A Novel Way to Break Bad Habits This Summer | VitaMedica
A Novel Way to Break Bad Habits This Summer

A Novel Way to Break Bad Habits This Summer

Have you been struggling to get up an hour earlier so that you can work out in the morning?  Do you find it difficult to ignore your smart phone during dinner with family or friends?  Are you trying to wean yourself from eating dessert each night? 


Let’s face it – whatever behavior you’re trying to change – breaking bad habits can be a challenge.  At least until now. 


The Pavlok – Shock Therapy to Change Your Behavior

That’s because a new wearable device called Pavlok can help reshape your behavior (remember from your high school psychology class the reward system using Pavlov’s dogs?).


The Pavlok is worn on the wrist and helps to create negative conditioning associated with a behavior.  The $200 device can be programmed to deliver a severity of shock ranging from 50 to 450 volts.


Forming Healthy Habits – How Long Does it Take?


For you dessert eaters?  Just use Pavlok to give yourself a lightning-quick electric shock when you reach for the dessert tray.


The Pavlok has only been available since November so the long-term success of the device is unknown.  But, the company is planning a clinical trial later this year.  Stay tuned.


The Power of Habit – Why Habits Exist and How They Can Be Changed

Rather change your bad habits in a less shocking way?  Why not start your summer off right by picking up the book, The Power of Habit


CNN’s Sanjay Gupta – The Science Behind Making & Breaking Bad Habits


Written by New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg, he starts the book by breaking down how habits are developed.   He then provides examples and insight of how habits have helped to shape successful organizations and even societies.


As you read, you learn that habits are part of loop that starts with a cue, a routine is developed and a reward is given.  By using the same cue, but inserting a new behavior to get the same reward, a new habit can be formed. 


The framework for making the change in behavior is identifying the routine, experimenting with rewards, isolating the cue and having a plan.


Let’s say you’re in the habit of grabbing a candy bar from the snack machine (routine) during the workday afternoon (cue).  You need to better understand which cravings are driving your habit (reward). 


For the next week or so, experiment with inserting different routines.  Instead of grabbing a candy bar, get up, walk around and have a quick social chat with a co-worker.  On another occasion, try grabbing a glass of sparkling water with lime.  Perhaps the next time, slice an apple and grab a handful of almonds.


By observing how you feel with each routine, you can determine which routine is driving your behavior.  What you might realize is that boredom (not hunger) or fatigue is driving your routine and you can better reward yourself by doing something differently.


For more insights on how you can change your habits, check out The Power of Habit.  I think you’ll find it a good summer read.


David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.