Have you ever heard that little tidbit of information that seems to travel around? The one that says in order to acquire a new habit you just need to practice it for twenty-one days? I'm not sure where this timeframe originated from but it is not keeping in line with current research on long-term behavioral change.
What is the amount of time it takes to acquire a new, positive habit? Research has determined that at around six months of practicing the desired behavior before you can say that you've mastered it.
What does this mean for you? Does it mean that you're forever doomed unless you can spend half a year dedicated towards learning your desired behavior? Nope! This little bit of info is encouraging because it gives you permission to take your time, take baby steps, and experiment while you figure out what works best for you.
I've met so many people who give up and feel like failures after dieting for a short while. They enter into a cycle of "Yay, new diet!" and "Ugh I can't do this" mentality on a regular basis. This is an exhausting process. To constantly have one's mind either policing food or criticizing perceived failures, depending where one is in the cycle, is counterproductive and harmful to long-term goals.
Whatever new behavior you would like to incorporate into your routine and health, make sure to give yourself time and compassion. All good things take a bit of patience and persistence. Ditch the negative voice in your head, settle in to do some hard work, and welcome the learning process, however long it may be. The more authentic your learning experience, the more long-term your behavioral change will last. As always, I'm here for questions and comments via DM on Instagram @nomiknowshealth.