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Evidence Based Habit Development

By Bradley B. Block, MD

If you’ve ever counseled a patient (or yourself!) on how to improve their diet, quit smoking, or exercise more, you are basically saying that they need to improve their habits.  Should you be telling them to go Paleo?  Keto? Crypto? CrossFit?  Yoga?  Tai Chi?   Dr. Tello gets into the evidence behind the science of habit development.  Her recommendation?  Just do one push-up a day.  Or eat one piece of kale.  That’s it!  She wrote a book about evidence based habit development called Healthy Habits for your Heart.  We start by talking about the interesting way that she got the book deal before diving into the science of habits.  We discuss how to start a habit, how to discontinue one, how long the process takes, the psychology of habit development.  The second half of her book is a list of 100 heart healthy habits, so discuss a few of those.  Monique Tello is a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts and instructor at Harvard Medical School. She practices part-time internal medicine at Women's Health Associates, a small MGH-based primary care practice with all female providers that serves predominantly female patients. She is originally from the Boston area, and graduated from Brown University and the University of Vermont College of Medicine. She completed a combined internal medicine and pediatrics residency training program at Yale/New Haven Hospital. After residency, she earned a Master's in Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and completed a clinical research fellowship in General Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital; her research and clinical focus while at Hopkins was HIV Women's Health. Throughout training and beyond, Monique has been active in international health, volunteering at and supporting clinics in Central and South America, as well as participating in several disaster missions. While living in Baltimore, she met her husband, local sports broadcaster Bob Socci, and they relocated to Milton, Massachusetts almost a decade ago. They have two young children, one with autism. She is half Latina, speaks Spanish, and maintains a close relationship with her extended family in Guatemala. She writes a popular blog,, about her life as a doctor and a mother and contributes to many other blogs, including Mothers in Medicine and Harvard Health Blog. Her writing focuses on work/life balance and healthy lifestyle.

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