We have some bad news: only 8% of people actually stick to their “New Year, New Me” goals they’ve set in January. That means 92% of us revert back to old, unhealthy habits. When warmer weather finally comes around, we are cued with new motivation to get back on track. However, once summer hits, it’s often too late to notice substantial changes in our health or body composition, so we give up, only to reattempt again the following year. Sound familiar? It’s time to rethink your timing around goals.
There are several factors that can help lead to behavior change, such as perceived control, attitude, environment, and desired outcomes, and successful behavior change typically comes with habit formation over time. Rushing behavior change around nutrition and fitness can look like 30-day diet plans or a one-month gym membership. Oftentimes, neither of these “plans” take into account lifestyle or long-term goals – they are simply quick fixes. Many of us fall victim to short-term crash diets that are not sustainable, and most of the time it is because we’ve run out of time to design and implement a truly long-term plan for success.
It takes time to establish a plan
Knowing what approach to take in nutrition and fitness to reach your goals takes more than a quick online survey or Google search. You must take inventory on your current habits, understand what’s feasible in your lifestyle, and plan out each step so your new behaviors can slowly become your “new norm.” Sitting down with a professional can help keep you organized and intentional about what plan might be best to begin with, and can help establish a SMART goal that is realistic for you.
It takes 21+ days to build a habit
Behavioral scientists agree: a habit can take a long time to build. Starting early and moving slowly into a new behavior, whether it is nutrition or fitness-based, allows enough time for the brain to make new connections to support a new set of events. The brain is designed for efficiency: it wants to do what is easiest. Supporting new behaviors through positive reinforcement helps strengthen connections in the brain and can lead to habit formation. In order to solidify a new habit into your lifestyle, you must repeat behaviors for at least 21 days, some researchers suggest it can range from 18-254 days.
It takes 4+ weeks to see results
With any change in nutrition or fitness, it can take time to see results. Changes in muscle take at least 3-4 weeks to be noticeable through strength training, and nutritional changes can also take upwards of 4 weeks to substantially change body composition. This part is typically when most people lose motivation – by not seeing results fast enough. Be patient and trust you’re your plan is working in your favor. Body composition analysis can confirm whether or not a plan is working towards your intended goals, or if there are tweaks that need to be made.
Although it is possible to overhaul your lifestyle quickly through steadfast motivation, focus and a good handle on any barriers to change, more often than not, change takes time. Time to plan, time to build consistency, and time to see results and adapt. For many of us with goals to shape up by the summer, this means starting a lifestyle transformation in the winter is key. More importantly, the more time you take to plan and become rooted in healthy habits, the more likely your change will become a new long-term healthy lifestyle – a better option than starting over every January, in our opinion!
Wondering how to start building your new nutrition habits? Chat with our Nutrition Coaches today!