Tiny Habits_0

Photo Credit: Karunakar Rayker

Congratulations to Heather, the winner of this week’s giveaway! We’ll be in touch to send you a copy of JL Fields’ new book Vegan Pressure Cooking.

Now that we’ve done two book giveaways in a row, I have a confession:

I can’t read!

I used to be a voracious reader, but over the last few years the time that I devote to cozying up with a good book has slowly diminished.

Looking back over the last year, I’ve hardly read anything at all!

I keep ordering interesting books and making big promises to myself, but the days just seem to get away from me.

Fortunately, I make consistent measurable progress, which you can see in the following graph:


You may have guessed by now that I didn’t actually write to you solely to lament about my literary decline.

The thing is, many of us struggle with the same issue when it comes to making progress with our health.

●We decide that it’s time to get in shape, pick out a 6-week program, but we are somehow always planning on starting the next Monday.

●We decide that this time we are going in 100%, no cheating! But one misstep and we say, “Well I messed up today, but tomorrow will be different!”

If any of this sounds familiar, don’t worry because you are not alone! We all struggle with these very human issues.

So today I’ve got an interesting strategy that I’m going to try out.

And if you’ve been struggling to make progress towards your health goals and goal weight or struggling to stay on track, I want you to try it out too.

Flossing One Tooth

Stanford Psychologist BJ Fogg has a strategy for behavior change that he calls Flossing One Tooth.

The idea is that the hardest part of behavior change is just getting started.

We imagine the entirety of the task before us (ie a whole book to read, a whole lot of weight to lose, or a complete dietary transformation) and get so overwhelmed that we can’t take that first step to actually begin.

By focusing on creating “tiny habits” we remove the psychological barrier to getting started.

And once you get started and have a success under your belt, it becomes easier and easier to build on that success.

More times than not you don’t quit after flossing one tooth. You simply provided the catalyst and created the momentum that propels you forward.

And before you know it, you’re flossing twice a day!

Create Your Tiny Habit

So, last week I set a goal for myself to read three paragraphs a day.

I can read more than that if I want, but my obligation to myself is just three paragraphs a day.

Once I reach that goal I can continue with my day, guilt free.

Right now, I want you to create a tiny habit of your own.

Think about something that you know that you should be doing or have struggled to get started with, and break it down into the smallest possible unit.

Do you want to be eating more vegetables? Commit to eating just one vegetable at every meal. Just one lettuce leaf or broccoli floret.

Working towards being plant-based? Commit to eating just one plant-based meal a week.

A tiny habit can be a small version of something bigger, like the examples above.

Or it can be a starter step, something like browsing a recipe book and bookmarking one healthy meal that looks especially appetizing.

Just make sure it’s something as easy as flossing one tooth – so easy that you are absolutely positive that you can follow through with it.

Oh, and this is important: Once you do your tiny habit, celebrate it! Fogg says that this celebration is especially important in reinforcing the habit that you are creating.

Because I’m especially nerdy, my celebration consists of giving myself a thumbs up and saying to myself, “Who da man? You da man!”

You can say something positive to yourself, do a celebratory action like a fist pump or thumbs up, or do a little happy dance. Just make sure you feel happy and recognize your success.

If you want to learn more about tiny habits, BJ has a free and simple five-day course that walks you through the process. Check it out here.

What Did You Decide On?

One of the best ways to increase your chances of following through is to create accountability through making a public commitment.

So leave a comment below and let me know what your tiny habit is. I’ll follow up with you next week.

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