January 20, 2022

How Micro Habits Can Elevate Your Fitness Goals

Show Notes

On this episode, Chuck Gaidica is joined by Cindy Bjorkquist, director of health and well-being programs for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Together, they discuss how micro habits can help elevate your fitness goals.

In this episode of A Healthier Michigan Podcast, we explore:

    • What are micro habits.
    • How we can get started with goal setting.
    • What we can do to adjust our goals if we’re not hitting our targets.
    • How others can influence your habits and exercise routines.

 

Transcript

Chuck Gaidica:
This is A Healthier Michigan Podcast, episode 98. Coming up, we discuss micro habits and how they may be the key to elevating your fitness goals.

Chuck Gaidica:
Welcome to A Healthier Michigan Podcast, a podcast dedicated to navigating how we can all improve our health and wellbeing through small healthy habits we can start implementing right now. I’m your host, Chuck Gaidica, and every other week, we’ll sit down with a certified expert to discuss topics that cover nutrition, fitness and a whole lot more. On this episode, we’re diving deeper into how micro habits, ever heard that phrase, micro habits can elevate your fitness goals. With me today is Cindy Bjorkquist. She’s currently Director of Health and Wellbeing Programs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. It’s good to have you back.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Thank you. It is my pleasure to be talking to you again.

Chuck Gaidica:
Well, you’ve got such a deep, rich background on exercise physiology, biology, a masters in kinesiology. Here you are in a podcast. You’re a star of stage, creen, and I don’t know what else, but online stuff. You’ve just got the perfect set of knowledge and principles to help us navigate a phrase that I don’t think I’ve heard talked about a lot, micro habits.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
I know. Isn’t that crazy? Yeah, I love my job first. I love the ability to help people improve their life, help people improve their fitness, help people improve their wellbeing. This whole idea of micro habits and how they relate to fitness goals is just exploding in the research right now.

Chuck Gaidica:
Is it? So we all are sort of creatures of habit. Now, for some, it gets to the point where we’re flipping switches all the time in the same way, or there’s something else that kind of becomes a peculiarity. I’m not talking about that. I mean, all of us wake up at about a certain time every day. We kind to brush our teeth, get a cup of coffee or something to get the morning going maybe. Then whether you’re going to work or staying home, you still have these rituals or habits that you have.

Chuck Gaidica:
So now here we are in the new year, not a bad time to have your new year’s resolution, right? We set oftentimes ambitious goals this time of the year, and other times, I want to lose weight, I want to exercise more, and then we fall off the wagon and maybe we fail because we didn’t set ourselves up to be realistic. What if it is possible? Is it possible to build healthy habits in a way that are tied to existing habits, to kind of string us along and help us down this path of wellness? That is possible, you’re saying.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Right. So if we relate micro habits, and we’ll talk about that in a second, to fitness goals. So let’s talk about fitness goals. The first thing I want people understand is that when you’re looking at fitness goals table, the micro habits for a second, that there’s a profound statement that the Department of Health and Human Services put out this year with their updates, which said when you’re looking at fitness goals, people need to understand that regular physical activity is one of the most important actions anyone can take to improve their health.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Now, I put the word regular, Chuck, in front of physical activity, because they’re really urging people to do it almost every day. It used to be three days a week, four days a week, but it’s almost every day you need to get these daily physical activity minutes in, if you will. So if you’re thinking about goals and you’re thinking about fitness goals around your wellness, or somebody call it fitness, then think about the minutes of physical activity that you get every day. Then there’s kind of other areas as well that we’re going to apply this theme of micro habits too. The first one is aerobic exercise. So Chuck, I think you’re a biker, aren’t you?

Chuck Gaidica:
I do. I like to bike. I’ve got a regular bike.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
And walk?

Chuck Gaidica:
I’ve got an e-bike. I walk. I probably walk regularly just in my daily steps 5,000 to 6,000, and then I always add up to 7,500 or 12,000 if I’m lucky that day.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Perfect. So that’s the first category people need to think about with their goals is aerobic exercise. Some people will talk cardio exercise. That’s where your heart rate gets up, hard enough where your heart rate gets up. You’re using oxygen. It’s flowing around your body. It helps do a lot of things in your body, relax your blood vessels, lowers your blood pressure, boost your mood, all those kinds of things, walking, biking, jogging, all that kind of stuff. You need to get your heart pumping. That’s the first thing you want to set a goal around. Then the second thing is strength training. So Chuck, you have to make sure the recommendations are that you actually do strength training at least a couple days per week, whole body. Do you do any of that?

Chuck Gaidica:
I pick things up and I put them down, yes. Well, no. I do. I do. I do. I have a little regimen with 20 pound barbells and-

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Yeah, there you go.

Chuck Gaidica:
Or are they dumbbells? I forget which one, whatever it is.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Perfect.

Chuck Gaidica:
Then I do some body weight, planks and stuff like that.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Yep. That’s perfect. So that’s the second category people want to think about goals is strength training. Some people call it with resistance training. Did you know, the reason why you want to think about this is because at age 30 we lose about 3 to 5% of our mass per decade? 30 is not that old, right?

Chuck Gaidica:
Right.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
So you’ve got to start doing that. You’re going to lose it and you got to put it back. The third one is flexibility and stretching. Now, Chuck, you and I are a little older. So especially as you age, you lose flexibility in your muscles and your tendons. You’ve got to do flexibility and stretching every single day. Static stretching, not ballistic where you’re bouncing, but that’s a third category is flexibility and stretching. Get a goal around that.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Then the last one, I love how the recommendation from HHS and even the CDC added this, is that people need to think about their balance, that this will prevent falls as you age. Your vision, your inner ear, your leg muscles, they all tend to be compromised as you get older. So this idea of just standing on one foot and incorporating some kind of balance in that, but the three people really want to think about for fit to goals are aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility and stretching.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah. That’s really good advice. I’ve got a friend who’s not that old. Well, I’m 30 on each side and then some. So I look at that and I think somebody in their mid-40s is not that old and I see him working out with a trainer. He sent me a video and I said, “What are you doing there? What are you trying to do, build muscle?” He said, “Absolutely not. I had back surgery. I’m trying to stay flexible and have the ability to stand up and be able to carry grandchildren when they come.” He said, “That is purely my motivation. It’s not about strength or trying to be Arnold.” He said, “It’s just literally so I can have balance, good balance posture and some strength so I can move around with younger kids when they come again.” I thought, “Wow, that’s a very direct goal.”

Cindy Bjorkquist:
I love that goal. I love that goal because that’s an outcomes-based goal. That’s something that you can achieve. Now, when you’re talking about fitness, let’s talk about that cardio, we talked about minutes. Let’s do that one first. So if people are thinking about goals for cardio, goals for aerobic activity, we call it, heart pumping, you’re out there doing whatever you want to do for your activity, the recommendations are a minimum of 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
So when you’re on your bike, your e-bike, hopefully you’re doing something besides your e-bike, you’re pedaling too. But when you’re doing any of those biking, walking briskly, all those things, that’s moderate intensity aerobic activity, start to accumulate that and start to set a goal around achieving the appropriate minutes per week. Again, HHS is saying the average American adult needs 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intense aerobic activity per week.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Now, if you want to do vigorous intensity, then they drop those minute requirements to 75 minutes to 150. So my run that I did this morning, I did 40 minute minutes of a run on a treadmill. Those 40 minutes were the vigorous intensity. I’m trying to get 75 per week, but then my warmup and my cool down were moderate intensity, 10 minutes bookend on each side, so that’s 20 minutes. So you start to just keep track of this stuff and that would be a goal that somebody might want to set.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Now, what the research is saying is this micro habits coming into effect for this category is don’t set something so out of place and so large that you can’t achieve it. You need to set small, winnable, achievable goals called micro goals in order to get you to your long term goals. So if a person’s not exercising at all, they might set a micro goal of I’m going to go for a walk five minutes every single day, or I’m going to walk for 15 minutes every single day, or I’m going to walk for five minutes the first day, 10 minutes the second, and they increase and increase and increase and you celebrate those micro wins.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
You celebrate them either audibly like woo yourself or fist pump in the air, but the idea is that you don’t set it so large that you’re not going to achieve it. That’s what this micro goal kind of theory or research is about. BJ Fogg is out there doing research at Stanford on it. He’s got tiny habits which looks at human behaviors and they’re saying change your environment and change yourself slowly and then celebrate those wins and be really positive with yourself. That’s what this micro habit research is doing for people.

Chuck Gaidica:
I think that’s interesting to hear it from that perspective, because think of the past couple of years we’ve come through of how many rituals and habits we had to break socially distanced. We’re at home more often. We may be sitting more. We’re not shaking hands. We’re not going to church or places, a concert. So all those things that broke good habits maybe for us that brought community and healthfulness and walking somewhere. So it’s almost like we have to recalibrate in some ways, right? I think the micro habit notion you’re talking about helps us take those baby steps, I think.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Yeah, absolutely. Because you have to celebrate the wins. The main research around this with a couple of people that are main in this field, what they’re talking about is setting the goal, but then you’ve got to a positive self talk around this as well. That’s an important part of micro habits is there’s this thing called identity habits, which is really a fascinating field right now. Identity-based habits is just what you’re talking about, set a habit, celebrate if you achieve that 15 minutes of walking, because you want to become a runner.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
You want to become a jogger, so I’m going to do 15 minutes of walking for the first week and then maybe 20 minutes the next week, but you’re tracking it and you’re logging it and you’re celebrating it yourself. This idea of identity-based habits stacked on top of the micro habits is, Chuck, you start out in a positive self talk to yourself. When you’re walking out the door for that 15 minute walk, you say to yourself, “I am a exerciser. I can do this.” It’s all about positive, positive, positive. Then if you do have a day that you can’t walk or you miss your walk for a reason, you don’t revert back to beating yourself up.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
This is important part. If you fail, you go back to the that you created for yourself, I am an exerciser, I’m going to become a jogger or a runner, and you focus on that and that keeps those negative thoughts out of your head and you identify with what you want to be instead of who you are failing at what you want to be. It’s really powerful, because it goes back to what you and I have to talked about before of self talk and the positive ramifications of you doing positive self talk to yourself. That’s what this identity-based habits is all about.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah. I think that’s very powerful. I’m relating to this in a way where I think about this notion of identity. Have you followed the, I forget the woman or I think it’s a woman who wrote the book on The Slash where she talks about our identities have slashes after them. In other words, I’m Chuck Gaidica/podcast host/ exerciser/dad/husband, right? In this series of years we’ve been in, sometimes part of that identity had maybe the podcast went away and now I’m no longer a podcast host and I’m like, “Oh, I’m feeling down.”

Chuck Gaidica:
Well, her encouragement is, you’re still an exerciser. You’re still a husband. You’re still a dad. So you’ve got a lot to really be happy and thankful for and be grateful. I thought that is brilliant, this notion of strengthening the parts of your identity. Because even if one little part gets taken away, forcefully or otherwise, you take it away, you said,” I’m just going to quit and I’m just going to stay home for a while,” well, you’re still an exerciser, right?

Cindy Bjorkquist:
I love that.

Chuck Gaidica:
I do too. I think that’s very powerful stuff.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Yeah. I like that because it helps people who are trying to change their behaviors, which is super hard to do. I mean, let’s be realistic about that. It is super hard to change your behaviors, develop habits, develop micro habits, so you need as much help as you can. I was thinking when you were talking about that, the thing that that applies to, you’re so many different people, is also the fact that within this kind of research that’s circling around micro habits and exercise and what you should be doing each week, when I was in grad school, way, way, let’s just say way back, when I was in grad school, we talked about you had to get like 10 minutes of exercise in at a time. That was you had to do.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
If you were doing five minutes, you might as well not even do it kind of thing. Well, when they updated and did their second edition, HHS came out and said with their recommendations, it could be even less than 10 minutes, even one minute. There’s research, Chuck, around people doing one minute of an exercise session, like a high intensity, like jump roping or something like that or burpees, and that that kind of vigorous one minute exercise is just as effective, are you ready for it, for improving health just as much as 45 minutes of low to moderate intensity exercise.

Chuck Gaidica:
Come on. Wow.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
I know. Isn’t that crazy? I read that study. The thing about this is, which is really interesting to me, is that now you can talk to people who are struggling and can talk to people who may not be able to do all their exercise in larger bouts, and there is… I’m an exercise physiologist so I’ll put it out there, there is benefits from doing long sustained aerobic activity, because you’ve got your heart and you’ve got this blood just rushing through your cardiovascular system. So there’s that. But when you’re talking about health benefits, you can take a break from your desk job and like I’ve got my…

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Okay, here’s an example. Micro habit, my jump rope is hanging on a hook by my back door. Micro habit, when I go into my kitchen for lunch or dinner, I see the jump rope there, I often will take that jump rope and I’ll go onto my back patio and I’ll do 50 jump ropes really quick. Takes you about a minute. It’s 50. It jacks metabolic rate. It’s good for me. That’s what they’re saying is that if you can develop micro habits around even one minute, do some burpees, do some pushups, do some jump ropes, that’s going to help you tremendously with your fitness level.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
So it breaks open the industry to say, “You know what, just get it when you can.” Create movement in your day and that’s as important as it is to say, “I’m going to go for a 30 minute run and that’s it throughout the day, but I’m going to sit all day long.” It’s just a different way of thinking.

Chuck Gaidica:
Well, think of all the opportunities that we have. I mean, when you’re talking about, well, we’ve seen the research that says sitting is the new smoking, right? I mean, you’re really hurting yourself, but think of all the streaming, and I’m not saying these aren’t good shows to watch, I watch some of them too, but every once in a while I’ll get up and I’ll drop and do 20 pushups or something. So to your point, for me, that kind of cuts through the boredom. I wasn’t really thinking of it. I know I’m helping myself, but I thought, “I just can’t sit here. I just can’t do this for an hour and a half.”

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Do you want to know it’s in my living room?

Chuck Gaidica:
What is it?

Cindy Bjorkquist:
A stationary bike.

Chuck Gaidica:
Is it really?

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Yeah. So if I’m just plunked in the middle of my living room, so if I’m watching a show at night or I take a time out and watch a show, then I’ll just jump on my bike and just pedal away, that’s moderate, low moderate activity that I can add up to my day.

Chuck Gaidica:
Do you remember, it was several years ago, some guy came up with the idea of running a wire from your exercise bike that literally-

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Oh yeah.

Chuck Gaidica:
You couldn’t watch the TV unless you’ve produced your own electricity and it never took off, right? It was kind of a gimmick. I thought, “But it is kind of an interesting idea.” Well, you can’t get it going if you’re not the squirrel on the treadmill, so.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Yeah, that kid, I think there were several kids that got into that too. But I want to go back to what you just said, which is super important, which is sitting and how devastating that is to people. Actually, the CDC came out after HHS did their recommendations and they talked about just exactly that, Chuck, the fact that people need to just move more and how the value of just moving more. I loved how they were inclusive of people in wheelchairs. So they actually dropped out the idea of just you’re just sitting and they’re saying moving more because people in wheelchairs exercise too.

Chuck Gaidica:
Sure.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
And they’re sitting down. Or the elderly population can sit in a chair, but also do chair aerobics. So the idea of making sure you move as much as you can throughout the day, accumulate those minutes of low, moderate and vigorous activity, a whenever you can sneak a minute in or two, sneak it in.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah, that’s really good stuff. I think that that adaptation to all levels, which applies to age, we were doing chair aerobics with my mom who got to 82. So for all of us, the there’s also this notion that those habits, those micro habits can rub off on us, right? I’m being inspired by listening to you. So I know that when I’m with somebody who’s developing new habits, I kind of stand back and say, “Well, wait a minute. I could do that. I can jump rope for a minute. I could drop and do 20 pushups. I can do that.”

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Yeah. That’s the contagion effect. That’s been around for years, people writing books and doing research on. One of the most important things you can do for yourself if you want to adjust and get more physical activity is change your environment. Change your environment, meaning you could do things in your house, like hanging your jump rope up, or I have a yoga mat by my bed so I do a full Vinyasa because as I get older, I’ve got to maintain my flexibility. So I do a full what’s called in yoga Vinyasa which stretches all your major muscle groups before I go to bed.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
I just have this big black yoga mat next to my bed to remind me as a micro habit, it’s there, that before I get in bed, I do a full Vinyasa. That’s what we’re talking about changing your environment. Or put the cookies away, don’t have them in your house. Or I want to eat almonds every day so I put a container of almonds on my top shelf in my fridge, so when I open it up for lunch, the first thing I do is I grab eight almonds and eat them every single day. That’s changing my environment, a micro habit, when I open my refrigerator for lunch, it’s there. That’s the stuff we’re talking about.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
But there’s also the idea of, I don’t like it when people say change your friends, because I’m not a big advocate of changing your friends, because they’re going to be a negative influence to you. I like to drag my friends with me on these habits. So instead of changing your friends, you could be the influence to them of how to be healthier. So when someone asks you to go out to eat, you could suggest going for a walk instead, or, and I’d do this virtually with Michelle, a friend of mine, is we would get together over the pandemic and we still do and we’ll schedule time at night to talk and we’ll both walk at the same time.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Well, I got your phone. Yeah, got your tennis shoes on. We go walk and talk because she’s in Canada when I’m here. So changing your environment, it’s a contagion effect. It can set you up for success or failure. But drag your friends, drag your family members around with you and maybe spread the word about these micro habits. Your circle of influence can really affect and improve the health of other people as well. It’s fun to have your friends do stuff with you, right?

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah, it is. I also think it’s fun that you have found these ways, I guess, they’re hacks in a way. But putting things out, leaving your bike in the family room or living room, putting your yoga mat next to the bed, I have to tell you, my wife… So I’ve got an assault bike, which is for anybody who hasn’t seen one, it’s kind of like the old Schwinn Airdyne, the arms move. Well, I have to wheel it out of the way because my wife doesn’t like biking. She’s physically fit and does to other things, but she thinks it looks awful with the furniture.

Chuck Gaidica:
So then I get a little more exercise because I have to lift it and wheel it back into my favorite spot where I can put my tumbler of water and do thing for 30 minutes. So it’s kind of funny, but now that’s become my habit. I’m not going to get her upset and she knows it doesn’t get me upset. I just have to abide by it because it’s part of the deal. That’s just the way it is.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
I love that.

Chuck Gaidica:
I want to talk about this idea of micro habits and the idea that it can help. We know that it can also set you up for good habits. You’re a living proof of that. I am, I guest, to some extent. What about the connection with brain science? What are you seeing when you create these habits that actually can help with brain health?

Cindy Bjorkquist:
So there’s micro habits with brain health. When I think of brain health, I think of the things that you can do to help brain or neuro research, they call it neuroscience. So we do a lot about downtime for your brain, giving your brain rest. So I have, I wish we were visuals, you could see this, but can you hear this?

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
That’s a Tibetan bowl. So this is a micro habit for my brain health. I have it right by my desk, by my computer. So once a day, I do meditation to that sound. It’s a meditative sound from a Tibetan bowl, singing bowl. So that’s a micro habit because I know, according to neuroscience, your brain needs downtime. So me being an extrovert and a hyper active person, it’s hard for me and it’s a goal for me to create micro habits around myself, to force myself to brain rest, because that is so healthy for your brain. So that’s one thing that I do for brain rest.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
The other thing is I’ve got to make sure that I have sleep hygiene, which means I’ve got of get the appropriate amount of sleep for me, which is eight hours for me. So the things that I do to prepare myself to go to bed is a line of things, a super hot shower, my Vinyasa for yoga, all the things that I do to make sure that I connect up the fact that if I don’t get good sleep, it’s detrimental to my brain. So there’s different things that you can do, micro habits around your brain health for those kinds of things that are in the research as well.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Then the meditation, I can’t… You’ve done many shows on meditation and mindfulness, there’s so much content out there in research and the literature about meditative brains, people who meditate are physically different and function different from people that do not meditate. So that might be a goal for people who want to focus on their brain health outside of physical fitness that we’re talking about is to start meditating. Meditating, Chuck, can be something as simple as just taking deep breaths, like breathe in, breathe out. That’s a source of meditation. That has been statistically shown to help your brain function to be able to meditate.

Chuck Gaidica:
Well, let’s face it. My smart watch is helping me along. It’s time to breathe and I have to get a little chuckle at myself. I like myself, but I get a chuckle every once in a while because I’ll be like, “Okay, I’ve done the minute.” Then it asks you that question, whatever it is, “Do you want to do another minute?” I’m like, “No, I don’t have time. I don’t have time.” I’m thinking, “What a moron.” I mean, come on. Of course, I have another minute. I could go for another minute. But it is kind of cute because now the new update on the smart watch I’ve got anyway also includes mindfulness. So there are these things that can help us along to create, I guess, that’s the nudge toward a micro habit, right?

Cindy Bjorkquist:
So I read a study the other day. You may not know this, a study fact that do you know how many minutes you need per day, which is research is showing that you need to meditate or be mindful in order to improve your brain health. How many minutes per day? It’s 20.

Chuck Gaidica:
Wow.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Yeah. So you say the one minute with your watch, yeah. So what I’ve been counseling people to do is that I have that one minute set on my watch as well. But I know in my goals for the day, I need to achieve 20 minutes of downtime for my brain, meditation or mindfulness. So I could do a mindful walk for 10 minutes.

Chuck Gaidica:
Sure.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Or I could do deep breathing, which I do every morning when I get up in the morning, thank you God for another day. Then I do my meditative breathing and prayer. That’s 10 minutes. My mindful walk might be 10 minutes. That’s 20. So I accumulate and think through strategically my day what are things that I can do throughout the day and I should have 20 minutes of brain downtime during the day. You can split it up if you want, but you got to get at least 20.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah. It’s interesting, you mentioned prayer because I think a lot of people who are people of faith, regardless of their faith tradition, would say, “I kind of thought all along, prayer was different than mindfulness because this new word has kind of come along.” No, not really. I mean, you could be grateful. You can be journaling. You can be in contact vertically with your God and horizontally with others and still be able to think, “Well, now I can just be quiet,” and either you’re listening for an answer or you’re just basically meditating. I think we sometimes lose track that this new word mindfulness has sort of become a new thing. No, there’s a lot under that umbrella that still fits.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
It’s been around for a very long time based in religion. Yeah, very long. Many different religions, like you said. Very long time. Absolutely.

Chuck Gaidica:
So if in this new year, we are not having trouble reaching our goals. What if we find ourselves reaching some goals, I guess for some maybe they are falling off the wagon and they’re having a little trouble, what can we start to do to introduce into our routines that can help nudge us along so that the micro goals are becoming habits then?

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Yeah. So that goes back to setting your goals, knowing what the recommendations are that we talked about, setting your goals, and if you fall back on that, revert back to that identity-based habit, revert back to who you want to be, because that’s what you need to do to positively motivate yourself and find that intrinsic motivation to get you to jump back on the next day. You can’t take a one day of failure and throw everything out the window.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
The idea is if I set a goal to do my… Here’s another research thing. There’s a researcher out there that said in order to lose four pounds in 12 weeks, you should exercise 40 minutes a day of vigorous activity every single day. You can only miss one day per week. So six of the seven days, get 40 minutes of vigorous activity in for 12 weeks, and you’ll probably get four pounds gone of fat. So if you miss a day, you could get down on yourself and you throw everything out the window or you revert back to I am a person who will succeed at this. I am a biker. I am a jogger. I am.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
There’s a lot to be said about people rewiring their brain to get themselves to understand that you can do this what you set out to achieve to. There’s just so much that’s so powerful to believe in yourself. This idea of self talk, we could do a whole show on self talk, positive affirmations in the morning, you got to be able to rewire your brain. If you’re not a person who is a positive person, there’s research out there that say you can rewire it by journaling, by self talk, by positive affirmations. I mean, you’ve got to hold on to whatever goal or micro goal that you’re doing and do whatever you need to do to get yourself to identify yourself with who you want to be.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah. What was that stat again? You could lose four pounds, and what did you say, 12 weeks?

Cindy Bjorkquist:
12 weeks, four pounds, you have to do 40 minutes of not moderate, but vigorous exercise six of the seven days per week.

Chuck Gaidica:
So see, where I see there to be some grace and elbow room in that whole idea is if it took me seven days, but I’m still losing four pounds, in an essence, 12 weeks, multiply that by four, that’s 16 pounds in a year. I mean, when you look at it and you think, “I’ve lost 12 and I’m going for it,” and you give yourself that positive boost, it is achievable. Just give yourself some grace. It’s all right. If it takes an extra day, you’ll be okay.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Yeah. Now, I’ll caveat that whole statement with you have to watch what goes into your mouth. So we know that losing weight is all about that too.

Chuck Gaidica:
Sure.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
It’s more importantly about that, but getting that exercise, and yeah, that study looked at students walking across campus, biking, doing intense exercise and stuff, and that’s what they found was needed. So this idea of tracking your minutes, if you’re a person like me who likes to track things, then do it on a chalkboard in my gym in the basement, or you can do it on a calendar or just a piece of paper or there’s apps out there that you can do it. But that’s a realistic goal that people should be trying to strive for, which is that 40 minutes per day or that 50 minutes per day.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Again, the micro habit is if you’re not near that, always check with your doctors. We got to talk about that. Do your annual exam. Talk to your doctor, tell them you’re going to actually do an exercise program. If you have a chronic condition, there’s some complications and there’s things that you can talk to the doctor about as well, but if your goal is 40 minutes a day, back it down to 10 minutes per day and then slowly increase that. Your long term goal would be that 40, your short term goal would be that 10.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Then set your environment up for it. Put your shoes out by your bed. Or when I was struggling after I had bicep surgery to get back into the exercising and the running, so I used to take my running shorts out in my shirt and put them them, and my socks, and put them on the floor by my bed, Chuck. It sounds funny, but it was like laying all my stuff out. So you just roll out of bed and grab that stuff. It’s right there. But little things like that can get you to propel yourself to get those micro goals out of the way, celebrate your 10 minutes, celebrate your micro goal and then have a long term vision of your ultimate goal of that 40 minutes per day.

Chuck Gaidica:
Well, somebody very smart said know thyself, right? I think, you know thyself. I mean, you know what’s going to work for you. I think we can all kind of sit for a minute and maybe be mindful and then think about what will work for me? What are those little tricks and habits that I can now develop? So as we wrap it up, what’s a good takeaway? We’ve got so much stuff we’ve packed into 31 minutes here. But what’s a couple takeaways for all of us as we get into the new year here?

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Yeah. So I think the takeaway is to think about those areas that we talked about, think about setting your goals around the aerobic exercise, the minutes per day or the minutes per week. Strength training twice per week is what your goal needs to be. Then flexibility and stretching, balance if you’re older. But those are the three areas. Set some realistic goals for that. Think of some micro goals that will get you to those realistic goals and then try it, try. But the number one thing that I want people to remember is that they need to celebrate their wins. That is huge.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
That’s research based. Celebrate your wins because you’re changing your behavior and behavior changes hard and there is that positive influence to celebrate. So I want those people listening out there when they get that 10 minutes of exercise in, or that 10 minutes of strength training or whatever they do with flexibility, they need to audibly say, “Woo,” with themselves, or do a high five or a pump or do something because you need to celebrate your wins and that will propel you to your long term goal.

Chuck Gaidica:
Well, this has been an awesome half hour. I want to celebrate. Can you give us one more hit on that Tibetan bowl thing. That’ll close us. Yeah.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Oh, yes. Let me grab this thing. I love it. Now, I can make it sing too. Hold on. Wait.

Chuck Gaidica:
Wow. Well, that’s the new ending for episode 98. That’s it right there. You hit the bell.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
There you go.

Chuck Gaidica:
Cindy, it is so good to have you back and nice to talk to you.

Cindy Bjorkquist:
Oh, my pleasure, my pleasure.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah, always fun. Well, we want to thank you for being part of this A Healthier Michigan Podcast. It’s brought to you by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. If you like the show, you want to know more, check us out online at ahealthiermichigan.org/podcast. You can leave us reviews or ratings on Apple Podcast or Stitcher. You can get all new episodes now for the new year and we’ve got lots of great stuff planned for you. We have what, we’re at episode 98. So a ton of material to take on your walks, your healthy walks or runs, wherever you’re going. So make sure you do that for your smartphone or tablet and be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app. I’m Chuck Gaidica. Stay well.