Some Habit Advisories

The most recent post, about non-compliance or non-adherence in a medical setting, stresses the crucial importance of habit formation because as Professor Gérard Reach phrased it, adherence then becomes non-intentional, “thereby sparing patients’ cognitive efforts.”

In other words, the person doesn’t have to think about it. Certain behaviors can be put on auto-pilot, which is only a problem when the behavior has negative effects. The secret is to make sure all our habits are positive ones. But first, how does a person even form a habit? In some cases, intentionally. Many seekers have discovered effective strategies.

Author and speaker James Clear names three simple methods for good habit-building. The first is to start with something “so easy you can’t say no.” The key is consistency. Even if you only exercise for one minute per day, the persistent dailiness of it will eventually take hold and blossom. Clear writes,

Prove to yourself that you can stick to something small for 30 days. Then, once you are on a roll and remaining consistent, you can worry about increasing the difficulty.

The second key is reflection. People being the complicated creatures that we are, there is often an emotionally-based roadblock in our way that doesn’t really need to be there. The example Clear gives is of a woman who realized the main reason she didn’t like to exercise was being looked at by other people.

One day her brain decided to expose the wonky thought process that kept her from working out, and her subconscious messaged her conscious brain and said the equivalent of, “Duh! I could get a video and do some yoga at home.” Committing to that, twice a week, became one of the foundations for positive habit-building.

The next one is, “Develop a plan for when you fail.” But wait — this is just basically assuming that failure is your destiny. Isn’t that terribly negative? Well, no, it’s just realistic. It is one of the built-in roadblocks, but it can be moved out of the way. Okay then, what would be a good plan for when you fail? Resolve that it will prove to be a lone instance. Clear writes,

Make this your new motto: “Never miss twice.” I find the “never miss twice” mindset to be particularly useful. Maybe I’ll miss one workout, but I’m not going to miss two in a row. Maybe I’ll eat an entire pizza, but I’ll follow it up with a healthy meal. Maybe I’ll forget to meditate today, but tomorrow morning I’ll be oozing with Zen.

The big message here is, our past is not our destiny. A simple, everyday thing — like a good habit — can make an enormous difference, and the only way to find out is to give it a try.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “3 Simple Things You Can Do Right Now to Build Better Habits,”, undated
Image by Nenad Stojkovic/CC BY 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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