Friday, August 5, 2011

How long does it take to......

Create a habit?

Christy here and I'm speaking about every day good habits.

I had this discussion with a couple of my good friends yesterday.

You see, I'm desperate to add exercise and writing to my daily life. And, just like every good Christian, my devotion time needs to be a part of that too. Unfortunately, my early morning hours consist of rising from a deep slumber, feeling like I didn't get enough sleep - stumbling to the coffee pot - then managing to make it to the desk where I'll turn the computer on for email, blogs, facebook, etc.... Then, it's time to get ready and rush out the door for work.

Part of my problem, is my eating habits. As I've talked about in the past, I'm working on rectifying this problem. I'm working on changing my diet as I know what I'm putting into my body is not good. Yesterday was a good eating day. I went out to lunch with a friend and chose a low-fat, all natural, soup and a garden salad with vinaigrette dressing instead of the "chicken salad sandwich" I love so much with a loaded potato soup.  I felt great afterwards and was proud of myself. And last night, while the family ate McDonald's, I passed. That was a huge choice and accomplishment for me!

But back to the issue with habits.... One friend says to commit for just 1 week. After seven days of rising, exercising and then my daily routine, I'll be hooked. Another friend says she's heard it will only take 3 times to establish a habit.

I'm going to be trying to create this new exercise habit this week...But how long do you think it takes to create a new habit? Any experience you can share on this?


  1. Christy, I've heard 31 days. Although I think I heard that because it was the title of a book--something like The 31 Day Habit. It was a book I read in college that helped you establish a regular devotional time. I just checked on Amazon and didn't find it under that title, so it's either out of print or I have the name wrong.

    But I still think I've heard it takes about a month to establish a habit. So keep at it longer than 3 days! :)

  2. Hi Christy:

    Habits are all over the place. If the habit is reinforcing, like cocaine, they are very easy to acquire. If they offer no reinforcement, they may be impossible to acquire. (Like taking a dip in a frozen lake every morning.)

    Try to pick your habits well. My doctor was very tricky. She made me agree to exercise at the health club for five minutes every day. Any exercise I wanted. Of course, I had to agree with this. Just five minutes! But here’s what happened:

    After going to the health club and changing clothes, there was no way I was going to stop at just five minutes. I actually worked up from about ten minutes to an hour.

    After about ten days I wanted to go exercise more than I didn’t want to. This is the tipping point. There is something about exercise that at a certain point not doing it causes withdrawal symptoms. If I didn’t exercise, I would get antsy and have to go!

    I’ve done this several times. Everything would be going great and then I would injure myself. I found that after just 4 or 5 days of no exercise, the withdrawal symptoms end and you have to start the dreaded exercise program again.

    I also strongly advise that you only try to create one habit at a time. Keep it simple and pick one that reinforces itself in the doing.

    Good luck.


  3. I've heard 21 days to start a habit. Regardless of how many days it takes, you have the determination and drive to do this. So, go girl!

  4. Missy, I hope by a month I will be in an established routine for sure.

    Vince, LOL, I'll skip the cocaine. That would send me in a direction I wouldn't want to go... I like your doctor's suggestion about the 5 minutes a day thing. Like you say, by the time you are dressed, that's a lot of trouble to just stop at 5. I'll let you know.

    Edwina, thanks for the encouragement!

  5. Oh, Vince, that's so funny!! What a smart doctor! :)