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Breaking Bad Habits

Olga talks about stopping behavior that is bad for your health.

Todd: So I'm here with Olga, who's a health coach and a life coach. So, you've talked a lot about things we should do, but what about stopping doing things or breaking bad habits? Like that's the hardest thing, right? What's your advice for giving up sugar or alcohol or obsessive behavior, things like that?

Olga: Well, actually, I am not suggesting that people fight with themselves, and they avoid or break anything, because that would constitute violence against yourself. I am a student of Marshall Rosenberg, who developed a nonviolent communication system, so instead of taking away the bad, you add something good, so you find exciting, fun, new habits that will naturally substitute.

Todd: Okay, so for example, let's say you watch too much TV, or you're addicted to your smartphone, you would try to maybe play outside or do something like that?

Olga: Well, you can develop a lot of new habits and see what works for you. One of the things that I discovered for myself is that willpower is a very finite resource. We don't have infinite amounts of willpower, so we need to use it very sparingly on short distances. It's not for marathons, so what I suggest, when you're establishing a new habit that you feel that is the right habit for you, you need to use a little bit of willpower to repeat it enough times. Usually magic number is 21 days.

Todd: Really? 21 days, why 21?

Olga: I have no idea, but this number keeps popping up from different traditions in East and West and also psychology, and I saw it in my own practice that it works.

Todd: Fascinating, so what about, like, let's say you want to give up sugar, or you want to give up smoking or something like that, you know a physical substance? Do you have any tips for that?

Olga: Yes. One of their easiest things to do is incorporate fermented foods that break up biochemical dependency on sugars, alcohol, and some other addictive substances, so when I work with people who are recovering from any kind of addictions, they don't have to be substance addictions, fermented foods help a lot.

Todd: Okay. Can you give some examples of fermented foods?

Olga: Absolutely. If you just chop up any kind of vegetable, let's say it's cabbage and carrot, so you cut it up. You massage it with salt and some spices until their juice comes out. You press it down so all the vegetables are covered with its own juice. Three days later, you have perfect fermented sauerkraut.

Todd: Wow, that's great. So, could you just buy sauerkraut or vinegar or something like that? Like, would that work?

Olga: Well, unfortunately, it wouldn't, because most of their krauts that you buy is pasteurized, which does not give you their pro-biotic activity. A lot of it is fake sauerkraut. What I mean by that, if there was no bacterial activity and their taste comes from vinegar, you do not get this benefit.

Todd: Wow, that's good to know. I think though part of the problem though is even myself thinking like, "Oh, I'm not going to cut up a bunch of cabbage and carrots, and wait three days." Like, it seems like it's too much work.

Olga: Well, it might be, and you know, maybe you can visit a friend who is doing that, or if you have access to farmer's market or some natural organic stores, they may provide something that is not pasteurized and prepared the right way.

Todd: Oh, that's a good idea. Okay, well, thanks a lot. That was some really good advice.

Olga: Very welcome.

Answer these questions about the interview.
Audio Lessons about Phrases and Vocabulary

break a habit


What about breaking bad habits?

When you break a bad habit, you stop doing it on a regular basis. A bad habit is something you do often that is not healthy or productive. Notice the following:

  1. I'm trying to break my bad habit of drinking sweet beverages.

obsessive behavior


What's your advice for obsessive behavior?

Obsessive behavior is something people do all the time, and as a result suffer from a negative outcome because of it. Notice the following:

  1. His need to check his Facebook posts for likes has become an obsessive behavior.

pop up


This number keeps popping up.

When something keeps popping up, it keeps appearing somewhere. Notice the following:

  1. New convenience stores keep popping up across town.

give up


You want to give up sugar.

When you give something up, you quit doing it. We often give things up because they have a bad influence in our lives. Notice the following:

  1. I gave up golf because it took up too much of my time.



Incorporate fermented foods.

Fermented foods are foods that have changed chemically, often by changing the acid or sugar content. Notice the following:

  1. Wine is fermented grape juice.



Most of the krauts that you buy are pasteurized.

Pasteurized food is food that has been sterilized and made safe for consumption by removing potentially harmful elements. Notice the following:

  1. The milk we buy in stores is pasteurized.

Vocabulary Quiz

bad habit • obsessive • pop-up
give up • fermented • pasteurized
  1. Her behavior makes it hard for her to relax.
  2. It is hard to smoking.
  3. milk is very healthy.
  4. I started my of drinking alcohol in college.
  5. Sometimes, notifications can be annoying.
  6. Natto, a common dish in Japan, is made from soybeans.

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Hello, and welcome to elllo. My name is Todd Beuckens. I've been an ESL teacher for 25 years. I created elllo to provide teachers and students free audio lessons and learning materials not usually found in commercial textbooks.
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