Exercise

Be Patient: 21 Days is Not the Magic Mark!

If 21 days were all it takes to form or change a habit, I would have it made!  I’d be eating healthy, exercising and getting all my schoolwork done.  Three weeks just isn’t long enough when I am looking at establishing an exercise habit or healthy eating habit.  We all know that there is no safety zone once we hit day 21. There is no guarantee that will keep us from cheating once we’ve made it to that magic mark.

Unknown-1Research shows that 21 days may be sufficient to establish a simple habit such as drinking the required 8 glasses of water a day.  But a more challenging habit such as running 4 miles 3 times a week (for a non runner) will take a lot more than 21 days to establish.  To vary the timeframe even further, every person has different goals and motivational factors.  This allows for even further deviation from any kind of standard habit forming timeline.

Ok, enough harping on how long it’s going to take to form a habit.  The important thing here is to decide to make a change for the better by establishing goals.  Hopefully, with enough perseverance, we can manage the goals to ultimately form great habits.  Here are a few tips to do that.

  • Start slow.  Don’t overdo it by running the full 4 miles on day 1.  Set up a schedule starting slow and increasing progressively.  This will prevent discouragement early on as well as sore muscles!
  • Be consistent.  Engage in your new habit every day for a good 30 days.  This is just giving yourself every opportunity to latch on to your newly acquired habit.
  • Forgive yourself.  Sticking to your new commitment will be tough so allow yourself a few “oops”, acknowledge the slip and move on.
  • Partner up with a buddy.  By working with another person on a common goal, you provide accountability and much needed motivation.
  • Remove as much temptation as possible.  Why make it any more difficult that it needs to be?!

Healthy living and eating habits will benefit you for years to come.  So remember that building any habit takes three things:  intention, consistency and time.  Commit to those three items and your habit may be attained sooner than you think.

What’s on your “habit making” list?