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Health & Medical

Beyond Trim: Good health is habit-forming

Sherry DeWalt of CGH Medical Center
Sherry DeWalt of CGH Medical Center

When it comes to your health, habits count.

Staying up too late or stopping at the drive-thru on the way to work for a sugary coffee drink and a greasy breakfast biscuit can be detrimental. Eating fruits and vegetables and making time for a daily walk can mean the difference between chronic illness and good health. 

Establishing new healthy habits is challenging, sometimes because we try to do too much at once. B.J. Fogg, a psychologist at Stanford University, suggests small lifestyle adjustments – easy behavioral changes you can slip into your existing routine. 

His “Fogg Method” consists of three steps:

1. Identify a specific outcome. Do you want to lose 10 percent of your body weight? Stop being late for work?

2. Identify easy-win behaviors, “tiny steps” that will put you on the road to success. It might be skipping dessert or setting the alarm 5 minutes earlier.

3. Find a trigger – something you already do – and graft your new habit onto the existing one. If your goal is to eat more fruit, set an apple on the counter next to the coffeemaker so you see it first thing in the morning.

Fogg offers a free program at tinyhabits.com in which he sends participants examples of tiny, common lifestyle habits.

For even more information, go to healthyforgood.heart.org and check out The American Heart Association’s “Healthy for Good” initiative.

It encourages people to take the “little steps” – move more, eat smart, add colorful fruits and vegetables to meals, get enough sleep, manage stress – to achieve “big gains” in health. 

This is National Public Health Week. The Rock River Healthy Communities Partnership is recognizing it as “Healthy Habits Week.”

As a member of the partnership, CGH is encouraging people to try to develop healthier habits. As a motivation, the CGH Health Foundation is giving away a Fitbit.

Post a picture of yourself engaging in a healthy habit on the CGH Facebook page and tag #CGHLittleSteps in the comments. The drawing is April 28.

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