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Today's Podcast Episode

Hi, you're so very welcome to this podcast episode. I want to talk to you today about unhealthy habits, specifically one unhealthy habit that might be holding you back right now. And the reason I want to talk about it today was because I very recently did too much at work for a couple of weeks. I was thinking too much about all these ideas that I wanted to implement, how I could improve my programs. When I was working, I was doing too much, too fast, setting these crazy deadlines for myself. And I had to have a very stern talking to with myself at the weekend. And it only lasted a couple of weeks, but it really got me thinking afterwards how much our unhealthy habits can hold us back and control us and take us away from that lovely peace and calm feeling. And I had to really remind myself to slow down and to enjoy every day and to stop being crazy in work.

So I want to ask you on this podcast episode, just get you thinking a little bit about maybe an unhealthy habit that you have, and ask you what unhealthy habit do you have? What's the one unhealthy habit that you have at the moment that you feel holds you back? I am so passionate about helping women, specifically women over 40 get fit, feel great, and find their inner peace and calm. And I feel so passionate about it that I wanted to make sure that I'm sharing with you all the things that I went through and that I'm going through in the hope that I shorten your journey or that you might learn something from my mistakes and go, oh my God, thank you. That has just sped up the process for me of getting to where I want to be, getting to my happy place.

I want you to grab a pen and paper now, and just wherever you are, write down that one unhealthy habit that is really holding you back. And while I'm chatting to you about some examples of bad habits that have held me back in the past, I want you to write down all the ways that that unhealthy habit holds you back. And I'm going to share with you some of the unhealthy habits that I have conquered finally, and all the ways in which they held me back. Because you might be listening to this, sharing the same struggles that I had, or maybe you have an unhealthy habit at the moment that I used to have. And by me sharing with you how badly it affected me and what I did to change it might help you crack that unhealthy habit. Unhealthy habits are so frustrating, aren't they? Because you can be doing all these lovely other healthy action steps and you have this future goal of where you want to be.

For example, you want to be fit and healthy and in good physical shape, and you love your workouts and you feel so good and you go for walks and you drink water, but you might have an unhealthy habit that stops you from getting exactly where you want to be. And that is so frustrating, really frustrating, and it's exactly what I want to chat to you about. Now, there's three big habits that I can think of that have held me back. So the first one is alcohol. And I have shared so much my story with alcohol with you, and you can go back to previous podcast episodes if you haven't heard about my journey with alcohol. But I wrote down all the ways that alcohol held me back. Stuck in a loop, tired until Wednesday. So a few drinks on a Saturday night or more than a few drinks.

Sometimes it was four to five drinks. Some of the times, it was way more. Regardless of how much I drank on a Saturday night, I still felt hungover on a Sunday, tired on a Monday, tired on a Tuesday, just coming right Wednesday. That horrible, awful cycle where you only really feel good on a Wednesday, Thursday, and then you're having drinks on a Friday again, used to absolutely wreck my head. Red, puffy face, overweight, hungover at weekends, wasting my weekends, feeling bad, feeling cranky, snapping at Joe on a Sunday if I was hungover, not feeling like I was progressing. So getting a little bit of progression during the week, but knowing deep down that there was so much more inside of me and I could do so much more and progress so much more if I didn't drink. Choosing wine over a course that I might like to do.

I mean, how often have I gone to an off license at the weekend and thought nothing of buying a couple of bottles of wine, but the idea of bettering myself or wanting to do a course, I would always give it a bit of a more thought than I would with wine. That used to wreck my head because I was really aware that I was doing that. And I used to find that so frustrating. Alcohol also keeping me away from my emotions. So when I realized that alcohol was this one unhealthy habit that held me back, I just wrote down that big list. It's making you overweight. It's making your skin puffy. It's making you cranky. It's keeping you away from what you want. It's keeping you away from being in touch with your emotions. It's making you tired until Wednesday. It's keeping you away from being as physically fit as you want to be. You're losing days from hangovers. You're feeling cranky on a Tuesday and Monday from the alcohol that I drank on Saturdays.

It's making me want to eat the food that I don't want to eat on a Sunday because I feel hungover. It's making me want to eat more on a Monday because I'm feeling sorry for myself. When I looked at that big list, I was like, oh my God, why am I drinking alcohol for two or three hours to escape for oblivion? And all you do is you go right back to reality again. Why am I doing that? Why am I drinking for three hours and experiencing weight gain, puffy skin, crankiness, tiredness? I mean, it just makes no sense. The list of negative stuff from alcohol was huge. I can't even... There's more stuff I could include there. And the benefits of drinking when I thought about it were zero.

But we do so much stuff on autopilot, we don't even think about it. Alcohol is a scourge in this country, a scourge. We don't even second guess our habits. We don't even ask ourselves, I didn't ask myself why was I drinking? And the answer to that question sometimes when I did think about it would be to unwind, to escape. Well, why couldn't I do a little bit of meditation or read a book? Because I wasn't going to wake up hungover and waste days the next day. I mean, we drink for this three hours, four hours to escape, to unwind, and we just come back feeling 10 times worse. So why not? Why not fix reality? Make it so that you have nothing to escape from. Confront your feelings. Oh, sugar used to really hold me back. Comfort eating. I wrote out a big list of all the ways that held me back. Being overweight, keeping me away from my emotions.

When you're comfort eating, you're escaping how you're feeling. Feeling really bad in my clothes. I love to feel good in my clothes. I love to feel physically fit. I'm not sure there's any nicer feeling than finishing a 30 minute workout where you've lifted weights, going for your shower, getting dressed, putting on a little bit of makeup. There's no nicer feeling. And then the nighttime would come and I would choose to eat sugar on the couch. And I was sitting there thinking, this isn't me. This isn't me. I'm going to wake up the next day and my clothes are going to feel tight. I'm going to feel not good further away from where I want to be. What am I at? Feeling sluggish. I hate the way sugar feels in your mouth when you're going to bed after you've eaten it. I used to impact my self-confidence and self-esteem just as much as being hungover did.

I'd wake up the next day and I would feel like so frustrated with myself that I didn't have the self-control or the discipline. I'd be really hard on myself. I'd wake up the next day after eating so much sugar and thinking to myself, here I go again. I don't want to eat sugar. Why am I just turning so much to sugar for comfort? So I wrote down another big list of all the ways that sugar held me back. And then I wrote down all the benefits to sugar. And there was none apart from it tasting nice for 60 seconds. For me, there was no benefits to eating sugar during the week.

It was just awful. Superwoman by morning, getting the workouts in, feeling really good, feeling so empowered, totally controlled by sugar by night, running away from my emotions. Mostly stress and anxiety caused me to eat sugar during the week, not the other feelings.

And the last one, scrolling on my phone, which is a very recent thing, and I must say it was less scrolling and more finishing work and then going on my phone to do more work, checking emails, just checking work stuff, things that I should have known better and that I really have. I've never had an issue or a problem with my phone use, but I did. And I wrote down all the things and how that took me away from where I wanted to be, away from the present moment. Too much phone use made me feel anxious, stressed out. It made me feel like I wasn't enough.

I started getting into comparison mode when I was on social media. It took me away from my lovely fiction books that make me feel relaxed. I love reading. It took me away from laughing, being in the present. It took me away from reality. It made me feel cranky, irritable. I started to get a bit of brain fog, sometimes a little bit of headaches. And then I listed out all of those things and I asked myself, what were the benefits of being on my phone more? And there are zero, yet you can tend to do these things on autopilot. And I think sometimes, well, for me anyway, for example, if I was having sugar on the couch in the evening time and I didn't want to, wasn't really thinking about all the reasons that I didn't want to.

And it wasn't until I started writing out these lists that I would then start, I would have a bit of sugar on the couch or I would have a glass of wine and I wasn't able to unlearn my lists, which was a really positive thing. So I would sit there and comfort eat and think, oh, I would think of all the things that I wrote out that took me away from feeling good of the thing that I was doing. And it eventually led to me stopping because my irrational logical side started to really understand that I didn't want to be doing this anymore and it held me back so much.

Sometimes when you are working towards being fit and healthy or feeling more calm, it is not about adding more or trying to do more. Sometimes it is just about taking something away. When you take something away, it can leave you feeling more peace and calm and health than anything you could have done trying to do more. So I ask you today, is there anything in your life that you know if you took it away, you wouldn't need to do anything more to be fit and healthy? It's the taking away of that one habit that would bring you up to that next level, that next level of peace or calm or fitness or health.

What is it? What is that one thing? I want you now, you have your one unhealthy habit that you've written down and I hope you've written down all the ways that it holds you back and all the reasons why you don't like doing it. And now I'd love you to write down all the benefits of subtracting that unhealthy habit from your life. All the benefits. For me with all of the things that I've listed, sugar, alcohol, well, those two things specifically, it was that I would be more fit, more calm, more at peace. I would feel better about myself. I would be in better physical shape. My self-esteem would improve, my confidence would improve.

I would have more fun. I would relax more. I mean, it was amazing when I wrote down all the benefits and it made me really realize that I didn't need to do more workouts, more walks, more this, more that. All I needed to do was work on taking out that one unhealthy habit and definitely one unhealthy habit at a time is the only way it would work for me. So when you have in your head the one unhealthy habit you are going after. You're ready. You're like, I've got you unhealthy habit. I see you. I know you for what you are. You've written down all the ways that holds you back. And then you write down all the benefits that you would get in your life if you didn't do that one unhealthy habit.

Now I want you to write down how you would go about getting rid of that one unhealthy habit. And remember that willpower doesn't work. Willpower is just not sustainable in the long term. Willpower works if you have got a huge stressful event coming up and you're two stone or one stone or a half a stone overweight, and you want to arrive at that event feeling good, that's willpower. But that's not a true reason to become healthy and to get fit or to drop an unhealthy habit. That is just a surface thing. So relying on that is never going to get you very far long term. And I want for you away from this unhealthy habit for good. But there's only two ways you can really go about breaking free from an unhealthy habit or two that I have come across so far anyway.

One is to have enough leverage to get rid of the unhealthy habit. And the second one is to have an empowering alternative. For example, one of my clients smoked for years actually. And she went to the doctors and the doctor told her that if she didn't stop smoking, she was going to die. Now that's the first one. That's leverage. So she stopped smoking because she had no option, she had no choice, she didn't want to die. So it was an easy decision. But sometimes when things aren't that dramatic, it can be a little bit more challenging. And that's when you want to pick the empowering alternative one. With alcohol for me, it was leverage in the sense that I got so sick of alcohol. And I mentioned this in a few podcast episodes back that I videoed myself drunk. I wrote out lists and lists of why I hate it.

I googled all the negative impact of alcohol on your system. I mean, it was a full-time job that I dedicated myself to hating alcohol. It didn't work for me the other way. I had to make myself so sick of it that I would never want to drink again. And I successfully did that. It took time. And I was only chatting to a client about this the other day. She's thinking on her journey of potentially giving up alcohol that it's okay to spend a long time in the pre-contemplation contemplation phase because in that phase is where you make yourself sick of it and you get to... You finally will get to a point where when you do stop, it's just easy. The hard part was in the contemplation phase, making yourself so sick of it that you could never look at a drink again.

If you don't have that sort of leverage, and I didn't have that leverage with sugar. Sugar, I had to find a more empowering alternative. And for me, I have found that I turned to sugar for comfort. So I asked myself, where can I find comfort? The comfort that the food I thought gave me? Where can I find that away from food? And I realized that warmth is really important to me and I feel nurtured and loved and comforted when I feel warm. So I got really into having really nice loungewear in the nighttime clean, lovely, cozy, nightwear, loungewear and a really hot, warm, toasty room and a hot drink. And sometimes that would be a hot chocolate, and other times that would just be a hot water. Both I find extremely comforting.

And that is my empowering alternative, and that is what I do. And sometimes I would have a bath as well, but warmth, comforting, nurturing stuff that makes me feel the same feelings that I got temporarily from the sugar, but it's healthy for me and it's good for me, and it does the same job. It winds me down, it makes me feel good, and it doesn't make me feel fat and overweight and lacking in confidence. And it's terrific. It works really well for me.

The scrolling on the phone, I was able to just have a stern talking too with myself. So an empowering alternative I do for the scrolling on the phone is I don't really do anything or I read a book, but the alcohol and the sugar had had big grips on me for a while. So my question to you is, with this one unhealthy habit that you're thinking of while you're listening into this episode, what leverage do you have to change? Or what empowering alternative do you have?

And I really encourage you to spend a little bit of time on this and trying to put a square into a circle or whatever that expression is. Peg circle, doesn't work. Forcing things don't work. And that was me to a T. I would just force things all the time. I wanted to get fit. I would force it. I wanted to lose weight. I would force it. Now I'm much more about the ease and flow and being kind to myself. So from a compassionate, kind place, what could you do instead of your unhealthy habit? And I wanted to say one more thing to you as you go on this journey. Be kind to yourself and give yourself patience and time to give the thing up, to let the thing go. And don't let setbacks and challenges stop you from stopping the unhealthy habit.

I spent two years, I would say, in the contemplation phase of not drinking. And it took me a long time of hating alcohol to finally be able to give it up. And I spent time while I was drinking, hating the alcohol and thinking of the big list that I had wrote and that worked. If I had of sat there drinking really raging with myself for drinking that I hadn't quite cracked it yet, I mightn't have given it up. It was only that I was able to say while I was doing the unhealthy habit that I want to crack you, but I'm just not there yet. Same with the sugar. If you want to give up sugar and you find yourself sitting on the couch at night eating sugar, allow that to happen because you are working on it. So I hope you enjoyed this podcast episode. And like with all of them, let me know your thoughts. Find me on social media, on TikTok, or on Instagram. All my love. Have a lovely day. Bye.

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About the author 

Jessica Cooke

I love drinking coffee, and my favourite thing in life (apart from my family) is to help women to get fit and break free from unhealthy habits holding them back. (oh, and also I love playing with my two Miniature Schnauzers, Buster and Ozzy)

I’ve now supported over 6,779 women over 14 years in my Thrive Coaching Program get fit and break free from unhealthy habits!

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