Every year, most people make New Year resolutions; however, how many of us actually succeed to accomplish our resolutions? Eating healthier or hitting the gym more often can be a chore when you don’t have the necessary discipline or the right habits. But how long does it take to form a new habit?
Well, back in 1950s, a plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz began to notice certain patterns among his patients. He would perform an operation, and only after 21 his patients got used to seeing their new facial features.
This prompted Dr. Maltz to consider his own adjustment period to new behaviors. After a while, he concluded that it also took himself about three weeks to form new habits. In 1960, he published a study called Psycho-Cybernetics that concluded that you definitely need only 21 days to for new habits.
So that is when the problem started.
What’s the Real Time Frame?
Now, it not so difficult to understand why the so called “21 day myth” spread so fast and why it stayed in the public conscience for so long – the time frame Dr. Maltz suggested is short enough to be inspirational and long enough to seem possible.
However, as Metro reports, researchers from the University College London recently decided to discover how long it actually takes to pick up a new habit. The study examined 96 people over the course of twelve weeks and concluded that, it takes 66 days before a new behavior becomes automatic.
So How Can You Motivate Yourself?
In reality, deciding to start a healthy lifestyle is not so though, but what’s truly hard is sticking to your decisions. There are many factors could easily hinder your path towards your health and fitness goals, including food choices, schedule and the most common one – laziness. However, there are certain thing you can do to motivate yourself enough and to make sure that you stay on the right path. And if you manage to stick it out for two months, your chances of success will definitely skyrocket.
Phase One – Taking Baby Steps
In the first phase, you should aim to make one change per day. For instance, you should take a fast walk after your lunch the first day, or add some new fruits to your breakfast. Basically, you need do whatever you can to bump your weight down. After a week or so, you should start working out at least twice a week, and start changing your eating habits. If you don’t know how to change your diet or don’t have enough time to prepare certain meals, you should consider using a prepared meals delivery service to do the job for you.
Phase Two – Killing Off Cravings
If you manage to stay with the program after about two weeks, you need to start fighting your cravings. You see the time goes by; your cravings will definitely worsen, especially if you’re on a stick diet for the first time in your life. These carvings also have to do with your workouts – your body simply isn’t adapted to running on fewer calories. Of course, it partially psychological as well – during this period, funk food and treats will become more desirable, simply because they are off-limits.
Phase Three – Finding Support
Once you manage to fight off your cravings, you should try to find as much allies as possible. Basically, you should enlist a couple of friends to join your gym in order to stay accountable. The best thing – you’ll have someone to share your struggles with. But if your friends aren’t enthusiastic about fitness as nearly as you are, you should nevertheless join a gym and try to make some friends there. For example, simply strike a conversation with a biker right next to you or if possible, sign up for a group class and meet some gym buddies there.
What you need to understand is that the phases we listed above don’t have a specific time frame. As the study we mentioned before explained – the number 66 isn’t definitive – some people take longer to adjust to changes while other need less time. But even if these phases lost longer than expected, don’t throw your fitness tracker into the bin and give up. If you slip up a few times – you miss a few sessions or you re-introduce junk food into your diet – don’t worry, because slip-ups are unavoidable.
So don’t beat yourself too much, just make sure you get back on the wagon after a few days. Set up a backup plan, so if you eat a burger or two, maybe do a couple of squats in your living room. You need whatever it takes to stay focused and avoid all the pitfalls that prevent you from reaching your goals.