They say that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. It isn’t entirely clear where the 21 day rule stemmed from, although some say it originated from a self-help book in the 1970s called “Psycho-Cybernetics”. The idea is that if you repeat a behaviour for long enough, the brain will adapt. Forming new habits are perhaps easier than breaking old habits, but can either of these be done in just 21 days? Some would argue yea or nay.
I believe that the brain is an incredibly powerful and adaptive tool in our human toolkit. I think that 21 days IS enough to make some real changes to your own thoughts and behaviours, but that perhaps it takes longer to consolidate those habits into life-long ones. When I started my 100 healthy day, I set out some rules. Essentially these were habits that I wanted to form for life. I didn’t want this to be another FAD diet, where I changed my behaviour temporarily then went back to my old ways. Looking back at my first thoughts, I wrote this…
My plan for the next 100 days (and more) is simply to eat healthily and exercise more. To stay healthy I am going to try to…
…drink far more water and stay hydrated.
…eat lots of fruit and vegetables.
…snack on healthy fruit, veg and nuts instead of snacking on biscuits and crisps (especially in the staffroom)
…make sure I am getting a good balance of proteins, carbs and other food groups too. (especially on exercise days).
…continue drinking my favourite vice coffee, eat chocolate and drink wine in moderation and cut out diet coke completely.
…stop counting calories and just focus on being healthy and exercising rather than worrying about losing weight.
…BE NAUGHTY SOMETIMES!!!! I’m working on 80/20 rule – good 80 % of the time and bad 20% of the time. I will make up for my 20% naughtiness with exercise.
9 months later and I can confidently say that each and every one of these is now a habit for life. I have never smoked so I can’t comprehend how difficult it is to try to quit something that addictive, but I HAVE given up Diet Coke completely. I am pretty proud of this fact as I had always been an avid drinker of the chemical concoction.
SO, I am looking onwards and upwards to some new challenges in 2015. I have decided to experiment with the 21 day concept. For 21 days I am going to challenge myself to do something. I have begun with a 21 day challenge that I will write about tomorrow…
21 DAYS ALCOHOL FREE
Some of my other ideas include
21 days of 10,000 steps (Thanks to my new pedometer)
21 days vegetarian
21 days gluten free
21 days dairy free
21 days caffeine free
21 days chocolate free
21 days sugar free
I am not necessarily saying that each of these will become life-long habits. However, I will be using these challenges to learn more about myself, my body and how these habits make me feel. I think it will be an incredibly learning curve and I am excited to share my results with you. If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear them. Even better, if anyone wants to try any of these challenges with me…let’s do it!!