About This Blog

I started this blog in November of 2008.  My youngest child had just turned two, which served to point out to me that I had failed to live up to my oath that I would make a concerted effort to lose weight after he was born, as we knew he would be our last baby.  I’d also had the opportunity to go to the local amusement park without my kids for the first time in probably ten years, and I was dismayed at how hard it was to fit on the rides.  Not good.

The book, by Maxwell Maltz

Everyone has heard about the 21 Rule at one time or another, it seems.  It’s a concept generally credited to Dr. Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon who wrote a book entitled  Psycho-Cybernetics in the 1960s.  He did work with patients who had lost limbs, and noticed that while limb-loss patients go through a period where they suffer from Phantom Limb syndrome, this tends to consistently go away around 21 days following the loss.  He developed a hypothesis that stated that the human brain takes 21 days to adjust to a major change.

So was born the ’21 Day Habit Theory’.  The idea is that if  you want to create a habit, you must faithfully adhere to the habitual behavior pattern for 21 consecutive days at least.  Likewise, if you want to break a habit, you must abstain from that behavior for 21 consecutive days before it can be broken.

How well this bears out in reality, I don’t know.  I haven’t read applicable studies.  But through the years I have dieted, have joined gyms, have joined Weight Watchers, etc.  I have found that in all things, the daunting figure of a lifetime of change from my comfortable — if unhealthy — current way of doing things to something uncomfortable — if healthier — is discouraging and scary.  At the outset, I cannot imagine  sustaining any particular behavior for so long, so why start only to fail?  So much easier to just forget it and see what’s in the fridge and when the next Law & Order episide will be on.

But 21 days?  That’s different.  I can do that.   Somehow the idea of an end at which I can measure success feels more doable.  So even though I know that to sustain weight loss, I’ll need to make long-term changes, in PRACTICE, I think, doing it in manageable short bursts may be more successful for me.   At any rate, I’m willing to try it.

So I decided to start a 21-day cycle.  I would select an approach to bettering my life and use it faithfully for 21 days.  At the end of that time, I would decide whether to keep doing it or not.  If I screw up in the middle, I will evaluate and decide whether I need to start my 21-day count over or not, and at the end of the 21-day run I will reward myself somehow.

Happily, I am surrounded by some good friends who have taken up the calling to join me.  You’ll find their blogs listed in the links section, if you’re curious about what they’re doing too.   If you have a 21-day blog, do let me know and I’ll list yours too!


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