eat. And you can definitely find time to wash off your make-up before bed. Want to kick your bad habit this summer? Here’s how you can.

Though some makeup companies say their foundation is so light you can wear it to bed, why not take the time to wash it off? It’s ok to forget now and then, but consistently waking up with yesterday’s makeup on is a serious no no. Makeup will clog your pores, which allow us to get rid of irritants and waste—without washing your face at night, the waste will just build up. But foundation is the least of your worries. Leaving eyeliner or mascara on your eyes over night can increase risk for an allergic reaction or constant irritation. The skin of our eyes is thin and delicate, so constantly putting on fresh eyeliner over yesterday’s leftovers is bound to cause a reaction. Getting makeup in your eyes, as you may have witnessed before with a slip of the mascara or eyeliner, will burn and cause irritation long after. So, ladies, no matter how tired you are, wipe off that makeup before you go to bed.

School’s out for summer, so that means no more all nighters. Just because you might not have work the next day or no obligations, doesn’t mean you should keep your eyes pried open until beyond the sunrise. You’ll throw off your sleep schedule for no reason, you’ll likely end up wasting a whole day at least of your summer just sleeping, and you’ll only want to down a bunch of caffeine. Ask yourself, is this really worth it? Only if you have a huge work project that’s the equivalent of a whole semester’s work in college due the next day! Sleep is taken for granted way too often. Why waste a gorgeous day you could spend at the beach or playing frisbee on sleep because you decided to be a night owl?

If you fell victim to the expected college weight gain, summer is the perfect time to whip yourself back into shape. Take out your bike and go riding around the block. Take a nightly stroll with some friends. Start your day with a jog—before the summer heat kicks in. You can even just grab your laptop and start with some online fitness. You can find Pilates, zumba, cardio—basically whatever you want is all online for free with easy access. Not to mention with the Wii, you can totally get fit and play your favorite video games at the same time.

Speaking of getting fit, summer is the time to go on a diet cleanse. No, you don’t have to sit around eating only salads and nuts. But you should start eating better than you did during the semester. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat some pizza or nuke up some hot pockets. You should pay more attention to your eating habits though. Excess snacking, avoiding fruit and veggies in favor of a cup of noodles, and pigging out at weird hours of the night are a no-go. Though we might not always take care of our bodies while we’re away at school, these poor health habits don’t need to transition to the summer when we have the opportunity and time to take proper care of ourselves.

Finally, now that it’s summer, it’s time to kick your laziness out the door! No more hanging out in bed all day when you can lay around outside instead. Don’t spend a day just on your computer, playing games or Facebook stalking. Go out and talk to real people, go shopping, grab a coffee. And if you have an internship, don’t procrastinate with your work like you might in school. Take it seriously and work hard to get everything done by or before when it’s needed. At the very least, you’ll still have the weekends to take a break and enjoy the summer while it lasts.

So if you have an unhealthy habit or something you’d like to change about yourself, get together with your friends to make change happen. It might be hard to break away from your old ways and sometimes it may be time consuming, but getting healthy will be worth it in the end. This summer, work hard and play hard—you’ll be happy when you do.

– ToonyToon

Automate Good Decision Making

A habit for a college student can mean the difference between passing and failing, literally.  Studies show that 45% of our daily activities are at some level automated–the neural connections are short-circuited to make the activity easy.  That’s why it doesn’t take much thought to get through your morning routine, or your workout, or decide what you’re going to eat for lunch.  I wrote a post recently on killing the procrastination beast, but if you’re stuck in a rut, here’s how to trick your brain into short circuiting the activities you want, rather than that pesky habit of turning on the T.V. every time you walk into a room or automatically checking your email every 5 minutes.

Step 1: You need a fix.  Whether it’s a snack, the urge to flip on the TV, to check your email, something is pulling you and your eyeballs away from what you need to be doing.  Write down everything that’s going on at that moment.  What time is it?  Did you just transition (such as walking into a new room)?  How do you feel?  Are you bored?  Anxious? Tired? Restless?  One of these is your trigger, and rather than eliminate that trigger, which is often impossible, transfer the fix onto something else, something that doesn’t derail you.

Step 2: Habit transfer.  When you identify the trigger for the unwanted habit, think carefully about something else that might fill that need.  If it’s a distraction you’re avoiding, substitute a lesser distraction in.  If it’s a snack, maybe what you’re really wanting is an excuse to walk around for a minute.  The science behind this trick is to establish the same craving-reward response with the habit of your choice.

Step 3: Only work on changing one thing at a time.  New Year’s Resolutions, while fun to think about, are notoriously bad motivation because it’s too much.  Way too much, according to author Daniel Pink, a New York Times bestseller who wrote The Power of Happiness: Why We Do What We Do in Business and Life, the source of these tips.  Keep plugging away at the one habit until you get it down, then tackle the next one.  An example of this, according to Pink, is putting your gym shoes by the bed every morning.

If you can automate the habits that help you reach your goals, the decisions you won’t be making will go a long way toward reducing your stress level.  Should I snack, should I wait?  Should I study or watch T.V.?  Should I go to the gym?  Just make it a habit and you’ll have more time for the things that make you happy, whatever that thing may be.  Spending time with your significant other?   Chilling with your friends?  A slimmer you?  Check all of the above!


I’m reading Behavior Modification: What It Is and How to Do It