“The Power of Habit – 3 Small Changes to Transform Your Fitness Journey”

power of habit, facial exercises

Today was particularly lovely at the seafront where I exercise. Thanks to a string of islands just off the coast, our bay doesn’t see a lot of wave action. So, like most mornings, the water was calm and flat. I love this time of day when the sun is low in the sky and its rays are pleasantly mild on my skin.

Each day, throngs of people exercise there – a motley assortment of humanity engaging in the pleasure and privilege of movement. This morning one runner caught my attention. Her T-shirt was emblazoned with the words, Go Hard or Go Home. Judging by the color of her face and her profuse sweating, she was indeed going hard.

That phrase – go hard or go home – tugs at the overachiever in me. Over the years, to inspire and motivate myself, I’ve collected a significant number of quotes and musings. Like this one: “Anyone can work hard when they want to. Champions do it when they don’t.”[1]  The pages of my compilation shout to me, Never give less than 100%, more if possible. Better, longer, higher, faster!

That’s been my whole approach to life.

And it worked…until it didn’t.

Predictably, I burned out, driving myself to the point of sickness and fatigue. Not a pretty result! Not the success I was aiming for. To make matters worse, I didn’t learn the first time. I had to repeat that whole sorry process to finally get the point. Welcome to the power of habit!

The Power of Habit – A Turning Point

In 2018, James Clear wrote an excellent book called Atomic Habits. I’ve read this bestseller several times, underlining pertinent parts and scribbling notes in the margins as I do in all my books.

Diving into James Clear’s Atomic Habits shifted my perspective from chasing monumental success to appreciating the beneficial power of habit changes.

Clear’s book took my overachieving self by the shoulders and gave me a good shake. Like this part: 

“Too often, we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action.” [2]

Yep, that’s me. Guilty as charged!

The power of the 1 percent

I was intrigued by Clear’s explanation of how small changes – 1 percent gains, he calls them – make a remarkable difference in the long run.

Small is often equated with inconsequential, a mistake I’ve made repeatedly. The problem is that the impact of little improvements doesn’t appear significant to start with. However, these 1% gains accumulate over time to produce extraordinary results. Clear calls daily habits “the compound interest of self-improvement.” Nothing heroic needed!

That knowledge has been a real game-changer for me!

I’ll talk more in the future about the power of habits, including the sobering concept that this also works for bad habits.

For now, though, I want to inspire you to see the potential of making wee positive adjustments in your own life. To do that, here’s a sampling of 3 habits I’ve implemented over the last 2 years, along with the results. All 3 relate to exercise.

Each habit took time to show results. In the beginning, it was easy to give up as progress seemed slow and difficult to measure. Patience isn’t generally one of the strongest virtues in overachievers, and that’s certainly true for me. Perseverance, though, has brought pleasing (and unanticipated) results, as you’ll see.

Three small habits with big results

Habit 1. Facial exercises

I stumbled across this concept when a Face Yoga Method video appeared on my Instagram feed. ‘You exercise other parts of your body,’ the presenter said. ‘Why not your facial muscles?’

That made sense. I was in!

Of course, there are whole programs you can buy online, even a 6-week Bootcamp. Despite my tendency to overachieve, though, boot camps are not my cup of tea.

Instead, I pieced together my own short workout using internet freebies (like this one) and ideas gleaned from a library book [3]. And I do mean a short workout, as in 5 minutes.

If you are not afraid to look a bit silly for a few minutes, you can do facial exercises anywhere, such as in the car while waiting at a red light. Otherwise, find somewhere private. I prefer the solitude of my bathroom and do my brief facial workout morning and night.


It took about three months before I noticed any real change. (I am middle-aged, though!) Still, seeing some improvement – any improvement – was enough to keep me committed.

Two years on, my once-sagging jawline is now smooth and firm. I have more defined, plumper cheeks…especially when I smile. So I smile more now. Bonus!

But best of all, that bane of my looks, my double chin, is almost gone. I’m beyond thrilled with that! It has blighted every photograph of me since I was three years old. No joke!

Habit 2. Standing crunches

This little habit took only a few weeks to start seeing a change. I couldn’t find a video showing the specific kind of standing crunch I do; this video demonstrates the basic principle. 

I have modified the exercise so that I can do it while standing. In just a few minutes morning and evening, I crunch 60 times (3 sets of 20 repetitions). That’s 120 crunches a day!


For starters, no sore back or neck that I always get from traditional floor crunches. Rather than hurting my back, the standing crunches actually loosen my lower back muscles. That makes me more flexible. If the crunches did nothing else, that benefit alone would be worth it.

However, my short-standing crunches program does accomplish more… a lot more. My tummy is flatter, my waistline is shapelier and my abs are firmer. I’m not quite where I want to be in that area yet, but I’m heading in the right direction. Seeing results like that keeps me committed.

Habit 3. Neck flexibility exercises

A few years back I spent well over $1000 for therapy to reduce chronic migraines. There was minimal improvement. I couldn’t afford to keep up a treatment that wasn’t making a difference.

Then I learned about the importance of neck flexibility from Dr. Alan Mandell. A chiropractic doctor, Mandell posts prolifically on the internet and has millions of followers. The title of his video “2 Minute Neck Mobility Drill That’s Life Changing” says it all.


This habit paid off big time for me and more quickly than the other two. I do Mandell’s drill twice a day. It gets tacked onto the other two exercise habits above. (More about the concept of what James Clear calls “habit-stacking” in the future.) With minimal investment of time and effort and no investment of cash, my migraines have decreased from 1 a week to about 1 a month. That’s a staggering 75% reduction!

Stephen Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, poses this question: What one thing could you do (you aren’t doing now) that if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous difference in your personal life?[4]

power of habit, facial exercises

That’s a great question – one I’ve asked myself many times over the years. That one thing doesn’t have to be big. Huge changes tend to be unsustainable. But a small, simple adjustment in the trajectory of your life now could result in a tremendous difference down the track. I hope you are inspired.

Photo #1 by Diego PH on Unsplash

Photo #2 by Markus Winkler on Unsplash


[1] I couldn’t find a creditable source regarding who said this.

[2] Clear, J. (2018). Atomic Habits. Penguin Random House UK. Page 15

[3] Maggio, C. (2011). Ultimate facercise: the complete and balanced muscle-toning program for renewed vitality and a more youthful appearance. New York: Penguin.

[4] Covey, S. R. (1990). The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Simon and Schuster. Page 146



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