After seeing a lot of photos today about motivation and habits, I thought I would write a little something from my Yo-Yo perspective. I am very much a Yo-Yo in both fitness and my life. I get extremely excited, I think that I can change the world, I start planning the millions I will make with my great ideas and then about a week in, I lose that momentum and a few weeks later I don’t even know what all the fuss was about. I am certainly like this with the gym. One month I will go 3-5 times a week and then a change happens, maybe a different start or end time at work, maybe a holiday and that is it – I am not only off the wagon but I can’t even see the wagon in site and I may even forget that I am looking for it.
But I just read something that gave me a little hope. It turns out that because I have been on that wagon before, it is much easier to find it again. According to Ann Graybial of MIT’s McGovern Institute, “neurons actually change their firing patterns when habits are learned, and then change them back again when they are unlearned.” So your brain is actually functioning differently on that trusty old wagon and here is the good news, as soon as you pick that habit back up, they are all fired up again. Even better news, we keep those pathways forever. So even if you aren’t where you want to be in your fitness regime, it is actually easier than you think to get back to where you left off. It is easier for you to pick up those learned habits because your neurons are on your team…think of them as your cheer leaders “You can do it…ra ra ra.” This all means that somewhere in this brain of mine, is the cheering section and it shouldn’t be too hard to find.
So how long does it take to establish a habit? There are many different streams of thought out there. Some say 21 days, some 28 and even as many as 66 days. But if that habit was already established, it is much easier to get back to and if it hasn’t been established, well get out there because even if you fall off the wagon you know that you can easily find your way back once you have established the cheering section in your brain. Put in your time now and your body will thank you forever!