You have probably heard that it takes three weeks for a new habit to form. I have even heard fifty days from some teachers. Both sound neat and simple but the data simply does not support this idea. The European Journal of Social Psychology (2010) published an article on habit changes that suggested what seems to be a far more reasonable understanding of habit change. It found that participants took anywhere from 18 to 254 days to make a behavior automatic.
By using the tools and support system of Weight Watchers for a little over a year I can tell you that it has taken every bit of twelve-plus months for me to build new habits that “feel” more automatic, or routine. (I realize that these habits are not automatic because various factors could trigger a response that would break my “new” habits quickly!)
True weight loss is a lifestyle, not a diet. If I have learned anything from this process it is that educated and sound choices become a habit once you practice what you know long enough to make it a life-changing routine. And when you fail you must get up and start over again where you got off track. I have also learned just how much this process mirrors all of life. I could never accomplish my health goals on the scores of diets that I’ve seen others use to lose excess weight. But you say, “Weight Watchers is a diet.” This is what I thought but it isn’t true. It is actually a learning and practicing experience. It is a lifestyle! I believe this new lifestyle can only become normal over time but never without hard work and intentional decision making that you understand in terms that work for you.