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Habit hack

Posted: August 11th, 2017 | Columns, Featured, Get Fit, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle | No Comments

By Erica Moe | Get Fit

What if I told you the secret to a creating a habit is doing less instead of more?

You want to exercise on a daily basis? Carving an extra 90 minutes out of your day to create that new healthy behavior can feel like climbing Mt. Everest. Want to know the secret? Dr. B.J. Fogg is sharing his habit hack, called Tiny Habits.

Dr. B.J. Fogg (Courtesy of Erica Moe)

This just may be the easiest thing you do all week. Here is the secret to create a change in your habits:

C is for “Choose a Tiny Thing”

Start with just one thing you want to do. Perhaps you want a solid core to decrease your back pain or create better posture. Maybe you want your midsection to be chiseled for your new swimsuit.

Old-school method: Commit to do 100 sit-ups every night. You’ll be lucky to hang in there for one week.

New-school method: Start by doing just one sit-up a day. Fogg used this method to floss his teeth by just flossing one tooth. Just one.


H is for “How You Feel”

As a Stanford psychologist studying human behavior for decades, Fogg says you need to feel not just good, but great, about your accomplishments — even if that accomplishment is one sit-up. He recommends an instant celebration, like a victory dance or an “I got this!” mantra. If you feel positive about your sit-up, it is more likely to become a habit.


A is for “Anchor”

It is important to anchor your new behavior. Find that one thing that will cue you to do your new behavior. A few examples he suggests are:

  • After I brush my teeth, I will floss one tooth.
  • After I empty my spam folder, I will meditate for three breaths.
  • After I pee, I will do two push-ups (or one sit-up, in our case).


N is for “Note”

Amazingly, he notes that motivation and willpower are not necessary. He is certain that the design of the method will set you up for success. Note: Fogg’s method is to help you start a new behavior. It is not meant to stop an old behavior.


G is for “Grow”

Tiny habits grow naturally. No need to force it. Add to your habit as you desire to do so. Eventually, one sit-up turns into a set of 20. One set grows to two. Fogg went from flossing one tooth to all his teeth, and now, several years later, he flosses twice a day. That first tiny habit exists today and has fully grown and matured to meet his long-term goal.


E is for “Efficacy”

The more you are successful with your tiny habits, the more likely you will feel capable of improving your life. Tiny habits can create tiny accomplishments that create great change.

Good news for you and me, it doesn’t take hours of sweating to change your habits; it can be as easy as starting with just one sit-up.

Interested in a behavior-based program? Consider joining Y Weight Loss in September for an opportunity to hack your habits.

Erica Moe is an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist who writes on behalf of the Mission Valley YMCA where she is fitness director.

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