When starting a healthy lifestyle journey, the hardest thing for most people is to form healthy lifestyle habits, so we’ll get that out of the way first.
You’ve probably heard of the 21-day rule to form a habit. It stems from Maxwell Maltz’s Psycho-Cybernetics book, where he says, “It requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.”
Since he published the book, which sold over 30 million copies, there have been various watered-down versions of the 21-day message ranging from 21-day fitness challenges, diets, and many more lifestyle trends.
These trends oversimplify Maltz’s observations, which were originally based on his patients’ recovery times.
I have seen friends and family members enthusiastically try out different 21-day challenges, from skipping, no sugar, no carbs, and running challenges.
It fills me with joy seeing their excitement and optimism to try out all these challenges hoping to form new lifelong habits.
The optimist in me is always rooting for them. However, the realist in me knows that the journey is not as straightforward.
🌱 What gets lost in translation from Maltz’s statements is that it takes “a minimum.” Other studies have even shown 66 days is more or less realistic, varying from person to person.
I have had my fair share of dipping my toes in different challenges expecting to form a lasting habit, only to abandon ship when work gets hectic.
The only thing I rarely struggle with is creating habits that link directly to my health and wellness.
Somehow, these habits stick like glue, and this is why I have managed to convert to a plant-based diet and commit to regular physical exercise for over twelve years collectively.
In my journey to forming healthy lifestyle habits that became second nature, I have learned some things that will hopefully give you a more realistic expectation of forming lasting health and fitness habits.
- Forming a lasting habit is always a work in progress. Healthy living is not an event or destination to rush to but a self-love journey.
- It takes a lot of kindness to keep going, being kind to yourself and your body. Remember that your body will respond to you how you treat it, GIGO-“garbage in, garbage out.” Poor diet, poor health, insufficient physical activity, insufficient vitality.
So, back to the 21 days. It’s safe to say it’s a fun exercise but nowhere near a blueprint for forming lasting healthy habits. What it will take you is continuous and consistent decision-making.
Deciding to work out most days of the week, deciding to swap the juicy beef burger with an even juicier plant-based burger(this is me being biased), and deciding to grab a fruit over a bowl of fried potato chips.
Over days, months, or years the decisions become easier, and choosing what is right for your health becomes like second nature.
See my next blog post for simple tips to get your healthy lifestyle journey wheels rolling. 🙂