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Does It Take 21 Days To Build A Habit?

For years, we’ve heard the phrase, it takes 21 days to build a habit. Do it for 21 days and you will burn the habit into your brain. Well did you know where that came from? habits_FullBack in the 50s a plastic surgeon noticed that after surgery it took about 21 day for the brain to adapt to the changes.  He then applied it to himself to see if that could be applied to behavior change and wrote a hugely successful book and from that point forward it has been stated by every self help guru that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Now.. for the sake of round numbers you could extend that to 30 days and say that’s how long it takes to BURN it into your nervous system.

So you ask, how long does it take. I believe it depends. I know I hate the “it depends” answer as well. Here is why I can’t give you a nice answer in a bow. It depends on the person. I know always seem to come back to this, but it’s all about your motivation. If you are told you are going to die, if you continue to not exercise and eat fast food for every meal. Now will you make an overnight change, NO, but you will be far more motivated to look into healthier options.  If you kinda, sorta want the goal, then you will be kinda, sorta motivated to work on the habit and kinda, sorta gets you kinda, sorta no where!

In 2002, I was a newlywed and my husband’s family doesn’t have a good health history. I didn’t want him to die on my, so we started working out. Now prior to this we kinda, sorta worked out at night to get in shape for our wedding, but as you can imagine, that sometimes didn’t happen depending upon our workload.  We then hired a trainer we told us to go to the gym in the AM, because in the morning there weren’t ever anything you ever had to do 1st thing in the AM. You see I’m not a morning person and I was like you gotta be kidding me, BUT I was motivated to make a change.  To do this required my husband and I to go back to having a bed time. We scaled back on our TV watching and the basic puttering around the house until 11pm. We were in bed, let’s out 10pm. Let’s face up I wasn’t up at night finding the cure for cancer.

I did not take 21 days, it took about three months for us to not consistently bitch about getting up before the sun rose. Now my body clock is wired to get up at 5am. I will be honest, I don’t skip out of bed, but it’s not as ugly as it use to be.

I challenge you, what habit would you like to start. Then decide what will motivate you to keep going?  Leave it in the comments below.

If your habit is to get in some fun express workouts, check out my Meltdown challenge.

 

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