ANR Health: Habit Forming

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Habit Forming

Being healthy is having good eating and exercise habits and not having bad habits such as smoking and excessive drinking.  So how does one obtain these good habits?

The myth is that it takes 21 days to form a habit.  Totally bogus. 
It is based on very faulty, unsupportable and unreproducible research. Each individual has a different internal clock for forming habits that is effected by many variables such as environment, emotion, etc.

A recent University College London study found it takes an average of 66 days to form a habit.  The data was collected from self-reporting participants, so completely truthful reporting is skeptical. Therefore it may take less or more time, again depending on the individual.

What does work is to distinguish between the Big Picture and the Little Steps.  Identifying the habit to be formed is the Big Picture: snack less, floss, eat healthy. Breaking the Big Picture into specific actions is the Little Steps part.

Big Picture: Snack less
Little Steps:
  • Throw out or donate all junk food in the house.
  • Only stock the house with healthy snacks like baby carrots, cheese sticks, apples, etc.
  • Divide the baby carrots into baggies that are easy to grab when going to work or getting in the car.
  • Put a glass of water on the desk or end table and drink it all before reaching for a snack.

The above Little Steps are specific and achievable. Keep consciously following those little steps until one day you realize you automatically take a glass of water with you to check emails, rather than a handful of chips (which just get the keys greasy). It may take 16 days, 66 days or 360 days, but it will become a part of your routine and thus a good habit was formed!

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