Jennifer Lovejoy, Arivale Chief Science Officer, PhD
Who is your greatest ally on your Scientific Path to Wellness?
The answer is quite simple. Your daily habits can have a profound impact on your overall health, and no matter how lofty or achievable your wellness goals, you may need to adjust your behavior if you want to reach those goals.
While it’s tempting to focus only on outcomes, it’s important to craft both outcome goals and behavioral change goals to achieve a lasting result. For example, “Lose 20 pounds” is an outcome goal, while “Eat a healthy salad for lunch Monday through Friday” is a behavioral goal. You need to know both where your journey is taking you as well as the specific path to get there.
|Outcome Goal||Behavioral Goal|
|Sleep better.||Stop using electronics two hours before bedtime.|
|Lose weight.||Choose salads over sandwiches for lunch.|
|Run a 10K.||Run a mile a day.|
|Lower blood pressure.||Season meals with herbs instead of salt.|
But before we get in too deep, let’s take a moment to acknowledge something essential. Behavior change can be hard. Don’t let the optimism of your first day on a new diet or exercise regimen deceive you. Real, long-term behavioral change can be demanding to accomplish.
But, it is possible, and at Arivale, we are laser-focused on your success. According to BJ Fogg’s “Tiny Habits” model, there are three things that can change behavior in the long-term.
- Have an epiphany
- Change your environment
- Take baby steps
Some Arivale Members may experience something of a wake-up call when looking at their biomarker data, but epiphanies are no guarantee. They’re rare and don’t necessarily initiate dramatic lifestyle changes on their own.
As for changing your environment—it is important, but not always in your control. For example—if sugary treats are a trigger for you, limiting your proximity may help. You can stop buying sweets and remove your favorite temptations from your house. But what if people keep bringing sweets to your office? What if members of your household still buy and eat them in front of you? Removing yourself from triggers is important, but it’s not always within your control.
At the end of the day, small changes, or baby steps, implemented slowly over time may be the most realistic way for you to create lasting behavioral change. This may seem old-school in a world of instant fixes and cold turkey elimination diets, but wellness is a lifetime journey. By having the patience and diligence to wean yourself off of unhealthy behaviors and start practicing healthy behaviors bit by bit, you are better able to create change that sticks.
“I have a Member who started out by just putting on his sneakers every day after work. He’d then sit on the couch with his sneakers on and watch TV. Over a period of time, he was able to go out for a five-minute walk and that progressed over a few months to a 45-minute walk every day after work. Small changes make a huge difference!” — Coach Sandi
At Arivale, behavioral change science is a fundamental part of our systems approach to optimizing wellness. Every Member partners with their own Arivale Coach, who helps them interpret relevant biomarkers and make lifestyle changes based on their data. Part of our strategy includes setting focused, prioritized goals and taking consistent, achievable baby steps toward those goals. This approach builds new “pathways” in your brain that will help sustain long-term behavior change—rather than just a quick fix which usually doesn’t last long.
“One of my Members has been frustrated with inconsistency in choosing fresh fruit instead of candy while at work. She decided to challenge herself with “an apple a day” for 30 days in a row and now she has created a healthy habit of eating an apple every day instead of candy, with a discovery of all of the delicious apple varieties. Making changes in your food choices and activity level is a journey, and it is the little choices each day that lead to big changes over time.” — Coach Bridget
What tiny habits have you implemented that have resulted in a meaningful change? Share with us in the comments!