How Long It Actually Takes to Change a Habit

Let’s get real here.


What if we told you that it’s no fault of your own that you’ve failed past diets, exercise programs, and health goals?  Well, it’s time we are honest about how long it takes to lose 10 pounds, change to a plant-based diet, cut the soda habit, or [insert your pesky bad habit here] for good. 


We live in a world where we want it FAST and we want it NOW. From a young age we are taught to take a pill to fix our problem. This happened to me in high school playing volleyball. I was dealing with joint pain and the only way I could play was by taking four ibuprofen at a time. I didn’t know there were other options out there. All I was doing is was temporarily fixing my pain, merely a Band-Aid fix. This approach applies to just about everything health related. Got heart disease? Take a pill. Want to lose weight? Do this 21-day challenge and the weight will melt right off. But eventually the Band-Aid peels off. Then what?! You’re still in pain and you still have the problem you had to begin with – sometimes worse than it was before. 


So why are quick fixes everywhere if they don’t actually solve our problems? Quick fixes are what sell so that’s why the wellness industry is saturated with them- Diet pills, 7-day slim-downs and “it only takes 21 days to break a habit.” Publishers and businesspeople know what sells and this has unfortunately created unrealistic expectations around what it takes and how long it takes to make us “healthy.” 


So what does it take?


Think of this in terms of weight loss. You did a month-long program, you lost some weight, experienced better sleep, started to feel more energized and maybe even enjoyed it a little bit. But then, BAM! You slip right back to where you were before, maybe even worse. WHY?

  • You didn’t have the support you needed 
  • The program wasn’t designed for long-term habit change 
  • You tried changing everything at once
  • Our country’s food, social and economic systems are set up to keep you unhealthy 


Then you start to feel bad about yourself. This is the unfortunate side effect of this short-term, quick-fix approach that is so insidious we sometimes don’t even notice it’s there. Instead of seeing what these programs are made of or how our societal systems are built, you start blaming yourself for lack of progress. This creates an endless cycle and adds mental strain and solves none of our problems.


We have to be kind to ourselves during the process of habit change. So there are two things you must know and start to accept as part of the change process:

    1. Habit change takes 6 to 18 months of actively integrating your new habit before it becomes that blissful, thoughtless experience.
    2. Slip-ups are part of the process. By adopting a growth mindset that allows us to learn from these mistakes and adjust as life happens, we get closer to where we want to be each step versus self-sabotaging, feeling bad about ourselves or giving up entirely because of one slip-up. 



If we know what to expect maybe we could be kinder to ourselves. If these realities became part of the conversation then maybe we would have a better relationship with ourselves and would make greater progress toward our health goals. 


How does it feel knowing that 21 days may not solve your problem? 


Maybe that feels daunting. We hope it relieves you of the unrealistic expectations that have been held for you for so long. But if it does feel daunting or overwhelming. This is exactly why health care needs more options for support around healthy lifestyle change. Sometimes even the most motivated people need a little extra support and that’s okay! 


Try applying what you learned in this blog to whatever your next health goal is. See how it changes the game for you. 


Total Life Concept has designed our programs to work along this habit change context-with a long-term relationship in mind. We have the ability to give the necessary support needed to make changes in a unified and integrative way. The biggest transformations we have experienced here at TLC aren’t just weight loss, but rather the entire perspective shifts around relationship with the self and the process of becoming healthy and staying that way.


How do we do that? 


  • Start out in our 4-week EMPOWER-Get It Program so you can try us out and grow your awareness
  • Move into our 12-week EMPOWER-Rock It Program so you can rebuild your baseline and have the time to integrate some simple daily practices
  • Then get a TLC membership where we get more specific to your needs, obstacles and work with you step-by-step to achieve lasting health


Eventually we want you to not need us, but in the meantime we are here for you.