Have you ever wondered how to develop healthy habits? Maybe you’ve thought about changing your eating or exercise habits for the better, but didn’t know if you would stick with a plan. A study from the University College Londonshows that when a behavior is performed over and over along with a cue, after about 66 days the behavior will become automatic. For example, after walking for 66 days after breakfast, it becomes so ingrained that you are automatically ready for that walk, without any discouraging self back-talk.
It took me about that long to automate my new healthy habits. One thing that really helped me to develop new habits was to keep a record of what I did. Keeping a record keeps one accountable and on track. I set up a calendar and in each day’s box I marked down how long I walked, how many minutes I practiced yoga, and how I felt on that day. I marked this information into my calendar just before going to bed and it took less than 30 seconds. I used letters as symbols, like Y for yoga, B for bike ride, or W for walk; numbers indicated how long the action was performed. I also used a single word to evaluate how I felt on a given day: poor, fair, or good. See the example below. The study shows it is ok to miss a day as long you are, on the overall, consistent with the practice.
I recommend following the 66-day concept to anyone trying to develop healthy eating habits, or trying to get into an exercise plan. At the beginning of the time period, write down how you are feeling and what you hope to accomplish. Check back when the 66 days are up and compare. Who knows, maybe you will have created a new healthy habit for life!
*Note – See the example below. The important thing is consistency.