Nasty Little Habits

I’ve struggled with nail biting for over 30 years.

It started when I was in junior high and I recall my parents buying some type of polish that I could put on my nails as a deterrent.

The taste of the polish was bad but not so off-putting that I was able to stop the compulsive habit.

So, all of these years have passed where I’ve been aware of this unpleasant and unsightly pattern but have not conquered it.

I tried getting manicures some time back with the belief that if I spent the money to clean my nails up that I’d be less likely to start biting away. It didn’t really help, so that was money down the drain.

I couldn’t connect an actual pattern to how, when and why I would bite my nails. It wasn’t directly tied to stress, anxiety, or boredom (it was all of those things, not just one).

At the beginning of this year, I decided to look into other methods of eliminating the habit again. I found a polish on Amazon that seemed different from the one my parents had used when I was a child so I ordered it to give it a try.

That was nearly 6 weeks ago and I’ve not bitten my nails since.

Here are a few things I’ve noticed:

-The taste is absolutely repulsive. If I eat something with my hands and food gets on my fingertips, there’s an inclination to lick my fingers clean. It’s not advised. That taste can stay in my mouth for 10-15 minutes. It can almost ruin the rest of the meal for me.

-I still have no particular trigger for putting my hands to my mouth. I can be reading, watching TV, driving, etc. and I still have that instinctual pattern of bringing my fingers up and slightly grazing my lips even though I’ve ceased biting my nails.

-I’ve been using the polish for about 6 weeks. While I’ve succeeded at not nail biting because I really don’t want to taste the polish, I am very cognizant that I’ve not completely broken the habit of bringing my hands to my mouth at certain points of the day.

You might hear certain people say: It takes X amount of time to create and maintain a habit. I say, it takes as long as it takes.

I’m not going to undo 30 years of a compulsive behavior with ease. It’s going to take time and the polish is a HUGE motivator because the taste is so foul.

I write this to you because many of my readers are here for fat loss. They may have even recognized that their habits are keeping them from reaching their goals.

Unfortunately, there is no mechanism that I know of that makes food go from tasty to awful when you reach a certain threshold. If we think something is delicious, we’ll consume and overconsume until we’re satisfied. There’s no “shut off” valve unless you’re taking a GLP-1 medication to dampen those hunger and dopamine signals OR you can simply put the food down and push it away.

What I’d like you to take away from this is that our behaviors, especially the counterproductive and unappealing ones, are often deeply ingrained. They are often tied to our system of coping with anxiety, stress, or boredom.

When you hear someone say: “You didn’t gain X amount of weight overnight, you won’t lose it overnight”, this is accurate.

If you’re struggling with fat loss, make efforts to reduce temptation, make strides to craft a more conducive food environment, minimize your exposure to food pushers and saboteurs, and if you can’t minimize exposure then make your boundaries clear.

There is no polish on Amazon that you can paint on your tongue to reduce calorie intake (can you even imagine??)

There are our habits and behaviors, the productive and the less-so.

Focus on building better, stronger, healthier habits in accordance with your values.

And since I’m not devoid of having counterproductive habits of my own: I value having actual nails that aren’t bitten to the quick (not to mention any potential damage it does to my teeth) and using the tools I need to succeed with that.

These nasty little habits won’t solve themselves…