Season 2 | Episode 10: How to Start Tiny Habits for Better Health
On this episode of the podcast, Terry and Bob discuss how tiny habits can pay big dividends for better health. They talk about the underwhelming new Centers for Disease Control recommendations for Americans who have been vaccinated from Covid-19. And they highlight creative public health efforts such as the Give a Crap Challenge for Colon Cancer Awareness Month.
Bob interviews behavioral scientist and best-selling author BJ Fogg, the author of Tiny Habits, which highlights how good habits can result in better health outcomes. He explains how making health activities celebrations and accomplishments can result in greater adherence to healthy activities. He explains the effectiveness of his mantra, “Help people do what they already want to.” In contrast, persuading or manipulating people to improve their health rarely works.
BJ explains how the best way to achieve abstract health aspirations is by breaking them down into specific action steps. He discusses how he only randomly remembered to take his medication after he was diagnosed with restless leg syndrome. Yet after anchoring his medication to a habit — taking it after his evening shower — he now takes it naturally. In contrast, most health apps remind you to take medications or do other health activities at inconvenient times. He argues that health adherence is far greater when it’s tethered to part of an existing routine.
BJ also discusses pearl habits, which take something unpleasant and pair it with positive action. He explains how his sister, whose husband had early-onset Alzheimer’s, would leave his care home and immediately give thanks to those taking care of him to make her feel a little better. Even starting each day with the mantra, “Today is going to be a great day,” can significantly help.
Patient correspondent Kate Pecora interviews Jess Logan, founder of Making the Invisible Visible. Jess tells her story of battling inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis and how her doctors didn’t listen to her, making her condition far worse. After her condition became extremely severe, doctors finally listened and conducted emergency surgery. Jess highlights how she is now participating in pageants. By working together, she argues, we can give voices to patients who need them.