Posted by: Joe Nuss on Sep 29, 2010
By Angelina Stevens
It takes roughly 120 days to change a habit, whether it is creating a healthy running habit or quitting smoking. Deeper-ingrained habits and addictions can take much longer based on the hard-wiring of the habit, genetics, and the amount of stress in the person’s life. After 4 months, all of your red blood cells turn over, creating new energy for the body and transport of nutrients. So if you changed your diet and exercise for the next 4 months, you will have created a more potent and powerful blood supply to your entire body and are on your way to a lasting habit of wellness.
The 80–20 Rule
I would say I have spent at least 80 percent of my life being active, eating well, and listening to my body. The other 20 percent I have enjoyed being relaxed about diet, exercise, and self preservation. The idea is if you put enough good fuel in, take high-quality whole-food supplements, exercise, and rest appropriately 80 percent of the time, than the other 20 percent, you can have your carrot cake and ice cream too. In fact, you can look at those 20 percent moments like a pushing of reset in the brain to create balance and a long lasting healthy lifestyle.
Exceptions to the 80–20
Most healthy, active adults can utilize the 80–20 rule when it comes to a lasting diet and exercise routine. If you are dealing with a major illness, chronic fatigue, or are aiming for a life overhaul or detox, then there is absolutely no wiggle room. If you have spent the majority of your life eating poorly, not taking care of yourself, or overusing alcohol, sugar, tobacco or drugs, then a very disciplined approach to regaining health is necessary. Major health crises like heart attacks, cancers, or diseases tend to manifest after years of unhealthy habits or personal neglect.
I have watched my mom over the summer get her healthiest and fittest of her life. She has committed and held to doing an hour of intense cardio exercise most days of the week. After 4 months, her comment was, “Now I see why you and your brother, Josh, love endurance sports. I am hooked!” Anytime we try something new, like learning to ski or traveling to a foreign land, it creates new neural pathways in the brain. The more we repeat these experiences, the more pathways are created and our brain usage and power expand. The more we repeat activities, the easier they become, and the likelihood of a habit forming increases. So the more you repeat a feeling of happiness, the more likely that you will create a habit of feeling fulfilled in your life. Now that is a habit we can all live long with.
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