Behavior Change


before after motivation


b equals mat


fogg behavior model



Applying the Fogg Behavior Model To Nutrition (diabetes).

Three Key Domains:

Motivation:  “why would I want to take my medicines, eat right, exercise, control my blood sugars? do I know what the right things are to do and eat?”

Ability: “do I have access to the right foods and do I know how to prepare them?”

Triggers (call to action): how the food environment affects choices



(Belief in) Knowledge ??
Physical ability
Brain cycles
Knowledge (of how to)??

Environment ??

(Acquiring new) Knowledge??


Notes from BJ Fogg Motivation Wave Video:

Simplicity changes behavior.  Simplicity is more important than motivation.

Our job is not really to motivate for behavior change, but rather to FACILITATE behavior change.

Motivation tends to be low for non-urgent health matters.

The one-sentence health behavior solution: “Help people succeed on the most desirable health behavior that matches their current motivation”.

“Current Motivation” – in that instance.  Can be high one minute and low later.  Flows.  Motivation is around a lot of things.


Desirable health behaviors:

-beneficial habits

-positive change in environment (the only way to change beh long term quickly is to change the world around us)

-structured behaviors (e.g. a person cuts up their credit card to avoid getting in debt)

-behaviors that are fitting to the moment

-different for different people

-take next step in a process

Examples easy: have someone pick out a style of exercise shoes.  Hard would be working out 2 hours in the winter

Motivation is not constant.  It can go up and down all the time.  As the motivation wave goes up, people are able to do harder and harder behaviors when triggered.


Help People Succeed.  Seize the moment when motivation is high!  This is a temporary opportunity to do hard things. Harness and leverage the wave.  This works much better than constantly trying to amp up and sustain a persons motivation.

Priority #1: Do hard things that structure future behavior. (eg – buy workout clothes, pay for the trainer, schedule the training visits for the next 6 weeks.  It’s hard, but it gives structure)  This sets up the healthy behavior as the default behavior, which is great when motivation dips. In other words you’d have to do work to get out of it. 

!!! Priority #2: Do hard things that reduce barriers to behavior.  (eg – as soon as you bring home vegetables from the store, wash them, cut them, put them in individual serving containers, put them in the top of the refrigerator so you can see them, premake your salads, etc.  Another example could be pre-cooking your weeks meals on Sunday.)  This makes your goal of eating more vegetables easier to achieve later in the week when your motivation may have sagged.

Priority #3: Do hard things that increase people’s skill. (eg – learn to cook a new meal, may be hard the first time, but becomes easier.  Or, learn to carb count everything – hard at first, then easy.) This takes a hard behavior which requires high motivation, down the curve to where in the future motivation won’t have to so high to accomplish.

Priority #4: Do a one-time thing that is hard.

The following are NOT a priority when motivation is high (these can be done anytime, do these when motivation is low):
-simple, one time behaviors
-tiny habits
-easy simple baby steps in a process


When motivation is low, slow down.  (Natural periods when people cannot do hard things). Goal is to find something easy that they can do. People can do anything if it’s easy enough.

-structured behaviors that may have been set up when motivation was high
-tiny habits
-baby steps in a process
-simple, one time behaviors


Harness whatever motivation exists at the moment. Don’t rely on artificially amping motivation.

Guide people in creating structured behaviors.  They rarely know how or what to do without helping.

Focus on baby steps for long-term change.  Big leaps almost always fail. (Other ways to change behavior long term are: have an epiphany or change your environment.)

Trust that tiny habits grow naturally.  Success leads to success – and other good things.

Be wary about the phrase “motivate behavior change”.   This makes a huge assumption that maybe be mostly wrong. Change to “facilitate behavior change” and harness what motivation is there.

When we outline a process for behavior change for someone and they fail when they can’t do the exercise or change their foods…if they feel like they’ve failed we have done them a big disservice. This leads to learned helplessness and does make it harder to succeed in the future and does reduce motivation.







Behavior CHAIN for healthy eating:
know what food to buy
want to buy the right food
have money to buy the right food
have the right store to buy the right food
know how to cook the right food
like to eat the right food

Salads:  having a plastic bin in the refrigerator with all the ingredients you might use.
Meds: Using a pill box so you don’t have to slow down each day to open each bottle.
Money: Arrange for the pharmacy to have half your meds ready on the 1st and half ready on the 15th of the month.
Meds: Use a delivery system.
In addition to BJ Fogg above, check out work on “habits” by Gretchen Rubin.
Book outline:
-The Four Tendencies
Pillars of Habit
The Best Time to Begin
-First Steps
-Clean Slate
-Lightening Bolt
Desire, Ease, and Excuses
-Loophole Spotting
Unique, Just Like Everyone Else
-Other People
if you cant fly quote
Environment > Habits > Motivation > Willpower

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