How Many Days Does it Take to Create a New Sustainable Habit?

Creating new habits is hard.  It does not happen overnight just because you are excited about a new goal.  

If you find you cannot seem to create sustainable habits that is likely a major reason why you cannot reach your weight loss goal. As well the  lack of sustainable habits will also make it very difficult to keep the weight off even if you did manage to reach your goal. 

How many days does it take doing a new routine to make it a hard wired habit????

Study out of University of London says it takes 66 days of repeating the same action for it to become a habit.  The stimulus in the brain to take action when it is  a habit comes from a different part of the brain that does not require much “thinking” power and does not require much energy.   Whereas when we are taking action that it is not a habit  yet then we are using the area in the brain called prefrontal cortex which does require more “thinking” effort and energy. This is why trying to change behaviours and develop new routines can feel like it requires more work….. Because it does require more work.  

Once a new action has been done repeatedly over a long enough period of time, the brain will recognize the repetitive pattern and then will attempt to save energy by storing the memory of this action in the  older part of our brain.  Now it is an actual habit and you  are operating on autopilot.  This will feel like it requires a lot less work – because it actually does require less mental work and energy.

Achieving any goal requires consistent effort and repetition of the necessary steps.  Losing weight is no different,  it is all about habits.  The sooner you can create hard wired habits around all the steps necessary for successful weight loss then the likelihood of you sticking to these steps long term is much higher and best of all it will become easier as these new routines become habits.

How can you get started on rewiring your brain so these new routines and healthier choices become energy efficient habits?

First create a plan where all the small action steps you need to take are done at the same time and in the same way and stick with this for at least 66 days.  

So plan your meals, do your grocery shopping on the same day each week, and prepare your food for the next day at the same time if you need to take food to lunch.  If exercise is a new routine then do the same types of exercise at the same time on the same day of each week.  If you need to integrate some stress management into your weight loss plan then do your meditation at the same time each day and try to do it in the same place using the same method.  

If you have hard wired unhealthy habits that you wish to stop doing, then make sure to avoid them for the full 66 days, don’t revisit any of them during that time period even if you think you will just do it that “one time”, because it will retrigger the old pattern and that  unhealthy habit will continue to be part of your wiring until you avoid it for another 66 days.  

If you stop or fall short of this 66 day time period then it is likely the new action or routine is not a hard wired habit in your brain yet and  you will find it much harder to continue to follow through on your plan.  You will keep having the reset for your brain for another 66 days.  

Having community and support makes a huge difference in sticking with action steps consistently for that length of time while on your plan to lose weight and create a sustainable healthy lifestyle.  We are a herd animal so connection and community will help to keep you on track – do this for 66 days and then it will be a more established habit and your follow through and consistency will become easier.

I personally  use this strategy when I want to create a new habit.  I have always enjoyed running and I know I will feel great but due to an injury last year I had stopped running.  I wanted to get back into it in the spring but my follow through was very hit and miss.  This summer I started running with a neighbour 3 mornings/week.  It makes it fun, it is easier to get out the door.  There is  no internal chatter  about whether I feel like going or not and no inner negotiations about not going that morning and going instead for my run at the end of the day or going on a different day….. Because guess what – that likely wouldn’t happen.   Running with my neighbour meant I knew she would be waiting for me at the end of the driveway in the morning, she is relying on me as well to help keep her commitment, so it is a non-negotiable situation.  I am going to show up and I have continued to do so.  

If you feel that having  support for creating new healthy habits would be helpful then join my private FB group,

You can make your declaration in the group of what you plan to do and then get the support to keep going.

I hope you found this information helpful.If you want to learn more:

  1. You can book a complimentary call, and discuss your challenges, and obstacles, and together we can determine if my program is right for you.
  2. You can also go to my Facebook page, @DrSherBovay, where you can find and join my Private Facebook group, The FastLane Mind Body Reset Mastery Group. Here, I host Facebook lives and frequent posts where you can engage and learn more