The Real Number of Days it Takes to Create a Habit

Is there any word other than ‘habit’ that makes you shudder? It’s like ‘healthy lifestyle’ and ‘discipline’ and ‘politics.’

Words that make you instantly realize either all the things you’re doing wrong – or NOT doing at all – or all the things you can’t stand to think about (politics falls into that category).

But habit has a whole heck of a lot to do with losing weight and, ahem, creating a ‘healthy lifestyle.’

Sometimes habit is the only reason I get up and work out. It’s just what happens at around 7:00 in the morning, like brushing my teeth after breakfast.

But how do habits happen? And is it true that it takes 3 weeks to create a habit – which is what I’ve always heard?

Do you ever feel like creating healthier habits (working out, eating better, etc.) is a lot of harder than it should be?

There’s a reason for that and this news is going to make you feel better about yourself, I promise. This info is going to make creating new habits a whole lot easier. 

Your Mindset

‘Mindset’ is another word that kind of makes me wince a little but, in a nutshell, habits come down to one thing.


Once you get your mindset right, everything else begins to fall into place. 

Fun fact: Did you know that having a positive mindset can actually help you make healthier choices and actually live longer? 

Okay, that was more just like a semi-interesting fact, not that much fun.

But here’s an even better fact: You don’t have to be born with a positive mindset. It’s something you can create and strengthen over time. 

I think we’ve all struggled with mastering new habits – things like meal prep (and then actually eating the meals we prepped), sticking with a new workout plan, getting up earlier, reading more, etc.

I know that when I’m trying to get back into my habit of using my food journal after every meal, I’ll do great for a few days (or even a few weeks) and then hello – I’m off the wagon and, worse, it’s going to Disneyworld without me.

All of a sudden I forget or totally blow it off. Maybe it’s because I’m busy, tired, or who knows what. Anyway, I start slipping.

And then I start to feel a little guilty…  then I get angry or upset with myself … and then I end up saying “I’ll just start again tomorrow.” I love the ‘tomorrow’ excuse. It’s so handy, isn’t it?

Well, have you ever heard the saying that it only takes three weeks to make a new habit? I am not sure who came up with that number, but guess what? It’s wrong. I think we’ve all figured that one out the hard way.

It actually takes NEARLY THREE TIMES LONGER than that – depending on the person, the habit, and the situation. 

A study from Australia found that on average, it takes about 66 days to develop a new habit.

This news actually makes me feel a lot better, and I hope it does you, too. It takes the pressure off being “perfect” right out of the gate.

Creating a new habit can be hard, and you can end up with unrealistic expectations – like having it mastered in just a few weeks. 

Good news! The study also showed that missing a day or two doesn’t mean you’re back to square one in creating the habit. 

Be prepared to slip up now and then, and when you do, get yourself back on track as soon as possible. Eventually, it WILL become easier, especially when you start to see the results of all your effort.

Lasting changes take time – so whenever possible, make sure you enjoy the ride. It’ll increase the likelihood you’ll own that new habit.

Tips for Habit-Making

I can’t take the actual work you have to do to create a habit away from you, but wouldn’t it be nice if I could?

Instead, it takes some good-old-fashioned practice to make this happen so here are some tips that you probably already know, but may need a little reminder:

  • Do your workouts at the same time each day  – An exercise habit becomes a lot easier when your body just knows it’s workout time.
  • Pick one thing about your diet and just work on that – One thing we do that can sabotage us is trying to change every damn thing at once. Instead, pick a meal and just work on that. Let’s say you pick breakfast…Do some research on healthy breakfasts. Find recipes you know you can make. Pick one and make it every day for a week, then pick another one for the next week, etc.
  • Use your smartphone – Your smartphone is annoying – at least mine is because it’s constantly there taunting me, begging me to pick it up and check my Facebook. But it’s good for creating habits. Set alarms to remind you to stand up and move around or to keep a food journal for your meals. There are also tons of great apps to help you along with that too.

Most of all, when you are watching that healthy habit wagon leave you in the dust after a slip-up, chase after it. You want to get to Disneyworld, right?

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