Today might well be ‘Quitters Day’ (officially), but far from being a one-a-year occurrence, admitting defeat on all things ‘healthy living’ is actually a DAILY ritual for some.
These ‘some’ are often the ones who, ironically, appear the most to have nutrition, fitness and everything in between down to a fine art. The ones who you’d think are immune to the lure of throwing in the towel at every given opportunity.
The reality, though, is that behind the scenes of the most committed and consistent gym-going, water-drinking, five-a-day-eating success stories... there’s a whole backlog of white flag moments, and just as many retractions to boot!
This puts the popular ‘21 day habit’ theory, in particular, into question. Many people believe that this is how long it takes to establish a new habit. That’s apparently 21 days of conscientiously repeating the same action or behaviour, after which the implication is that it will be instinctive, automatic...and effortless!
In reality, no habit is immune to the threat of boredom, or life getting in the way, and something is only ever ‘second nature’ as a result of ‘choosing’ the same habit against the odds, over and over (and over) again.
What the 21 day model of habit formation should perhaps be renamed to, therefore, is the 24 HOUR model. This model would acknowledge the importance of ‘today’ - and not a set time period - in positive habit creation.
In any 24 hour period, any number of challenges can and do arise, and the ‘habit’ must therefore be flexible and valued enough to adapt accordingly.
Take exercise, for example, which on a good day could be a full gym workout, but on a bad day, might be a few token squats...and not much else!
This flexibility and variety is what maintains momentum - something which is essence is more valuable than what the ‘habit’ itself actually looks like.