Many people can’t seem to agree on how long it takes to turn an action that you commit to doing daily, into a habit, where the completion of the task becomes automatic, almost unconcious. Experts tend to say that the magic number is around 66 days, however, during the month of march 2017, I went forth, challenging that agreed-upon statistic. On February 28th, I committed to a new workout routine, after discovering that my post-highschool freshman 15 weightgain was closer to 25. I won’t get into the details of my actual results just yet. For now, the focus is on my success of keeping a workout routine.
I started things off with intensity, opting for six days a week of intense calisthenic and weightlifting exercises. The first week, I could barely do more than ten to fifteen minutes of work without feeling wobbly, close to throwing up, or a mixture of both. It had been so long since my good old days of swim team training. Had it not been for the fact that I once had been in great shape, I might not have continued to push myself, and would have opted to make my workouts easier and of less occurance. However, that simply wasn’t an option. My goal by the end of March was to move up to 30 minute sessions per day and still feel like they were too easy. Since I was at one point doing 2 straight hours of high-intensity cardio, the mission was definitely possible.
Flash forward to the end of March: I had reached my goal of maintaining 30 minute workouts, six days a week. Most importantly, I had formed what can be defined as a habit. I now feel not just guilty, not just weird, but physically off if I don’t get my 30 minute moving fix during the day. However, I now understand where “experts” may claim that it truly takes 60 full days to form a habit. The first week of April, I started a new job, completely changing the way I schedule my day. This totally threw off my workout routine. Instead of consistently completing the task during my mornings, I now occasionally workout during the evenings. This is not preferential and feels weird to me, so I will admit that I have “broken” my so-called habit more than once during the past two weeks.
When experts say that forming a habit takes 60 days, I think what they truly mean is that there are two periods during which the development of a habit takes place: month one, where the habit is formed, and month two, where the habit is reinforced. It takes a month to form a habit, but what happens when the conditions reinforcing the habit change? If it takes being completely alone for you to do a habit such as bite your nails, is that truly a habit? My goal is to get to the point where, no matter the time of day, location I’m at, or excuse that I have, I will get my workout done, one way or another. Not because I am obligated to for myself or any other person, but because it is physically a part of my being, a part of my mental state of being. An addiction, albeit a healthy one.