Many people in the new year are eager to stop bad habits. Health is usually at the top of the list whether it’s a commitment to stop smoking, go to the gym regularly or lose weight and gain more muscle. Statistically, however, despite the best intentions, few individuals will keep these healthy habits. So how do we stay on-track and motivated? According to experts, it’s important to start small. Really, really, teeny, tiny small!
One of the leading experts into habit changes is professor B.J. Fogg of Stanford University. His book Tiny Habits presents behavior modification simply. When we can align our ability to change a habit with an equal measure of motivation, we are likely to be successful. How many times have you promised yourself you’ll stop smoking then stop cold turkey only to light up by the end of day? According to Dr. Fogg, that’s understandable since your motivation may have been there, your ability was compromised by a real, physical need. The better option would be start small such as reduce smoking by one or even half of a cigarette daily. For those wanting to lose weight, a tiny habit toward that goal might be walk five-minutes a day. While some people may think it’s useless to make such small changes, the fact is you’re more likely to be successful over time. Be patient and remain consistent.
Another popular book on behavior modification is by James Clear called Atomic Habits. Clear’s book underscores the importance of systems rather than goals. That’s to say, how we use our environment to trigger our behaviors. Fridge next to your easy chair? That’ll sink your diet. Sneakers that hurt your feet? Chances are you’ll stay off your feet. Clear also encourages individuals to improve by 1% daily. This can be getting up five-minutes earlier to spending five-minutes reading before bed. Again, these small adjustments may seem insignificant at first but cumulatively they represent a 37+% improvement over a year! Changing one’s environment to encourage a desired behavior may include having gym shoes at the bedside so when you get up, you get moving. Or maybe it’s setting out ingredients for a smoothie the night before so that mixing it up is effortless. Sometimes it’s hiding the remote to discourage watching too much TV. No matter the goal, it’s the small habits that equal successful habits. Consistency is key.
So if you’ve got goals to improve your health in 2023 and need a little help, schedule an appointment with one of IMS’s providers. Happy and Healthy New Year!