Want to Avoid Backsliding into Bad Habits? Avoid Justification and Bargaining
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January 18, 2020
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Bad Habits for Dieters

If you’re like a lot of people, you have made quite a few promises to yourself. Perhaps you wanted to change the way you eat so you can be healthier, or maybe you want to exercise more to lose weight. No matter what, you might end up finding yourself backsliding into bad habits, despite your best intentions to do better.

How can you avoid backsliding into bad habits so you can stay on course towards reaching your top goals? Check out the tips below that can help you avoid justification and bargaining.

What Is Bargaining and Justification?

Bargaining is basically when you start off strong with following a new routine or implementing healthier habits into your daily life, only to find that you end up justifying some of the bad habits that you wanted to eliminate in the first place. You can expect to go through this when you’re working on losing weight, for example. You might start to tell yourself that your old bad habits weren’t so bad after all, and that alone can lead to backsliding into bad habits that halt your progress.

During bargaining, you might start telling yourself things like, “Oh, a little bit won’t hurt,” or “I’ll just have a little bite, and it won’t do any harm to my progress.” Unfortunately, this isn’t true because every little bit adds up.

As you can see, the simple act of bargaining also comes with an element of justification for your bad habits. Telling yourself that you can have a little bit of an unhealthy food is basically bargaining with yourself, and telling yourself that it is totally justified and fine to experience this backsliding into bad habits, even though, deep down, you know it’s wrong.

You Need to Stick with Moderation

In order to avoid backsliding into bad habits, try to establish a plan that incorporates moderation from the very start. This intentional moderation allows for the occasional indulgence without needing to bargain and justify your way through the behavior. That’s because bargaining is typically impulsive in nature, and you end up regretting the decision later on when you see the negative impact that it had on you.

How to Avoid Backsliding into Bad Habits

How can you avoid the bargaining and justification trap that leads to backsliding into bad habits? Here are a few steps to follow:

  1. Sit down and think about what your bargaining behaviors look like. Reflect on your own thoughts and actions so you can effectively identify areas of weakness. Where do you often find yourself allowing bad habits to slip back into your life? Is it when you skip a workout, or when you decide to have an unhealthy dessert, for example?
  1. Try to determine what is causing your justification and bargaining behaviors. Is there something that you feel emotionally that is causing you to feel okay with poor decisions? Are you experiencing changes that are resulting in negative emotions like anger, disappointment, or sadness? Are you feeling frustrated with your weight loss journey because you aren’t seeing the results that you want? Perhaps these factors are playing a role in your justification for bad habits.
  1. Ask yourself if you are using food to self-soothe or self-numb during difficult times in your life. If so, you need to establish a healthier relationship with your food, recognizing where and when you use food in a negative way. At the same time, incorporating positive coping mechanisms, such as spending time with friends, pursuing creative endeavors, going to therapy, and exercising, may also help you avoid giving in to bad habits.

Once you have identified the triggers that are causing you to fall back into bad habits, you can begin to remove them from your life. It starts with self-reflection, but then you need to put the work in.

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