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The Habit Change Workbook

 By Cherry Pedrick, RN
Reprinted from, October 29, 2001, revised

 I co-authored The Habit Change Workbook with James Claiborn, Ph.D. In the process, I learned a great deal about changing habits from Dr. Claiborn and from our research. While writing it, I applied the principles to my own habits. I was unhappy with my weight and wanted to lose about 30 pounds.

As I read, wrote, edited, and learned, I began to realize my weight wasn't the problem. My health habits were the problems. I didn't exercise and I didn't eat healthy foods. I had lost weight before, but for the wrong reasons. I wanted to look a certain way; I was concerned about my appearance. The pounds always came back when I reached my goal because I fell back into old habits.

So my goals changed, and therefore my plans changed. Losing weight wasn't the goal. Healthy eating and weekly exercise became goals in themselves. I examined my diet for nutritional value. I recognized that I was neglecting fruits and vegetables and overdoing it on the sweets and deserts. I determined to eat five servings of vegetables and fruits each day, and limit sweets.

I had no exercise plan. Over the years, my husband and I had made efforts to walk several times a week, but it never lasted more than a month or so. I live in a desert, so it is often too hot to walk comfortably. In the wintertime, I'd decide it was too cold to walk. Colds, headaches, and vacations were also good excuses. Now, my husband and I both decided to work exercise into our daily lives. We joined a gym and committed to each other to work out 3-4 times a week. We became two of the few people who join a gym and actually continue to go. We've been exercising 3-4 times a week for the last year and a half. Vacations and illness have interrupted our routines, but we've picked up again after each interval. We feel healthier, stronger, and more energetic, and that keeps us devoted to our new exercise routines.

After living with my new healthy habits for over four years, I feel better and I'm healthier. And as an added bonus, I've lost 25 pounds! And these are pounds that came off naturally as I changed my habits with the goal of healthy living, not weight loss.

Note: five years later, the pounds are still off!

The Habit Change Workbook can help you change your habits too. We cover habits of all kinds. Here are some of the categories:

   Nervous habits such as skin picking and nail biting, and disorders such as trichotillomania (hair pulling)

   Habits that lead to sleeping problems, such as insomnia and nightmares

   Habits that can adversely affect health and fitness, such as not exercising enough, eating an unbalanced diet, and avoiding going to the doctor or getting recommended screening tests

   Habits that can adversely affect relationships, such as lying, procrastinating, engaging in perfectionism, interrupting, using profanity, and being tardy

   Excessive leisure activities, such as Internet use, television watching, and video game playing

   Excessive shopping and spending

   Problem gambling

Find out more about The Habit Change Workbook at


Be sure to check out The Habit Change Workbook:
How to Break Bad Habits and Form Good Ones