No matter who you are or how satisfied you are with your life, chances are you have one pesky bad habit you’d like to get rid of. Actually, let’s be honest: you probably have a bad habits list made up of a few you’d like to get rid of, be they two or 10.
Hey, nobody’s perfect.
It must be said, however: some bad habits are worse than others, and you definitely want to get rid of them as soon as possible to improve your quality of life.
If any of the 7 below are on your bad habits list, you really must get rid of by the time you’re 50—if not sooner—as the consequences could be dire.
In case you’re wondering what those could be, I’m going to share seven of them that can really ruin your health and make you seriously unhappy. Trust me on this one: replacing these negative traits on your bad habits list with wholesome, healthy habits is a big step towards living a fulfilling, healthy life well into old age.
The Bad Habits List: The Worst of the Worst
The first habit we want to axe from our bad habits list is good, old resentment.
Harboring resentment to anyone or anything really only harms you. It’s akin to the famous saying – “it’s like drinking poison and expecting somebody else to die from it.”
It truly saddens me to see people who hold on to grudges and are unable to forgive and let go of things. You can see how it’s eating them up inside. If this is you, I strongly recommend you do some internal work to really let go of some stuff.
I don’t know if you’ve read the famous book You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay, but if you haven’t, you really should get your hands on it. It lists a number of physical conditions which are manifested from emotional causes, and of course resentment is on the list. Its corresponding condition? Take a guess. It’s cancer.
Essentially, different negative feelings and beliefs become stuck energy inside the body, which often manifest as disease. Resentment is chief among them, and the result is one of the diseases that modern medicine is still struggling to cure.
To avoid this, you want to really let go of negative experiences that still haunt you, forgive people who’ve harmed you, and do what you have to do to mend relationships or get over old hurts. They’re really not serving you.
No matter what happened, you need to find a way to get over it, or it will rob you of your happiness and maybe even your life.
2. Lack of movement
This shouldn’t be a surprise. You don’t have to become a world-record Olympian here, but it’s important that you move your body as much as possible.
Remember, we have muscles for a reason: our bodies were built to move. Even if you don’t have a committed exercise routine, at the very minimum you should be walking and moving around as much as possible every single day. It’s almost as important as breathing oxygen.
If you’re not moving around a lot, that’s a habit you need to break immediately. If you’re following my stuff or watch my YouTube videos, and you haven’t caught on that you need to be moving on a consistent basis, I will hunt you down and find you, because there is no reason for this! You have to commit to this.
The whole idea is that you need to start associating massive amounts of pain with not doing this stuff. What is the amount of pain you can link to not moving?
Various scientific studies have shown that lack of movement leads to early death or bodily conditions later in life such as bad posture and feeble joints, which can leave you confined to a wheelchair or a walker.
This is not simply an effect of age, but an effect of not moving around; after all, there are elderly people running Iron Man triathlons in Hawaii. Get some perspective and cross out intertia on your bad habits list.
3. Getting your fix from sugary drinks
Sugar is bad stuff. There was actually a big 20-year study in which the dietary habits of 120,000 men and women were recorded. They found that those who had just one 12-ounce sugary drink a day—that’s about one can of Coke—experienced a weight increase of one-pound a year every four years.
You might say, “One pound every four years? Whatever, not a big deal.” Over 20 years, that’s five extra pounds. I know that doesn’t seem like the end of the world, but when you start combining this with other detrimental lifestyle habits, it becomes just one extra thing you have to deal with.
If you want to take a big step towards losing weight and improving your health, get rid of the sugary drinks as soon as possible. If you’re watching my material, you’re most likely not doing this, but if you know somebody who is, get them off the stuff.
[Related: How to Stop Your Addiction to Sugar]
If you simply must have that fizzy, bubbly sensation that comes from soft drinks, try this alternative which I often mix up at home: sparkling water with a splash of apple cider vinegar and a squeeze of some lemon. Recipe here. It’s a tasty and refreshing drink. A couple other apple cider vinegar drink recipes you might be interested are here and here.
Here’s a confession: I almost missed out on graduating from university because I used to be a notorious procrastinator.
I’d been putting off my swimming classes during my final year, and by the end of it I had to make up 20 hours of swimming in one week and write a 20-page paper on procrastination, all because I decided to sleep in quite a bit more than I should have.
It wasn’t a pleasant week, I can tell you that.
The common mantra “I’ll do it later” never works, especially as it pertains to your health. It’s one of the most insidious things that can creep onto your bad habits list.
So many of us have this belief—especially when you’re younger—that we can eat whatever we want and skip exercise because our “body will take care of itself.” That misplaced trust in some kind of invincibility makes us believe we can clean up the damage later, but that’s not how it works.
You want proof?
Look at me: I have no hair.
This happened when I was a teenager. After 17 years of a terrible diet and several signs that my health was deteriorating—low energy, digestive problems, eczema, asthma—my body decided to punish me with the smooth dome you now see me with.
I’m actually very fortunate that it was just my hair and not something else more severe.
This is something that will pop up time and time again in everything I share with you—listen to your body. Symptoms are important to listen to. If you don’t take care of this stuff now, they will catch up with whatever bad habits you’ve been adopting over the years.
5. Relying on your doctor to stay on top of your health
This one is a big one, especially if you’re from my parents’ generation. You can’t count on your doctor to keep your health on track.
I always come back to the metaphor of treating your body like you treat your car: would you rather experience unexpected breakdowns that require expensive trips to the mechanic, or would you prefer taking care of your car through routine maintenance—oil and tire changes, tune-ups, etc.—that keeps it in tip-top shape?
Maintaining your health is your responsibility, no-one else’s.
With all we’ve come to learn about our body in the last two decades, we now have a much better understanding of what’s required to stay healthy. These days, there are really few excuses you can make if you’re a victim of poor health; it’s something you have the power to supervise and change if need be.
If you look at the healthiest people, they often have little to no medication in their house. I have zero medication in my household, other than maybe some Advil, and we don’t even use that. Instead I rely on natural remedies.
I’m not comfortable outsourcing my health doctors or the health care system in general. Their primary concern is making a profit. Sure, they’re great for broken bones and specific acute issues, but lifelong health is my issue, no-one else’s. It should be the same for you. Lose this from your bad habits list promptly and your quality of life will improve.
6. Irregular and inadequate sleep
It’s easy to overlook how an irregular sleep cycle can impact your health. Going to bed at 10:30 pm some nights while hitting the hay at 1:00 am on others, or waking up at 7 am some mornings while sleeping in on others can really wear you down after a while.
Your body likes rhythms, schedule, and structure; it’s the case with everything else in nature, why shouldn’t it be the same for us?
I know this is not easy for a lot of people, but if you can go to bed and wake up at the same time every single day for the rest of your life, you’ll be a lot better off. This consistency will help regulate your hormones and everything inside your body.
It’s especially noticeable as you get older; long, randomly late nights similar to those you spent in college partying and/or studying become much harder to deal with as the years go by—even if it’s required by your job —and it’s because your body is crying out for some kind of regular routine.
7. Energy vampires
Do you believe in vampires? I certainly do, although the ones I’ve encountered don’t have long fangs and are more than comfortable in the daylight. I call them energy vampires—soul sucking individuals that drain you of any positivity and life force.
They can be friends, family or workmates, it really doesn’t matter. The point is that you want to get them out of your life as soon as possible. They do you no good.
Make no mistake: eliminating your tendency to cozy up to energy vampires—no matter how close they may be to you—is one of the best things you can do to shape up your bad habits list and improve your life.
Think about it: do you really enjoy spending time around people who bring you down? In my experience, tolerating these people means that you slowly but surely become just like them, and that’s not an option for me. It shouldn’t be for you either.
If you want to really live a charged life and want to become the best version of yourself, it’s important to surround yourself with people who are playing on a higher level.
Nobody’s perfect, but you should be spending your time with people who are inspiring, empowering, and constantly working towards bettering themselves.
It’s not to say that you can’t help friends in need, but if they’re constantly stuck in a rut and complaining about it, it’s clear that there are some big changes they need to make that you can’t help them with.
I guarantee that if you reduce the amount of time you spend with them, your life is going to improve. Better yet, they’ll probably be forced to face themselves, which can improve their life as well.
So here’s the big question—can you commit to all of these changes?
At the very minimum, making just one of these changes will make your bad habits list less of a burden and have a tremendous impact on your quality of life.
If you’ve made any of these changes for yourself, or if you’re planning on finally breaking habits that have held you back for so long, I’d like to hear about it in the comments below. I promise that getting rid of any of these habits will help transform your life for the better.
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Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.