by Dr. Elon Bartlett

Happy New Year!

As the new year gets underway, it’s common for people to set intentions to create a better future. Many people join gyms, vow to quit smoking cigarettes, or start a new diet at this time of year. And as we all know, most of those practices don’t produce lasting results. People join the gym in January, go regularly for 6 weeks, and then fall off. Or, after avoiding gluten and sugar diligently for 3 weeks, they start to introduce “just a little” slice of pie here, and then “only one” donut hole there. In other words, we all have the best of intentions when we set the goal, the problem is follow through.


How do we maintain a good habit over time? According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, all habits are preceded by a Cue, and followed by a Reward. If we can identify both the cue that triggers the habit, as well as the reward that we get from it, then we can substitute a different habit from the cue, as long as it provides a comparable reward.


The example Charles gives from his own life is eating a cookie every afternoon at his work’s cafeteria. He identified his cue as the time of day, always around 3 or 3:30 in the afternoon, and his reward was getting to socialize with his coworkers. This led him to intentionally start taking mid afternoon breaks to talk with his work friends, and he didn’t even miss the cookie. He lost 30 pounds by giving himself permission to go to the cafeteria to talk to people without having to get a snack.


I bring up this process because I hear from so many patients that after taking a long break from getting chiropractic care, they are finally brought in because a crisis, but had been meaning to come in for months (sometimes years) for preventative care. And my goal as your chiropractor, is to keep maintaining the health of your nervous system all year long, to aid in optimal immune function, stabilize your blood pressure, support your digestive and reproductive organs, etc. But when peoples’ only cue for coming in is a literal pain in the butt/back/neck, then they’re missing out on the good stuff (optimizing health while preventing pain).


When it comes to preventative health care, I recommend the same approach that dentists use. If you always book your next teeth cleaning as you’re leaving the dentist’s office, then you always have an appointment on the books and can maintain your care. To put it in terms The Power of Habit uses, if you use the “cue” of finishing your appointment to book the next one, then you’ll consistently get the “reward” of feeling that post-adjustment euphoria and optimizing health while preventing episodes of pain. If you don’t use that cue, then most likely, the cue that will occur is being in pain, and I never want that for anyone I know.


The reason I offer a discount on purchases of 10-visit packages is that I know anyone buying 10 visits is committing to the habit of getting care. This usually leads to more regular visits, so more nervous system tune ups, and then fewer “crisis” visits. Is this a year that you’d like to have greater health and vitality? Looking ahead, would you prefer to see a year in which you had monthly visits, and also had less pain and fewer interruptions in your ability to work or be with family? If so, you can purchase a 10-visit package by calling our office or asking the front desk at your next visit. 

We have recently begun to offer online scheduling, and you always email us or call (510) 452-2929.

What habits do you want to replace? 
Do you have suggestions for ways to increase the likelihood that you follow through on your intentions? 
Tell us in the comments below!

All the best to you and your family in the coming year!

Dr Bartlett

PS: Something else that will support your New Year’s Resolutions and health habits in the coming year is BrainTime, a program created by my colleague and chiropractic neurologist, Jim Otis, DC. Click here to read about my personal experience with BrainTime.